Work Header

Blue Prints for Life

Chapter Text

Rain fell upon the plates that day, when all was said and done. It was the day the world fell down about him, crumbling to dust about him. Water rolled down the windows like tears down his cheek. Rubble rested about the slums, like his broken dreams had long since fallen to his feet. And rivers of tears flowed from victims, as blood flowed from his wrists.

Forever he lived in those dreams despite his pain, his fears. Every night the past brought him back, trying so desperately hard to drown him for his sins. Each day he awoke though, and continued through the motions. Still, he could do nothing to rid himself of his sins. By evening he prayed that the Lifestream would finally take him, free him from his pain. And again he would wake and be just a little bit deader inside.

He asked the other two with innocent blood on their hands if forgiveness could be found. One never tried and the other was yet to find the answer. He was trapped now, trapped in the memories. No longer could he survive like this, hearing the screams, seeing the pain when he blinked. Every second of his existence was filled with the sensations of those painful minutes and their aftermath….

He stood in his office, looking out over the grandeur of Midgar, of HIS city, his one dream come true for a short time. Every once in a while the sky was clear over the evening city, and you could just look out his office window and see all the lights and you would shiver at the beauty of it all. It was like the stars above were reflected in his perfect city… Then suddenly there was a screech, the cry of the metal supports straining against the weight of a plate as an explosion heralded the destruction of the pillar beneath. Screams, hundreds of screams of terror, of pain, of death and destruction, came to his ears. Quickly his hands moved to cover his ears, but the sounds would not stop, never stop. Now the plate was sinking, buildings falling, steel beams snapping like dry twigs. He shut his eyes against the sight; tears streaming down his face, but the horrible image burned through his eyelids and imprinted itself deep in his mind, swearing to never let him go. Then it hit… the pain. All the pain that was in his city, he felt tenfold in his heart. There was only one choice, and that was eternal escape.

His fist slammed into the glass but nothing happened. In his anger, his need to be free of the pain, he turned to his desk and grabbed up his coffee mug. Then the timid executive dashed it upon the ground and picked up the largest shard. It wasn't really sharp, but it would cut his skin, he knew it. He wasn't SOLDIER, and he wasn't a Turk, so his body had no Mako, no Jenova, and those things would not slow the bleeding, mask the pain. Carefully the executive made the first cut and watched the crimson color of his life freely gush forth. Soon a second cut joined the first, and then a third on the opposite wrist. Yes, there was pain, so much pain, but for once he could handle it, accept it for all it was and finally give in. He would make up for his mistakes with this scarlet offering.

Chapter Text

Okay, it's time to clear up a little confusion in the history books. Historians have always said I chose a megaphone for Cait Sith because of many reasons having to do with symbolism and that stuff. Newsflash… It was for a far simpler reason than that symbolism shit. Hell, I failed any tests in English Lit that focused to heavy on the symbolism. How is a tree supposed to symbolize corruption anyway? Well, back to the point, never believe any of that shit the textbooks spew kids. Fact is, it was convenient damnit!

While I never really controlled Cait when he was monitoring things in his travel, I did directly monitor battles. That alone was the reason for the megaphone. I needed Cait to have a method of drawing my attention so that I could supervise him during battle and to do so without drawing suspicion. The loud shouts amplified through megaphone and delivered via a radio receiver in my ear was not only deafening, but a sure way to get me back to my controls.

The problem was getting this item with material in it. I actually had to go to Scarlet to get them custom made and strategically placed. (Oh God, don't remind me of the horrible things I had to do to get this favor.)

Oh, there is ONE thing true in the textbooks though. I DID keep one of the megaphones for my own use in my office to get the attention of people when they were rambling (I'm talking about Reno and Elena of course. They did some work for me when I headed up the WRO). The thing that wasn't true was the idea that I kept the yellow and pink ones. Just because Cait liked them didn't mean that I did…

Chapter Text

Years ago he'd been given a pen by the President upon being appointed head of Urban Development. The pen was plated in gold and wrote in expensive black ink, ink derived from some rare plant matter, the ink of an endangered octopus, and powdered black pearls. It was such a waste of money that he rarely used the thing. Instead he'd had the thing put in a glass case on his desk at Shin-Ra.

Over the many years of Shin-Ra's evil he had come to hate the pen. It symbolized the only thing he'd ever signed with it, his contract with Shin-Ra. Because of this he refused to use any pen that wrote in black ink. The dark color had come to be a sign of the corruption, the black cancer that was once his city.

It was only fitting to use this pen and its extravagant wealth so many years later to write the charter for the WRO and the first documents for the United Nations he started nearing his death.

Now the pen, old and long since out of its priceless ink, lay buried with the man it both bound and freed.

Chapter Text

Silence greets him as he awakens. The darkness of the starless Neo-Midgar night is still thick in the air around him. There isn't even the normal glow of the alarm clock, it having been knocked to the floor hours before. The scent of lemon is in the air because of the scent of his lover's shampoo. His fingers brush over the black satin sheets he had chosen not long after he'd moved in. For that single moment life seemed to freeze, letting him revel in all of the sensations around him.

Years ago, in a past he would rather not remember, he had been an executive in Shin-Ra. And he'd been in Midgar when Meteor was falling. One could still see the scars etched so deeply in his flesh from the injuries he'd sustained. For nearly a week he'd been pinned under a metal beam. In the end he'd lost feeling in his fingers and toes and legs. That was how he was found by Vincent and Cid. The two had managed to free him in a few minutes. Two months he was in the hospital. Two years he'd been undergoing physical therapy. And for five years he'd realized how precious his life was. He'd almost lost it.

During those first few days of being freed from the rubble was the hardest time of his life. No feeling in his legs, no feeling in his arms. He couldn't even feel it when his love would hold his hand and caress it lovingly. Yes, he could hear the whispers of love. Yes, he could smell the lemon he had come to associate with his lover's shampoo. Yes, he could see the beautifully elegant features. Yes, he could taste the familiar cinnamon and kahlua on those soft lips. Yet never could he be totally sure. Those words could just be things his mind wanted to hear. That smell could be the air fresheners in the hospital. The vision could just be hallucinations from the medication and the loneliness. And the taste of those perfect lips could possibly be his body yearning for human contact. Without being able to feel that hand that he could SEE holding his, without the sting of a needle in his arm, without the feeling of those kisses left on the hands he could not feel… Was it all real?

Reeve felt strong fingers tangle into his amongst the sheets and released the breath he hadn't known he was holding. Yes, there was that feeling of satin-like skin against his own rough flesh. Emerald eyes turned to look thankfully upon his love. For a sweet moment Reeve's eyes locked with those of his lover. Both knew though that it was the touch he was absorbed in.

Because you never know when you're going to lose it, and you need every second you can to try and remember those little touches that matter the most.

Chapter Text

Three years ago we got caught in a storm. Before the night was out the AI was totally fried. I never had the heart to try and restore it actually It had been the fifteen body for the feline, but still the first mind. It was also the only bot I'd never had any overrides on, never had a back up system to record the data upon. Never saw a point.

Now, at the reunion the children ask me where he is. They ask me why I have a dog instead. Even Vincent, always one to keep to himself and not question of other's lives, begins to hint at a desire for an explanation. I could almost feel them staring at the sunglasses they'd always accepted before, and at the contacts that hid the truth behind their emerald rings.

"I'm sorry Mister Tuesti. Your vision is degrading faster than we could ever hope to restore. But there are plenty of things we can do to make you comfortable."

"What about those radical treatments Professor Hojo…"

"Hojo's techniques died with him, and many would say it was for the best. Now, we can get you a seeing eye dog soon enough."

"He won't need on!" came the perky voice at his side.

"Cait?" Reeve asked simply for an explanation

"I can do it! I'm far better than a dog. And no one would know any different. We could get you a really small receiver and you could put it in your ear. And I can help you with everything by talking to you through it with one of my processors. I could even help you around the house. And no one would know!"

"I hear thunder Cait. How far to some shelter?" the worried male said. He knew from the scent around them and the sound of wind in the trees and the dankness of the air that the storm was rapidly approaching them.

"Not far Reeve, not far," the feline assured him.

Reeve could hear the worry in the voice of the robot. Over the years the emotions of the AI system had grown so real that even Reeve could hardly tell the difference.

He felt the rain though, as it started to come down around them. And he knew the smell of ozone for a brief second before everything stopped to exist in his world. When he woke the rain was over, but there was no Cait there to shake him gently and explain, to tell him where he was. There was a woman though, he could tell from the gentle grip as she searched out his pulse.

"Sir, do you know where you are?" she asked in a kind voice. He associated it instantly with the calmness of the nurse he knew at the doctor's office.

"No. I'm sorry miss, but I can't see you. You'll have to explain a bit, such as where Cait is."

There was silence for a while before another voice reached his ears. By instinct and habit he turned head and useless eyes towards the source of the voice.

"Sir, you're in a hospital. You've sustained some trauma from the incident, including some damage to your retinas."

Reeve shook his head. This man was wrong. "What incident? Where is Cait?"

"Sir, please calm down so we can check out your eyes."

"Back off!" Reeve growled, shrinking away from the voice. "There is no need for that. I have been blind for the last two and a half years. Genetic thing. Now, where is Cait Sith?"

"Who is Cait Sith sir?"

"My name is Reeve and Cait Sith is the feline robot that acts as my guide. I made him myself before I lost my sight. Now where is he? I need Cait."

The silence was longer this time. Far longer. Something that disturbed him.

"Sir… This Cait Sith you speak of… It's gone. Struck by lightening…"

He didn't know how to respond. There weren't even tears. The same thing that stole his sight had robbed him of the ability to shed tears, so what was the point?

When he awoke it was to something he had known was long since gone. It was enough to prove the obvious, that he'd finally died. There were beautiful things all around him, a near perfect Midgar, as he had first designed it, before the corruption of Shin-Ra got to it. This had to be heaven. All along the streets were smiling people.

"Reeve, about time you showed up," came a long since lost voice behind him.

The once-blind man whirled and smiled, tears stinging his eyes as they came to rest upon something he never thought to see again.


"Hey, apparently heaven isn't a no-pets place like Reno said," the feline winked.

Chapter Text


'Shut up!'


'I'm not listening.'


"Will you stop it already!"

"Um, Reeve…" Tseng said, looking up from the blueprints he had been reviewing for possible security problems for the executive.

The older male blushed and looked down at his hands. "Sorry. Please continue."

"Why did you shout at me to stop then?"

"It wasn't you. It was my stomach."

"When was the last time you ate sir?" the young Turk asked, his voice gentle.

His eyes turned to a carry-out container from Chocobo Bob's BBQ Wings. He vaguely remembered consuming the carton somewhere around 8 last night.

"Um… What time it is?" he asked.

"15:15 sir."

"19 hours ago."

The Wutain smirked faintly, "Maybe you should eat before we continue."


"I think you're right."

Chapter Text

One thing he regretted most in his life was that there were no seasons in Midgar. No new life in spring, no changing colors in fall, no storms and heat waves in the summer, and no refreshing cold of winter. It was this he missed the most.

He'd been born, much like another hero who 'fought' Sephiroth, in Cosmo Canyon. The small town received its seasons in splendorous beauty. The summers were sweltering because of the heat absorbed by the rocks and humid during the violent storms that could take over. The falls were dazzling because of the way the forests outside of the canyon would suddenly become crimson like the stones themselves. The springs would be delightful because the baby animals were born and children would play for hours new the great fire. But winters were always the best with the rarest delights.

It did not often snow, but it was better that way. Yet there were still the most marvelous things when it did… icicles. The little glistening things hung from every crack and when the sun hit them just right the canyons looked like precious gems. His mother, and most of the mothers really, would take a few when the day was at its hottest and would sprinkle them with sugar and powdered berry mix. Then these frozen delights were shared by all in joy.

There were no popsicles in Cosmo Canyon, only icicles and smiles of frozen joy on the faces of children. In Midgar Reeve had been forced to settle with company made frozen juices, because the real things of his childhood did not exist here. Yet his final thoughts in his time upon the planet were on the twinkling beauty of icicles covering the canyon and the tasty winter treat of his childhood.

Chapter Text

Wrapped tight in the frigid embrace of the eternal winter of Icicle, the warm kisses of summer rain in Costa Del Sol seemed more than just literal miles away. The hope and relaxation that came with such rain was a far from the mournful depression of the north as the gem-like beaches were. He was luckier than the others though. Sure, he wasn't capable of enjoying the summer of the costal town, but he was not with them in body. Yes, he shared in the mournful depression of the death of the Cetra girl, but he was not forced into physical cold with it all.

Still, even here in Midgar, even here in his artificially induced summer temperatures he could feel for them. At some point Cait had stopped being a mere puppet, and became everything he wanted to be…

He could even feel the bite of the freezing winds on his cheeks.

Chapter Text

It might have been easier, he thought, had it not been so sunny. Anything else would have done: snow; rain; storms; hurricane. Hell, even a sand storm or an overcast sky would have done. But not this, not the flawless summer day.

Except, it wasn't flawless really. How could it be? This was a day when gold tarnished, when words failed, when pain was everything. This was a day of pain and of betrayal. This was the day that death ruled.

She laid there, an angel of tan and gold, snow white sheets below her and above her. The eyes were glassy, the skin waxen. Hair that once shone beautifully and unceasingly now lay limp around her, yet the light on it was like a halo. And most of all… she was cold. Her fingers were so cold in his hands, but what could he expect?

Tears slipped unbidden from him, leaving glistening trails behind upon his cheeks. Lips whispered words of love that fell upon unhearing ears. Yet what more could he do? Sorrow filled the air like rain drops, and sobs cut through the silence like the crack of thunder.

A hand, strong, confident, came to rest upon his shoulder. The contact was still gentle though, like the wings of a butterfly. It almost lessened the pain to know that the Wutain could be a comforting presence even though he was such a cold bastard.

"Reeve, I…" he began, yet no words were there to finish.

The older man shook his head, unwilling to have the silence, or any other gap she had left in his life, filled just yet.

Chapter Text

"Sir, Mister Tseng is here to see you."

"Please, send him in," Reeve mumbled, welcoming the distraction from his every day work. Things had been so chaotic lately, Turks and SOLDIERS everywhere. Things hadn't been like this since the Nibelheim Incident. Hell, Reeve hadn't even seen his Wutain friend in a while.

The Wutain entered, looking so tired that his hair was almost out of place. Lacking his usual dancer-like grace, the man flopped down onto Reeve's leather couch. Sensing the foreigner's mood, Reeve rose to prepare the strongest cup of coffee possible. Sometimes even Reeve, a man that practically lived on coffee, was shocked by the Wutain's near dependence upon the liquid. Once or twice he had even felt as if a cup of coffee had come between him and his friend.

"Hard week?" Reeve asked the leading Turk.

"Do you remember Nibelheim?" the younger male asked upon accepting the steaming mug from his friend, a look of delight upon his face at the sight of the straight black liquid.

The executive froze mid-motion, and was glad that he no longer held the mug, lest it have been dropped and broken the mug and spilled the coffee. Which really would have been amusing you know, because Reeve wouldn't put it past Tseng in this state to drop to the floor and try to suck the coffee out of the carpet.

Nibelheim, Sephiroth… The destruction of the city that he had been directed to rebuild perfectly. To this day Reeve still did not know what had happened to cause such pain, but that did not lessen the nightmares of his first arrival upon the scene of the carnage.

"How can I forget Tseng?"

"Hojo was behind it you know…"

An involuntary shudder reached Reeve at this point.

"You're going to tell me about it aren't you?"

There was a nod from the man. "The President feels that given recent situations, all of his executives should be made aware of the whole incident…"

"How much is there to know?"

Tseng looked down into his coffee, as if searching for an answer in the eyes of a lover. "I've had nightmares about it every night since then."

"Far too much information then?" Reeve asked, his voice almost choked.

The younger male nodded, putting down the mug and going to lock the door. This would be a long night.

Chapter Text

A large sheet of blank paper was stretched before him, a pencil in his hand and yet nothing was drawn. In truth, his mind was as blank as the paper. And the idea of this project was killing him inside. Strands of silky, dark brown hair fell into clear green eyes, and welcoming the minor distraction, he reached to push the strands back behind his ear.

No sooner did he pray for a new distraction than the door of the dorm opened wide. Enter Reno Fletcher, math major in his third year and one of the biggest party animals on campus to boot. Reeve, Reeve Leon Evans Jr. that is, a fourth year with a double major in architecture and engineering, looked upon the red-haired male with a look that could be called wither relief or irritation.

"Yo, Evie-J, whatcha doin'?" the younger male questioned as he stretched out over Reeve's bed to watch the senior work.

"Someone from Shin-Ra came into out class today. The man who helped design Upper-Junon. Told everyone that Shin-Ra was looking for someone new to design an entire city. Professor Carney decided to have us all develop blueprints and a model, albeit it general, for a city like this as our final exam. And I have NO ideas at all."

The icy eyed math man got one of those looks on his face, one that Reeve didn't like. It was a very hungry and cunning look.

"Oh no Reno," Reeve growled, "I am not going to do something inappropriate."

This brought laughter to the perky male, who jumped up from the bed.

"I was going to say let's order pizza for dinner, but whatever. Come on Evie-J, you need a break. We're going to eat at the Commons tonight, my treat!"

There was one thing that everyone upon campus knew, and something Reeve had never taken to heart. What was that? One never had any meal with Reno if it involved the commons. Really, if you did you would realize that the junior was wasted in math and really belonged to the art department. Unfortunately Reeve never listened, so he was always there when Reno took his food and made a new piece of art, often called by titles such as 'Breakfast Thing Blue' or 'Dinner Thing Number 23'. Today was no different.

The subject today was vegetables. Reno had begun by getting two extra plates with his dinner and filling them up at the salad bar. Then he'd stolen the mashed potatoes from the lunches of a few freshmen, and then he had set to work. The first plate was covered with a perfectly level layer of mashed potatoes, much to Reeve's amazement (how did he do that without a level and a trowel?). This was followed by sliced carrots laid in a perfect line and came together to meet an upturned tower of cups in the middle. All around this were other vegetables and side paths of carrot slices. In the end Reno took his knife and chopped up some lettuce to sprinkle over the whole thing, along with grated cheese, for some unknown reason.

With his 'masterpiece' done and dubbed 'Dinner Thing Vegetables', Reno took his other plate of food to actually eat. Reeve, having finished his meal already, was staring hard at Reno's creation and trying not to laugh or flat out knock it over. There was no shock when the flash of a camera interrupted Reno's munching and Reeve's silent pondering of the thing. This was as much a custom as Reno's creation of the food art.

"Great one Reno, what do you call it?" Yuffie, a student from Wutai and the head of the OFFICIAL Reno Fletcher Fanclub, asked. She kept a record of all of his things along with pictures and comments 'from the artist'.

Reeve had, at this point, stood and was lifting up his tray. Yet he froze, everything else ignored as he viewed the art from a new perspective.

"Reno… You're a genius," he announced suddenly after some time. Reno, deep into his ritual flirting with Yuffie looked up in shock at his friend.

"What did I do this time?"

Without another word Reeve pushed his tray into Yuffie's arms and stole the picture from her hands, glad she always used that instant kind. And he didn't even notice the female yelling at him as he rushed from the commons.

Ten days later the male was once more staring at the piece of paper before him, this time no longer blank. It was filled with sketches from many different angles, notations about scale and stress relief and all of that good stuff. Yet he was still to solve his biggest problem in the whole plan. The area that Shin-Ra intended to build upon was not level ground. How could his plan work?

Once more inspiration burst in upon him, in the form of Reno and pizza. Twice a week his roommate ordered pizza for them. One night was for Reno's choice of toppings (pineapples and celery did NOT go together in Reeve's opinion) and the second for Reeve's choice (olives and hot peppers was the ONLY way to go). The pizza box was balanced shakily upon the top of a two liter of the only pop they could agree upon, orange soda. Reno always pushed for booze, and Reeve wanted to insist upon coffee, so this was the happy medium.

Reeve gladly took the distraction and decided to pose the problem to his friend. Surely the math guy could figure out something he could not. The brown haired youth moved to the low table in the 'living room' area and watched Reno throw open the lid of the pizza box. There was the sound of a deep inhalation of pleasure from both males. One of the few times they chose to compromise even on the pizza, resulting in the sweet and hot taste of pineapples and hot peppers. A wide smile touched the face of both of them.

"So Evie-J, before we dig into this bountiful feast," Reno started, "You seem to have a question for the Wise One?"

He almost had to laugh at Reno. The man was sitting on the couch in a classic Buddha pose.

"Wise One? And who would that be?" he demanded, and was answered by a pillow in the face. "Alright! Shesh. Listen, you know that project I'm working on? Well, I've got a problem with it. The ground isn't LEVEL, and it can't be made so…"

"The Great Reno sees all and knows all," Reno spoke, "And will share all. Look now towards the humble pizza and find your answer!"

Willing to play along for now, the male turned his attention to the open pizza box. And there it was, his answer. Reeve looked upon one of those little white things in the middle of the pizza that look like a white, three-legged table, used to keep the top of the pizza box from being forced down to smash the pizza.

"Plates… Oh my god Reno, you really are a genius!" he shouted triumphantly before lunging at his friend and hugging him violently. There was even a bit of a kiss in there somewhere.

After that the two drew apart, shock written on the features of each. With a mumbled apology Reeve grabbed a paper plate, a few pieces of pizza and the little table thingy from the pizza and fled to his room.

When he next encountered his friend it was a few days later, and Reeve was putting the finishing touches upon his model of the city he had dubbed Midgar. It was a circle with buildings, separate plate sections, and a large tower in the center. There were pillars, one major per place and one as wide as the center portion where Shin-Ra facilities would be, as well as many smaller support pillars in areas that could expect more weight. There were spotlights and mako reactors even. The red haired youth watched Reeve from the door of his dorm.

"That thing due today?" he asked, cutting into the three day silence they had cultivated.

Reeve nodded, focusing on adding a few people from his game of Risk for effect and scale reference.

"Want help carrying it to class?" he pressed on.

This was answered by a simple shake of the head.

"Reeve, I'm not mad at you for kissing me. I know I'm the most desirable man on this whole damn campus. Trust me, there are plenty of pretties like you lined up for a piece of Reno."

The sudden and violent change of Reeve's flesh from tan to the same shade of Reno's hair was the reaction that was desired.

"It's not like that Reno," Reeve said, only to be cut off.

"Yeah, I know. So get the hell over it Reeve. Come on, you're going to be late," the younger said, moving to grab the sealed cardboard tube that held the plans of the city for Reeve. He watched with a smile as Reeve lifted the model carefully second by section and placed them in 9 separate boxes, which he stacked. Reno grabbed four and left five to Reeve. And now they were off to find out Reeve's fate…

The man looked at down at the model of Midgar, joy and pain both in his eyes. In anger that had taken him in days previous he had smashed the removable section that had once been Sector 7. How could it all have gone wrong like this? It was his dream, created together with his best friend of years, and ruined in a single explosion. And by that very friend who had given him all of this in the first place.

"Reeve?" came a hesitant voice at the door. The man didn't even look up to face the one he KNEW was there.

"Fuck off Reno."

"Sorry, Tseng said I'm not allowed to on duty, but I'll take a rain check," he said, moving to just inside the door.

"I said get lost, and that is an order."

"And if I disobey, sir," the Turk asked, crossing his arms.

Reeve shook his head and moved to touch the ruins of his model. It had all been made by hand, right down to the little people he'd made for it, and the cars. Even the lights were real Mako Energy lights. All gone.

Then he felt arms around him, a body pressed up against his from behind. Reeve almost pulled away, until he heard the whisper of Reno's voice in his ear.

"Yo, it's okay Evie-J. Things will get better, okay?"

That was a Reno he hadn't known in years, in so many years. Reeve could not help but relax back into Reno's warm embrace. Quickly he turned in it to cry upon Reno's shoulder. It was the first time he'd cried in a long time. And through it all Reno held him quietly, like he had back when Reeve had learned his mother died while he was in the middle of a test in his psychology class. When there were no more tears left Reno slowly lifted Reeve's head so he could look into the misty green eyes.

"Don't worry Evie-J. You're gonna be okay. You're still the good guy."

Reeve nodded meekly and rested his head against Reno's shoulder.

It felt like he had rested there for days when he finally broke away. Deep inside, he wished it had been days, and that he never really had to go.

Chapter Text

Until today I had thought I'd seen every beautiful sight in the world. I've seen a perfect sunrise on the beaches of Costa Del Sol, fresh, pure snow on the lands near Icicle Village, hell, even the blooming of a rare flower in Mideel. Yet none of these could compare to now…

Now there is nothing more beautiful than her. Silky soft skin, brilliant blue eyes like a cloud free sky, and the bare minimum of golden hair that shows she'll be just as beautiful as her mother. A hand, the size of that of a doll, grips my finger with such strength that I swear she might cut off the circulation. And I don't even care. I'm just so dazzled by this little baby girl, and the fact that she is mine.

It doesn't make sense. Really, who in this world would think to give a child to someone like me? Yes, my dear wife deserves a beautiful baby girl, but me? Whatever good could I have possibly have done to deserve such a precious gift? How can god trust me to take care of her when I can't take care of my city? There is so much to do. So much caring, so much patience.

But I won't let her down. No, never. I'll always be there for my little girl, my daughter, my angel. Letting her down would be the greatest sin in the world.

You're less than a day old my little girl, but all I can think of is pampering you and making sure no one ever hurts you. Not ever. I'd move the sun if you asked it of me.

As gently as possible I brush my lips against your tiny hand and pray that I never do anything to wrong you.

Chapter Text

He watched as she lay there, stretched out on her bed, banging her head to the music and flipping through a magazine. A curtain of silken blonde hair fell about her face and curtains of blue silk dangling from the canopy bed obscured her from his view. It had come to this, over the past three years, watching her silently while she went about her life.

No matter how hard he thought back, he could never figure out just when they had drifted apart, or even why. She always said it was because he had left her mother to die so that he could work, but he had always felt it was because of the Mako Reactors and Midgar. One could only guess how she was treated at school as the daughter of a Shin-Ra executive. Someone could only hope that the pain that touched his life, the death threats, the bombs, the assassins, would never carry over and touch hers. And yet…

"What do you want?" a voice suddenly cut in to fill the silence that reigned between them.

How could he have known that she had been watching him the whole time from the mirror above her vanity?

"Your mother's parents called me this afternoon… What they had to offer me was quite a shock. And then they told me that you suggested it?"

"So what?" she demanded, removing her headphones and tossing the magazine into a stack she had on a dresser.

"You should have told me. I know that life here can't be easy…"

"WHAT DO YOU KNOW?" she exploded, rising so quickly.

He had never heard her voice so sharp, so far from her mother's melodious tones.

"Every day of my life is hell because I am YOUR daughter! I have to go to school with SOLDIERS watching over me, just like that Rufus kid! And like hell I'm going to accept it. What do you know of living my life? At least you didn't have such a disgrace to the human race as your father!"

The words cut him to the core, yet he could not find it in him to be shocked by them in the slightest. This had been building up for many years now. And there had been nothing he could have done to prevent it short of leaving Shin-Ra and thus putting a price on both of their heads. Yes, maybe he had designed this city, but he cared, right? He still cared for the people of the plates and of the slums. He didn't see them as the mindless masses that turned over their worthless lives to Shin-Ra.

"I didn't mean for it to turn out like this dear," the words began, a speech rehearsed so many times before in his head. "Nothing I ever did was meant to hurt you or make your life worse. I have lived every day since your birth trying to make sure that nothing hurt you…"

"Bullshit dad, bullshit," she hissed. "I'm going to live with Grandma and Grandpa. So just fuck off already. Nothing you can say or do will change my mind!"

This said she moved to him, pushed him from her doorway and slammed the heavy wood in his face.

And the only thing he could think of was, 'What more could I have done?'

Chapter Text

They took me out to drink. It figures that Turks would find something so simple to be the answer to all of life's problems, even one as basic as death. For an hour I had watched Rude drinking Reno under the table and Tseng sipping at designer coffee. Somehow it actually helps to ease some of the pain. Or… Maybe it's the vodka. Yeah, definitely the vodka.

"Reeve," the graceful Wutain finally says, nudging me in the ribs. The action almost causes me to fall over. At the moment I am wrapped up in Reno and Rude playing a Turk endurance game… Namely, who can drink the most without having to stop for a bathroom break.

"Yehh?" I ask, finally noting that my words were starting to slur.

"Maybe you've had enough…"

"Like hell he has," Reno shouted, shoving one of his beers across the table towards me.

"Cheater," Rude said, grabbing the pint and pushing it back towards Reno.

Even with sunglasses in the way I could sense the glares exchanged between the two partners. It was almost as if they were about to pull out their guns on each other. Although which type of gun was up to the imagination…

Giggles escaped my lips, a good way to show the coffee-wedded Wutain that I was paying him absolutely ZERO attention right now.

"Reeve!" he barked, as he often did to get the attention of an 'injured' Reno.

Flinch. Okay. That has my attention. Green eyes, doing their best to look innocent and like a mournful husband. I just couldn't do it. Too much vodka in my system. On an impulse I reached out to lay my hand upon the thigh of the Wutain beauty. A strong, though delicate looking hand grasped my wrist before I could react, and then the sharp pain and sudden urge to scream told me all I needed to know about the current situation.

There was an expression of shock from both Reno and Rude as their attention returned to us, Tseng looking quite guilty, and me whimpering with the broken wrist cradled in my lap. I must say, whimpering does not suit me very well when I'm in an expensive suit drinking the finest vodka and surrounded by Turks. Especially not two nights after my wife's funeral.

"Shit Tseng," Reno spoke up, "You gotta get him to the hospital. I mean, I know you're like a total sadistic bastard and all, and you've broken guys' arms for a lot less, but shesh! Just a drunk widower feelin' you up, ya know?"

As Tseng rose and helped me to my drunken feet I could have sworn I could see Rude smirking in amusement. Well fuck him then.

You know, one evening with the Turks, watching them talk like this makes you realize what how well they work together as a team out in the field. But I'll be damned if you really want to know them as friends or enemies.

How did that old saying go? With friends like Tseng who can break your wrist without trying, who needs assassins to try and blow your brains out? Or something like that at least.

Oh, what is this? Hello Mister Floor!

Somewhere in the back of my mind I store away the final conscious image of the night. Three Turks, two horny and drunk off their asses, the other looking distinctly red, lift me onto the stretcher as if I was merely a feather. Amazing what three Turks can do when they put their minds to it right? Like getting a mourning executive so drunk that they can break his wrist…

Chapter Text

That dirty bastard! How DARE he do this to me? This is the lowest form of torture ever. One day I shall have revenge upon him for this. Maybe I'll sell that coffee pot…

There is nothing I can do but watch and follow as he waves a box of cordial cherries in front of my face. I know that I'm licking my lips Already the taste of the sweet white liquid fills my lips. And the idea of nibbling at the tip to get to the sweet cherries inside. To have the sugary juice slowly leak into my mouth…

"You going to tell me where it is, or do I have to enjoy these and the other sweets all by myself?"

"Other… Sweets?"

I was practically drooling.

He revealed that he had popsicles as well, the kind with the sweet white ice cream on the inside of the tart red cherry juice. Then there were the bourbon balls. On my god. How badly I just wanted to jump him and search him inside out. And when I got a hold of the candy I'd lick all of the wrappers inside out, cleaning the chocolate from my fingers like a preening cat.

The Wutain was obviously having fun with his torture, at the idea of me going crazy over the idea of sugary-sweets nearby. He knew, like no other, that I'd turn myself inside-out for candy. It wasn't my fault. I have a REALLY bad sweet tooth. Once or twice he accused me of having a kinky place in my heart for chocolate… If he only knew.

"What do you want to know?" I asked, practically on my knees and begging for the box in his hands.

"I've also got a box of chocolate covered raisins if you give me the information."

Okay, that was TOTALLY not fair. I LOVE those things.

One could even see when he realized he'd broken me entirely.

"Behind the filing cabinet," I finally submitted.

Three minutes of silence was rewarded by him throwing me the box of my favorite sweets. And while I enjoyed the flavor of cherries exploding in my mouth I knew he'd be in his office making coffee to put into the coffee mug I had stolen and hidden from him.

Damn that man. He knows me inside out.

Chapter Text

A picture had always rested upon his deck, through the good times, and the bad. It held the beloved depiction of mother, and father stood stoically behind her. At times he could even remember the warmth of their embraces.

But not this day. Today the frame had been violently slammed down, the glass cracked as a result. Somehow he couldn't find it in him to care. Betrayal could do that to anyone, even the best of them.

The phone was ringing incessantly, but still it did not matter to him. It was almost as if the ability to care was beyond him at the moment. Maybe it was because all emotions save shock were beyond him at the moment.

And still the wretched bell rang, demanding his attention. Finally it stopped. Now the intercom went off, buzzing all the while.

"Mister Tuesti? Are you okay?"

No response did he offer her. How could he? Why would he? He was too busy resting his burned-out mind and shattered heart. Trying to understand why exactly this had happened had consumed him. He wasn't really a bad guy was he? But that was what he'd been called, by his own father none the less. And just before them man said that Reeve's own daughter was coming to live with him and his new wife.

Now there was knocking, worse than the ringing and buzzing really. This was because that particular knock indicated a new and specific menace.

"…" no words as the imposing bald Turk strolled into the room.

"Go away Rude."

"Sir," he finally spoke, "Are you injured?"

Yes. Mentally, emotionally, but that wasn't what Rude was asking.


"Floor?" the Turk questioned. That was Rude for 'Why are you on the floor you jackass?' Well, maybe not jackass, but close enough anyway.

"Comfortable," Reeve replied in Rude's native tongue.

"Problem?" Rude questioned, probably so that he could pass the information on to Tseng.





"Taking daughter."



Silence. Reeve could tell that Rude was pondering his situation. As Rude let the silence extend, Reeve grew to realize that there was no way to win.

"Sorry," finally came to fill the gap.

"Yeah," Reeve said, finally sitting up. "Me too."

Chapter Text

Once upon a time my answer would have been different. Back them you could ask me what the greatest pain was, and my answer would have been the death of my wife. More recently I would have given the title, erroneously, to letting my daughter down. Yet, I know different know. I know the truth of God now.

"Would you like to say a couple of words Mister Tuesti?"

Mutely I shake my head. No longer is it a case of wanting to talk, but of being able to. It is the stress and the pain and the trauma… and the injury. The thing that caused my pain also took away my ability to speak of it, but only one person knows that.

So many memories greet me as I watch your coffin lowered into the ground. Roses enough to cover ten bears in thorns and silky petals cover every inch of the pine box. Tears stream from more eyes than I can count.

And like this, unable to voice my pain, I watch as my daughter, my teen, is lowered into the ground.

No father should ever have to bury their baby girl. No parent should watch their children die. Yet this, this pain, is placed upon me. God punished my sins by stealing away the life of my only child…

Chapter Text

Never before had I imagined that silence could be so terrible to handle. It hurts not to be able to speak, tell them to stop handling me with kid gloves.

"Reeve," is whispered in my ear. He can sense my tension. Comforting arms tighten around me, instilling part of his infinite serenity into me. Gentle lips press against my neck.

I want to turn and tell him I caused her death; that my work in Shin-Ra led to the car bombing and all of this. Lead to her death and my mute state. But I can't. No sound will come. Never will they let me claim the blame that I KNOW belongs upon me. Tseng won't let me.

The last time I had tried it had been with typing. I could type faster than he could read, and yet… Somehow he had known where I was going with the sentences, and unplugged my laptop. And then when I'd tried to write it out… My pens were taken away for months.

I was unable to protest either. All there was for me was angry silence.

"Reeve," is said once more.

Silence is my response.

"I love you."

It hurts so much that I can't make sounds enough to tell him that I love him back.

Chapter Text

Some like it hot. Some like it cold. Some like it black. Some like it with milk. Sometimes I drink it and worship it. Sometimes I loath and condemn it. Now was a time I hated it more than anything.

Sure, coffee had gotten me out of the middle of a sticky situation before, but it put me right into the middle of one.

There sat Tseng, my best friend (and something more at times) across from the couch I was perched upon. For an hour I'd been attempting to lure him into a conversation, but all attempts had failed. Once more the dark brew had come between us.

"Goddamnit Tseng, will you put the mug DOWN?" I finally snapped, glaring at his favorite coffee filled mug.

Unfazed, the Wutain looked up at me and smiled. "Reeve, do you want some?"

In response I threw a pillow from its place beside me on the couch at his head.

"Damnit Tseng, I swear that if you don't put down the damnable mug I will hurt you."

"Reeve, I would not even suggest that if I were you."

"It is almost like you care more for your coffee and that mug then you do for me!"

A predatory gleam entered the Wutain's eyes.

And when I woke up two hours later, my body still wrapped around his, I swore I could feel the cold ceramic of his coffee mug between us. That whore…

Chapter Text

Honestly? He'd been afraid, really afraid. At first all he had known was that his wife had gone to the doctor one day, and said 'we need to talk' the next. On the phone she had assured him that she did not have some fatal illness, but he could hardly believe it. Maria was always trying to spare him worrying, which just caused the worrying anyway.

He'd been told to wait for her in their apartment, but he could not sit still. He was pacing back and forth, counting the time it would take for her to get back from work. Unlike her, Reeve had the day off. So all day he had sat here, thinking of the worst possible situations.

Then there was the sound of a key entering a lock. The executive whirled quickly to regard the door. Time almost stood still as the lock slowly turned, releasing its grip upon the door. Slowly it opened, revealing his beloved wife. As he had grown to expect during the past month, the woman was positively glowing with joy. A wide grin spread over her features as she noticed him there, waiting.

"Hello honey, did you enjoy your day off?" she began, her tone conversational.

Maria burst out laughing as she was caught up in Reeve's embrace, the worry on his face giving her great joy.

"What is wrong?" he said, starting to inspect face, neck and arms.

"Hey, hey, slow down mister," the happy wife said, pushing him away.

With this done she was free to turn and close the door. After that she lead her still worried husband into the living room and directed him to join her on the couch.

"Reeve," Maria said, leaning against him.

"Yes love?"

"You know how we always talked about having a family together?"

"Yeah. When we are ready then we'll try…"

"Reeve, there is no need to TRY…"

Shock was written on his features. "Do you mean…?"

"If it's a girl, can we call her Rena?"

"Oh my god," Reeve shouted, jumping up and pulling her into a strong embrace. "You're going to be a mommy! And I'm going to be a daddy!"

The woman laughed at her husband's enthusiasm. "One big happy family."

Chapter Text

He watches her as her gaze lingers on the sunset. The crimson skies that warn of ill weather come the morn bathe her in warm light. Beams of yellow sun mingle with the tine of red clouds to make her golden hair look as if it was the sweetest of honeyed wines. And oh, how he wanted to drink her up.

"Junon is so beautiful at sunset," she says, her voice like a heady perfume that he cannot break free of. Not that he desires to.

The silver silk of her dress, made red in the light of dusk, ripples as she turns to face him. Playful sapphire eyes beckon him to join her upon the balcony. He can do no less than obey. She could ask him then and there to jump from the edge to his certain death, and he would smile and ask if she wanted one flip or two.

"Midgar will be lovelier," he said as his hand meets hers and closed around it. "Our city will be perfect."

"Save for it being run by the Shin-Ras," she points out, the musical tones of her voice causing inexplicable joy in him.

"Yes, the one flaw in our designs my dear."

Her smile in the dusk-light makes his heart yearn quietly for her. The woman he loves, his dearest Maria. Someday they would be married, and would look out over their city.

"A toast?" he offers.

"To our future, and to our Midgar."

Two wine glasses chime as they are struck together, and as the final hint of bloody sunset relinquishes to a starlit night.

Chapter Text

"It's just as I picture it. Perfect. Just perfect."

"It is an oasis my dear, but holds no beauty next to you."

She smiles and settles back into my warm embrace. Once more we are watching the sunset, as we did long ago in Junon. Once more there are glasses of wine before us. And once more I cannot help but be enraptured by her and my love of her.

Our fingers lace together as our hands rest upon her stomach. Maria's smile widens as she carefully sets aside first her, then my, glass of wine. Soon she's turned in my arms, and rests her head against my chest, our fingers still entangled.

"Yes," she whispered into the lapel of my suit.

"I didn't ask anything."

"You didn't have to."

I kiss her forehead as I pull the velvet case from my pocket. Still she holds my left hand.

"Don't ask. It would ruin the moment."

Slowly our fingers unlace, and I slip the ring upon her finger The diamond reflects the crimson light in all directions and mingle it with blues and greens and violets. And never before have I seen her as lovely as she is now, my fiancé, in my arms.

"Big gem," she mumbles in an off-hand manner.

"The SOLDIER escort said I should buy a big one," I replied, blushing as red as the sunset.

"My poor gullible Reeve," she chuckled, "So naïve."

Then she allowed silence between us. And yet we are never silent, even as this gem's beauty will never fade.

Chapter Text

He's in a maze he can't escape, caught in a wheel of misfortune and anguish. Betrayed by lesser emotions that can overtake you faster than the winds of a hurricane. He stands there, alone, the darkness closing in and threatening to overtake him. For years he has lived here, amid the pain and silence, upon the border of death's embrace, knowing that at any second it could all prove for naught.

A being made of tears and fears, impure and angst-ridden. Human overall, but foolish in the end. Ultimately a coward.

Except now, the darkness was no metaphor for the misery of his life. No, it was the darkness of pending doom. The darkness of the night rushing in to fill the gap that his life was leaving. And deep within he could sense, could TELL that the Lifestream would not want him. He had created the Mako Reactors, and the Planet would have its revenge upon him. There would be pain, the feeling of being ripped apart and having no hope in the end. And the Planet would make him suffer it all for eternity.

There it was now, the all consuming dark. He only prayed that sometime he would finally be allowed to be with his Maria and Rena and Tseng once more, warmed with their warmth in the eternal darkness of death.

Chapter Text

The Trousers of Time. A belief that at all decisions, minor or otherwise, a new dimension or alternate/mirror universe is created from the other remaining choices.

Now a choice such as this lay before Reeve. Egg salad sandwich with coffee or peanut-butter and jelly sandwich with milk. Both had their pros and cons. Oh dear, which to choose.

Mmmmm… egg salad. Sure, it made his breath stink, but it was really fresh and he hadn't had one in months. Bonus was the coffee, because fresh coffee could be used to bribe Tseng into joining him for lunch. (Tseng's addiction to coffee was something of worry though.)

Then there was peanut-butter and jelly, just like mom used to make it. Yet peanut-butter made his tongue stick to the room of his mouth. Jelly could easily stain his shirt, suit and tie. Worst of all, milk in abundance occasionally lured the slightly insane Reno to his table. (Which was bad because Reno was always bugging him for money for booze.)

"So sir, what will it be?" the lady at the lunch counter asked.

"Bologna and cheese with a sprite."

Chapter Text

Through the screen he could see the world from Cait Sith's eyes. The low pixel count of a computer far less advanced than Cait's optic sensors caused some distortion on the screen. And yet it wasn't enough distortion to hide the familiar figure. At first his heart had soared, glad to see the Wutain safe, until the screen registered the growing crimson pool.

Words did not register to him as he stared at the image of a dying Tseng on his screen. Had he full control of Cait, the robot would have lingered, tried to help the lover of his master. Yet Reeve's heart lingered there, with the dying lover.

Some said a person brushing with their own death was the most changing experience one could have. Yet they did not have to see this. Did not have to experience the death of not a first, but a second love. And this one was so much more gruesome.

In that moment all of the hatred, all of the anger, and all of his loathing of Shin-Ra grew stronger. In seeing that blood and his lover moan that he was not dead yet, every last scrap of allegiance to Shin-Ra died away. And in that moment, so long and so hard, Reeve stopped caring for anything but the destruction of the company that had ruined so much.

When the chance came for Cait to be a hero, Reeve allowed it with no hesitation. Both he and the feline were ready to give far more than their lives to avenge the death of Tseng against Shin-Ra and against Sephiroth.

And when Reeve next saw him, alive and well, he knew that he could no longer love the Wutain as he wanted to. Tseng would always be Shin-Ra's, until his death. Maybe it would have been better for him to have died.

Chapter Text

"So Reeve, why did you request today off for vacation? Something special happening today?" Reno asked, his hand sneaking towards a pile of carrot sticks the elder male had just cut.

The executive laughed and smacked Reno's wandering hand away from the orange vegetable. He had been up since dawn chopping vegetables and the such, so he wasn't letting Reno ruin the work. Reno, on the other hand, had not awaken until ten, and was surprised to find his truly strange bed-fellow cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

"Yes, so keep your hands off my vegetables Reno," Reeve said, brandishing the knife in Reno's general direction.

The young Turk rolled his eyes and plopped down on a kitchen stool. "You plannin' a big dinner or something tonight? Am I invited?"

Reeve nodded as he set aside the knife so that he could move to the oven to check on the large turkey therein.

While the wandering eyes of Reno intended to check Reeve out (how could he not with this lover bent over like that?) they strayed instead to the calendar on the wall above the oven. Today's date had been circled and a full moon drawn upon it.

"Shit, don't tell me you celebrate the Harvest Festival Reeve!"

"Okay Reno," the dark haired male said, "I won't tell you."

Were the red-head not totally serious he would have laughed at Reeve's remark.

"Dude, no one celebrates the Harvest Festival anymore!"

"My family always has. Just because I live in Midgar doesn't mean I can, or want to, forget family traditions."

There was a defeated sigh from the Turk. Then a smile spread across his face. At least he'd managed to invite himself to a feast, correct? Once more the truth dawned upon him.

"Wait… This is more than enough food for you. Who are you having over?"

"My sister Renee and her husband Claude. You of course. And I was thinking about inviting Couri as well."

A shiver went through the Turk, and a scowl entered his eyes. "Why are you inviting that skank?"

Reeve, who had returned to his chopping of vegetables set aside the knife once more. "Reno, must you always use such eloquent words when referring to our mutual ex-girlfriends?"

The scowl did not dissolve. Reno hated nothing more than Couri Scytha, a slender Mideelian woman who was the only woman in history to ever dump Reno Tarshil. He had his pride to think of you know? And she had dumped him for REEVE of all people. Then again, who could blame her? He knew the most wonderful tricks… ARGH! But that wasn't the point.

"Besides, she's nice enough, and my sister insisted. They get along famously."

'Yeah,' Reno thought to himself, 'They both like pointing out your bad taste in picking me.'

What he said was, "Well I'm not coming…"

"Yes you are Reno," Reeve said, not looking up as he moved quickly to take the now cooled boiled eggs from the sink where he'd left them. The man started peeling off the shells with experienced ease. "Because if you don't then you won't get a piece of pumpkin roll…"

This statement caused Reno's jaw to drop. Reeve's pumpkin roll was something to die for. And, come to think of it, Reeve only made it once a year. Harvest Festival time that is. Odd how he hadn't noticed it before…

"But…" Reno stammered, "You'd save me a piece wouldn't you?"

"I don't know Reno, I always run out so quickly. I eat half of it by myself. And with both Couri AND my sister here, well…"

"Fine!" Reno growled. "I'll be here."

"Then help me with these deviled eggs," the older man said with a smile, "And don't mess them up too much."

With an annoyed sigh Reno moved to help his lover prepare the Harvest Festival feast. At least he knew that at the end of the day he'd have pumpkin roll to make it all worth it… And if Renee and Claude were staying at a hotel at Reeve's expense... A smile touched Reno's features at last. That would leave the house all to them for the night.

'Note to self,' Reno thought, 'Find excuse to run out today and buy more whipped cream for tonight.'

Chapter Text

No shock was written in those dark eyes. Not even a visible flinch as the verdict is passed upon us. Suddenly I'm at a loss to find any emotion, real or imagined, shining through those cold, dead eyes. Try as I might, I find it is all for naught.

My words have been said, leaving me aching with the need to hear something, anything at all from those pale lips. Yet there is nothing to satisfy that need in me. It is almost as if you are made of marble. So instead I allow my senses one last memory of you. They linger upon the brush of your silky hair against my cheek.

It is the memory of just after Sector 7 fell, the night you saved me from myself. The scent is of the hospital room, so cold and sterile… kind of like you without the harsh lighting. The sound is rain pelting against the windows and monitors beeping, whirring and whistling. The sight is your perfect face, so close to mine. The taste is your lips, sweet like honey, bitter like coffee, and salty like your tears all at once.

That was the moment I realized I loved you. It was pain and pleasure wrapped up in shock for hours after you left my bedside. I yearned to understand you, understand me… and understand us. So suddenly my life was as clear as a crystal, like it had never been before. From that moment on I lived for you.

And yet, my lover, you betrayed that. All the nights in bed, all the days sneaking kisses… I wish I could ask you now if they meant anything. When you called me Aibou, were you serious or just flattering me? Did you ever actually love me as I loved you?

Did you know that I cried, my sweet lover, when I saw you there, dying before my eyes? I was so close to abandoning everything: my mission; my job; my life; so that I could see you live. To think that you could give your life for a company that cased all your pains. And you did it without hesitating.

"Sir," you say, looking up from the report you had looked away to sign. "Is there a problem?"

I shake my head. The only problem I ever had was loving you so much, Aibou.

"No Tseng."

"Good," you respond, returning to the report and your day full of work. "Oh, and I expect you are still available to consult next week on the structure of the buildings we must deal with in our upcoming mission."

"Of course," I say, turning to leave the room.

For a moment it almost feels as if your eyes are upon my back. But that cannot be. You never loved me enough to care, now did you? Oh, what a fool I was to ask you to leave with me. We both know that we could escape, and that the Turks would leave too. No one would ever hurt us, especially with Shin-Ra's downfall pending.

I accept it at last, and walk out of the room. Yet I cannot help but think that it would have been better for you to have died my sweet lover.

Chapter Text

"No, they were more like swoops, not triangles," the woman said, nervously gesturing to the monitor on the table between us.

"Like this?" I asked as I used the pen of my drawing tablet to edit the digital portrait of the suspect. A quick sweep of the pen and the tattoos on the image are erased and new ones replace them.

"Yes, like that! His ears were a bit smaller too. There you go!"

"And his hair ma'am?"

"Red like a car, his tattoos the same."

With the fill tool I colored in the directed areas of the sketch.

"And his eyes, they were cold and pale and blue. No, not that shade… Yes, that one. Like ice they were. Then there were his sunglasses, they held back his hair. Designer ones…"

"Which ones ma'am?" I asked, pushing a few pages of pictures of designer sunglasses to her for her inspection.

"These ones," she said pointing.

I quickly drew them in as she said.

"That is him, that is the man I saw."

"Thank you ma'am," the detective with us finally spoke up. "You are free to go. An officer will escort you home."

The woman nodded and headed out of the interrogation room. I, having work left to do on this image, remaining in my seat. Already I had a sketch pad out and a real pencil, since they suit me so much better, and began editing the image we has already made by composting the descriptions from the other witnesses who had viewed the killer.

"Well, that is the last of them," Detective Valentine said as he stood.

Not even for a moment did I look up to regard the dark male, preferring to work on the portrait that I'd been asked to do for the police.

"Don't you even want to know what is going on?"

"Remember the Coldwell murder?" I asked while transferring the newest detail, that of the tattoos, onto the composite.

"Of course. Pretty gruesome thing."

"Couldn't sleep for a month. Figured out it is better to just be in the blind about these things," I said, finally handing the finished sketch to Vincent. "Okay, through all of that contradicting shit, I've found your relevant details and drawn you your damn suspect."

"We'll send the normal fee to you," Vincent said, "And you'll keep the original right?"

"As always," I confirmed, not adding that the suspect would have made a great model for me.

"Pleasure doing business with you Reeve," he male said before heading to photocopy my sketch.

Yeah, helping the cops catch killers and other bad guys was fun and all, but them showing up outside of my studio when I'm with a client was not the nicest thing they could have done. Especially not Vincent. Really, he looked like a modern vampire, which had clearly upset the priests I had been painting for their church rectory. That would surely kill that commissioned piece. The priests would probably rather deal with someone that didn't know Vincent freaking Valentine.

Within moments the tall male has returned with my work and the pay from the police department. I tossed the pad back into my pack and took the check with a smile. At least this would cover me for the week until I convince the priests that Vincent was only a cop, not the devil incarnate.

"Need a lift home?" Vincent asked.

A nod was the only reply that I needed for this whole thing.

"Come on. Oh, and I'm sorry if I scared those padres off," he chuckled, not waiting for me as he left the room to go and fetch the keys to his car.

"Yeah right, Detective Valentine, you regretting something?"

My fingers twirled the pencil around and around in them, my mind wrapping around the idea of a new work of art. And yet nothing could come to me. Try as I might, nothing I started seemed to feel right. Hell, I had even tried my normal answer for handling an artist's block, that being drawing Detective Valentine from memory and making him look all dark and demented. Then again, making him look dark and demented was not very hard to do.

Searching for inspiration of any sort I pawed through my back pack until my fingers came to rest upon the sketch book. Something compelled me to take it out and open it to the sketch of the wanted man. When my eyes met those of the pictured male I could not help but shiver. Carefully I propped the picture up upon a chair, then moved to the blank canvas upon my easel. A few moments and I was at work. First his face came to be, then hands and body lean enough to be considered effeminate. Next was a suit and a cigarette in one hand. I added background finally, a brick wall for him to lean against, before finally sitting back with a smile. It had taken me four hours, and it was a small piece, but it looked good for the rough painting it was. It was only the base colors, meaning nothing looked the colors they would be in the end, but it was satisfying enough.

Finally satisfied with the work of the night I left the canvas and my things where they lay and headed to bed.

"Reeve, Vincent here. We need you to come by the station. There was another shooting last night after the picture you drew was on the news. Some guy who was trying to call in a tip we think. This one was in plain view, probably spur of the moment which means more witnesses to interview," Vincent's voice came over the speaker of my answering machine. I growled and lunged for the phone before Vincent could hang up.

"How many?" I shouted before he could hang up.

"You're going to want to bring your own coffee pot," Vincent joked, though anyone could sense the truth in his words.

"I should be paid double for this," I said with a sigh before hanging up on the dark detective.

For the fifth time this morning I sent a longing look towards the canvas in the corner before picking up my pack and grabbing the sketch pad. This was going to be a long day.

"Vincent, how many more are there? I swear if this keeps up my hand is going to fall off," I groaned in annoyance as the twelfth witness of the day was being escorted out. This was one of my rare breaks during a long string of working on more details for the sketch of our killer.

"Like I said earlier, he was very public this time, not caring who saw him," Vincent said from over his cup of coffee.

"Which is a change in his MO, right?" I questioned, sipping at my own hot brew laced heavily with sugar to better wash down my aspirins.

"Yes. It really is starting to seem like he killed the guy because he was recognized for your picture. Which means we are getting close to an answer."

"You'll tell me when the funeral comes up, right? I mean, it's kinda my fault that he's dead, right?"

"Not your fault at all Reeve, don't think about it. You're going to help us put this guy away."

"And what if there are others? What if the killings don't stop?"

"They will," Vincent swore, a fire I had never seen before burning in his eyes.

Another night meant another hour of trying to figure out just what I was going to do. Already a new sketch of Vincent had been made, all pen this time, showing the fire in his eyes. Now boredom was striking again, worse than before. Again the sketch pad was set up, the newest rendering of the murderer's face on the top as I went back to my canvas. Colors were mixed, and a new layer added, bringing the colors just a step closer to perfection. Who knew, maybe one day this piece would be worth a lot, being the only painting with a killer as a subject and the person not actually there to model. What would he call it?

Before the end of the night half of the painting was done, and I could stand back and almost see the finished product before me, not just in my head. Carefully, lovingly even, I washed the brushes and covered the canvas for the night. The morning would present another chance to finish it.

Except that didn't happen now did it?

"Ugh?" was my greeting as I answered the phone.

"Good morning to you too sunshine," Vincent's voice purred. That sound could only mean one thing. If only I was conscious enough to remember what that was.

"Nrrgh?" was my response.

"You should get yourself some coffee Reeve."

"Owh?" Yeah, still incoherent.

"We caught him."

That shocked me awake. Awake enough to think about how Vincent would be gloating right now, a triumphant smile upon his face and a predatory gleam in his crimson eyes. This image was, of course, a great thing to wake up to, trust me on that one, but the suddenness of it followed by the shout of 'REEVE!' by Vincent to stir me from the few moments of silence caused me to roll right out of my bed and onto the floor.

I could hear the wince on the line as Vincent heard me crash to the floor. A moan was my response.

"You okay?" his voice echoes in the room.

I fumbled around for the phone. Upon finding it I answered as I stood. "Does it sound like I'm okay?" I was rubbing my hip at this point

"Well, considering it took me so long to rouse you enough to make you fall, I'd think you were enjoying yourself. The pain must have balanced some things out, so you should be perfectly fine."

"Fuck you Vincent," I hissed into the phone, sitting down on the bed.

"Sorry Reeve, I'm too busy. Maybe another time."

Vincent must have been REALLY happy about his catch, because otherwise he'd never joke like this. Especially not at, I glance at the clock, three in the fucking morning.

"Vincent… Why the hell are you calling to tell me this at this hour?"

"Thought you might like to see how closely your sketches match the guy."

Despite my desire to yawn, the idea of getting a real look at the man I was painting was irresistible… As was being around the tall, dark and handsome detective when he was in a mood like this.

"Pick me up in thirty, okay?"

"You got it."

"Dressing up to meet a murderer Reeve?" Vincent asked, crossing his arms to smirk at me from my door.

"Whatever," I said, shouldering my pack and pushing him out of my way so I could close the door behind me.

"You develop an attachment to him or something?"

"What are you accusing me of?"

"You always get so emotionally involved in your models."

"Who says?"

"Reeve, I saw your new picture of me on your kitchen counter."

"Did you like it?" I could not help but ask.

"See? You care too much."

I scowled at the smirking Detective and shoved him into the wall, causing a slight chuckle from him.

"Reno, got a little visitor for you," Vincent said as he approached the bars of the cell.

"How sweet of you Detective," a cold, sarcastic tone greeted me, "what you got? Someone you wanna scare straight? Sorry Detective, I don't do life stories."

"Well, as much as being scared straight might do him good, I think it might lose us the guy who helps us catch guys like you."

"I wouldn't say that I do that much. I'm just an artist who can cut through witness bullshit."

"Who is this joker?" the male, Reno evidentially, said.

Now I got my first good view of the man, as he chose to wander from the shadows into the light. Bright red hair hung in his eyes which were blue like a glacier. The sunglasses were missing, and the white tailored shirt he wore was untucked and sloppy. Other than that he wore a black zippered suit. The newest detail from my sketches, the crimson tattoos near the eyes, looked almost like fresh blood in this light. Yet worst of all was that smile, so calm and collected, as if he was on vacation.

"You know about the police artist that did the composite of you? The one we got all the tips on and led to your arrest? This is him."

The calm smile upon Reno's face changed to a devilish grin. "I'll have to thank him for it sometime."

"Behave Reno. Now, Reeve is going to sketch you for us, and you are going to behave. Got it?"

"Whatever you say detective."

"He's all yours Reeve. You know the drill."

A nod came from me. I wasn't supposed to say my last name, or where I worked, or where I lived, or anything else like that. It would have been easy if Reno had stayed quiet.

Of course, nothing had been going my way recently, much less now.

"So, you're the bastard artist. Do you feel guilty about that guy I killed because of you?"

"You'll be put to justice," I said as I sat in the chair Vincent had brought with us. I pulled out my sketch pad and flipped to a blank page. I let the silence hold its power over us as I drew.

Finally Vincent returned and indicated that it was time for us to go. I nodded and put away my things.

"See you 'round Tuesti," Reno said mockingly.

I don't know who was more shocked by his knowledge of my name, Vincent or me.

"Just walk away, before he guesses that he is right," Vincent advised me in a low voice.

While I followed his instructions, I knew it was too late. He knew.

Yet another night came, the fears of the daylight cast aside as I took my place once more before the painting. Paints were mixed and ready for me, and all was ready for the final layers that would turn the rough into the diamond. Now, with an accurate image in my mind, the painting could come into its own.

Once more I was consumed totally by my work, unable to sense the passage of time. Still, I was work from the meditative state I occupied while painting when the sound of shattering glass reached me. Next came a phone ringing, my phone, only to be cut off as if the phone lines had been cut. As quietly as possible, I rose and rushed for the lights. Far swifter than I had ever moved before, I had turned them out and I was fleeing for the bedroom. There I would find my cell phone and gun.

Except as I entered I saw the worst sight possible: a long, lean, red-haired demon stretched out on the bed, cradling my gun. Near me was a tall, bald male who moved quickly to restrain me.

"Hey there Reeve," Reno said as he rose. "Told you I'd be seeing you around. But you didn't expect this, did you?"

I bit down on the hand over my mouth and stomped on the foot of my captor at the same time. The male, either shocked or in pain (or maybe both) released me to grab his foot. Though I tried to run from the room, I only succeeded in being tackled from behind. When I was on the floor, pinned by what had to be the red-head, I knew I was fucked. Reno quickly rolled me so that I lay on my back and he straddled my body.

"What? Leaving so soon? I think not. See, I have a bone to pick with you, and not much time to do it in. Figure that detective of yours will be over when he realizes that not only am I out thanks to Rude, but you ain't answering your phone."

That was it. If I could keep him busy long enough Vincent would come. But the cold caress of the gun barrel against my face told me otherwise.

"Don't even thing about him making it here in time to save your pathetic ass. You're going to be our message to him. No one messes with us Turks."

"Reno…" the male who had grabbed me said, then looked pointedly towards the clock.

"Right, right. Too bad really. Wanted to have so fun with you. Oh well."

The gun pressed hard against my chest now.

"All of this because you're stupid enough to leave witnesses," I gasp out. I had to try and stall them.

"Not going to make that mistake this time, trust me."

"Shot directly to the heart did him in, but they shot his hands first," the medical examiner said with a sigh. "After that they shot his eyes out. There is also an interesting bite mark on the lip…"

"Enough," Vincent hissed out. He didn't want to hear this.

"Listen Detective, I'm sorry he's dead, but you have to hear all of the information if you are going to figure out who did this to him."

Detective Valentine shook his head and looked around the living room where the body had been dragged by the killer. His eyes landed upon the painting Reeve had probably been in the process of finishing when Reno had come for him. The canvas was unharmed, and unfinished. Where the face would have been painted was still blank.

"Reeve," the man whispered to himself, "I won't let this death go unpunished either."

"He died because he tried to save others. Sad irony there," the m.e. said as he stood. "He's in a better place now."

"And he leaves us all behind in this hell. That is just like him."

Chapter Text

For a year he'd been the subject of my art and he never knew it. I'd painted him against a sunset, sketched him smoking, and I'd even done him in oils as he was stretched out in the grass near the pond studying. There was something about him, in his posture, in his red hair, in the innocent glean in his eyes, that just made him a perfect subject for any medium at all. The only things I knew of him were the curve of his lips, the ice of his eyes, and how much I wanted to be his.

It was hard to go through the last day of finals that year, because I knew I might not see the nameless stranger again, and I was in the middle of a new painting. All summer I fretted about the unfinished painting in my room, and prayed I could cross the path of the handsome male once more.

Then the fall quarter of my sophomore year came and I opened the door of my new dorm only to run smack into the red-haired male.

"Oops. Hey, sorry. Guess I should look before I leap for the door, right? Oh, and I'm Reno by the way."

He managed to get all of this out before I had time to recover from the shock of the fall. Soon though he was gathering up my stuff and helping me into the room.

"Oh," Reno said as he looked at the canvas he'd picked up for me. "Hey! That's me! So you're the guy that I always seemed to see painting when I was relaxing. I thought you were some stalker dude. Good to know you're just an art student with the hots for me."

I must have turned the most violent shade of crimson because he froze.

"Dude, I was kidding," he said, far slower than before. "So, you really do like me huh? That is cool. I'm not that way though, wouldn't be even if I were on the market, you know? Yo, you coming in or not? Can't have you waiting out in the hallway. You don't have much stuff to bring in do you? Art students rarely do."

And just like that, everything was cool.

At first he accepted my work, allowing me to sketch and paint him whenever I needed to. Soon we were spending almost all of our time together. But, after fall semester had ended, to say that things got weird would be the understatement of the year.

"Yo, dude, what you doing tonight?" he suddenly asked me one night, watching me type out my latest paper for the English class I HAD to take.

"We've got a late class tonight for art studio. Model coming in that we're supposed to paint."

"So I've heard," Reno said. That didn't surprise me, he knew everything that happened on campus. "But what are you doing after that?"

"Grabbing a bite to eat I guess."

"We could go out to eat, you and me. My treat."

Something in my mind screamed 'date', but I knew this odd male too well for such an idea. Reno was straight and he had a girlfriend who I was yet to be introduced to. So, once I shut the screaming part of my mind off, there was no hesitation in saying yes to the offer.

We both left the dorm at the same time, agreeing that I would 'get in touch' with Reno when class was over. This done I was off to pick up a classmate and head over to class.

One could imagine the startled look upon my face when our nude model came in and proved to be Reno. My eyes would not leave the lithe form. They devoured him totally and hungrily. My hands moved like humming birds over my canvas, shaping the torso and legs and arms of my constant dreams. It really didn't help that I was working like a man possessed, though, because I didn't even stop working when Reno headed off to get back into some clothes. I was completely taken by the art he had once more inspired.

"Yo, uh, it's time to go," was whispered in my ear, causing me to jump and almost smear the icy-blue color I had chosen for his eyes into the flaming red of his hair.

"Reno!" I protested, turning to protect the work-in-progress from his sight.

"I said that it is time to go Reeve. Hey, can I see?"

I shook my head and pushed him away.

"You are not allowed to see it until it is done. Now go away while I clean up."

Strangely enough he obeyed me, probably for the first time since we had met (except when I yelled at him to stop fidgeting or playing with his hair while I was sketching and painting him). Reno even went as far as to offer to carry my bag as we went out into the night and off to dinner. During the whole thing that part of my mind, finally on again because it was the creative half of me and I had needed it to paint, screamed date. To quiet it I had to force it to focus upon the new painting. But date it had to be, I realized soon enough. Reno had pulled out my chair for me at the restaurant he had picked, paid for dinner and wine (where had he gotten that kind of money?), and even offered me his favorite leather jacket to wear when we were heading back to the door and it started to snow because it was so cold. This continued over the two weeks allotted to his posing for the paintings of the class.

Finally came the day before the nude painting was due to be turned in, and I had brought the canvas and paints back to the dorm instead of locking them up in the professor's supply closet like normal. I intended to devote the night to finishing touches and, of course, the signing of the painting. Reno, who was stretched out on the couch reading when I came in, bounded to his feet and sprang to my side when he saw the brown-paper covered canvas.

"Is that the painting?" he asked.

"Yeah. Got to do some touch up on your hair and eyes. Do you mind?"

Reno shook his head and fetched my stool from the bedroom as I adjusted lighting and set up the easel that rested near the TV. While I set out the paints the other male grabbed himself a chair and took up the pose he'd been using for the painting (thankfully with clothes on). An hour later I smiled at the finished work, and prepared to sign the canvas in the least obtrusive way possible. He, sensing the air of finality, sprang once more to my side.

"Can I see it now?" he asked softly.

Before I could finish my nod he was behind me, arms around my waist and chin resting upon my shoulder as I signed the bottom right corner with my initials and the date.

"It is beautiful," he mumbled, taking in the imagine of him stretched out in a lazy pose amid silken sheets (though none covering him for that would defeat the purpose of the assignment to paint a nude of Reno in any creative manner as long as the entirety of Reno's flesh was uncovered). When he man's hand moved, as if to reach out and touch the silk, I was forced to slap it away from still wet paint.

Now I find the courage to ask what has been eating at my mind for weeks, "Why have you been acting so strangely lately Reno?"


"You volunteered to pose nude when you never wear less than two layers of clothes, and in my class no less. Then you take me to dinner, often. Hell, you have your arms around me right now. I can't help but feel weird. You're acting almost as if we were dating."

There was silence for a while. "You like me, right Reeve? Practically said so the day we met. You show it in how you use me as your muse or whatever you've called it. You… Really like me, right?"

The question was said so soft, his voice and words so fragile and pained that I could not lie to him.

"Like is not enough to describe it Reno. I really like the time we've spent together you know, and I will admit that I want more, but I know…"

My words died as he removed his hands from his waist and placed them instead on my shoulders, forcing me to turn to face him.

"Every guy experiments during college right?" he spoke, as if convincing himself in preparation for something.

It was Reno's hand gripping the back of my head that kept me from backing into the painting for shock of what was going on. Reno was straight with a capital S-T-R-A-I-G-H-T, and yet here I was, being kissed by the male. Sure, the kiss lasted for less than a heartbeat (and quicker really since we're going by my heartbeat right now and it was racing), but it was enough to be called a kiss. More followed that as Reno's hands began to explore me, and my hands could not help but return the favor. My body, hell, my heart, thought it was ready for anything, but that part of my brain was shouting again, this time saying 'he's using you'.

"Reno," I try to say, only to be cut off as his lips once more pressed against mine. It took a lot to pull back from it so I could speak. "Reno, stop."

I could not help but thank, and curse, God as he froze and gave me this 'oh-my-god-you've-run-over-my-puppy' look.

"You said you liked me Reeve. You kissed me back…"

"You have a girlfriend."

"She's cheating on me..."

Damn that part of my mind being right. He's using me to get back at her.

"We shouldn't do this. I'm not going to be a weapon to use against your girlfriend."

"Ex-girlfriend Reeve. And I don't want to be with her. I want to be with you…"

That was a low blow. He knew I cared for him, that I wanted to be with him. It was much too low of a blow. I wouldn't take that. Quickly I pulled away from him, moving to pick up my paint brushes instead so I could go and clean them. "No you don't, and I won't be used. Hell, you're straight Reno. There is no way you could ever want me, so stop fooling around like this!"

"Couldn't I?" he countered, once more moving behind me to wrap his arms around my waist.

The next morning I was so sure that if someone asked it of me I could perfectly mold a hunk of clay to the shape of the body that had been pressed against my back the night before. Now I could hear nothing, so I assumed Reno had gone to his room to do something like change. Noting the time on the clock I bolted for the bathroom. I had to take a shower and head to class as soon as possible. When I was washed, dried and changed I quickly returned the now dry canvas to the brown paper wrapping it had been in the night before, and fled from the dorms, not bothering to check on Reno.

I came to regret that decision when I returned to the dorms that evening with one of my friends from the art class, a perky blonde female named Elena (whose real major was in business and public relations). From the buzz in the lobby of the dorm (our building had a lobby because it wasn't coed and we needed to have a place to hang out with the girls) I knew something had to be up. Last time there had been this much tension in the lobby one of the top students had been kicked out because he was stalking a female teacher.

"What is going on?" I asked the nearest person, a tall, bald math major who was only ever in the lobby to read. I was as shocked that he replied as I was of his answer.

"Your roommate just got kicked out. Some girl accused him of raping her."

"You… You can't be serious," Elena said. She had grown fond of Reno through hours of cumulative flirting with him before and after he posed every night for us.

"This can't be true! He told me she was cheating on him and so he broke up with her."

"They say he did it last night," Rude continued.

"Impossible. I would have noticed if he left the dorm last night!" I protested.

Elena shook her head, "You sleep like a log. He would have had to have tripped over you for you to wake up Reeve."

I couldn't protest that, but I couldn't find it in me to tell them that he would have had to have done just that to get out of my room last night. And yet… where was he this morning? Quickly I turned from the pair, who were now talking in whispers, and headed for the dorm.

"Reno?" I asked as I entered the dorm and heard someone moving around in his room.

The red-haired male, his face bearing a frown for the first time, stuck his head out of his room. The frown only deepened as he saw me.

"Shit, I was hoping to be gone when you got back."

"What is going on? Did you actually…" I couldn't say it.

Reno shook his head, "Naw man, and I would have thought you knew me better than to suggest that. Cops cleared me, but she took it to the dean first, and I was booted. Even being innocent won't get me back in now. Not sure I wanna stay anyway."

How could I respond to that?

"Hey, about last night…" Reno said, "Can we just pretend it didn't happen? Wouldn't want to ruin my rep and all, not more anyway. You know how people gossip."

No words came out of my open mouth. How could he say that? Nothing happened? But everything had happened, and it still hadn't been enough for me.

"Thanks for understanding man," he continued, not even looking at me. Now he came from his room, a duffle bag over one shoulder and his book bag over the other. "I'll send my brother up for the rest of it next week. See you Reeve."

This said he had walked out of the dorm, and out of my life. The next day my major was changed to English, because I could no longer bear to look at canvas or paint or even my sketch pad.

"Ready to see your adoring fans Reeve?" Elena asked.

"Why did I agree to this again?" I replied, growling at the woman as she messed with my shirt, smoothing out the various wrinkles and creases.

"Because I'm your press agent and I said so?" she responded with a cheerfulness that bordered upon a playful anger. "Besides, Tseng said that if you behaved you could stay tonight for dinner. He's making your favorite."

"Ah yes. The bribe of your husband's cooking. I knew I was getting something out of this."

But this was said to the back of Elena's head. The charming woman I had known since college could become that cutthroat agent at a moment's notice. Originally I'd only asked her for advice when the copyright on the first book of my series had expired. I had needed a temporary agent to negotiate me the best deal possible. She'd kind of stuck around since then. Now we were here, at the release of my fifth book in the series called 'Shadows of Mako'. Over the past six years I had become quite popular.

The head of the blonde peeked back through the door, "They are ready for you Reeve."

I took a deep breath and followed her out into the public eye, only to wish I had stuck with painting, and thus be completely unnoticed by the public. Now-a-days fans seemed to be everywhere I went. I had even been forced to hire a security detail after a woman had broken into my house a few weeks ago.

As I had practiced many times before, I put on my most charming smile and moved to the signing table. I knew that in time the smile would be genuine as I heard all of the praise of my fans, praise like I had been used to in college when I turned in my paintings, but for now this would do.

"Hello, and how are you?" I asked of the young lady at the head of the line. She looked about ready to faint. In her hands she held the newest book, Cold As Ice, and the older Fallen Shinobi.

Oh my go! It's really you! I'm so pleased to meet you Mister Tuesti! I just love your books! I know them all! I love how you're like telling about one big story from a different point-of-view in each book. I mean, are they all actually going to die in the end?" she squealed, not once breathing. I could not help but think for a moment about when I first met Reno.

My smile spread into a grin, "So, who should I make this out to?"

With that said she turned the books over to my custody, "Yuffie. I really love your book Fallen Shinobi. It's like, so beautiful. The heroine is just so cool! I think it would be cool to meet her in real life!"

"Yes, I really like her too. Such an optimist you know?"

"I love how you made the city Midgar feel so real and the threat to the Lifestream seem so true to life!"

"Yeah, but it is a good thing we don't live in a world like that, right? We don't want a giant company like Shin-Ra taking over, now do we?" Finally I handed back the books. With a smile and a perky cheer the female ran off.

This continued for a while, people bringing me different books of mine and the new on for signing, maybe fore gifts or for sale on ebay. They would all rant about the planet of Makou, the city of Midgar, and the story covering the ending years of the city. They praised the Lifestream, booed the insane General named Sephiroth, and asked me to tell them how it would all end. Finally my hands were starting to grow cramped like when I used to paint for hours on end, and I knew that I could take just a few more before I'd have to end.

A book was laid down before me, one of the first edition copies of my first book, Lost Souls. I knew this because only that book had a painting I had made of the lead character of the book on the cover. It was a beautiful, mint condition copy. One could almost reach out and touch the suit clad assassin of Shin-Ra, his suit disheveled, his hair unkempt, and sunglasses only managing to keep the hair from his eyes. This had been my last painting, made from a sketch of Reno made just before the nude painting that still hung in my bedroom.

"Could you make it out to Reno? Maybe put in some sappy line about how you miss him and how he totally rocks as a guy to write about. Then maybe you could give him a reason for why you write or something…"

The voice caused my eyes to shoot up in shock. They met the cold blue gaze of the man depicted on the cover. The slight smile on his face encouraged me to play along for now, feign ignorance. So I signed the book: 'To Reno, who I shall always miss even though I don't know who he is really. At least he's got cool hair. –Reeve'.

When I pushed the book back he looked down at the words, then back at me, a smirk in place. "Oh, that is a lot blow."

"Really? How low?" I asked, a sudden, unexplainable anger welling up in me. "Low like leaving and not writing? Low like sleeping with me and then telling me to pretend it didn't happen? Or low like letting me think you actually raped that girl?"

Reno rubbed the back of his head, something I remembered was a sign of nervousness in him, "Yeah, like that."

"Reno?" a voice came from behind me. Elena.

I stood, "Excuse me. I've things to attend to."

Without letting him speak I walked away from him and the approaching Elena, opting for the cold outside. It was quite peaceful out there, because it was the middle of winter and thus chilly enough for people to avoid the outside. Yet it was not long before I heard the door behind me open.

"Reeve, can we talk?"

"Go ahead and talk Reno. Can't say I'll listen."

The red-haired male moved to my side and dusted the snow off of a bench before the bookstore. He sat down and looked up at me, as if daring me not to sit down. I sat.

"Listen man, I had to leave, okay? Father got sick. Had to go back home."

My anger dissolved instantly. "I'm sorry Reno."

"Don't be. I hated the old guy. But, like me and my brother were the heirs to his fortune, you know? So we were expected to come home and learn to run the family business."

"Which is?" I asked.

"You know Cerberus Utilities?"

"Of course." Who didn't? Cerberus Utilities was the second leading supplier of water, electricity and natural gas in the USA, behind only ShinRa Electric.

"Yeah, we kinda own that."

Insert jaw-drop here.

"So, I had to go back, but people weren't supposed to know who I was right? I'm sorry I had to leave. I didn't want to."

I looked at my hands guiltily. For all of this time I had been mad at him for leaving. How could I be now?

"But it is for the best right? My company is one of your biggest supporters. We provide copies of your books to every library that wants a set. We started doing it after you got really popular of course. And think about it, if I hadn't have left, you'd just be some poor painter right now with a really creepy boyfriend who had been disowned by his family."

"Yeah… Wait… Boyfriend? Reno, we weren't…"

For the second time in my life he shocked me with a kiss.

If things keep up like this, who knows where we will be twenty years from now...

Chapter Text

He gets up, knocking the alarm to the floor in the process and cursing softly under his breath, half at himself, half at actually waking up alive yet again. A pathetic mewl comes from the protesting kitten as its owner rolls, knocking it from his stomach to the bed. The beep of an automated coffee machine turning on in the kitchen proclaims it really is that time. The beck and call of a shower cuts through his sleep fogged mind.

A shower wakes him enough for nostalgia. His heart yearns for yesterdays, an end to the todays, for tomorrows to never come. His body cries for some heated touch more than a shower and wash cloth can provide. A voice that really doesn't seem like his own, because the jaded pain would not come into it until the first cup of instant coffee, moans lightly at the pleasure of the heat and the touch.

Soon a robe of the finest fabrics covers his bare skin. He walks to the kitchen and pours a cup of the instant brew, letting the bitterness seep into him because he needs it to get through the day. The kitten rubs against his ankles and purrs, begging for its breakfast. He chops up some ham from the fridge to feed his little Cait. This done, he and his coffee head for the bedroom.

Mindlessly he goes through a closet full of suits until he picks one identical to yesterday's. He wonders for the millionth time why he has to many others if he always wears the same ones, yet he knows he would never get rid of them. That would just be too big of a change.

Carefully he puts it on, finishes his coffee, and heads towards his door. Suit case, keys, phone, and gun all go to their proper places, then telling the cat not to wait up, he leaves.

A car ride lasting thirty minutes brings him to his same reserved parking lot. An elevator ride lasting a third of that time brings him to his floor. Five more minutes and exactly thirty-four paces bring him to the door of his office. Two minutes are wasted removing his heavy outer coat, gun, and putting his suit case away. Five minutes later he's on his way to the 40th floor, the private floor of the Turks. A quick change in their locker room finds him in the pool.

After a while his muscles ache and he climbs out. His second shower of the day is followed by a third changing of clothes so he can use the weight equipment. More time passes and another shower comes and goes. This time he is back in his suit, and heading up the elevator, ready for another day.

His cup is refilled five times between eight when he starts and one when his lunch break starts. It is always five refills, once an hour. For lunch he orders another cup of coffee from the cafeteria, and the standard lunch order of a salad, no meat. It comes up twenty minutes later, right on time. The woman brining it grins, warns him that he should eat better then leaves the room.

The food is pushed around a bit, less than half eaten, before he turns his attention back to his work. Some of the time he types. Some of the time he signs. Some times he read papers. All of the time he is busy like a good boy. Occasionally his secretary comes in to collect or drop off things. Other than that is it a normal day.

Then it happens again, the only thing that varies in his routine. A Turk enters his office. The red-hair, the messy clothes, the unmistakable desire for the lovely body, all mark this as Reno. They launch into their normal conversation. It is habit now that cause him to refuse Reno's offer to join the Turks for 'post-slaughter drinkies'. He wants to say yes though, he has always wanted to say yes. Yet he couldn't, because the cycle that is his life won't allow it.

When all is said and done Reno leaves him to the mounds of busy work. He is thankful for this, because it is what is supposed to happen, and he doesn't think he can handle the change at this point. So until eight he works, a cup of coffee every hour, and all grows silent. Few people are still around after five, and he is one of them.

Finally it is nine. He puts his gun in its holster, pulls on his coat and then picks up his suitcase. Five minutes and thirty-four paces carry him to the elevator. A ten minute elevator ride carries him to the parking garage. A car ride lasting thirty minutes returns him to his house.

Keys and phone are left by the door with the suitcase. His gun is returned to its place. A coat is hung up. Quietly he moves to the kitchen and takes some leftovers out for himself. While the microwave warms the food he goes to the bedroom to change.

Jeans and t-shirt are his choice. Both are dull and plain: no bright colors or silly saying or logos. Slippers go on after this, and he shuffles about, waiting for coffee and food to be done. The leftovers come first, so he leaves them in the microwave. More ham from the fridge he uses to feed his kitten. Once the coffee is ready he takes it and the food to the living room to watch the Shin-Ra News Network.

He knows all of the truth though. Very little of the real news shows up here. One has to go to a Turk for real news, and he wasn't about to do that at all. Doing so would threaten the monotonous cycle of his life.

As he eats he thinks back, like always, and wonders why he lives like this. Sure, there is security in this manner of life, but was it worth it? Now he was only like a machine going about his basic life. Nothing, he realized, was going to change that.

When he is done eating he goes through the normal order of washing the dishes. A shower is next, the fourth of the day, and changes for the final time. Carefully he sets his alarm, crawls into bed, and stretched out, willing for sleep to come.

And the morning comes, as it always does.

He gets up, knocking the alarm to the floor in the process and cursing softly under his breath, half at himself, half at actually waking up alive yet again. A pathetic mewl comes from the protesting kitten as its owner rolls, knocking it from his stomach to the bed. The beep of an automated coffee machine turning on in the kitchen proclaims it really is that time. The beck and call of a shower cuts through his sleep fogged mind.

A shower wakes him enough for nostalgia. His heart yearns for yesterdays, an end to the todays, for tomorrows to never come.

Chapter Text

"Hide Reeve, Red is coming," my secretary hisses through the intercom.

There is barely time enough to dive into the closet and close it before I heard the door of the office open. Footsteps grow far to close for comfort. The alluring scent of the red-one calls to me, and somehow I manage to resist. Finally I hear footsteps receded, and I release the breath I have been holding.

The footsteps pause. I have been heard! Soon the scent returns full force and the door of the closet is flung upon. The red-one joins me in the darkness, much to my displeasure. A shout of disgust almost escapes me before a strong hand clamps down over my mouth.

When I finally escape the closet I flee as fast as possible to the offices of the Turks. I run right into the arms of Reno.

"Yo, what is going on ma? You look like you got tortured or something."

"Closet… Hiding… Red… Hurts…" I whimper.

"Shit, Scarlet did that to you AGAIN? You poor guy. Come on, let's go get you some pain killers and enough drinks to kill some major brain cells."

Obediently I follow the younger male, and hope that there is enough booze in the world to wipe the memory of Scarlet's lips from my mind.

Chapter Text

Music blaring, lights flashing, bodies writhing in pleasure from it all and more. Drinks were flowing, and minds being left behind at the door. It was all about the senses here. Nothing was logical, nothing was about thought or dreams or love or any of that shit. It was all about impulses, about living in the moment for this short amount of time.

This was his first time here. Reno had jumped him on his way out the other day and had refused to leave him alone until he agreed to join Reno in a night of clubbing. It had been his assumption that Reno was only doing it because Rude was going to be doing something else that night, but they had both shown up at Reeve's door at six that night. The more excitable of the pair had run through the house trying to find Reeve something 'appropriate' to wear, while Reeve and Rude had shared an annoyed silence over a cup of coffee. When Reno had let out a triumphant shout both had winced. It couldn't have been good. And good it was not, for Reno had managed to find the pair of tight leather pants and an emerald green muscle shirt he had bought Reeve several years back. The executive thought he had directed Cait to throw them away long ago.

An hour had been spent upon making Reeve look right. After pants and shirt had been put on the lean executive Reno had set about hair and make-up. Reeve was sure that Rude was quietly laughing to himself the whole time. Eye shadow had been first, an unobtrusive color to accentuate his eyes apparently. Then Reno had put mascara on him, and painted Reeve's nails as well. By the time Reno had gotten around to using some colored hair spray to give Reeve even more of a different look, Reeve had been about ready to call it quits.

Then Reno had brought in the blackmail. A quick picture of Reeve in the whole get-up had ensured the behavior of the older male for the whole night… and the use of Reeve's checkbook to foot the bill of drinks and such. With this all secured, Reno had piled them all into the black 2002 Ferrari Enzo (where had Reno gotten the money for that?) and set off for destination unknown.

The name of the place was Diamond Dust, named after the attack of Shiva. From the moment he had set foot on the threshold Reeve had wanted to chicken out, but Reno just waved the picture in his face. With a defeated sigh he had come in. Now here he was, watching the throbbing mass of people 'dancing' under the strobe lights to music he could hardly call that. It was more like the sound of the death throws of an Acrophies. In his hands he cradled the trademark drink of the place, 'Liquid Nitrogen'. It was the color of melted silver and close to the consistency as well. But the drink had a kick to it, something that kept him buying more. Maybe it was the fact it was laced with drugs, just like everything here, but he couldn't be sure.

His eyes were drawn to the only body that he could pick out in the crowd. Reno was in the very center, visible only by the hair on his head. All around him people pressed closer, as if intoxicated by his movements. It was quite likely, because the man was like a dream out there, at least a wet dream. The silver and blue foil pieces that seemed to fall without end like snow from the ceiling had caught in places in his hair, making him glitter and shine. It was impossible to look away.

Two Liquid Nitrogens later Reeve rose from the cold barstool. The frigid temperatures of this place had bothered him from the beginning, but in his current state he had come to understand some of the idea behind it. Some of it was the idea of a club dedicated to the ice goddess being cold, some of it was to encourage people to dance to keep warm, but more than anything it was to keep the drug hazed patrons from over heating. It was a really good idea, because it kept any on duty police and soldiers out of the way.

Now the man moved towards the dance floor. The beat of the music was finally growing on him, and the idea of body heat around him pulled him forward. But more importantly, he wanted to join the others in the attempts to woo the fiery male that had been dancing without pause since he had come in. Without so much as an 'excuse me' (which is odd considering Reeve was a polite man) he pushed his way towards the Turk in the middle of the dancing mob. Unfortunately those closest to Reno had seemed to have made a barrier, keeping every other seeking person from the male.

It was a stroke of luck that Reno opened his eyes, much less noticed Reeve through the drugs that undoubtedly clouded all of his mental processes. None-the-less he pulled the uptight male towards him, through the resisting ring. The slight invitation was all he needed. Reeve became one with Reno in the dance.

Time passed, it could have been seconds, minutes, or hours, but it passed. All of the former resistance of Reeve had melted away into the blaring music, the flashing lights, and the writhing bodies. After all of that time, or was it only a minute, he felt more of Reno than every pressing up against him, and really, it was exciting.

"Come on, I know where we could entertain ourselves a bit more privately," the Turk whispered into his ear, his voice husky with lust.

"Whatever you want," Reeve agreed, but he was just as ready to fuck with Reno here and now, regardless of who could see them.

With a grin wider than before, and much more amusing because of the small piece of shiny blue foil in Reno's teeth, the Turk lead the older man out of the throng of people.

The bathroom, while the obvious place, had not been Reno's idea, much to Reeve's shock. Even through the booze and drugs in his system the logical side of him shouted that it was where they should go. But his lips refused to say it, because they were more focused upon worshiping the perfection they had found in Reno's slender, pale arm. It wasn't until Reeve was pushed onto a couch that he realized they had arrived.

Not once did he question exactly WHERE they were, but he did question (after he hadn't seen Reno for two seconds, which was quite too long for him) why he was here. A door closed and a lock clicked before he noticed the footsteps of the Turk. The fiery male slowly crawled over the arm of the couch to straddle Reeve. Lips pressed together, meeting for the first time with a desire that seemed to be unquenchable.

"We gotta be quick about this," Reno said as he pulled away. "Rude will come looking soon, and I'm not really supposed to bring strangers into the back room."

Reeve smiled up at Reno, only a part of him deep inside, under all of the piles of rubble that were logic, intelligence and self-control, said anything against this whole thing. Too bad its voice could not be heard over the distant sound of the loud music.

By the time they rejoined the party in the club the two males both had smiles wider than that of the Cheshire Cat upon their faces. Reeve had a bit of a limp in his step, but he was so out of it he could not have cared less, even if he felt the pain. Reno led the executive up towards the balcony that overlooked the dance floor, where Rude would be waiting for them, looking as sober and stoic as he had when the three of them had entered.

"Where have you been?" Rude said. He was in charge of 'chaperoning' the little outing, and making sure Reno didn't go overboard with his plan. Though from the limp Reeve was showing, he was quite sure Reno had done just that.

"Here and there," Reno said, pulling Reeve down into a seat.

Reeve merely grinned and took the drink Rude pushed towards him. A little less than ten minutes later he was sleeping on the table.

The first thing he noticed upon waking up was the throbbing pain in his head. It was like a whole band of drums only were playing right behind his eyes. The second thing he noticed was that there was a horrible pain in his backside. The third thing, and probably the most crucial, was that he wasn't in his bed, but in an inn.

With a groan Reeve stumbled from the bed, ignoring the pains in head and backside, and made his way for where he assumed the bathroom would be. He found a bottle of extra strength aspirin on the sink, the kind that SOLDIERs and others with Mako enhancements took to get through pain. Logic had awoken enough for Reeve to decide that only one would probably do it.

This was when he looked into the mirror. Eyes accented by eye-shadow and mascara widened at the sight he found on his neck… A bruise that looked a LOT like a bite mark. Quickly Reeve took inventory of the other injuries on him. There were bit marks on his thighs, bruises on his upper arms, scratches down his back, and a little bit of dried blood between his legs.

Shocked out of what little of the mind he had in his possession, Reeve crawled into the shower and turned the water on as hot as he could handle. After a few minutes of trying desperately to get clean, he curled up on the floor of the shower instead. There was NO way that could have happened.

"Yo, Reeve, Where are you?" a voice echoed through the room of the inn. Reeve covered his ears, not ready to be confronted with what had happened the night before.

"Bathroom," he finally relented a moaned.

Reno was at his side in a minute, "Hey, you okay? You look like shit. Rude said he left some strong aspirin in here for you. Did you get some?"

The older male nodded and was relieved Reno had left the shower curtain closed. "Yeah, I got some."

"Good. Don't need you hurting all over right? Oh… And um… You don't hurt THAT bad, right?"

"What do you mean?" Reeve asked.

"Oh, nothing. Never mind."

Well, Reeve thought, at least Reno was going to let it go as if Reeve had totally forgotten about the night before. Not that he could remember enough of it to really consider what might have happened.

"I guess we won't be going out to another club any time soon," Reno said with a sigh.

Ah yes, there it all was. The drinking, the being high, the dancing, the sex, the falling asleep, the getting to the inn and having sex again, with both of them that time… Wait… Sex? With BOTH of them?

"Oh god, Reno… We didn't… Did we?"

There was a moment of silence between them.


"Please tell me we didn't."

"Okay then. That makes it easier. Reeve, I promise you that you and I did not have mad sex in the back room of Diamond Dust, much less wild sex in this in room with Rude."

A bar of soap was thrown at Reno. "I TOLD you not to tell me you whore!"

Reno chuckled as he ducked. He couldn't help but barb Reeve one more time. "Actually, from what I saw last night, it is you that is the whore, not me."

Now a bottle of shampoo was thrown, followed quickly by conditioner. "Fuck you Reno. I never want to see you again!"

With this Reno shrugged and slipped out of the bathroom. It would be better to leave Reeve alone for now… But he wouldn't mind trying to talk the man into another night like last night. Man, could that executive party.

Reeve curled up in a tighter ball and tried to forget the whole experience until he realized that forgetting would lead to Reno sucking him into it again. Fuck. He was screwed, wasn't he? This was what he got for listening to Reno even once. Never again he swore… while at the same time another side of him was planning what to wear the next time.

Chapter Text

Music blaring, lights flashing, bodies writhing in pleasure from it all and more. Drinks were flowing, and minds being left behind at the door. It was all about the senses here. Nothing was logical, nothing was about thought or dreams or love or any of that shit. It was all about impulses, about living in the moment for this short amount of time.

This was his first time here. Reno had jumped him on his way out the other day and had refused to leave him alone until he agreed to join Reno in a night of clubbing. It had been his assumption that Reno was only doing it because Rude was going to be doing something else that night, but they had both shown up at Reeve's door at six that night. The more excitable of the pair had run through the house trying to find Reeve something 'appropriate' to wear, while Reeve and Rude had shared an annoyed silence over a cup of coffee. When Reno had let out a triumphant shout both had winced. It couldn't have been good. And good it was not, for Reno had managed to find the pair of tight leather pants and an emerald green muscle shirt he had bought Reeve several years back. The executive thought he had directed Cait to throw them away long ago.

An hour had been spent upon making Reeve look right. After pants and shirt had been put on the lean executive Reno had set about hair and make-up. Reeve was sure that Rude was quietly laughing to himself the whole time. Eye shadow had been first, an unobtrusive color to accentuate his eyes apparently. Then Reno had put mascara on him, and painted Reeve's nails as well. By the time Reno had gotten around to using some colored hair spray to give Reeve even more of a different look, Reeve had been about ready to call it quits.

Then Reno had brought in the blackmail. A quick picture of Reeve in the whole get-up had ensured the behavior of the older male for the whole night… and the use of Reeve's checkbook to foot the bill of drinks and such. With this all secured, Reno had piled them all into the black 2002 Ferrari Enzo (where had Reno gotten the money for that?) and set off for destination unknown.

The name of the place was Diamond Dust, named after the attack of Shiva. From the moment he had set foot on the threshold Reeve had wanted to chicken out, but Reno just waved the picture in his face. With a defeated sigh he had come in. Now here he was, watching the throbbing mass of people 'dancing' under the strobe lights to music he could hardly call that. It was more like the sound of the death throws of an Acrophies. In his hands he cradled the trademark drink of the place, 'Liquid Nitrogen'. It was the color of melted silver and close to the consistency as well. But the drink had a kick to it, something that kept him buying more. Maybe it was the fact it was laced with drugs, just like everything here, but he couldn't be sure.

His eyes were drawn to the only body that he could pick out in the crowd. Reno was in the very center, visible only by the hair on his head. All around him people pressed closer, as if intoxicated by his movements. It was quite likely, because the man was like a dream out there, at least a wet dream. The silver and blue foil pieces that seemed to fall without end like snow from the ceiling had caught in places in his hair, making him glitter and shine. It was impossible to look away.

Two Liquid Nitrogens later Reeve rose from the cold barstool. The frigid temperatures of this place had bothered him from the beginning, but in his current state he had come to understand some of the idea behind it. Some of it was the idea of a club dedicated to the ice goddess being cold, some of it was to encourage people to dance to keep warm, but more than anything it was to keep the drug hazed patrons from over heating. It was a really good idea, because it kept any on duty police and soldiers out of the way.

Now the man moved towards the dance floor. The beat of the music was finally growing on him, and the idea of body heat around him pulled him forward. But more importantly, he wanted to join the others in the attempts to woo the fiery male that had been dancing without pause since he had come in. Without so much as an 'excuse me' (which is odd considering Reeve was a polite man) he pushed his way towards the Turk in the middle of the dancing mob. Unfortunately those closest to Reno had seemed to have made a barrier, keeping every other seeking person from the male.

It was a stroke of luck that Reno opened his eyes, much less noticed Reeve through the drugs that undoubtedly clouded all of his mental processes. None-the-less he pulled the uptight male towards him, through the resisting ring. The slight invitation was all he needed. Reeve became one with Reno in the dance.

Time passed, it could have been seconds, minutes, or hours, but it passed. All of the former resistance of Reeve had melted away into the blaring music, the flashing lights, and the writhing bodies. After all of that time, or was it only a minute, he felt more of Reno than every pressing up against him, and really, it was exciting.

"Come on, I know where we could entertain ourselves a bit more privately," the Turk whispered into his ear, his voice husky with lust.

"Whatever you want," Reeve agreed, but he was just as ready to fuck with Reno here and now, regardless of who could see them.

With a grin wider than before, and much more amusing because of the small piece of shiny blue foil in Reno's teeth, the Turk lead the older man out of the throng of people.

The bathroom, while the obvious place, had not been Reno's idea, much to Reeve's shock. Even through the booze and drugs in his system the logical side of him shouted that it was where they should go. But his lips refused to say it, because they were more focused upon worshiping the perfection they had found in Reno's slender, pale arm. It wasn't until Reeve was pushed onto a couch that he realized they had arrived.

Not once did he question exactly WHERE they were, but he did question (after he hadn't seen Reno for two seconds, which was quite too long for him) why he was here. A door closed and a lock clicked before he noticed the footsteps of the Turk. The fiery male slowly crawled over the arm of the couch to straddle Reeve. Lips pressed together, meeting for the first time with a desire that seemed to be unquenchable.

"We gotta be quick about this," Reno said as he pulled away. "Rude will come looking soon, and I'm not really supposed to bring strangers into the back room."

Reeve smiled up at Reno, only a part of him deep inside, under all of the piles of rubble that were logic, intelligence and self-control, said anything against this whole thing. Too bad its voice could not be heard over the distant sound of the loud music.

By the time they rejoined the party in the club the two males both had smiles wider than that of the Cheshire Cat upon their faces. Reeve had a bit of a limp in his step, but he was so out of it he could not have cared less, even if he felt the pain. Reno led the executive up towards the balcony that overlooked the dance floor, where Rude would be waiting for them, looking as sober and stoic as he had when the three of them had entered.

"Where have you been?" Rude said. He was in charge of 'chaperoning' the little outing, and making sure Reno didn't go overboard with his plan. Though from the limp Reeve was showing, he was quite sure Reno had done just that.

"Here and there," Reno said, pulling Reeve down into a seat.

Reeve merely grinned and took the drink Rude pushed towards him. A little less than ten minutes later he was sleeping on the table.

The first thing he noticed upon waking up was the throbbing pain in his head. It was like a whole band of drums only were playing right behind his eyes. The second thing he noticed was that there was a horrible pain in his backside. The third thing, and probably the most crucial, was that he wasn't in his bed, but in an inn.

With a groan Reeve stumbled from the bed, ignoring the pains in head and backside, and made his way for where he assumed the bathroom would be. He found a bottle of extra strength aspirin on the sink, the kind that SOLDIERs and others with Mako enhancements took to get through pain. Logic had awoken enough for Reeve to decide that only one would probably do it.

This was when he looked into the mirror. Eyes accented by eye-shadow and mascara widened at the sight he found on his neck… A bruise that looked a LOT like a bite mark. Quickly Reeve took inventory of the other injuries on him. There were bit marks on his thighs, bruises on his upper arms, scratches down his back, and a little bit of dried blood between his legs.

Shocked out of what little of the mind he had in his possession, Reeve crawled into the shower and turned the water on as hot as he could handle. After a few minutes of trying desperately to get clean, he curled up on the floor of the shower instead. There was NO way that could have happened.

"Yo, Reeve, Where are you?" a voice echoed through the room of the inn. Reeve covered his ears, not ready to be confronted with what had happened the night before.

"Bathroom," he finally relented a moaned.

Reno was at his side in a minute, "Hey, you okay? You look like shit. Rude said he left some strong aspirin in here for you. Did you get some?"

The older male nodded and was relieved Reno had left the shower curtain closed. "Yeah, I got some."

"Good. Don't need you hurting all over right? Oh… And um… You don't hurt THAT bad, right?"

"What do you mean?" Reeve asked.

"Oh, nothing. Never mind."

Well, Reeve thought, at least Reno was going to let it go as if Reeve had totally forgotten about the night before. Not that he could remember enough of it to really consider what might have happened.

"I guess we won't be going out to another club any time soon," Reno said with a sigh.

Ah yes, there it all was. The drinking, the being high, the dancing, the sex, the falling asleep, the getting to the inn and having sex again, with both of them that time… Wait… Sex? With BOTH of them?

"Oh god, Reno… We didn't… Did we?"

There was a moment of silence between them.


"Please tell me we didn't."

"Okay then. That makes it easier. Reeve, I promise you that you and I did not have mad sex in the back room of Diamond Dust, much less wild sex in this in room with Rude."

A bar of soap was thrown at Reno. "I TOLD you not to tell me you whore!"

Reno chuckled as he ducked. He couldn't help but barb Reeve one more time. "Actually, from what I saw last night, it is you that is the whore, not me."

Now a bottle of shampoo was thrown, followed quickly by conditioner. "Fuck you Reno. I never want to see you again!"

With this Reno shrugged and slipped out of the bathroom. It would be better to leave Reeve alone for now… But he wouldn't mind trying to talk the man into another night like last night. Man, could that executive party.

Reeve curled up in a tighter ball and tried to forget the whole experience until he realized that forgetting would lead to Reno sucking him into it again. Fuck. He was screwed, wasn't he? This was what he got for listening to Reno even once. Never again he swore… while at the same time another side of him was planning what to wear the next time.

Chapter Text

Everyday he'd looked out the window and seen it. Sometimes it was hard to believe that it had only been there for two weeks. The harsh red image of Meteor never changed, only seemed to grow larger and larger in the sky. Even working as he was with AVALANCHE, a sense of dread had come over him. Something inside of him said that all he had worked for was for nothing at all.

Midgar, as he had always known it, was destined to be nothing more than a pile of rubble.

Already the final battle was near, and Reeve knew that. He also knew that even with evacuations many would die. While Cloud had suggested Reeve escape, he knew he could not until everyone else was safe. He had made this hell on stilts, and he would be the last to leave… if he left at all. He was ready for the fall of his city, and all be damned if he wasn't there for it.

The sound of a ping from his computer marks that the battle of a lifetime has been joined. Now he finally understands that he could lose it all to Sephiroth and Jenova. His city, his robot, his freedom… but far more importantly, Meteor would crush all that remained of his loving Maria's vision of Midgar.

Sure, Meteor would fall, and his own life be destroyed unless Holy was unleashed, but what could he do? His life was falling out of whack, and there was nothing in the world that he could do.

And as he watched Holy trying to stop Meteor, but only making it stronger, something came to mind. A child's rhyme… Ring around the rosie, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down…

Then darkness took over as the world crumbled around him.

Chapter Text

Careful… Careful… Almost got it…

"Reeve!" came a shout at the door of the office.

The executive flinched at the shout. Unknown to him, the flinch had caused the tiny gear he held in his tweezers to knock an even smaller spring off of the CPU of Cait. Well, it wasn't really a spring though it looked like one. It was actually a metal coil, and without it completing the circuit, Cait would never turn on.

"My GOD Reno, what could you POSSIBLY want right now?" Reeve angrily demanded of the Turk. How dare Reno steal his moment of glory?

"Wanted to ask if you were joining us for lunch."

Reeve shook his head and returned to his place hunched over the robot. Carefully, finally, he put in the final gear and then closed the access panel up.

"Oh, you finished it? Turn it on!"

Emerald eyes rolled while Reeve listened to the Turk. Finally he gave in and grabbed the remote from his desk. This was his moment of truth. With the flick of a switch he turned on Cait Sith.

There was a moment of baited breath, and then… Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

"Oh well," Reno said. "Guess we should leave the robots to Scarlet and Hojo."

"This can't be," Reeve grumbled in disbelief. "He should be on!"

"Whatever. Guess this means you won't be joining us for lunch. Oh well."

And with that Reno left.

Reeve, on the other hand, was in a state of panic. For years he had been working on Cait Sith, having it suddenly refuse to start would NOT be accepted. The access panel was reopened and Reeve pulled out his work glasses. He would get to the bottom of this.

Three hours later and Reeve was still unable to figure out what exactly had gone wrong. This was when Reno found him.

"Yo, Reeve, you just missed an executive level meeting. The President is pissed."

"Go away Reno, you are distracting me."

"Man, you still at it? Just throw the thing away. It obviously isn't worth it."

Reno earned himself a cold glare, worse than any even Rufus had ever given him. The fiery Turk couldn't help but to shiver.

"It is your fault I bet. I bet something broke when you came in this morning."

"Don't blame your short comings on me!" Reno said.

"Short-comings? I'll give you short comings…"

Reeve threw a stapler at Reno, who deftly ducked the projectile. By the time a staple remover, a paper weight shaped like Midgar had followed the stapler, Reno decided he should react. He did so by tackling Reeve to the ground.

"Get a hold of yourself Reeve!" Reno said, shaking his friend.

Reeve winced suddenly.

Reno blinked, "I didn't hurt you did I?"

Reeve shook his head, pushing Reno off of him. He sat up and felt around the area where his neck had been… And came up with a tiny spring. Well, it wasn't a spring really. It was a coil, a small metal coil which had fallen from Cait Sith's CPU. The coil to heaven! The executive let out an excited whoop and dived for his tweezers. Twenty seconds later Cait Sith was up and moving… And pummeling Reno at the command of his master.

'Oh well, at least it was a happy ending right?' Reeve thought, 'Despite having to attack Reno with a cat.'

Chapter Text

It would be easier to start off by telling you what isn't wrong with me. I'm in really good health. I've also got a lot of money. I have ten whole dollars in my pocket right now! And I'm smart, really smart… when things are going my way.

You see, I have these really, um, what are they called, oh yeah 'vivid delusions', but it isn't 'schizophrenia'. No one can figure out just what is wrong with my eyes and ears and head and imagination. It isn't that I always see things that aren't real, but they do happen a lot. They get so bad that I don't know what is real from what isn't real. A lot of the other patients say that my mind is broken and that my imagination is 'over-active'. Whatever that means.

Why just yesterday I had the COOLEST 'hallucination'. I was a hero against this really bad guy who was going to use a giant fire rock to destroy the world. The best of all was that all of my friends from the hospital was there. But they were all really different. Cloud, this really timid weak guy who can't talk was the big important hero. It was great to see what he could be like if he wasn't broken like me. Then there was Tifa, who thought she was a cowgirl. She was Cloud's hot girlfriend, but she looks kinda plain when I'm not seeing things.

Nanaki, he acts like he is a cat, so maybe that is why he was that awesome lion thingy. And Barret, he has the mind of a five year old, but he's a lot of fun. He gives you piggy back rides if you ask really nicely! Yuffie, who was in the thingy too, she's the bestest nurse ever, almost like Aeris, my doctor.

Yet the doctors say I got violent towards the end yesterday. That is why I was tied up. When I'm bad and I hurt people they tie me up, for my safety they say. So I don't break any bones. I think it really is because they don't want me to break my mind anymore.

But maybe it is more broken. Because I'm seeing a lot of blood, and I don't think it is real. Then again, when I don't think things are real they tend to be just that. So, whose blood is it? I don't feel pain, so maybe it isn't me.

"Reeve," a voice gasped from the door. Yuffie. "What have you done?"

I look around and note a bloody metal thing in my hand. It was covered in red. Then I saw Aeris on the floor. She had a lot of red on her too.

"She was broken," I say, but it doesn't feel like me talking, "I fixed her…"

Chapter Text

"Reno, no! I am NOT doing this!"

"Oh come on Reeve! You're such a wimp!"

"You would be too!"

"Yeah, maybe. But only a lame-ass pansy would be freaked out!"

"Who you calling a lame-ass pansy?"

"You, you big clucking chocophobiac!

Yeah, yeah. I can hear you saying 'Pause, wait, HOLD UP! Chocophobiac? Reno's right Reeve, you ARE a lame-ass pansy!' Well I've got news for you, chocobos ARE scary. Their beaks are larger than a human head. Their eyes are as big as my fists together. And those claws! I got attacked by a chocobo as a kid once, there was feathers and blood EVERYWHERE. No matter what Reno says, they ARE scary! Now, back to the action.

"Don't call me that," Reeve growls, trying to pull away from Reno.

"It's just a big bird. Come on, all you have to do is pet its head and then you can go."

Reeve doubts this is true, but does relax a bit.

"One pet and then I'm free?"

"One little pet," Reno confirms.

Yeah, I know. Maybe I shouldn't have trusted Reno. Hell, I definitely should not have trusted Reno. But face it, he's got a gun, and an EMR and knows about a hundred ways to kill me with a feather, so it is best to obey him, right? Better than waking up next to a chocobo head, yeah?

"Fine," Reeve concedes and lets the red-haired Turk guide him towards the chocobo stalls of Shin-Ra inc. The only reason Reeve made sure to include the stalls in the plans so many years ago was because the president insisted.

Reeve is lead past stall after stall of chocobos. There is blacks, blues, yellows, golds and lots of them all. Finally Reno stops with Reeve before a stately green bird.

"Yo, what is up Gysahl?" Reno says as he reached out to stroke the chocobo. It warks and rubs its head against his hand. "See? Harmless."

Reeve tentatively reaches his hand out…

I know what you are thinking yet again. 'If he pets the fucking bird then the story will be over, right?' Wrong. So very, very wrong.

… and as he reaches out to touch the bird it moves forward to check his pockets. Reeve jumps back a step in shock.

"He's just looking for a few treats," Reno says with a smile. He takes some greens from his pocket and hands them to Reeve. "Feed him those and he'll like you."

And Reeve, of course, listens. The bird takes the greens right from Reeve's hand. Reeve, so amazed, actually reaches out and strokes the head of the bird.

"Okay, time for the next step. Let's get you out for a ride."

The executive freezes.

This, of course, is the WORST idea of the day…

"Come on Reeve. Just this once?"

Hesitantly Reeve nods and accepts this fate.

And I agreed to it why?

Reno quickly helps Reeve onto the back of the bird and guides the chocobo from the stables, and out into the open air. With an evil smile on his face, Reno smacks the back of the chocobo and the bird, shocked, takes off at a break neck pace. A terrified Reeve clings desperately to the neck and prays he does not fall as he rides off into the sunset…

Just be glad you didn't have to live through the chocobo loving that happened when Gysahl found a young female chocobo of breeding age. I still shiver when I think about it.

Chapter Text

No where near enough had been found to give you a proper burial… not that Turks were ever given proper burials. Yet you deserved more than this. Sure, you were a killer, a kidnapper, and other things beside that, you weren't a moral wasteland. There was more than just what one could see on the surface.

And there wasn't enough time for me to know you. What was your family like? What was your favorite drink? Why didn't you pay more attention when I had the chance? What went on in that mind of yours? How many things did you regret?

"Well, that's it. Let's go," Reno said, "We've got work to do."

I realize now that there are too many not enoughs, and never hads, and never wanteds between us. So many more of them form every second. I never wanted you to die. I never had a chance to figure out how I would go on with out you. I never wanted you to die first; I never should have had to see this.

And ultimately it was not enough just to stand back and watch you do this. I could have saved you. Guess what Tseng… It will never be enough. I miss you.

"Reeve! Come on!" Reno demands.

Well, at least there is one thing there is enough of…

"Good bye Tseng."

One good-bye is far more than enough.

Chapter Text

"Daddy, Mommy! Wake up! Lookie! Lookie!" a happy young voice called out, waking Reeve. Well, it was more of her bouncing on the bed that woke him.

"Rena, baby, don't do that," Maria said, "You aren't supposed to jump on the bed."

He mumbled in agreement before lunging at Rena. The seven year old giggled and struggled as her father tickled her mercilessly.

"Mommy…" she laughs, "Help!"

Maria chuckled and gets out of the bed. "Sorry dear. Maybe if you say you are sorry he'll stop."

"The tickle man stops for no one!" Reeve growled playfully as he continued the tickle attack.

"Da-daddy," Rena laughs. "Stop or… I'll call Uncle Reno."

"Oh no! Not that! Mo one true weakness," Reeve says, hand over his heart as he faked fear.

Now that the tickling stopped Rena jumped to her feet and ran to the door of the master bed room. "I'm gonna call him right now!" the girl declared. "He can play with me!"

"Rena dear," Maria says, already in her slippers and robe, "Reno has work today, and you have school."

"Nu-uh!" the happy child proclaimed and ran off.

Maria sighed, "Reeve, could you…?"

He silenced her with a nod. They had a meeting with the President that afternoon and needed more time than her to get ready for work than he did.

"I'll get her ready, don't worry."

His wife smiled and kissed him when he came close. Finally Reeve ventured into the living room, where Rena was perched on the sofa watching cartoons and eating cereal.

"Rena, you know you are supposed to eat and change before you watch cartoons. You can't be late for school."

"I'm not going daddy," she said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

"And just why is that my sweet girl?"

The kid bounced up from the couch and ran to the dining room windows. Quickly she pulled on the cord to open the curtains. The sudden tripling of the light led the male to cover his eyes. Midgar was covered in crimson. Snow, eight inches maybe, covered everything. There was no movement in the streets at all. And the red of the sunrise made the snow in the city look like blood.

"Maria," Reeve called in shock, unable to take his eyes from the sight.

"School got cancelled daddy!"

"Maria!" he shouted, still paralyzed by the sight.

"Reeve, what are you shouting about…" she said as she headed towards him. She froze at the sight.

"Snow day! Snow day!" Rena was cheering up.

"Maria, didn't they say it couldn't snow in this area?"

She nodded, "Too far south."

"Snow day! Snow day!"

Reeve and Maria looked at each other and smiled.

"We won't be able to find her a baby-sitter," she said.

"Can't leave her here alone," Reeve confirmed.

Rena looked at her parents expectantly.

"Put on your warmest clothes dear, and in layers. I'll show you how to make snow men," Maria said with a smile.

Reeve wrapped his arms around his wife. Rena cheered and ran to her room.

"Just like our honey moon in Icicle Village," Reeve said.

"Except this time," she responded, "I'm beating you in the snow ball fight."

Chapter Text

Things had always been harder than needed, but he'd accepted that. The teasing had been common, but he could understand why. It was a classic kind of teasing. Males of an age would always look down upon those younger than them who proved to be intellectually superior. Reeve was one of these people. Whereas the other in his grade level, junior that is, ranged in age from 16 to those held back and already 18 or 19, Reeve was merely 13 years of age. Last year he'd been a freshman, bumped up from his previous station as a seventh grader. For some reason he'd made less of a target as someone two grades ahead than he was as someone three grades ahead. And since the word had gotten out this week that he was going to be considered a senior after the end of the grading period, thus meaning he was graduating this year, things had gotten bad…

Things had escalated. First it had been only words and mumbles as a freshman. Halfway through last year, when he'd officially been moved up to sophomore status, they had started to 'accidentally' bump into him in the hall and block him from his classes. When he became a junior the words were louder and the treatment rougher. Yet now that they knew…

He was glad that the school day was over, because they would all leave. Reeve remained in the boy's bathroom, holding the cold pack from his lunch bag over his lip. One of the senior football players had given him that lovely busted lip, yet Reeve didn't intend to thank him. The young teen looked himself over in the mirror about the sink. It was bad really, and his mom would be worried about how injured he was. With a sigh he picked up his book bag, sent on e last look at the weak kid reflected in the smudged mirror, and headed out of the bathroom.

He only covered half of the distance from the restroom to the door before he found himself accosted. A strong hand descended upon his shoulder. It squeezed him hard, and Reeve whimpered in pain.

" 'Bout time. We've been looking for you kid," the male, a senior named Emmanuel spoke.

Reeve could not help but to flinch. This was the guy and his friends who had beat him up this afternoon. Now he was alone with no hope of anyone finding him.

Before he could comment (which was probably good because he'd wind up saying something that got him in trouble) he was slammed against a locker. The first punch caught him off guard too, so it hurt a hundred times worse. The second and third, delivered in the same region of the stomach, made Reeve want to cry, but he refused them that victory.

"What is going on here?" a voice says at a point Reeve would count as halfway through the beating.

The seniors dropped him to the floor, startled. Emmanuel turned to regard the newly arrived tri. A smirk touched his lips.

"Putting a kid in his place Tseng."

Reeve groaned. The name was not promising. Tseng was the most popular and influential senior in the school, and he ran around with these two guys, Reno and Rude. The three were the school's most dangerous students for people like Reeve, and they only listened to one person, Vice Principal Veld.

"And why is that?" the red-haired Reno asked.

"He needs to learn his place," another senior said, one of Emmanuel's bunch.

"I think you need to learn yours," Tseng said. Before anyone could get over the shock the asian male had grabbed Emmanuel and slammed him into a locker away from Reeve. A few seconds later Reno and Rude were in a fight with the others of Emmanuel's group as Tseng mumbled some things in the ear of the incapacitated leader.

There was maybe another two minutes before Tseng released his prey and they let the group harassing Reeve to flee. Reno chuckled to himself and gave his two friends a thumbs up. Silently the asian sent the other two seniors off, leaving him alone with Reeve.

"Thanks, but I could have handled it," Reeve groaned as he stood. The older male helped the teen stand.

"You did handle it. We were just passing by as the guys left," Tseng said, his voice suggesting that he was not to be argued with.

Reeve nodded and looked up at the taller senior.

"Next time they give you trouble, make sure to pass by the Vice Principal's office. They won't follow you there."

Again Reeve nodded, still awed that the most popular male in school would do anything to help him.

"Come on Tseng, Veld's waiting," Reno called, already heading towards the office of the Vice Principal.

"Watch out for yourself kid," Tseng said before taking off after his friends.

And like that three of the most infamous killers of another lifetime passed in and out of Reeve's life once more, saving it for maybe the hundredth time over all, and the first time in this new world.

Chapter Text

For eons man has sought to define the meaning of life. Everyone has attempted to solve the question of why we are here. Philosophers and theologians have debated it, writers have explored it. Even Hojo has sought this understanding. Little do they know that he answer is about to be discovered, and by the lowly executive. Let us join him now in that quest for the greatest of all knowledge.

Mornings were the best time of the day. They meant coffee and doughnuts and orange juice and all of that stuff. Now sat Reeve at his kitchen table, pouring himself a bowl of cheerios. He watched happily as the milk splashed over the whole grain circles and they floated up on top of the milk. A spoon soon joined his breakfast in the merrymaking. A wide smile stretched over his face as he ate the first spoonful of cold and delicious food. By the time he reached the last bit of cheerios floating in the bowl, the cereal not yet soft and soggy from the milk, there was true contentment in the man.

That was when it hit him, as he looked down upon those last loops of grain. They were floating there in a little pattern, much to his shock. They floated in the shape of a peace sign. What an odd thing to happen. And as Reeve thought about it he realized what he'd discovered. The true meaning of life was not happiness or wealth or having lots of kids. No, the true meaning was to have world peace and cereal for all! Yum, peace and cereal. What a combination.

Chapter Text

"Come on Reeve!"


"Please?" Cait insisted.

"No Cait. Now leave me to do my work."

The feline did not relent though. "Pretty please with sugar on top?"

"Absolutely not. Can you not see all the paper work I have to do right now Cait? I do NOT have the time for something as silly and trivial as this."

"Silly and trivial? Man that is like the meanest thing you've ever said to me Reeve. You hurt me here man," the robot said, a hand hovering over its breast.

"Cait… All you have there is a few servos and relays. Nothing vital," the executive pointed out.

This did not deter the cat. "Come on Reeve. Give me ONE good reason why you can't."

"I've got paper work, I still haven't started on the new blue prints, there are the figures I need to work on for the repairs needed to the secondary supports of the Sector Three plate…"

"Woah man, he said ONE good reason," Reno pointed out from where he was perched on the edge of the older male's desk. The Turk was there to back up the idea of the feline.

"Fine. I do not have time."

"You have not had even a ten minute break since before I was a recruit, which was too long ago for even me to remember," Reno added to support the robot.

"Reno, we've proven over the years that you have the amazing memory and attention span of a goldfish."

The Turk looked mildly offended, and laughed as the puzzled look upon Cait's face revealed that the feline barely understood the thinly veiled insult.

"Gold fish have an attention span of three minutes Cait," Reno provided before turning back to Reeve, "You saying I'm ADD?"

"ADHD maybe," Reeve said, reaching for another report to work on.

"Why? Just because we want you to join the Air Hockey tournament? I mean, we only do it once a year and you ARE the reigning champ."

Reeve shook his head, "Why don't you just leave me alone to my work?"

"Not happening champ," Reno said. "I'll carry him Cait if you tie him up."

"WHAT?" Reeve protested as Cait quickly set about this task. Damnit, why had he agreed to play last year anyway?

Chapter Text

Holiday seasons were always the worst for him. Most of the time it was because of the parties he was expected to attend. Yet times like this, looking out the window of his office as happy families walked by one the street below were the worst. He had no family of his own, and few friends, thus Christmas would once more be spent alone.

With a sigh the wealthy businessman looked to the secretary who had informed him of his obligation to attend a party tonight. "Go home Elena. You should be with your loved ones this Christmas Eve."

"I called ahead to inform the host that you shall be slightly late," she continued, as if ignoring the fact he had spoken.

"Why do you do this Elena? Every year you are late to your own party at home so that you can make sure that I have gotten on my way," he said, expecting no answer because he'd never received one any other year in which he'd asked.

"They'll wait," she said, her customary reply.

"They shouldn't have to," Reeve said, allowing their Christmas ritual to continue unhindered.

"Reeve…" she said. This was where it always ended, and yet he could always tell she wanted to continue. Maybe this would be the year that she did.

But the silence held as she moved to straighten his tie for him. Always she looked out for him, making sure he looked his best, even when he was about to collapse. Sure, he knew what was expected of him as a man of his stature in the world, but sometimes it was too much. Maybe his company would have gone under years ago were it not for Elena.

"Oh, and I got you an escort again," Elena informed him as she brushed some of his hair back from his eyes.

"Same one as always?" he questioned. He really didn't like the woman called Scarlet, because she always took her 'job' a tad bit seriously. Scarlet would try to make sure Reeve had an 'eventful' evening. In the public's knowledge, the two had been dating for two years.

"No actually. New person. More to your taste I hope…"

Reeve couldn't help but be nervous at the sound in her voice. "Come up with a story as to how I broke up with Scarlet?"

"Mutual disagreement over the paths your lives were taking," Elena offered, "Or whatever else you want. She was cheating on you, you found out she worked as an escort, anything you feel like."

"And this new person?" Reeve asked.

"They know what to say," she said, taking a step back to look him over. "Now, you've got to hurry up of your driver will leave without you."

"Yes mother," the CEO replied, almost annoyed that she would take such liberties with him, but they'd worked together so long he'd come to expect it.

"Don't worry, I'm sure you'll have a nice night. Who knows, you might even meet someone that isn't being paid to make nice with you," she teased before moving for the door.

"Wait," Reeve said before she could completely flee. The male retrieved a small box from his desk and held it out to her. "It's not much but…"

The blonde gladly took the small jewelry box from her dark haired employer and smiled. "I'll open it at home with all of my other gifts. Thank you in advance sir."

Reeve smiled and watched the woman he practically depended on for the last five years leave his office. Someday he knew she would have her wish of him settling down and having a real life. Just not now.

The cold clawed at him as he left the building and moved towards the car awaiting him. Winters were like this in New York, but he'd grown used to them over the years. Still, something about snow was amazing, him being a kid from the south that is. It fell like little crystals from the sky, and the first time he'd seen it he'd thought of dreams and hopes.

A taller male than him with long black hair and eyes that looked blood red in the right light awaited him at the vehicle. The male, clad in a dark navy suit stood protectively by the door, hand hovering over where Reeve knew a gun rested, hidden well by the cut of the suit. This was the only person other than Elena that Reeve truly trusted with his life on a daily basis. It wasn't that he expected to be attacked or robbed or anything, but it was still a growing need in the modern business world. Men like Vincent would always find work, even when the term 'mercenary' that they should be called by had long sense been considered archaic.

"Mister Tuesti," Vincent greeted him with a slight nod.

"Valentine. Ready for yet another dull party?"

Only one who had known Vincent as long as Reeve had would have noticed the laughter in the silent male's eyes.

"Yes sir."

"Would I be correct in assuming that the one Elena hired is not only in the car waiting, but is free of any weapons?"

Vincent nodded.

"Is she at least pretty?"

"I'll let you be the judge of that," Vincent said. Reeve let out a sigh and moved to the car.

"And sir." Vincent said, "Remember, I just had the back seat cleaned."

This said the body guard moved to his place in the front seat of the car, leaving Reeve to get in on his own. Reeve preferred it that way, but he didn't like what Vincent was implying. How dare the man suggest that he casually sleep with a woman in the back seat of the car?

A greater understanding and appreciation for Vincent's delicate handling of the situation came as Reeve settled in the back seat of the car and turned to meet the escort hired for him to pose as his significant other for the evening. And yes, significant other would be the required term here, for Reeve could hardly use the term 'girlfriend'. Elena had taken a bit more liberty than he'd previously seen in her, and her Christmas bonus would reflect such.

"Hello sir," the younger male, one with an obviously asian appearance and voice said as he held his hand out for Reeve to shake.

"I'm going to kill her," Reeve mumbled as he glanced at the offered hand. A short shake of his head informed the asian that this was not acceptable.

"My name is Tseng," the other continued, unfazed by Reeve's reaction. "I'm not going as your date, but as a new intern at the company that you see potential in. You decided to take me instead of finding some girl because you didn't want to seem on the rebound and because you figured I would need to see how things are from the top. You intend to hire me right out of college, which I am attending in city with a major in the field of business management, of course."

"Of course," Reeve mumbled, annoyed by the assumptions of Elena still, and somewhat impressed as to the preparedness of this escort compared to the state Scarlet had been in the last time he'd been forced to go to one of these evening outings.

"Mister Tuesti, you are more comfortable with this arrangement than in having to deal with a certain Miss Scarlet, are you not?"

The voicing of this evil name roused Reeve from his dark thoughts. This was true. It was preferable to bring an 'employee' and a handsome one at that than to have to fake another night of cuddly relationship crap with Scarlet.

"My point is proven," Tseng said. "Listen, your secretary wanted someone professional that would not be feeling you up at the end of the night. I'm that person. And nothing we will be saying will be a lie, except for the fact that I'm an intern and that you're hiring me out of college."

This lead to more thoughts in the CEO. If the handsome young man was not in the business for the reasons Scarlet was…

"Please," he continued, as if he had read Reeve's mind, "Do not rank me in with others in my line of work. It is quite simple, I need money to help put me through college. This works most of the time because it doesn't interfere with classes, I get paid well, and it's never for more than three hours. On top of that, my customers know this is only temporary and that they aren't to touch."

To Reeve, someone who had everything planned out for him since birth, this was all quite impressive. Someone seemingly lowering themselves in the public eye, risking black mail in the future, to get the chance to see that future.

"So, what kind of party is this? Random business get together or something?"

"No. A bit more personal than that. Well, it is a business get together, but my friend Rufus is throwing it."

"Rufus," Tseng asked, "As in Rufus ShinRa? As in heir to the ShinRa Energy Company?"

"Yes, last time I checked that is. But he seems to be unsatisfied as only an heir and his father is getting on in years," Reeve said, not even noticing his minor rambling.

He didn't even notice his escort grow silent and still for the rest of the ride.

The back door opened and Reeve stepped out of the vehicle, smiling politely to Vincent in thanks before moving so that his 'plus 1' could get out of the car. From the pocket of his suit Reeve pulled out the invitation that had been sent to him in the mail a few weeks prior to this day. Rufus had signed the thing himself, instead of using the customary stamp. The two knew each other so well that they had come to known when something was signed by hand or done by stamp. Reeve knew how the stamp for Rufus had been made on a really bad day and thus the signature was a little too perfect and formal. He knew how Rufus's signature was really more of a single line that barely moved at all.

"Are you ready?" Reeve called back over his shoulder to his escort.

The young male came up behind Reeve and nodded his head. "Of course sir."

"I have no clue why Rufus sent me an invitation 'plus 1'. He knows I can't stand Scarlet. Probably just did it to get back at me for that whole whip-creaming his car thing."

"So you're the one that did that?" Tseng asked as he moved to Reeve's side.

"Yep. You heard about it?"

"Most people in my line of work have."

"Really? My pranks are known in the world of the professional escort?" That brought a chuckle to the executive.

"Of course. You and Mister Shin-Ra are two of our best customers."

"Wait," Reeve said. "Rufus hires from the escort service?" Insert more laughter here please.

"Only to parade women in front of his father," Tseng said.

"That I can understand. Mister Shin-Ra is a real jackass."

It was halfway through the party when Rufus finally stumbled upon his friend, being harassed by the head of a rival company to Reeve's. The blonde male nodded slightly and his two body guards, males called Reno and Rude, went to fetch his friend for him. Last thing he wanted right now was one of the few people he got along with being harassed by some buffoon like his father. Reeve was too nice to have to put up with this. Reno on the other hand…

The blonde used the excuse of signaling a wandering waitress to his side for another glass of champagne to glance once more towards Reeve, and more importantly, the tall and dark figure next to the executive. Something in the posture of the one who always kept their back to Rufus was familiar. Oh well, he'd find out soon enough when Rude and Reno brought them over. And speaking of the troublesome two, here they were.

"Rufus," Reeve said, bowing his head slightly to the young heir to the ShinRa fortune. "I expected you could hold out another ten minutes at least without gracing me with your presence. Shame."

A cold smirk was the response from the young blonde, "You've been avoiding me all night Reeve."

"You know I prefer not to come to these things. The gossip is too much, and far worse were I to refuse to come."

"Yeah, and you want some free booze," Reno said, leaning on the shoulder of the older executive.

"Reno," Rude said, brushing the young red-head's hand off of Reeve's shoulder.

"So, where did you hide your guest Reeve? I saw you walking around he with someone."

The male paused and looked around, shocked that Tseng had disappeared. "He was here just a minute ago… Did you see him Reno?"

Reno nodded and smirked, "You wouldn't believe it boss, it was Tseng."

"You know Tseng?" Reeve questioned.

"Know would be the wrong word," Rufus said with a sigh. "He used to work for me. Very intelligent young man. Fought better than Reno or Rude. Managed to scam my father out of quite a bit of money, and we've been looking for him since. Met him through and escort service if you'd believe it."

Reeve paled a bit, "He did all of that?"

"And more," Reno confirmed with a smirk. "Bet he got you too. Poor guy, just looking for a way to avoid Scarlet I bet. Oh well. Best check your wallet."

The executive let out a sigh upon discovering that his wallet was missing.

"Congratulations Reeve, you've just been robbed," Reno laughed.

"Rufus, if you hadn't invited me…" Reeve started to say, only to be cut off.

"Oh no, I sure ain't paying you back Reeve. Sorry. Your fault for hiring escorts instead of just finding yourself a girlfriend."

"Scrooge," Reeve accused the young blonde.

"You know it."

Chapter Text

Over the years he had learned that things most definitely had both a positive and a negative side. Take the Nibelheim incident for example. Yes, many of people had died, yes horrible experiments had been performed on his dear friend Zachary Knightblade and killed, and yes, a young man named Cloud Strife had his life ruined, but even this had some positive results. Right now that young blonde was somewhere near Rocket Town, saving the world from Sephiroth, Jenova and tons of other stuff, and the silver haired general that Reeve had been proclaiming for years was insane would not last long against the determined youth. On top of that Reeve was finally fighting against Shin-Ra as well, much to his delight.

Yet he still couldn't see the supposed 'positive side' of his office door being flung open and the crack of door knob hitting wall revealed he'd have some work to do in his own office. With an exaggerated sigh the normally positive executive looked up from mounds of paper work to look at the red-haired menace of Shin-Ra Inc.

"Reno! That is the fifth time this month you've busted my wall!" the seated male protested to the suit clad Turk.

As Reno shrugged his shoulder and plopped down upon the couch Reeve gave up on trying to find a positive side to this. There was no silver lining to the cloud named Reno.

"You'll fix it. You always do," the Turk said, pulling out a cigarette.

"Don't you even think about it, you know you're not allowed to smoke in my office," Reeve growled. There was no way he was going to let Reno violate that, the most sacred of all rules. Now where did he put that megaphone…

The Turk merely smirked, the cancer stick halfway out of the pack and his eyes lit up with sheer amusement. Who was Reeve to tell him not to do something?

When the executive could not find the megaphone he jumped forward instead, intending to steal all fire creating devices from the Turk. His hands moved quickly in and out of Reno's many pockets, causing laughter to erupt from the younger man.

"Dude! Stopit! I'm ticklish!"

Oh, so here was the silver lining he had been searching for. After a few minutes Reeve backed away, holding five books of matches and twelve lighters in his hands. "Ha! I'd like to see you smoke now!"

Reeve did not like the new smirk that touched the Turk's face. It wasn't until he watched the Turk hold up a green orb. Shoot, he'd forgotten about materia. Reno always carried a materia with him, nearly mastered even.

"Reno… Don't you even think about it."

The older man lunged at the Turk just as the fire spell was unleashed, intended only for the tip of the smoke. Too bad Reeve got in the way of that. Chaos ensued as the executive jumped back, trying to put out the fire that liked at his tie. Reno lunged forward to help his friend, not noticing that the materia he had dropped was glowing and splitting. Neither of the two so focused upon the flames even noticed that Reno's materia had mastered by setting fire to Reeve. Must have been all of the paperwork that Reno had burned in the morning that had brought it so close…

Chapter Text

When Reeve first saw Vincent, he knew this man would lead him down paths that would one day destroy them both, but Reeve hadn't expect it so soon. He was like an angel, dark and vengeful and still breath taking at the same point. His skin was paler than most, perfect for the phase of painting I was experiencing. So light his skin, so dark his hair of spun obsidian, so deep the look in his crimson eyes that he was almost one born of shadows. Even now, laying with the gun man so close, his death almost come, Reeve thought of the detective's regal beauty and of the day they met.

If the look of the day was any indicator, he could have assumed that this was a look of a good day. The sun shone down upon the world, bathing this living room turned studio golden from the light hitting the curtains. A gentle breeze played in said yellow fabric and brought the sound of song birds to him. It was all quite lovely and uplifting like the imagery of one of those romance novels the morning after the graphic part. Except, as an artist, he knew far better than to take things at face value. It was on a day like this that he'd come home from classes for spring break only to find his family dead. So it was the beautiful days he feared most. And he feared them no less today.

Once he had a warm mug of coffee in hand the young painter picked up the TV remote and with it summoned up the morning news. Well, it was afternoon news really, seeing as it was 12:03 pm. With it on he set about making breakfast.

"In other news, the opening of the new Talbert Art Gallery last night ended in tragedy. 54 year old Reynold Talbert was found dead last night an hour after the end of the premier party. The police are asking anyone who might have information call the toll-free hotline set up at…"

The youth turned off the TV, not desiring to hear more about the death of his friend. The news was as troublesome in the daylight as it had been the night before when his friend had called upon receiving the news. Carefully he placed his scrabbled eggs upon a plate and moved to the living room. Upon the low table before his old beat up couch was a sketch pad and a pencil rested upon the closed cover. He set the plate of eggs down beside the pad and took it up, flipping it to the page he desired. From it looked up the image of a man he knew not the name of, but one he'd seen arguing with Talbert the night before. He'd been an odd man, obviously not one that normally rubbed arrows with those seen at art shows, but he'd been there none the less, in Talbert's office no less.

Yes, Reeve knew he did not like the gallery owner very much, but he at least owed it to the man to tell the cops what he knew correct? Once he finished this he would head down to the police station to tell them what he knew as well as hand over the image of the only one he could think would have a reason to harm the old art lover…

There came a knock at his door, loud and demanding.

"Mister Tuesti, hello? This is Detective Valentine with the CPD, open up."

With a sigh the man rose and moved to the door, "Coming. No need to abuse my door."

Reeve was quite aware that if the cops were coming to him first that he was likely to be have been named by his dear friend Tseng, who had also attended the party that occurred the night before. He was also aware that he might have come up as a possible hostile subject for some harsh words he'd had with Talbert the night before about one of his paintings. Despite this all he still opened the door without hesitation and turned away, not even looking at the Detective.

"Come in won't you?" he said, moving back towards his couch. With slight amusement he noted that there was no sound of footfall behind him. The other man, this Valentine, was hesitating at his casualness. "Would you like a cup of coffee?"

"No thank you, that will not be needed Mister Tuesti," a voice said, very close behind him.

Reeve could not help but jump at the sound. The fact that anyone could sneak up behind him like that in his own house was quite disturbing. So he whirled upon his uninvited guest to reprimand him, only to freeze at the sight. First he noticed the eyes, deep, beautiful red eyes with pain and wisdom beyond their surely only thirty years of life. Then it was the skin, how it was so pale and devoid of any wrinkles or other blemishes and how it stretched so perfectly over regal features and was framed by long strains of hair blacker than any paint Reeve had ever come across, even the hand made ones. After that even the perfectly pressed navy blue suit didn't seem to matter, though it clung to the shapely and evidently strong body in all the right ways. Reeve could feel the blush slowly rising to his cheeks. How could he be checking out the man like this?

"I'm here to ask you some questions about Reynold Talbert," the man said, and Reeve noted how his voice sounded like one of those you'd expect out of a vampire in those old horror movies where the villains were always handsome and charming and more than ready to lead the unsuspecting heroine or hero down the wrong path. He was almost ready for fangs and the cliché 'I want to suck your blood'.

"Tragedy," Reeve said, finally getting a grip on himself and moving to seat himself upon the couch. With a slight gesture he indicated that the Detective should sit on a nearby chair. The polite decline was almost expected, and all the more appreciated when it came. "He wasn't the nicest guy, I'll admit I even had a few disagreements with him, but that is no reason that he should be dead when I sit here alive."

"One of the other guests at the party suggested that you might know something about the incident last night."

"Then why exactly did you not come earlier Detective Valentine?" Reeve questioned, trying to remain calm in the presence of the most perfect potential model he had ever been graced with the company of, even under such circumstances.

"Well, quite honestly, we couldn't figure out who you were. You were referred to us only as 'Camera'. It took us a few hours to find someone willing to inform us as to your real name."

He couldn't help but laugh at the slightly confused look upon the face of detective. "That is my not-so-affectionate nickname among some the more popular artists. They say it because I'm very inclined to my work. I have a photographic memory when it comes to faces."

"Very useful in one who does portraits I assume," the dark-haired detective said.

"Quite," Reeve agreed as he reached out for his sketch-pad and pencil yet again. "So, you had some questions?"

He could sense the male giving him an odd look before asking, "You had an argument with Mister Talbert a week before the party, correct? Would you mind telling me about it?"

"Not at all Detective," Reeve said, still filling in details of the image before him. "Talbert gave his word that three of my paintings would be displayed prominently at the event, and then reneged to give the places to one of my main rivals, a woman named Scarlet O'Hara. I assume it was her that told you this. Then he went and canceled the private event showing off my work to replace it with that of Miss O'Hara. To put it kindly, she's a third-rate artist with first-rate skills in bed I hear, and I believe it was this that got her in over my work. But it doesn't matter. I sell better than she does anyway."

"You didn't have a run in with him last night then?" Valentine asked, writing everything down in a notebook.

"I did not, but he did have a disagreement last night."

"Who with?" the man questioned, perking up significantly.

With a bit of a flourish I put down the pencil and the pad towards the Detective. "This man. Approximately twenty minutes before I left, which would have been around 8:30. I didn't desire to become involved, but I did think it would be fitting if someone was finally giving the man what he deserved for cheating his artists and his wife. It did not occur to me until last night that the man might have been after more."

Those crimson eyes widened suddenly. A smile touched Reeve's lips. There was no doubt in his mind that he'd just given Vincent a good image of who other guests at the party had obviously noticed was out of place.

"Would you mind if I took a copy of this down to the station?"

"You are welcome to it. I worked most of last night and a good deal of this morning to do it. I was going to come down to the station once I was done with it and my breakfast anyway to give it to you."

"Well then, that is good, because we'll need you down there to file an official report."

"Mind if I get my shoes and coat first?" the painter asked as he rose, breakfast forgotten.

The pain in his hands was far too much, worse than death almost. Yet a smirk touched the lips of the doomed artist, amused by the poetic justice of the thing, and the fact that a murderer like this Reno character could see things like irony. Even were Reeve to live now, his whole life would be destroyed because his hands were so damaged. But maybe that was the point.

"That will teach you to draw me. And now to show you not to mess with me kiddo…" Reno's voice came from outside of Reeve's vision.

"A suspect has been arrested in connection with last month's murder of Reynold Talbert. Police will not release details about the suspect, but do say that the investigation will soon be coming to an end…"

Reeve lifted his remote and hit mute as he heard a familiar, urgent knock at his door. Last time he'd opened his door to that sound a beautiful, dark Detective named Vincent Valentine had walked into his life, and hadn't walked out of Reeve's mind since. So while opening the door was the obvious thing to do, it didn't seem so wise at the moment. Still Reeve rose and moved to the door. It was another sunny, perfect day, so something was bound to go wrong.

Except he couldn't figure out what it was as he opened his door to be greeted by the site of the very man who had driven him to many a work of art lately, because the sight was so pleasing that he wasn't sure if he was dreaming or not. The man was clad in tight black jeans and an equally black shirt, with a dark, deep crimson coat covering it all and a headband of matching color sweeping long bangs back from red eyes.

"Well well, I'm not under arrest am I?" Reeve asked with a smile as his way of greeting the gorgeous detective.

"Not unless you've done something I should know about Mister Tuesti…" Vincent countered with a slight smirk.

"If I have then I need to know about it too."

"I'll tell you once I figure it out then," the older one said with a near smile.

Before Reeve could react another voice joined into the conversation. "Aren't you going to introduce me Vincent?"

The young artist could not help but be taken aback as the smile of the detective changed into a full-blown grin as he stood aside to reveal a shorter woman with long brown hair and the sweetest face he'd ever seen. Too bad Reeve had no attraction whatsoever towards women, because this one was surely one of the finest his eyes had ever laid upon.

"Lucrecia Crescent, this is Reeve Tuesti, the artist that helped us with the Talbert case. Reeve, this is Lucrecia, a criminal profiler."

Reeve could tell from Vincent's tone that she was more than that, and he smiled despite that bit of information. "Well, what a pleasure it is ma'am. How can I help you two today?"

"I was wondering if I could commission a painting of Lucrecia from you Reeve," Vincent said with a smile.

"Of course, anything for you Detective."

He could see the light press of Reno's finger upon the trigger. He could hear the sound of his gun going off and Reno's maniacal laughter following it…

"…Found dead in her apartment this morning. Police are doing all they can to catch the murderer, holding this case as personally as they would were this the death of one of their own…" the background noise of the TV announced as Reeve awoke one morning.

"Detective Evans had this to say about the case," the anchorwoman said, and the artist was instantly sitting up I his bed, straining his ears for the sounds of the living room.

"This is a great tragedy. It doesn't matter if she had a badge or not, Miss Crescent was one of us anyway. She was even due to be married to Detective Valentine next year. We'll get the person that did this, for her memory, and for his sake as well."

All the warmth Reeve had felt upon waking drained so quickly from his body. His fingers claws at the sheets. He was angry, confused, and hurt. This explained it all, and he wasn't sure that it was a good thing. Sure enough a glance out the window revealed it to be another perfect day.

The man rose from his bed and wrapped a robe around his boxer-clad body. Slowly, nervously, he made his way to the living room, where he'd left Vincent at 2 am the previous night, or this morning really. The Detective was still there, staring at the screen, no expression at all upon his elegant features. A mask of stone had overcome the man that Reeve had delighted in seeing so often. Now it seemed a little less weird that Vincent had come by in the middle of the night, looking drunk as all hell and asking for a place to stay for the night so that he wouldn't have to drive home. Reeve wondered what would have happened to him if he and Vincent had not become such fast friends over the past few years. Would Vincent have risked driving home? Would he too be dead right now?

"Vince?" Reeve hazarded, afraid of the reaction that he would get.

"She was a good person Reeve, you know that right?" the man asked, his voice as cold and dead as his crimson eyes.

"The best kind of person there is Vincent," he agreed, moving to sit beside the man and placing an arm around Vincent's shoulders.

"I loved her Reeve, and she went and left me like this. If I'd been there with her maybe…"

"You can't blame yourself like this Vincent, what could you have done?"

"I could have saved her Reeve! I could have done something! I could have died instead!"

The artist shook his head. He'd grown to know Lucrecia as well because of his job of sketch artist at the station to handle all those images from eye-witness testimony. Turned out that beside a photographic memory, he was also good at taking lots of conflicting testimony, taking out the BS and then sketching the suspects. Well, back to the point, he knew the woman well enough to know that what he said next was the absolute truth.

"And what would she have done then? Lord knows you are the stronger person Vince. Her heart would be broken without you around. But she sure as hell wouldn't want you sitting around here wasting away. She'd want you to bust the bitch that did this and then move on."

"How could I forget her!" he demanded.

"I didn't say that. I just said move on, live your life for her. She'd want that Vincent."

The Detective let out a sigh and leaned his head against Reeve's shoulder. And then the man did something Reeve never thought he'd see Vincent do… Cry.

His last thoughts before the bullet stole his life away were ponderous. He wondered if this would be mentioned on the news, said to be some tragedy. He wondered if they would give him the same justice as Lucrecia had all those years ago, treating his murder like the murder of a cop. Most of all he thought about Vincent. The man would kill him for dying first, but that was something he'd have to accept. Reeve prayed his friend wouldn't go and do something stupid like he had after Lucrecia's death. Hopefully Vincent wouldn't go out and get drunk and get laid like he had with Reeve. Even with a pleasant memory like that one night of drunken touches Reeve knew it wasn't likely. Vincent would do something else, he'd matured a lot. Vince wouldn't like it though that he'd have to write the fucking eulogy and epitaph left to him as the best friend of an orphan. Yet more important than all of that, the thing that took him as the absolutely last thought in life, was that he prayed that Vincent wouldn't cry, because those tears had been the worst thing he'd ever seen in his life, and he didn't want to be the one to force them from Vincent this time.

Chapter Text

In the past five minutes he'd decided the door wasn't white like he'd first wanted back when he'd designed the place. Five minutes of the harsh inspection had lead him to one final conclusion that could not be questioned… the paint was either mint cream or snow. He'd wanted true white, but he'd had this door for more years than he cared to remember, and it would be more work to change it than to just sit back and accept it.

He'd decided that same thing quite a few times in the past few days. The first of his victims had been his office. While he'd been working on the new plans for the renovation of several floors of the building, and interesting dilemma had presented itself to him. The idea of remodeling the 65th floor, HIS floor, seemed to be more pain than it was worth. He'd have to move all of his files, find a temporary office, pack away the model of Midgar… Maybe once upon a time he would have jumped for the chance at something new, but it would be so much easier just to leave things the way they were. Then, not long after deciding that it wasn't worth changing, Reno had come up to his office. When the Turk had lit up his traditional cigarette to piss Reeve off, the executive just couldn't find it worthwhile to try and stop the Turk. Reno had asked if everything was okay, if he wanted to go out and get drunk and talk about it, but Reeve knew that explaining to his wife why he was late and drunk off his ass would also be something that took up too much time.

Still he stared at the wasn't-quite-white door, wondering when his life had reached this wasn't-quite-right-but-not-worth-changing stage. A hand with slender fingers reached out to brush over the paint, feeling the barely noticeable bumps and cracks in the wood. A year ago, maybe two, he would have gotten a new door painted in the right color. Then again, a year or two ago he'd been a different man. He'd been in love with life, in love with a beautiful wife, willing to live every moment to the fullest. When exactly had it changed? When did coming home every night become a chore? When had making choices been so hard? When had he stopped caring?

No sooner had he asked himself that than the answer had come, almost as if from the wasn't-quite-white door. It had changed when he'd married her. He'd become a doormat when the words 'I do' had so stupidly fallen from his lips. Ah, there it was, retrospect, the friend of the cold cynic. And that term itself, cynical, when had it started to apply to him? When had optimism melted and faded into this cold, painful and scornful pessimism? When exactly had the unresponsive persona of a Turk taken hold of him? Except even they weren't exactly unresponsive were they? They were passionate about the few things they still had, when he had no real emotions to call his own, at least none of the positive ones.

It was as if that wasn't-quite-white door was mocking him. Was his whole life just reflected in this old wood? The color, once perfect, was revealed to be something far less than what had been desired, detracting from the whole identity of the door without intending to. Bit of paint were flaking off to show the green paint below it, like bits of his perfect life flaking away to show that he wasn't what he thought or where he intended to be. Even the brass knocker and door knob, unpolished for so long, was like his descent into the darkness of the truth, that he was still corruptible, even if it wasn't in the same way as others of his rank.

Yet he still found a way to place a hand on the not-quite-polished-but-still-perfectly-usable door knob and turn it. The door had been unlocked maybe twenty minutes ago, and only now was he finding a way to open the mint cream or snow colored portal. The groan of the hinges as it swung open was like the groan of his own inner pain at learning the fullness of his life was actually meaningless, easily done by someone of lesser status. His shoes, the haven't-been-shined-in-months-shoes didn't make a sound upon the not-quite-clean wooden floor. Once upon a time, back when life was worth changing, the floor had been flawless oak, something that reminded him of his old home that-he-couldn't-return-to-despite-wanting-to in Gongaga. Everything here, he noticed, wasn't quite what it looked like, and he was the worst of all.

Feet that-were-far-too-tired-but-refused-to-admit-it moved silently on until they touched the cream-or-was-that-just-beige carpeting of the living room. His eyes, eyes-that-had-seen-too-much-today-but-still-wouldn't-stop, alighted upon the old couch that he used to love to stretch out upon and read for hours on end. While the sight of his wife there, body covered by the disgusting bulk named Heidegger, clothes no where in sight and decency thrown out the window. Somehow he could not exactly find it in himself to really care. The apathy ran that deep within him now. When a gasp came from Scarlet he turned away, though he wasn't quite sure if it was a gasp or pleasure or of shock at seeing him home so early.

His feet that-were-far-too-tired-but-refused-to-admit-it shuffled back towards the wasn't-quite-white door and the not-quite-polished-but-still-perfectly-usable door knob. When his fingers landed upon the brass he realized something. Any other guy would have freaked out, beaten the shit out of Heidegger, or at least yelled. The hand with-fingers-that-were-really-too-slender tightened its grip upon the knob, and he wondered why he hadn't. Was it that it would be too much work, too much effort to do that? Or was it that he'd finally realized there was something else? Was Scarlet really worth a fight? Probably not. Still, probably just for spite, he slammed the door behind him before moving down the steps that-were-cracked-and-probably-not-dangerous-or-potentially-fatal-though-he-wished-they-were.

For a long time, an hour, maybe two, he wandered the streets of Midgar, uncaring when the rain started to fall. Somewhere in his mind he knew exactly where he was going, somewhere he knew that it was risky to walk the streets alone like this, somewhere he knew it didn't matter, death would be far less work. Rain that-felt-more-like-tears-with-the-way-it-stung-at-his-eyes fell all around him, as if the sky was mourning some lost companion, or maybe the emanate loss of one of the last protectors it had in Midgar. He barely noticed, even though he was soaked to the bone with his hair plastered to his face and the stinging at his eyes not ceasing. He refused to admit there were tears, because this rain was a warm summer one, so it was hard to tell between true tears and drops of water that hit his face. Really, he didn't want to try anyway.

So pointlessly he wandered in the rain, feet that-were-far-too-tired-but-refused-to-admit-it barely lifting as they moved over the concrete of the sidewalks of Midgar. Puddles licked hungrily at his shoes that haven't-been-shined-in-months-shoes when he wandered in a daze through the sectors that-used-to-be-cities-with-names-but-were-just-numbers-now-like-everything-else. And then, there was a door before him, a door he didn't quite recognize but he knew wasn't-quite-white so it wasn't his. The colors that had once been on it had obviously faded, leaving behind a dull, blank canvas, the thing he wanted the most in his life. Maybe the person here would change this all, change something, change anything.

A hand with-fingers-that-were-really-too-slender formed a fist before knocking upon the wood. Something about the number that hung over the buzzer was familiar. Twenty-three, it read, not in script though, because those were just a waste, like Reeve. Then the door that-wasn't-really-colored-but-just-a-blank-canvas-like-he-wanted-to-be started to open, and the sight that reached his eyes-that-had-seen-too-much-today-but-still-wouldn't-stop. The crimson, crimson-that-really-couldn't-be-explained-just-enjoyed, reached his sight. With it came the vision of eyes like ice with that ring of not-quite-SOLDIER-level of mako green around the pupil that knew Reeve better than Reeve knew Reeve. A face that normally smirked at life, letting the world know that no matter what it did, he would win, fell at the sight presented to him. Before Reeve even noticed it he had swayed and fallen, only to be caught by the Turk that-was-really-his-best-friend.

When he awoke it was in a bed that-was-so-soft-that-it-didn't-need-his-damn-descriptions… No, it was in a bed that was warm and soft, and that was all the bed was. There was no damn symbolism there. This thing was true, it didn't work hard to prove it was something other than a bed. And so focused was he on this new idea that he almost didn't hear the voice like the relief of a good bottle of rum, or maybe just of a hot shower, as it said his name. Dazed eyes looked up at the Turk, hesitance and fear so thick in the glance that even the Turk seemed a little perturbed. The look in the blue and green eyes was all the question Reeve needed, and from the man that-was-breaking-into-millions-of-little-not-quite-white-pieces came the story that he didn't quite understand. Without pause the executive told of all he had figured out in the last day, and what had lead up to him appearing upon the doorstep that-wasn't-cracked of the red-haired Turk.

Through all of the words and all of the tears the Turk sat there and listened to the words of pain, of self-loathing, of fear, that came from the lips of the executive-that-had-seen-far-to-much-in-his-life-and-who-just-wanted-it-all-to-end. As the words grew colder, and the face of the older male more and more like the grimace that had once been all Reno had ever seen upon his 'retired' boss Veld, the younger one pulled his friend into the deceivingly strong embrace of a Turk. It didn't surprise him to feel the head of the executive-that-had-seen-far-to-much-in-his-life-and-who-just-wanted-it-all-to-end resting upon his shoulder. It didn't surprise him to feel the tears wetting his suit and feel the sobs that escaped from the older male. What did surprise him was how Reeve calmed when the Turk ran his fingers through the dark hair. What did surprise him was how he ended up stretched out on the bed, Reeve wrapped in his arms to keep away the fearful truth of what he had learned. What did surprise him was how warm it made him feel to see that strained face finally relax into the look of eternal innocence that surely graced the executive when he was asleep.

A hand with-fingers-that-were-really-too-slender gripped at the fabric of the Turk that-was-really-his-best-friend as the executive-that-had-seen-far-to-much-in-his-life-and-who-just-wanted-it-all-to-end drifted slowly into a sleep where he wasn't a man that-was-breaking-into-millions-of-little-not-quite-white-pieces. The bed that-was-so-soft-that-it-didn't-need-his-damn-descriptions cradled upon it the broken executive and his savoir with hair of crimson-that-really-couldn't-be-explained-just-enjoyed and eyes of ice blue a ring of not-quite-SOLDIER-level of mako green. And in those dreams the broken man stood before a door that wasn't-quite-white with a not-quite-polished-but-still-perfectly-usable door knob that would open into a world of not-quite-clean wooden floor and cream-or-was-that-just-beige carpeting. In those dreams feet that-were-far-too-tired-but-refused-to-admit-it in haven't-been-shined-in-months-shoes shuffled down steps that-were-cracked-and-probably-not-dangerous-or-potentially-fatal-though-he-wished-they-were. In those dreams the man suffered in his wasn't-quite-right-but-not-worth-changing stage while eyes-that-had-seen-too-much-today-but-still-wouldn't-stop guided him through sectors that-used-to-be-cities-with-names-but-were-just-numbers-now-like-everything-else despite the rain that-felt-more-like-tears-with-the-way-it-stung-at-his-eyes to the doorstep that-wasn't-cracked and door that-wasn't-really-colored-but-just-a-blank-canvas-like-he-wanted-to-be. In that dream there was an old home that-he-couldn't-return-to-despite-wanting-to, but he couldn't quite remember where it was or why he wanted to be there.

In those dreams he didn't quite realize that the Turk that-was-really-his-best-friend held him safe in those deceptively strong arms and mumbled sweet words to comfort him. And in those dreams he didn't realize that a kiss-that-was-so-much-more-than-a-good-night-kiss touched his brow. And he probably wouldn't realize it when he woke, because it might just be too much work to realize it and accept it, but that life that wasn't quite worth changing had suddenly become worth fighting for. It was worth fighting for because suddenly he didn't have a Turk that-was-really-his-best-friend, but a Turk that-was-really-just-a-true-love-waiting-to-be-accepted.

And maybe, even though he wouldn't realize it for a year, or maybe two, maybe he was finally happier than he'd ever been before.

Chapter Text

He knew he'd said it once, he figured that he would say it many more times, but it had to be said. Taking the advice of a Turk was far from something that he should ever consider doing. And this was just yet another case in point, and not that long after the last one. In fact, I'm still wearing the cast from the last time I had allowed the Turks to drag me out for a night on the town.

It had all started innocently enough, as it always seems to do. I was working late, the clock probably reading sometime after nine at night and my stomach was protesting. Still, I could not leave just yet. With my right hand in a cast from the last evening out with the Turks, signing my paperwork had been quite difficult. I had been forced to slowly, meticulously practicing upon scratch paper just before signing each document. Coupled with reading through them and trying my best to type out some reports, the day was probably already going to be two hours longer than normal if things went well. The Planet knew that things never went well when I really needed them to either.

Knock, knock, knock.

With a sigh I looked up at the doorway of my office, fearing the normal sight that it no doubt had to be. Sure enough there was the shock of red hair, the ice blue eyes, the professionally disheveled appearance and the cocky smirk that I had come to learn that even twenty mako-shots in a drinking competition with Rude could not wipe off.

"Reeve, you're still here?" the youngest of the male Turks asked, eyebrow raised.

"Where else would I be? I have work remember? And it doesn't help that Tseng broke my wrist…" I grumbled, trailing off.

"Yeah, I know. But you shouldn't have tried to feel him up like that. You know Tseng is a stickler for his personal space. It didn't even cross his mind that you were just a drunk widower in need of comfort," he responded, ducking a pen thrown by my far weaker left hand with ease.

Before I could snap out a witty response (and yes, despite your chuckling, I'll have you know that I have plenty of witty responses ready just for Reno) a disturbing sound reached my ears. The tell-tale growl of hunger. I was so used to it. Once it had interrupted a meeting between Tseng and I, and that had been quite uncomfortable. But the look in Reno's eyes was the far more disturbing thing.

"Hungry huh?" the red-head chuckled. "I think I can remedy that."

"Please, I'm fine here. I'll order some food…"

"No you won't," Reno said with annoyance, moving from the door to lean against my desk. "You eat with your left while you type with your right Reeve. You can't work and eat at the same time my naïve little executive. And Planet knows that you'll just avoid eating, and we can't have that. Come on, what say you and me drag the others out to get some food okay? Tseng can pay to make up to you for breaking your weak little wrist."

After a few minutes of a staring match with the mako-enhanced Turk I let out a resigned sigh. There was no choice this time. Reno would without a doubt win the competition. Which meant if I went with him now I would spare myself the headache and possibly get some civilized conversation while I was at it.

"Fine… But none of that spicy shit that you like Reno. I'm far from the mood to be in when grabbing a glass of water ever other bite."

The grin of the Turk doubled in size. A groan that was nearly one of pain escaped me at the realization that I was technically at Reno's whim at the moment. Shit. What had I done to deserved this?

"Why not sushi then? It's not really all that spicy," the red-head suggested.

I was almost shocked. That answer was almost logical actually. Reeve loved sushi, Tseng always agreed to pay for dinner when it was sushi, and it wouldn't lead to the pains of the water and annoyance of spicy foods that Reno always seemed to opt for.

"Reno, I think that actually might be the most intelligent thing you've ever said."

"What about that time when…" he started, and I quickly cut him off.

"Please, don't push your luck."

So, with little trouble the two of us ventured down to Tseng's office to badger the Wutain into the idea of going out for dinner. Once more Reno proved himself to be good for something other than being a Turk. By pointing out that Tseng owed me for the arm thing, and that everyone enjoyed sushi anyway, the Wutain actually rose and headed out within ten minutes. Quickly the red-head ran off to fetch Rude.

"You really don't blame me for breaking your wrist do you right?" Tseng asked as we headed for the elevator, where we would await the other Turks.

"Not really Tseng. I mean yeah, things are difficult to do now and stuff, but it also gets Scarlet to back the hell off which is always good, and Heidegger has turned into a simpering fool because he thinks I'll blame it on him since you are the captain of HIS Turks."

A slight smile touched the features of the worried, and STILL coffee-obsessed Wutain. In fact, was that a Styrofoam cup in his hand with coffee in it right now? Oy, one could not separate the Wutain from the coffee. He'd probably be drinking it even when we were having dinner.

"Yo, what are we all waiting for? The sushi is totally calling my name!" Reno shouted dramatically as he came up to us with Rude in tow.

"Waiting for you alone Reno. Can't let the mastermind be left behind," Tseng grumbled in annoyance.

This comment even earned a smirk from the stoic Rude. Maybe this night wouldn't be so bad…

For about three minutes I looked in confusion at the low table. Tseng was seated in a manner suiting his Wutain heritage as he sipped at a cup of coffee. Reno was there, as always, cross-legged upon the floor playing around with a small bottle of rice-wine. Opposite him Rude shifted uncomfortably, as he often did when we were at places that involved these damn low tables. And as for myself… With the hand in a cast it was hard to sit down, stand up, and worst of all, grip things with my chopsticks. Reno laughed as I glared down at the wooden sticks, and I couldn't blame him. I was so close to breaking them in half with my anger. Except breaking them in half would require the use of both of my hands. Damnit.

"Maybe you should order something else Reeve, something you can use a fork on?" Tseng suggested before taking another sip of his expensive coffee.

"Anything you want to suggest?" I queried, picking up my menu as best I could with but one hand.

"Rude, check it out… I didn't kill my wife, it was the one armed man. Yeah, that one over there…" Reno laughed as he pointed at men before taking another drink of the potent foreign alcohol.

"Reno," Rude sighed, "You've seen The Fugitive far too many times."

"I got it in DVD man," the youngest Turk chuckled near manically.

"Here," Tseng said, pointing to an item upon the menu. "You'll like this."

The title of the dish was written in a red ink whereas the rest of the Wutain names were written all in blue, but I quickly passed over that piece of information. "Have you had it before?"

"Yes. It is very delicious. An important delicacy in Wutai…"

"And why is that?"

"I…" Tseng started, then looked dazed. "I don't remember." Then he glared at Reno. "You've been putting sake in my coffee haven't you?"

"Took ya this long to notice?" the young Turk sniggered. "Man, that must be some powerful stuff to hide the taste of sake this early in the night."

It was then that the waiter returned. "Will there be anything else sirs?"

"Yes, can you get my friend here one of these?" Tseng asked, pointing to the item upon the menu. "And a fork. His arm has impaired his ability with chopsticks."

"Mister Tseng, are you sure…" the waiter began, only to be cut off by the mildly buzzed Wutain.

"I am sure. I have it all of the time. Now go on and don't come back without the food."

The waiter bowed nervously and fled.

It did not even occur to me to question the Wutain as to what the food was, or why it was written in red until far later. If I had then there might have been a lot less troubles…

The two Turk subordinates were once again engaged in a drinking match when my meal arrived. Once again Tseng was sipping at his coffee, laced happily with sake this time. And most importantly, it was going to turn out poorly again.

"Sir, your meal," the waiter said before setting the plate before me. Then he backed away slowly. Without hesitation I took the fork up in my left hand and set about the eating of the meal. At first the bitter undertones of the food was a horrid thing to experience, but soon it actually became a quite exciting comfort. Halfway through the fillet I was laughing as hard as Reno at some dumb joke that after a minute I couldn't even remember. Yet most disturbing was the way that the room was blurring a little bit.

It wasn't until I once again found my hands, well, just uninjured hand this time, wandering that I realized something really must be wrong. The way my hands danced over Tseng's pant leg again, in a near déjà vu with a feeling that generated more warmth you know where, was surreal, since I thought I could feel each specific ripple in the fabric. Everything around me started to slow down. It seemed like it took ten minutes for Rude to raise his bottle of sake to his lips, and Reno an hour to finish some silly joke about a guy walking into a bar. Then I felt the slightly calloused fingers of Tseng alight upon my wrist and whimpered preemptively at what I knew was coming. The world melted back into real time as the audible snap of my left hand cut into the joy of the room.

Reno and Rude stared in shock at the odd angle my wrist was bent in, worse than my right wrist had been a few weeks previous. Oddest was that I felt no pain, only the same numbness I felt on my tongue eating the fillet. It felt and tasted distinctly… fuchsia. That is odd… Is fuchsia a taste?

"Shit man," Reno said, finally paying attention. "What are you doing Tseng?"

"Seems like he's not really focused enough to feel the pain now…" Rude pointed out.

Now I watched as the eyes of the trio moved to my plate.

"SHIT!" Reno swore. "That stuff is poisonous to people without mako in their bloodstream Tseng!"

"Oh!" the slightly drunk Wutain said. "THAT was what it was for. I forgot. I usually remember it only by that distinctive bitter yet addicting taste…"

Rude stood and moved to pick me up.

"Tseng, this it totally your fault, again!" Reno shouted.

"How so Reno?"

"First you get him drunk when he's mourning and then break his wrist because he's so drunk that he feels you up. Then you take him out, give him a fish that is deadly to those without mako…"

"And is also WONDERFULLY suppresses pain and makes me fell all warm deep down inside," I giggled.

"And that gets him high for some reason I can't figure out, and then you break his other wrist because the aphrodisiacal properties of said poisonous and obviously druggy friendly fish gets him to feel you up again! Man, you are SO not taking him to the hospital this time!"

Hospital? Aw man, I didn't wanna go there again. "Oo… can I get a cast to match this one?" I asked, waving my plastered arm around and almost hitting Rude in the head.

Reno smacked his forehead and gave a defeated sigh before escorting me and Rude to the waiting ambulance.

"At this rate we're going to have to hire one permanently for him!"

Chapter Text

He was an odd sight in the clean, cold and precise efficiency that was the scientific research floor ruled by the clammy fist of Hojo. Where all the others here walked around in their perfectly white lab coats carrying clipboards and scurrying near mindlessly to obey the whims of Hojo, he was clad in suit pants and a gray tailored shirt. When all others were clean shaven and wore some form of eye protection or vision enhancing items, he bore the beginnings of what would one day cover the strong jaw of his handsome profile. While everyone else who worked upon these two floors for Hojo either had short cropped hair or pulled longer strains back in ties much like Hojo himself, he let his shoulder length and rather well tamed hair hang free. He wasn't one of them, with eyes so cold you shivered to see them. No, he was alive and free, as much as one could be in a world of Shin-Ra.

Like them though he did carry a large stack of files balanced cautiously in once hand while the other carried a cup of hot coffee. The reports were all destined for Hojo's signature in the bitter end, but would go first through him so he would better come to understand the systems of reactors that kept this city running. Not that he liked the system of course, he was against it wholeheartedly, but one of the requirements for his dream was to understand the vulgar systems. And no one in Midgar knew nearly as much about Mako and the reactors as Professor Hojo did. So a young, early twenties maybe, Reeve Tuesti made his way to the small area in the labs that had been given to him by Hojo for the studying of all that was Mako and Mako Reactors.

It was a light whimpering that caught his attention as he finally reached his door. That was one of the major downsides of being what Reeve was, that is an engineer and architect striving for the highest position one of his qualifications could reach in Midgar, Head of Urban Development, was that as a temporary assistant to Hojo, his office was rather close to some of the areas designated as experiment areas. And as some experiments involved humans and animals, the noises could be quite unnerving. He had nightmares about them every night.

Yet there was something about this whimpering that was different from all of the others. It wasn't a pained whimper, or one of true mourning as he heard from the animals desiring freedom, it was more of one of nervous tears. When the whimper came once more the future executive put down the stacks of reports and the cup of coffee by his office door and went to investigate. Within seconds of wandering towards the experiment area his search revealed that the sound did not come from there, but from the room he was forbidden to be near when Hojo was around. Ever curious, the young man continued his investigation.

When he opened the door he didn't know whether to be horrified or moved to tears as well. The room was sparsely decorated. There were a few monitoring devices scattered about, a bed in one corner and the door to a bathroom nearby. There was even a desk like the one in his own office, stacked with books upon many subjects: math, english, foreign languages, geography, things you would expect to see in a school room. Amid it all was a boy, maybe twelve, probably twelve actually, who had buried his head in his hands. The head was crowned with the most beautiful silver strains that looked more like spun moonbeams than true hair, and the hands were such a light shade that Reeve wondered if they had ever truly seen the sun. Upon his entrance though the head shot up, and the most beautiful pale green eyes, more like a cat's than a humans, caught hold of Reeve's gaze. With eyes like that it could mean this boy could be only one person.

"Sephiroth?" Reeve asked hesitantly, wanting to reach out and brush the tears he could now see running down those elegant features away. "You're Sephiroth correct?"

"Who are you?" the boy demanded, springing quickly to his feet before wiping his tears away. Quickly the youth adopted a cold, uncaring look that Reeve had seen once before in the face of the even younger son of the President. How either child, one twelve and the other maybe seven or eight, have such stony expressions if they knew so little of the outside world.

"My name is Reeve Tuesti," the dark haired male said, finally taking that first nervous step into the hospital quality room.

"You shouldn't be here," Sephiroth pointed out, as if he was stating the obvious. It was evident that both knew quite well that the youth spoke the truth.

"Why were you crying?" Reeve asked, and knew a second later as the boy's expression darkened that it was a mistake to say that.

"I'm NOT crying," the youth growled, fists clenching in anger.

It was then that Reeve realized he had seen something that no one was ever intended to see, save maybe Hojo… The weakness of Hojo's 'perfect' son. Rumor had it that the boy would be enrolled into the SOLDIER program soon. Wait, maybe that was it.

"I heard you're going to be in SOLDIER soon. You'd be the youngest member ever. I bet you're proud of that."

The grimace, for that was what Reeve realized now that it was, that had been upon the boy's face when Reeve first entered returned. "I'm not. I don't wanna be in SOLDIER." With that the boy moved to sit upon his bed and glare at the floor.

Reeve let the silence hang, broken only by the sound of his shoes on the white tile as he moved to the side of the youth. After a moment he sat by the future General. "You don't? Then why are you joining?"

"Because the Professor said I had to."

"Your father is forcing you to go into SOLDIER?"

"Don't call him that," Sephiroth hissed. "He won't let me call him that so you can't call him that either!"

Reeve blinked in shock. He'd heard of families with problems before, but not being allowed to call your own dad 'father'? Even Rufus had that privilege, if you could call it that.

"But yeah, he's forcing me," the youth finally continued. "I don't want to go."

"Why?" Reeve asked. He couldn't help it. Ever since he'd started to learn under Hojo he'd been asking that question a lot more lately.

"SOLDIERs kill people," Sephiroth said, close to tears again. "They take away people's parents, parents that love them. They aren't nice to me either. All they do is blindly follow orders, and Hojo puts Mako in them. It hurts, Mako. You hear all these screams in your head and they won't go away for hours. Except they don't go away for me. They are always there, as if being near me makes them worse. I just want them to stop."

With this the youth grabbed Reeve around his waist with strong young arms and pressed his head against Reeve's chest as he cried more. In shock the male sought to comfort the child, a hand brushing through Sephiroth's hair as Reeve's own mother used to do when Reeve would cry as a child. The other arm of the man wrapped around Sephiroth, trying to impart some sense of protection for the youth. And, beyond all odds, it seemed to work.

"I know what you mean Sephiroth. I've heard of it," the man said softly. The youth looked up at him with those all too bright and amazingly beautiful eyes of brilliant mako green.

"Really?" the youth asked in disbelief. "Tell me please. Hojo never tells me."

Reeve nodded and pulled the youth closer, almost enjoying the contact, but pushing it out of his mind. "They say that mako is actually the lifeblood of the planet. When someone dies their spirit turns into something like mako and returns to the Lifestream. In it is all the knowledge of the world and the ancients and the very planet itself. They say the screams people hear when they come in contact is the pain of the planet, the voice of the world. It's kinda like the ability of the Cetra to hear the planet talking to them, but since we humans aren't used to it, we can't block out all the pain we hear…"

"Really? So when people die they go back to the Lifestream?"

Reeve nodded, "Yes. Everyone."

"That means I'll be with my mommy someday?" Sephiroth asked with a smile touching that young face.

At the sight of the smile, Reeve smiled as well, "Yes. I promise."

"Will you be there too? And Doctor Gast? He was nice to me."

Reeve smiled, and fulfilled the urge to kiss the forehead of the youth. "Yep, I'll be there too. I promise. Everyone will be there and you will never have to be sad again. And there will be no pain, and only happiness."


Reeve nodded with a smile and Sephiroth cuddled against the new friend very readily at that point. It wasn't until they heard a throat cleared that the two pulled apart with shock.

"Mister Tuesti, might I ask what you are doing in Sephiroth's room?" that most dreaded of voices asked before Reeve could even pull away from the youth.

"Professor," Reeve finally choked out, pulling sadly away from the child and rising. "I… I heard a voice so I came to investigate."

From the glare he could tell that Hojo was dismissing him. "I will deal with you later Mister Tuesti."

Reeve fled the room but paused down the hallway when he heard the door shut. The man tiptoed back to the door to listen in.

"Sephiroth, you should not listen to that foolish young man. He will get no where in life and you have great things before you."

"Yes Professor," Sephiroth said, voice cold again.

"Do not worry, tomorrow you will be thirteen and we will enroll you in SOLDIER. You won't have to worry about hearing his lies again."

"No Professor."

At this point Reeve tiptoed away, and swore to himself that no matter what, he'd find a way someday to free the youth from Hojo's influence.

He was an odd sight in the gentle, warm, and overpoweringly natural sight that was this oddly radiant field. It didn't make sense that he was here. A minute ago he'd been in his bedroom, heading off to sleep, even though he knew that it might be one of the last times he slept after seventy long years, and now he was here, in a field of flowers with a beautifully clear stream maybe a car length away. Hesitantly he moved towards that creek, looking around in wonder at all the beauty, a natural thing he had not seen the like of since his last vacation in Mideel. When he came to the water that seemed so clear that it was impossible, he looked down and jumped back a step.

When he'd gone to sleep his hair had been gray and his skin wrinkled. He had looked every bit his frail age, and more. His eye-sight had been going and he had looked like a stiff breeze could do him in. Yet, at this moment it was a strange, but familiar face that looked out at him. Dark, wavy hair that fell to his shoulders but was cut perfectly back and accented his carefully trimmed facial hair. His skin was smoother than he could ever remember, except maybe for those first few months training under Hojo before his life had turned to hell. His eyes were no longer cold and dying, but bright and so alive. It was like he was once more in his twenties, an impressionable youth who had found his life's work and maybe his heart's greatest desire all in once glorious year before Hojo delayed one and stole the other away.

"It doesn't matter how long you stare, it isn't going to change," a gentle tenor voice said from the other side of the stream. It was a voice he could almost remember, almost recognize, but was just different enough to send him for a loop. It was like the gentle, childlike voice he had heard from a pre-SOLDIER Sephiroth, mixed with the smooth, lust-inflicting tones of the legendary General.

Reeve couldn't find it in himself to look up, almost afraid of what he might find to be just another dream of an old dreamer.

"You going to sit there all day or what Reeve?"

He did look up, and emotions he hadn't known had melted away rushed back to him, filled him with a hope he had dared not have. There he was, the silver haired, one winged angel of both legend and great fear back in the world of the living, for he knew he could no longer be there. Death truly had taken him, and this surely was the Promised Land assured not only to the Cetra, but to the worthy amid the humans. This was the paradise of the Lifestream.

"Sephiroth," he choked out in a voice he hadn't heard in years. His own had been, right before his death, slow and crackling, while this was a strong and confident bass.

"You're late Reeve," Sephiroth pointed out. "I thought you'd never keep that promise."

The eyes of brown brightened even further as Reeve heard those words. "You… You waited for me? How long?"

"Hard to tell. Time doesn't really pass here. From your own shock I'd guess maybe I've been waiting a long time. Vincent and Cid already passed this way, Barret too. They all asked me why I was waiting to move on…"

"Move on? This isn't the Lifestream then?"

Sephiroth shook his head, "Nope, just the land you come to before you pass into it. I've been waiting to pass on, waiting for you."

The former executive almost blushed.


"I should ask you the same thing Reeve. Why did you fight to free me? Why did you comfort me as a child? Why do you love me?"

"Sephiroth…" Reeve said, finally reaching out across the stream to take the offered hand. "Why must you always ask the tough questions?"

"Because they are the only ones worth answering," the silver haired angel said before guiding the executive onto the path many had taken before, taking him to the new life awaiting them.

Chapter Text

The question had been posed to us, the objective clear. Before the final battle, Cloud asked that we go and think about if we really wanted to fight. Obedient as ever, my little Cait had hopped off to ponder the question with me.

"Are we sure that we wanna do this?" the feline asked over the comm., and even miles away, I hear his question from my portable control for the bot, AKA my watch.

My eyes were soon closed and my face tilted towards the sky, as if seeking out the warmth of the sun that I could neither see nor feel. Was I sure? Yes. I had a promise to fulfill.

"Yes Cait," I responded, eyes opening at last. "We are sure."

"But what are we fighting for?" the feline responded. Odd how he never used the first person when he spoke to me.

The question startled me enough to take my mind from what was soon to come. For a while my mind had to wonder, searching its depths for a good answer. It returned with the smell of leather mixed with a scent that could only be described as silver.

"For freedom Cait. We are fighting for freedom."

"Our freedom?"

A shake of my head was the response until I remembered that he couldn't see it. "No. His."



With a sigh I regarded the Wutain walking next to me.

"You know it will only succeed in irritating him Tseng."

The graceful Turk gave me one of those gentle smiles of his, "Now Reeve, you know it won't," but the gleam in his eyes showed his pleasure in the knowledge that it would.

Knowing I would get no where with the male, I turned my attention instead to the blonde woman before me. Tseng knew that the only one Sephiroth could potentially hate more than Hojo or Scarlet, or even Tseng himself, was Elena. She hit on anything with the proper equipment… if they were under forty years of age that is. Somehow even at the age of 32 I managed to slip beneath her notice romantically.

"Yo Elena," Reno said, cutting in to try and warm the chill developing between myself and my lovely Wutain bed warmer. "You know the Vice President is gonna be there, don't ya?"

The blonde nodded, "Rufus is so great! I'm gonna…"

"Man, I can just see it now. All your perkiness is, like, gonna ruin our reputation in his eyes."

The face of the girl fell. "That would be bad."

"Yep. Since he's really the one to sign our pay checks. So, ya know, tone it down a little bit."

I felt a wave of hope wash over me as she nodded in response.

Before me now is opened the door to the conference room, and I cannot help but pause to smile. In the same chair as always, but earlier than could ever be expected of him, sits my angel. Well, he doesn't know that he has that title, but I don't hold it against him. With a smile I watch him reading his briefing as the Turks stream in, and that angel looks up. As well as I know him, I know that those feline-like mako eyes aren't on me. They've flickered to Reno, who waves and flashes Sephiroth quickly before moving to his seat and flopping down in a manner that suggests a lack of bones. As angry as such an action from the red-head makes me, the twitch of a half-smile from the general makes it acceptable for now.

What isn't acceptable was the screech that reaches my ears a moment after Sephiroth ducks down to hide. Elena is instantly at his side, making my blood boil, but I hide that fact.

"OOOH! Sephy-wephy kins! What is the matter?"

Both Reno and I cringe. There goes her promise to behave. Worst of all, Tseng does nothing about it as the blonde woman continues. I can't help but to give myself a mental memo to punish him for that later. In fact, all he does is sigh and shake his head before going to his seat. And so, yet to be noticed by the one that holds my heart, I head to my normal seat, the one across from Sephiroth.

Sometimes I wonder how people can think of the General as a cold bastard, and he does something to remind me. The malicious stare those feline eyes send towards Tseng and that demented grin hidden behind his arm are some of the few signs I ever see. I mean sure, his voice, that cool and pure tenor, could achieve such menacing sounds, but since none have ever been directed at me, since so rarely have I found any walls against me in him…

Then he sits up, and finally really sees me. Unable to help myself, I direct what I hope is a warm and comforting smile at the cold man. The steely warrior doesn't even flinch, those cold eyes not even warming in the slightest. Yet I know that he's glad to see me, it's all there. Unlike with the others, he keeps eye contact with me as a sign of respect, and then he is the first to break it, something he only ever does with close friends.

Every once in a while that whole thing just makes me so happy. At those times I get to thinking 'God, if having him as a friend makes me fell this good, how good would it feel to be the General's lover?', and this is one of those times. The feel of his leg brushing mine under the table sets parts of my mind crazy with delight, and my fingers begin to run over the manila cover of the briefing that I really should be reading. Instead my fingers pretend they are brushing over the beautiful flesh of my angel.

Yet his stoic silence, his inability to lift his eyes to mine again shakes the fantasies from the upper levels of consciousness for me so that I can speak.

"Hello Sephiroth. Anything the matter?" I ask, quite surprised that my already bass voice does hold a dusky trace of the lust suddenly burning inside of me. Despite years of self-control, one of my hands slip down to my lap and trace little patterns upon my thigh through the stiff fabric of my pants.

Still he doesn't respond and I feel even more worry for him. Maybe he was sick. Worry doubled now. Illness that struck the mako laden were always bad, and word was that one was making its way through the ranks of some of the SOLDIER. Well, at least his eyes are on me now. But he still isn't blinking.

"I hope you're not sick, there's a bug going around you know."

Finally the tall warrior blinks, but only when my hand reaches across the table to rest upon his.

"Sephiroth?" I ask again, keeping the worry from my voice.

"Sorry," he mutters, voice cold and commanding even when submissive, "I was just thinking…"

Relief flooded through me as he finished by adding, "I'm feeling fine…" and throwing in his usual poor excuse for a smile with it.

"I'm glad," my words came, luckily not colored with relief, "but you better pay attention because we're starting now."

For good measure I added a hint of one of my own warm smiles before looking towards Rufus. The smile only grows when I hear a whisper of "Thanks Reeve." The whole meeting passes with my mind upon the idea of what other sounds I wish I could drive from the icy male. By that evening's end I had taken it all out upon Tseng, praying that he didn't hear me whisper Seph's name in the end.

"Why are we fighting for Sephiroth's freedom?" the feline asks, stirring me from memories.

"Because…" I start, not knowing how to finish.

What could I say? Could I admit to the years of secret love, to the months of mourning at his death, to the memory of a glorious body pressed against mine for one night while I worshipped him in all of the ways that he deserved. No… Those were my memories, as was the promise that no matter what, I'd do everything in my power to protect him… Even losing him to death again…

For a moment my fingers brush against my lips, remembering the only kisses that ever stirred something like love in me…

"Because Cait everyone deserves freedom."

And I look around my prison and accept his little affirmative beep. For a moment, I can almost swear that I can smell him… He always smelled like leather and silver…

Chapter Text

Not since that day had Reeve ever seen that child again, not in person at least. The next day Sephiroth had been enrolled into SOLDIER and had quickly climbed through the ranks. Before he had made General the war in Wutai had reached such a level that the silver haired prodigy had been shipped to war. During his many battles the male almost a decade younger than the future executive had been promoted to General. Even then Reeve did not see him, but he had heard the stories.

There were stories about every facet of Sephiroth, for he'd become some sort of legend. Most of them Reeve could easily dismiss like the rumor of him eating chocobo feathers to move faster. Yet some were impossible for the dark haired male to ignore. Stories about the coldness of the General hurt him, and worse was the tales of the promiscuity of the man. All the SOLDIERS, elite or otherwise, spoke of how the General would regard no one and never let fall his stony mask of indifference. Younger members 'oohed' and 'awed' over the latest conquests of the silver haired angel. Part of Reeve was almost glad he hadn't met the General at all. Except he knew it would not last.

In the years since his first and last meeting with a silver-haired youth, he'd found Hojo was a man of his word. As the professor had said, he had been kept away from Sephiroth completely. He had been sent from Hojo's tutelage, not only effectively removing him from any potential sight of the youth he'd found himself infatuated with, he'd also postponed his chances at the job Reeve had desired. Industrious as ever the man had set about working harder, only to achieve the rank he desired a week AFTER Sephiroth was shipped off to Wutai.

Yet now, now he had a chance for a reunion of some sort. The war had officially ended and the General was shipped home. A military ball was to be held to celebrate, and the Assistant to the Head of Urban Development was due to join in with the festivities. Not only would Reeve get to see the man that the boy he had cared for had grown into, but he might have a chance at more…

He was there now, clad in a suit and feeling rather awkward at such a formal event, sitting patiently at his table with a frown in place. Unlike most of the others present he wasn't that kind of man. All he had was a mug of coffee, knowing he wouldn't drink this night if he could avoid doing so.

"Well, well, long time no see," a voice said at his shoulder before a SOLDIER, decked out in his full, level one, dress uniform. The man was only seven years his junior, making him two years Sephiroth's senior. Yet the two had started in SOLDIER at the same time and the older one had climbed through the ranks nearly as fast but never with as much praise. Reeve, unlike others, saw him merely as the ever happy, irritating kid who he'd grown up in the same town as. While a friendship had been forged between them when the youth was in SOLDIER-training (reinforcing the already existing bonds of the cousins) they had been separated since Zack was shipped to Wutai.

Reeve nodded, "I see you made first class."

"Yeah, field promotion by Sephiroth himself. Kinda saved his reckless ass a few times, and not only in regular combat." Here the SOLDIER grinned. He was almost always smiling. "I see you've gone up in the world as well."

"Finally, and only a week after you left Zack. I think you're just bad luck for me," the future-executive teased.

"Well damn," Zack chuckled, readily taking the joke. "So… Why are you just sitting around? You could be dancing with Scarlet you know…"

"SCARLET?" the older male yelped. "What the HELL are you thinking Zack?"

The porcupine haired youth laughed for a while before growing serious. Reeve really wasn't used to how fast Zack could change to this serious mode, and was even less accustomed to just how serious the male got. While the blue-eyed Gongagan sat the same -legs spread, arm thrown over the back of the chair, everything about him radiating relaxation- his eyes grew like stone, and deathly serious. Even the jovial tone changed, becoming darker with more of a cold age.

"Cuz, you can't do this to yourself. Pining away for someone is one of the most foolish things possible. Hell, I'm as ready to admit as the next straight guy that he is hot as hell, and probably sweats an aura of sex and all, but you've gotta let that go. He's a use-them-and-lose-them guy, which you deserve far more than. Sadly, he wouldn't give you the time of day, or remember your name, no matter how much of a past you have. Scarlet, on the other hand…"

"Is a bitch," Reeve grumbled.

"Actually likes you. Better to find a girl like her to fuck until you get over this infatuation," the SOLDIER continued without pause.

The future-executive sighed and looked at his friend, whose eyes were softening again. "You just want him for yourself," Reeve said, unconvinced with his own accusation.

Instead of shaking his head, Zack merely grinned, "Naw. I have this great girlfriend."

Reeve rolled his eyes, "Zack, you are impossible."

"That is what they all say," the younger man laughed.

"Do you ever shut up? I bet you snore far too loudly for comfort."

"He does," a sweet tenor tone came from behind Reeve. Great, last thing he needed was some SOLDIER was listening in on theirconversation.

"Don't mind him Reeve. He doesn't know what he's talking about," the dark haired male laughed.

"On the contrary Zackary, I am quite familiar with your snoring. I wouldn't be surprised if half of the insomnia experienced by the battalion was caused by you," the voice said, quite sure of itself. "I would bet any insomnia in Midgar since our return is the fault of your snoring as well."

Reeve had seen Zack pick fights for less than that, especially if it was aimed at another person, so the fact that he couldn't even see any of the familiar tensing in Zack was disturbing.

"Like I said, don't mind him. Contrary to popular opinion Seph does have a sense of humor, rare as it is."

It took the man maybe five seconds to translate the 'Seph' to Zack's favorite term of 'Sephy' and finally to the proper 'Sephiroth'. Once this hit him, Reeve jumped to his feet to regard the General.

"Sir," the male said, only to be met by a hand raised in minor irritation.

"I've had enough of that today, so I don't need my equals calling me 'sir'," the silver haired one said.

The idea was actually quaint, being equals. Both did report directly to the executive of their apartment, Reeve to that of Urban Development, and Sephiroth to Heidegger. Yet how could plain old Reeve be equal to the great General?

Sephiroth was far from the small child Reeve once held in his arms. The General was taller than Reeve at this point, clad in a dark blue uniform so dark it was almost black, that fit his well muscled and yet still slender body far too well. While Sephiroth's hair had once only fallen to his chin, the molten silver strains now cascaded down his back. Even the emotion filled eyes had changed, making themselves cold and hard, worse than those of any Turk. Reeve almost trembled, half in fearful shock, half in joyous awe of what the younger man had matured into.

"Of course General," Reeve said after a moment of hesitation.

Zack rolled his eyes and stood. He gave Reeve a disbelieving look. "Man Sephy, he just doesn't get it does he? I swear that he was smarter when we left. Maybe getting ranks killed his brain."

The silver haired male almost cracked a smile. Almost.

"My name is Sephiroth, you called me it once you know."

Reeve almost grinned. The man remembered him.

"And I would prefer you call it again," the General finished.

"Of course Sephiroth, how silly of me to think otherwise."

Zack raised an eyebrow. "Wait, am I missing something here?"

"Aren't you always?" Reeve asked, his retort quick as ever, but surprising him nonetheless.

"Yeah, but I don't like missing out on things my two best friends know about, especially when it involves the two of them."

"Remember that story I told you about my birthday?"

Zack nodded, "Yeah man."

"It was Reeve."

The SOLDIER looked back and forth between them in shock before smirking. Yet before either the future-executive or Sephiroth could read, the dark haired male fled, laughing wildly for some unknown reason.

"You grew up with him correct?" Sephiroth asked.

"Yeah," Reeve responded, "And before you ask, yes, he's always been like this."

"He's too perky for my liking," the General admitted. In silence they watched their mutual friend in his attempts to woo a beautiful woman.

"And sadly he actually thinks he can get the girls to like him," the older male said as Zack earned a slap for his efforts and moved smoothly on to his n ext bit of prey.

"Would you like to get a drink?" Sephiroth finally asked to break the silence. "Maybe catch up a bit…"

"Hojo wouldn't like that much."

The General glared down at the male, before his expression softened. "His opinion doesn't matter."

So Reeve nodded and followed the legendary warrior to the bar, hoping that eventually Zack would meet up with them. Then again… He was always messing stuff up. Maybe he should just hope Zack didn't come. Reeve didn't want his chance of renewing friendship with the silver haired beauty….

Chapter Text

While Reeve had never really blamed Tseng for breaking his wrist in the first case, he fully blamed Tseng for the second break, and definitely the poisoning. It had only taken an hour of life lived after the antidote was administered and a new cast placed upon him for Reeve to start planning. It had then taken a bit more time for him to decide upon the proper method to use on the Wutain. After that decision was made, it had been a matter of waiting.

Over the last year he had prepared. First he'd learned as much about Wutain medicines and plants as possible. Then he had discovered the weak spot of the male. No, not coffee, the other one. That weakness was a lovely Wutain woman that worked in accounting. Finally he'd won her, who had little interest in the Turk anyway, and Tseng's subordinates to his side. Now, tonight, the whole thing would come to fruition.

The plan was rather basic, an age old idea, but complex in its deployment. A beautiful invitation was written out for him by Rude, who had a surprising ability with calligraphy, which asked for Tseng to join the lovely Wutain woman, named Alani for her Mideelian grandmother, for dinner. Then it was signed by the lovely lady, and placed in an envelope with Tseng's name on it. The lips that kissed the back for the 'sealed with a kiss' affect had been provided by Elena, as had the very light perfume. Reno became the courier of the note, seeing as all of the male passed through his hands at one point or another, legitimately or otherwise. With that done Reeve had slipped out of work early with Alani to prepare a meal especially for Tseng at her home, where the male would undoubtedly come.

By eight when the male had shown up, still in his suit, the meal was prepared by the two conspirators, and Reeve added the finishing touches before hiding in her room. In silence he waited behind the closed door of the room as the pair ate the home-made and fully traditional Wutain meal complete with Wutain herbs in the dessert meant to knock even the mako enhanced Turk out. When he heard the chuckling from the male he knew the plan was working. They had disguised the taste of the plant with other Wutain herbs that Tseng would know were meant to… enhance some physical desires of the body. And the whole thing was running smoothly when Alani escorted the Turk to her bedroom, Reeve hidden in the closet as she and Tseng began to strip. When the sedatives finally overtook the male and he fell to the bed, Reeve sprung from his hiding place. Alani quickly restored her clothes and ran to her front door, welcoming in the crimson haired Turk that was to help Reeve with the next part.

Together the two males worked quickly and a few pictures were snapped before they fled the apartment. They left the sleeping Turk upon the bed of the woman, knowing she would finish up the plan, quickly escorting Tseng from her house, feigning insult that he would fall asleep upon her…

When he entered the building the next morning, it was with the headache to end all headaches. Tseng hid his tired eyes behind shades and ground his knuckles against his temple in an attempt to tame the pain. In one hand was his morning cup of coffee, and it was the fact that he had it that delayed the inevitable. Too distracted by the coffee to notice the employee billboard just beyond the welcome sign, he made his way for the elevators. Then, since he already had eaten and since he had his coffee in hand as he did every morning, Tseng bypassed the cafeteria. It was probably the fact that the Turk floor was so hard to get to that even made the wait longer. But once he headed down for lunch, once Tseng stumbled into the cafeteria and saw people gawking at a poster… Once Tseng saw the poster, the shout of fury could be heard all the way up on the 65th floor.

In his office Reeve smirked. There was some odd noise, and it was noon, which could only mean one thing. The executive pulled up a picture from his computer files. It was the same image that the Turk leader was busy tearing down all over the cafeteria. It showed the Wutain passed out in a bed, clad in an ugly red dress much like Scarlet's, and cuddling an equally ugly pink teddy bear. Sure, it wasn't the worst kind of humiliation, but damn, it worked for now.

Chapter Text

He hasn't even noticed how much time had passed until Cait Sith had awaken him in the morning, his eyes dancing with that odd light they got when he was excited. Reeve thought long and hard about why the feline could possibly be excited. There were no meetings in his schedule, no parties for the winter holidays for another four weeks, no reason for excitement. There weren't even concerns about the harvest festival for another two days, so Reeve couldn't understand.

It was a memory, one of those kinds you only remember when you're half asleep or if you need to worry about it right then, that put it together. This was what Cait was excited about, and any second the feline would shout…

"GET UP! Time to start planning Reno's Birthday!" the feline shrieked, confirming Reeve's suspicion and killing his eardrums in one fell swoop.

In annoyance the male pushed the cat off of the bed. This was going to be a long two weeks.

It was because of this that Reeve stood nervously outside of a rickety old door in a less desirable area of Junon. Half of him was afraid of knocking on the door because maybe the address that Elena had provided was wrong, maybe Reno wouldn't want to see him, maybe his gifts would be rejected. He was also half afraid of not knocking because this might be his last chance. Weeks of planning, of memories of all of the previous birthdays he had to stop plagued him the whole time. Yet here he was, fist poised over the door and boxes balanced in one hand. And he knocked…

"Get lost!" a voice shouted. Yes, it was Reno's, but it didn't really sound like Reno used to. It was a broken voice.

Still Reeve hoped beyond hope. So his voice was teasing, "Fine, don't let your friend celebrate your birthday with you! Not like I don't have better things to do."

Obviously the ploy worked, because the door opened after a moment. To say the very least, Reno was not a pretty sight. While as a Turk the red-head had made his suit appear unique by being disheveled, the torn jeans and t-shirt didn't bring the same effect. The hair was the same, but his eyes… Reeve hadn't really seen Reno depressed before, and he didn't like it.

When Reno closed the door it was with one of his casual lines that stung Reeve hard, "Well, long time no see… Thought you forgot."

Reeve wasn't sure what hurt more: that Reno thought he would forget, or that he had.

All he could do was answer honestly. "Would've come here sooner but I got caught up at home." It was true. Cait had created some problems with the cake, and the wrapping wasn't fun and… well, excuses wouldn't help.

"Wife?" Reno questioned and Reeve responded before he could think.



"No," he responded again. How could Reno think that? Hadn't he hinted enough over the years?

"What then?"

"I finally got some things moved from storage to my house. Only one thing left, hoping to get it tomorrow," the man said in another half truth.

When Reno didn't ask what was moved, Reeve let out a sigh of relief. While he could tell half-truths to the Turk, he could not lie. Any questioning would have brought out the fact that he'd had Reno's car from his youth, Reno's materia set that he'd stored away, and other things Reeve had saved for Reno over the years into Reeve's home. So, Reeve accepted the silence and swatted the former Turk's hand away from the smaller box.

The reaction of Reno to the cake was priceless. There was such joy and shock, something Reeve hadn't seen in so long, that the executive blushed at the sight.

"Reeve… I…"

Quickly Reeve cut him off. "Made it myself. It tastes better than it looks. It kinda… collapsed. And apparently just because I can write well doesn't mean I can write with frosting." Truth was that as good as Reeve was with most desserts, cake always failed for him.

"Reeve…" Reno repeated, and the older man could see the icy eyes lingering on the candy hearts.

"They were all I could find," the man said hastily. "Where are Elena and Rude?" he asked, quickly changing the topic before the topic could start.

"Rude and his wife Claire are in my villa in Costa Del Sol. It sold it to them so I'd have some money. Elena is in Gongaga with her husband. They own a vineyard. I'm alone here."

"You're never alone Reno," Reeve said aloud before adding to himself, 'I love you too much to leave you alone.'

"You're a moron to say that."

"I'm here."

"And I'm amazed," the younger said with no sarcasm at all.

"Oh shut up," Reeve growled, "Do you want your present or not?"

There was hesitation evident in Reno as he nodded, but Reeve was the one that was truly nervous. The nerves only doubled when, as Reeve leaned close, Reno grew tense. Despite his fear, Reeve didn't stop though, this had to be done. And once his lips brushed with Reno's, it was so hard to pull back, more so because Reno was returning the kiss. The sound of complain made his heart jump, but Reeve steeled in case of rejection still. So Reeve now pushed the smaller gift he'd brought into the house of the former Turk and smiled hopefully.

Reno's eyes widened as Reeve spoke, "I know it's sudden but…"


The executive shook his head. He had to speak now. "I promised you nearly ten years ago that you would always have a place with me. When Midgar was summoned I knew Cloud would save us, but I knew I could never stay in Midgar. I had some of my stuff sent here to Junon, and some of yours as well. Just got it all set up today."

Here Reeve took a breath and glanced at the key and passcard in the small box. "I guess I'm asking you to move in with me. I want to hire you as my bodyguard."

"Reeve…" the stunned man repeated yet again.

"But, that isn't my gift Reno. My gift doesn't have a prize or a boy that can hold it… I am your gift Reno, if you will accept me."

Now the former executive was shocked by Reno seizing his lips. "Reeve, this is the best gift you've ever given me!"

"Happy Birthday Reno…" Reeve purred, "But let's see if we can't top that gift… Cait won't mind if we don't show up until tomorrow…"

The red haired man grinned. "Absolutely."

Chapter Text

Over the years Reeve had come to know better than to expect the words he needed to hear most said to him. Other words were used in their place, assuring him that his presence was appreciated, even enjoyed, but he'd been forced to take those few things as life-preservers when he just couldn't be sure anymore. There were the little things that implied it, but the fact remained that they would never be said, probably because they couldn't be.

Everyone in Shin-Ra knew that it was impossible to love a Turk. It was because they lacked any real emotion, because they were such masterful liars that they actually believed their own words. They said that because of that you really couldn't trust them enough to risk giving a single one of them your heart. The employees said that doing such a thing would leave you broken, or worse. Reeve had never really believed it, until now.

Here he laid for the hundredth time, holding another body against his own, enjoying the warmth and running his fingers through the glorious golden strains. The words he had given so freely but moments before hung heavily in the air, causing the one he laid with to tense up. Reeve's lover was practically a Turk, and thus the revelation had obviously unnerved the person.

"Reeve… I… You know that I care for you but…"

The executive shook his head and rested his head upon that of his love. Carefully he pressed his lips to those of his lover, knowing that he just couldn't stand to hear the truth spoken from them again. Since he couldn't hear what he wanted, what he needed, he didn't want to hear ANYTHING.

When his lover finally fell asleep Reeve rose stealthily, something he learned from his golden haired love, and quietly changed. A duffle bag was retrieved from the living room near the door, and soon filled with all of the possessions he had come to leave here. With bag full, he returned to the doorway of the bedroom two watch the almost-Turk sleep. The gentle rise and fall of the chest, the splay of gold upon the white pillows almost looking like a halo, all of it made him want to stay, want to change his mind, but he couldn't. It was too much to go on with this anymore. How could he really be loved when the words didn't reach his ears?

Finally the man just sighed and turned away from the sight in the bed. It was almost amazing that he actually reached the door this time, that he hand came to rest upon the door knob. This was the tenth time this month he'd tried to leave, only to find his will shattered when he noticed some joint possession of theirs, or a piece of clothing he'd been given, or just in watching his lover sleep. This time… Reeve was really going to do it, wasn't he? When his hand turned the knob and the light of the hall reached his eyes, he realized that this time, it was really happening.

Nothing shocked the man more than the fact that this time he was really able to reach into the bag and pull out the letter written months ago and still hadn't had the nerve to use. Okay, so maybe the actual placing of the letter on the table by the door shocked him more. No, it was the fact he had actually closed the door that shocked him. Reeve heard the lock snap into place behind him, and knew that now it was too late to go back. The keys were inside, the letter was inside, his lover was inside. Such was the shock that Reeve had to sit down in front of the door for a few minutes to process it. Had he really done it? Was this really happening?

After a few minutes the man rose from the floor and shouldered the duffle bag. Shoes, silent ones as he had always worn around work and for which Reno teased him about taking after Turks by using, made no sound on the carpeted floor as he walked solemnly down the hall, disbelief still clouding his thought process. For some reason his fingers brushed over his lips, thinking of the recent kiss shared with his former lover. All of this was too much to really take in.

The lived in the same building… or at least both had minor apartments in the Shin-Ra building, so it did not take Reeve long to get into the apartment where he'd weather the personal storm resulting from this for a few days. Then he'd slink back to his home and recover from all that had happened. In the safety of his apartment Reeve dropped his duffle bag and set about the final step… ridding himself of anything that reminded him of what had just taken place, something that might or might not have been the biggest mistake of his life.

It was another thirty minutes before he was done and only one thing was left. Now Reeve sat on his couch, looking at a picture frame made of obsidian and staring at the face of his former lover. The golden hair, the flawless skin… No, he wouldn't think of it. With a toss he threw the picture to the trash can, knowing that if he looked at it again he would decide he was no longer sane, and that he'd made the biggest mistake of his life. And Reeve knew it was his fault, for wearing his heart on his sleeve, for trying to teach someone trained in the Turk manner to love. Now it was over, and he could never really return to that apartment, or even his ex's office, not without remembering what he'd done to need escaping, to need getting out of something that had, in the long run, ruined everything.

A letter came the next day, and he couldn't figure out just how to react. Should he feel hurt, or relieved was the question that Reeve knew he'd never be able to answer.


I understand, and frankly, I'm surprised this didn't come up sooner. With me being who I am and you being who you are, this was kind of doomed from the beginning. But know this, I don't hold it against you. It isn't that your love wasn't enough for me, just that I could never be able to return it. Forgive me for leading you on and for not being able to find it in me to be angry, or hurt, or even the slightest bit affected in any way at all. Do know this though, it was good while it lasted, and I would suggest you don't try such a silly stunt as try to win those like me over again.


Chapter Text

It was a bar, not even that great of one, in Junon proper, and not even the one where either of them normally chose. There was no silence, no dim lights to make you curl in on yourself, and yet both were quiet, almost afraid of breaking a comfortable silence. The place was discreet; no one there was on-duty or would dare report back to HQ about the executive and the assassin sharing a drink. The regulars knew them anyway, so there was no harm in it. Or there should not have been.

Even over the noise of the three in the back, and the off-duty MPs they can hear each other. A wavelength that should not even exist is shared by them, and it makes the words redundant. Instead they communicate through small gestures and touches and most of all, eye contact. The smallest glance could mean anything from 'is it time to go' to 'another round?' A light brushing of fingers when once passes the other a napkin or a mug could mean affectionate things, and the lack of it would imply disappointment. Even Reno hadn't managed to break into their private little world after all of these years, much to the ire of the youth.

The sound of drunken slurs touch them for but a moment before shared look and thought finds them both rising and heading for the ladder up and out of their little bit of peace. The assassin goes up first, waiting at the top with a hand out to help the executive out. In the simple contact a promise not to leave him is given. In the slight squeeze anyone else would take as thanks is communicated the knowledge that such a promise has been given over and over, and never has he feared for it breaking.

Together they head out into the night, heading towards the hotel. One easily fakes drunkenness so the other can support him, the closeness deceptive on all parts. On lookers only find a dutiful Turk supporting the executive he is bound to protect for the duration of their stay, and even their friends would be suspicious of his sobriety. Truth is that he needs this contact, this chance to just pause and inhale the scent of the Wutain. And the Wutain just needs those few moments of the older man in his arms, because they had no other chance. Even their rooms would never be safe. As long as there would be Shin-Ra there could never be a them, not in the way that they want. They accept it, both more than just aware of how to deal with whatever pain he feels from the situation.

At last they are at the hotel, and to keep up their act they take the back doors and elevators. When they reach their rooms the 'drunken' one fumbles for the keycard to his room and 'fails' to find it. With a sigh the other pulls the thing from the breast pocket of his charges' suit. Carefully he balances the 'tipsy' executive while opening the door before guiding him into the room. Just as carefully he leads the older male through the room and helps him to the bed. Reeve lays down with a grunt and a sigh of comfort. Quickly the executive curls up to sleep. Showing more irritation than he could feel towards the man Tseng works Reeve's shoes and coat off. The tie and shirt comes next, and the blankets are pulled up over the rest. Everything is folded to satisfy the shared meticulousness of the pair and, just before he leaves, Tseng shakes his head.

In total silence he leaves the room, but not before hesitating at the door, fully in sight of the mirror, reflecting the image back to Reeve and reflecting Reeve to Tseng. A gentle smile passes over the features of the Wutain before the door closes and he leaves.

With that smile a small assurance of the love and patience of the Turk, Reeve curls up further under the blankets and lets sleep claim him with a true smile on his face.

Chapter Text

It was something the others didn't understand, and couldn't understand really. Sure, Cloud could tell you what it was like to have your past stolen away from you, but he'd been the one to steal it, no matter what he said about Sephiroth. And Cid could tell you about having your dreams die in front of you. Barret would school you about losing a loved one because you didn't have enough courage to fight. Tifa, below all of that strength, knew what it was like to watch your life go from perfect to hell in seconds flat. And Yuffie could show you what happened when your dignity was stolen away. But for all of that pain, none of them had to take it all at once. Except for them. Except for them.

He'd watched as his dream was built and corrupted to a point where it was his blood that people took as a curse. He'd lived through being abandoned by his family for making such a place, and exiled from what he once loved. His mother, his dear sweet mother, had died when he was a child and SOLDIERs had 'dealt' with the old AVALANCHE near his home village, accusing her of being one of that rank. His dignity had been stripped away when he'd been thrown in jail for doing what was right, and everything that had been perfect for those few moments that he was helping Cloud and them was destroyed as Meteor came down on his city and people died. He'd heard the screams, and they haunted his dreams. That was the pain Reeve had to feel, and yet, it was nothing at all.

For all of that pain he'd been sure he would crack, would die from the pressure, but now it seemed like that if he couldn't handle such trivial things, how was he going to help the one in his arms now? Reeve said nothing, just let the man stay there, in the shelter of his arms. The executive didn't mention how the polished gold claw cut through his coat and brought blood from the injured flesh beneath. Reeve didn't comment about how the tears were soaking him, or how the sobs cut him to the bone. Instead he sat there, stroking the hair of the crimson clad man in his arms. Talking would ruin it, ruin the comfort he was trying so hard to give.

Who ever would have guessed what was hidden beneath the pale, scarred flesh of their companion? That his pains were worse than theirs? Reeve had, and damned if he didn't love the man in spite of what he'd learned. How the former Turk had handled what he had for so long was beyond him, and Reeve wasn't even going to pretend he could put himself in Vincent's shoes. But Hojo was gone, dead by their hands, and this time, Vincent had a chance to live.

Still, Reeve wondered if she ever knew just how Vincent had suffered for loving her, for trying to protect her. Could Sephiroth ever understand that Vincent had tried so hard to stop what had happened? Would Vincent ever forgive himself for failing? He'd been so strong throughout the whole thing, stronger than the rest of them and with far less reasons to be so. The pain, the torture, the humiliation, all in the name of 'science' but truly for nothing more than revenge.

Yet, for all of that, Reeve couldn't find it in him to do more than curse Hojo's name. For all of the pieces he had to pick up, this long after the fact, for all of the pain, he was doing his best. Bit by bit it was changing. It would never be okay, not what had happened, but damned if he couldn't spend the rest of his life comforting the man in his arms, mending the cracks and polishing the broken statute of a beautiful man in black and crimson.

Unlike the woman Vincent had loved, Reeve intended to put the man up on a pedestal, and make sure there would never be another fall that left the beauty in a million pieces again. Their was a lot of pain shared between them, but Reeve could be strong. He'd put it in the past for both of them, and show Vincent the world he really deserved. There were still beautiful things out in the world, and once Vincent realized he was one of them…

Despite the tears of Vincent and the blood running down his own chest, Reeve smiled. Carefully he kissed the head of the broken man and smiled when the crimson eyes looked up at him, redder than ever from the tears, but still, something was different. Just a little less broken than the were ten minutes before. Still a long way to go, but together they could do it.

Let the others of AVALANCHE keep their problems, let them think that Vincent had been the one to keep them all going in the end when their own pains were making them falling apart. Let them think he had put his own past behind him. Because Reeve intended to be there and repay the favor a million fold.

Chapter Text

They made an interesting pair really. A woman in white, delicate and graceful as a dove. A man in black, as born for the skies and master of them as a mighty eagle, with talons of steel. Then here he was, a plain old pigeon, not praise worthy as the dove and far from the prey of an eagle. Odd how he'd had the right to stand at their side. How could someone like him have had the honor of being so important to them both? Why had he had the right to walk the blushing bride down the aisle when all he wanted was to stand next to the handsome groom? Why did he have to stand there and watch it at all?

Still, they looked so happy, his best friends. Shera's face was alight with such joy, and Cid would smile back and blush and stammer whenever anyone would comment on how happy he looked of how lovely they were together. Reeve had yet to say such a thing to them, but he knew his support was felt. There was the fact that Cait Sith had served as ring bearer to Marlene's flower girl, and that Reeve had accepted the role given to him. But that didn't make it any easier. Nothing could make it easier. All he could do was accept and support them, right?

"Hey Reeve, whatcha doin'?" a chipper voice came from behind him.

The dark haired male lifted his head from glass of wine he had been savoring while watching Cid and Shera dance to that he might regard Yuffie. Even the former material thief had arrived at the wedding, the only person missing being Vincent, but the former Turk had disappeared not long after the ceremony. What more could Reeve expect? But honestly, seeing the Wutain girl in a navy blue dress and acting proper… that was the last thing anyone had expected. Cid had been forced to threaten the girl with trips on the new Shera airship to get her to calm down.

"Enjoying the reception, what else would I be doing?" Reeve responded. There was no better way to silence the girl than to ask her questions of your own. But it seemed that this time she would not be sent away.

"You could be dancing," she pointed out, plopping down into the seat Shera had vacated a while ago. "Like with Elmyra. Except Barret does seem to be monopolizing her time. Who would have guessed? Or Tifa. I'm sure she'd love to dance with the commissioner of the WRO."

"I believe she has better things to do in making sure Cloud isn't off moping in some corner," Reeve pointed out. "Do not forget, she brought Denzel and Marlene as well, and the boy has geostigma. He needs attention."

"You're such a party pooper!" Yuffie complained. "It's like you're not happy for Cid and Shera!"

The former Shin-Ra executive almost flinched at the statement. Was it that he wasn't happy for them? Odd, he would look at Cid out there, dancing and grinning and laughing, and feel nothing but joy for the man. Seeing the way Shera made Cid happy made him happy enough, but… it wasn't the same. Just wasn't.

"He's lucky. She'll always take care of him," Reeve responded instead with a smile. But the expression was forced.

"Fine, if you say so," she said, jumping to her feet and waving. "I'll see you later."

The older man nodded and waved her off. After a moment the executive returned to the nursing of his wine and watching of the couple. They said, that if you loved something, you had to let it go. And if it never came back, it was never really yours. Too bad it hadn't even been his in the first place. Despite that… he'd let it go hadn't he?

Despite the noise of the place all around him, it was in silence that Reeve raised his glass for a toast no one but him would ever hear. 'To you Cid, may you ever find joy, even if I'm not part of it.'

Chapter Text

Okay, so maybe no one really remembered his name as the one that had built the city. Maybe the other executives did not respect him because he wasn't as cruel and soulless. Possibly the Turks looked down on him for the fact that he could easily use his Cait Sith to betray Shin-Ra. But, there was one thing that everyone came to him to ask him about. A source of pride for the youngest of the executives… Reeve had a sense of style and design that could not be matched.

In fact, before he'd gotten to Shin-Ra, Scarlet was known for her skimpy BLUE dresses instead of the reds that so suited her. It had been Reeve, attempting to avoid her affections, that pointed out that red would better compliment her complexion. Of course, Heidegger ignored his advice and still wore that sickening shade of green and Palmer kept to his putrid yellow-brown suits, but even Hojo had taken a bit of Reeve's advice. Women liked men that weren't afraid to show off their bodies, sure. But what they really liked was a man that could pull off full dress on the beach and the labcoat. In fact, that one had worked well too. From what Aeris and Tifa had told Cait, Hojo had been seen with plenty of ladies on the beaches of Costa Del Sol.

Unfortunately, there was one person that, no matter the wisdom of his style advice, Reeve could NOT get through to. No matter how hard he tried, no matter what ways he tried to convince the man, Rude was adamant. Refused to 'let his hair down' so to speak. Always that damn suit and always those damn glasses. Hell, they'd gone curtain shopping for Rude's new 'bachelor pad' and the man refused to allow Reeve a peek at his eyes. All the executive wanted was to match the color to Rude's eyes.

In the end though the executive had bought black out curtains with a lovely mako green cover on each side. If he couldn't match the damn things to Rude's eyes he'd go with the next best thing. Matching them to Reno's. Okay, so maybe he had a sense of style, but Reeve wasn't so blind that he didn't realize that the only reason Reno had fired his maid was because he didn't need her cleaning messes he didn't make anymore. Reeve couldn't help but wonder what Rude would think about the fact that the executive had been the one to convince Reno to go with red for a hair color to attract the Costa Del Sol native… Only time would tell.

Chapter Text

I'm Sorry.

That was all it said. A simple note of two words, of seven letters, of flawless handwriting with those slightly stylized capitals. The way the y swooped back up and ended with a bit of extra ink, serving as its own period. Nothing else but those seven little letters. They rested on a simple piece of white paper that had been folded into thirds to make the thing stand on it's own beside the alarm clock. There hadn't even been a name on it, either of the giver or receiver. But, as only two people had access to the room, there was no doubt the point would get across.

Who ever knew that such pain could come from a piece of white paper that was otherwise flawless? It had probably come from the printer, his personal one because the WRO logo was no where to be seen. He found it fitting that when he picked the thing up there was a sharp pain in his finger. Instead of looking at the note right away, he sat there in his bed, watching as the blood welled up from the cup, the color so like… No. He couldn't think about it. Quickly the letter was refolded and placed back by the alarm. There was hesitation for a moment after that, he just didn't know what to do with himself.

At last he moved, placing the cut finger in his mouth and licking the blood clean. It tasted like metal and the taste lingered long enough for him to savor it had he really wanted to. But in the end he gets up from the bed, despite how cold it felt in here. Probably because it was always the other one who would get up early and turn on the heat. At night they'd preferred to just lie in the comfort of the arms of the other, it being all of the warmth they needed. What, exactly, had changed?

From there the day didn't get much better. No one had started the coffee pot, so he had to stay there by the thing until the dark brew was ready. If nothing else he needed something to warm his stomach. His heart and body would never be free of this chill. Seven little letters destroying the spirit of a man who had survived having his dreams crushed not once, not twice, but three separate times. Midgar, Edge and the WRO. But this pain was, by far, the worst. This pain could not fade.

The coffee did little to cheer him. His phone had rung when he'd picked up the ceramic mug with the potent liquid, and the shock had been enough for him to drop the thing. Upon contact with his tiled kitchen floor the cup exploded outward, hot drink and pieces of glass going everywhere. It hurt, the coffee and pieces of cup that burned and cut into his feet as he walked over them and out of the kitchen. Somewhere in his mind he knew that he was leaving a bit of a trail of blood behind when he walked, his feet messed up so much from the cuts.

Even a shower didn't do much to cheer him. The water was so hot at first, turning his skin red, and then so cold his teeth chattered. So much time passed in that shower that it grows hot and cold another three times before he found the will to pull himself out of the shower. But not before his eyes caught the sight of his razor blade. Another tremble overcame him before his gaze managed to tear away from the thing and landed instead on the large mirror over his sink. Despite being fogged up by all of the steam, there was no doubt that what was missing from the reflection.

A towel is wrapped tight around his waist before he noticed that the cuts on his feet had stopped bleeding. At some point the paper cut had as well, but damned if he didn't wish it hadn't. At least then he could really, truly be sure this wasn't just some bad dream.

The bedroom once more only to find that the piece of paper and the painful seven letters seemed to be taunting him. Why he just didn't know. Honestly it made no sense at all. Surely the letters, the words, knew that he didn't need them to remind him just what they meant. His heart told him it over and over already, so why did they have to throw in their opinion.

His closet isn't the most impressive thing, and he knew that. The same shades of dark blue over and over. All suit pants and blazers. Behind them all were his dress shirts in colors as numerous as the rainbow. Someone had once said that he'd looked good in the tailored shirts, and after that all he'd tended to buy himself were the things. There was mint and cocoa and a soft blue like flower petals. But none of those would suit today. Not even the custom made coat, the thing that was his one indulgence after Meteor, would touch his skin. Instead the one item he had worn but once before was selected.

He'd been so content to let the thing gather dust. The thing had not been his clothing of choice since just after meteor. Even then it had been suggested for him to wear his normal navy, but the choice had been as obvious then as it was now. Slowly, piece by piece, the suit as dark as night was pulled on. A friend from his past had chosen it, remarking as to how similar it was to the suit that same person was supposed to wear. Of course, the other had never really been good at keeping the thing neat. Good thing he wasn't like his friend. Right now he needed the thing perfect.

Dark pants were slowly smoothed over his legs before he reached for the highly polished dress shoes from under the bed. The day only proved how much worse it could get when in the act of tying the damned things, one of the laces snapped in his hands. For a while he just sat there, staring in disbelief. Was it not ENOUGH? Would it ever be enough? He knew the planet hated him for Midgar and the reactors, but did it have to torment him this much?

Another set of laces were fetched from his closet, years of life in Midgar teaching him to always have a spare or seven. Finally he was ready. A dark overcoat was selected from the closet and thrown over his shoulders. He almost got out of the room too, before his eyes fell to the paper again. Seven words. Two stylized capital letters. A flawless piece of white paper folded in thirds so that it would stand up on its own. Into one of his breast pockets it went, folded to protect the two words and seven letters.

Outside the sky was still dark. He hadn't expected much more. Getting up at five in the morning did that more often than not. And yet, there was already a car waiting for him. Black, like his suit, like his heart. How far had he fallen if he failed to find anything in this situation that was for the best. Once upon a time he had really been able to do that. Now… the will just wasn't there.

The door slammed as he slid into the back seat. He could hear the news on the radio instantly signaled for the driver to turn it off. He didn't want to hear it. Instead a CD, or something, was put on, and music flowed slowly around them. Something classical, with a heavy emphasis on the stringed instruments. So sweet and mournful the music, fitting indeed. He had never been one for the music, but the one who left the note? No. He wouldn't think of that.

He couldn't quite tell how long it took them to reach the airfield. All he knew was that the music was turned off and the door opened to him. Soon any noise that would have been there was drowned out by the 'purr' of the airship. Or so Cid always called it. And speaking of the blonde…

"Reeve," a voice said, cutting through the noise as the pilot, oddly somber, came down the ramp to greet his friend. Apparently he cleaned up well for more just his wedding. Before Reeve could react he found himself tight in the arms of Cid. When he really wanted to, Cid could hug hard enough to crack bones. And yet, there was always something gentle about those brotherly hugs.

But, he couldn't find it in him to respond. From the look in the eyes of the pilot, the silence was well understood. Slowly Cid guided him up the ramp and into the Shera. Today was a long enough day for all of them without holding it up for sentiments that would mean nothing to the older man. Cid knew that, accepted that, and moved on. They'd have plenty of time to cheer the former-executive up later anyway.

Before he knew it they were there. Nibelheim, a place of more nightmares than any of them could account for already. What was wrong with adding just one more? At least here, despite the sun rise, the skies were overcast. Finally something that fit the day. The rest was a blur. Somewhere in his mind he could remember words that didn't do justice to the situation. And a handful of dirt tossed into a whole. Flowers, so many flowers. But none of it really stuck in his mind. Except looking and REALLY seeing it. Letters carved into marble, words that would be there forever, despite the fact that they really didn't say what needed to be said.

Seven letters, two words written on a flawless piece of paper that rested in his hand. Slowly he refolded the thing so that the words faced outwards while the paper stood on its own. Very little effort to keep the paper standing on that piece of marble.

I'm Sorry.

Then, only then, did the tears come.

"Reeve?" a voice asked from behind him, a strong hand resting heavily upon his shoulder.

"A day Cid. A day long mission. Nothing hard at all. Dealing with some stray dual horns. Left me a note, see? Cause it was early, the time he had to leave. And he wouldn't be back for dinner. Our anniversary dinner…"

"It's not your fault Reeve," Cid said softly.

Reeve looked once more at the marble. A tombstone. It was so fitting for the one it marked. A cross, a name, and below the years. No epitaph to mark the passing of a life. No tears shed but his own. No reason to regret. Except for the fact that he wasn't sure. Had he ever really made him sure?

"I never told him Cid," Reeve said softly. "Never told him he was so much more than my world. That he was my life, my light… A hero, so many times over."

"He would have known," Cid said softly. "He was good at knowing stuff like that."

At last he turned away from the stone, unable to look anymore.

Seven letters, two words, resting upon a marker of so much more. Stylized capitals and a y that doubled as the period. Below them rested words far more painful than a simple apology.

Vincent Valentine.

Maybe, just maybe, it was better to live just thinking of those seven letters than the sixteen that cut him to the core.

Chapter Text

It was a beautiful thing really. The shade he'd picked was reminiscent of the uniforms of the Turks back in the glory days of Shin-Ra(after the fall of Midgar they had opted for black). The style was as unique to him as the Fenrir was to Cloud and the Shera was to Cid. All of them had been such big heroes back then, and to appease the masses they had indulged in some of the hero worship that came with the role. Tifa had accepted a refurbished Seventh Heaven in Edge. Barret had that amazing bionic arm slash gun installed. Their stoic gunner had a gun made of the best materials and had dubbed it the Cerberus. Yuffie? Well, Wutai was thriving now, which was all she could have asked for. So Reeve had asked for nothing more than a coat.

He loved the thing, not nearly as much as Cait, but it was love none the less. For five hours he had stood there, measured over and over, waited as various fabrics were held up against his shirtless torso, as edging colors were selected, as a collar was sketched up. Of course he'd said nothing about the whole thing, not putting one piece of criticism in. Tailors could handle their own jobs right? Who was he to tell them how to do it? It wasn't as if he'd had taste anyway. Look at the giant mog Cait had ridden around on for no reason other than the comedy needed for the spy.

When at home the thing was sent out for overnight dry-cleaning, and when he had the chance every tooth of the zippers were cleaned, and the buttons were polished lovingly. It would be a lie to say he'd walked into work only a handful of times looking like shit but with all the metal gleaming on that coat. More than once Cait had to slowly work the beloved garment off of the boss so that he could sleep at his desk. Reeve could not forgive himself if wrinkles worked their way into the coat. And Cait was amused at the fact that Reeve had taken to wearing only a wife-beater under the coat, but considering how warm it was, he'd allow it.

But right now nothing amazed Reeve about the coat as much as the way a pale, ungloved and clawless hand looked against the navy fabric. The way the light glinted from both golden claw and silver zipper as the former pulled the latter down was delightful. And the way the crimson of the tattered cape looked against the flawless seams of his coat was a thing to inspire sins. Or, more accurately, encourage the sins that were already trying their best to force themselves to the front of Reeve's mind. Needless to say they didn't find much opposition.

Despite all of his love for the garment, silly as it was, Reeve did come to one conclusion. Damned if the coat didn't look so much better on the floor, tangled up in the crimson pool that was the cloak Vincent had tossed aside hours before. Of course, he was more than sure Vincent would agree with him on that point.

And who knew, maybe a few wrinkles from being ignored wouldn't do the thing too much harm.

Chapter Text

More than anything Reeve had always known that his greatest flaw was dreaming. It was a foolish thing he had taken to since he was a child. He'd dreamt of being a hero. He'd dreamt of everyone remembering. He'd dreamt of his mother being proud. He'd dreamt of being happy. Maybe, just maybe, those were the things he had been reaching for in building Midgar. The things that had caused him to start the WRO. The things to blame for this current nightmare.

For a nightmare it could be considered tame really. A finely set table with rich linens. Candles flickering with each breath he took. The remains of dinner growing cool on the forgotten plates. A wine glass that didn't seem to empty no matter how many times he would turn to it for comfort. The sweet sound of a violin flowing through the room, through him. Yes, in visual terms, it wasn't much of a nightmare. Except for the empty chair across from him and the ring that was most likely cold resting upon a picture. How long had it been since the seat had been emptied? Since his heart had shattered?

When had the place started to empty anyway? He was so sure that his question had come with two hours to spare until closing, but from the emptiness of the room it had to be later. There were employees cleaning tables and carefully righting chairs onto tables. Apparently none had the courage to come and offer him his check yet, but could he blame them? They really couldn't be expected to rouse him out of this stupor. He wasn't sure he wanted to be forced to accept it anyway.

"Sir?" one finally asked, their voice soft and low. Seems the collective mind that was the waiter/ress force opted to pick the sweetest, nicest of their number to confront him. As if that would do very much good.

At last Reeve looked up from his private little nightmare to the young woman. Her smile almost made the whole thing surreal. As did the way she slowly, nervously, held out the bill. So it was time to go then? Shame really. From a pocket he produced his wallet and put several hundred gil on the table.

"Be sure to split the remainder with the other young woman that waited on me," he finally said, standing and returning the wallet to his pocket. His eyes lingered on the ring left behind, and the picture the other had once carried in their wallet. A picture of them. Together. It was bit faded, but it had been taken just after Meteorfall. What more could he expect? Both picture and ring were dumped into his pocket before turning to the waitress who hadn't moved since he'd laid down that 500 gil.

"The person I was dining with… you did not happen to notice where they went did you?"

She mutely shook her head. Upon the calculation of what kind of tip Reeve had provided her and her coworker she had been too shocked to move. What if he corrected it? That would be horrible.

"I didn't think you would have," he said with a sigh before turning and heading for the door. What did he do now? Go home to the surely empty apartment they had shared? Avoid it for fear that his love was there? Go back to the home he hadn't been to in a year? In the end he opted for an inn. Home could wait for a little while longer…

Chapter Text

It was a dark room, save for the glow of three monitors and the varied lights on keyboards and towers indicating what was on and what wasn't. There was the periodic flash of a small white underscore on an otherwise dark screen on his right. To the left there was a screen of white on black with letters and characters and coding that would be gibberish to many people, but was perfectly understood by the one before them. And directly in front of him? Screens and screens of data that was forbidden, but accessed anyway. Dark eyes flashed again and again to the8 right to check for any change to the underscore. Occasionally they turned left as he shifted keyboards to add in a new piece of code or encryption. But his attention was mainly on the screen before him. The screen baring the red diamond shape that was the logo of Shin-Ra Electric Company.

All you could hear if you came in was the beeping and whirring and blipping, but more than anything, the sound of keystroke after keystroke. It was a mechanical sound, an electrical sound, the sound of technology. How easily it covered the organic sounds of his stomach rumbling and his breathing and the constant beating of his heart. Such things weren't welcome here. Being aware of them would cover the efficient aura that would overcome him when he dealt with these situations. Who knew what would happen if he lost the perfect efficiency. Who knew indeed.

The room wasn't what one would have expected. Two days earlier it had been a lavish suite at the most glamorous hotel in all of ShinRa's capital of Midgar, the plains city as it was called. Then it had smelled of fresh linens, the just out of a dryer smell that calmed you to the core. Now it wasn't like that anymore. It was all so sterile, almost smelling like a hospital. Metal and plastic and heat hung in the air, and the remains of some meal long forgotten. But little more could be expected of him.

Still, the air was thick with the tension he felt somewhere in the back of his mind. He could taste it in the back of his throat. Well, if tension was a bitter taste comparable to that powder used for instant coffee. That didn't change the fact that he could taste it. There was also a hint of fear in that taste. Apparently fear tasted like sour milk. Were he not so focused on the screen before him maybe he would have noticed it. But there was better use for his attention right now.

As it was this was a very bad idea. Then again, when wasn't it? This time he'd been foolish enough to take on the system with a fever. Really, all things considered it could have waited a day or two. Yes, he and his father would be heading back to Junon in that time and things would harder from the distance, but it would not have him burning with fever and having problems focusing right? Then again, this was important. Back home there would be the distractions of the family business. Here he had one chance to finally try his skills against the toughest system in the world to crack. Call it a hobby.

With a fever though he couldn't truly focus, he was slower than normal. Maybe this was why he didn't notice it at first. Notice the screen to his right lighting up with a sudden flow of data, and seconds before he looked over whoever or whatever had caused the reaction on the monitor wiped the data away, leaving the flashing underscore untouched on the white screen. Because he didn't notice things seemed to be rather smooth. He was deep in the Shin-Ra files, breaking encryption after encryption before finally logging out and leaving things untouched, in his own opinion. No sooner did he turn the expensive machinery off than a knock came at the door of the hotel room.

Slowly he rose from where he had seated himself on the floor and moved with a grace not expected of a computer geek, but natural for someone of the high breeding he had. The computers were left behind as he moved to the door of his room. What he met when the door was opened definitely made whatever good mood he might have had die in seconds.

"Mister Reeve Tuesti I presume? Son of Junon architect Robert Andros Tuesti?" the man there, clad in a flawless black suit asked of the young man answering the door.

"I'm afraid I'm at a disadvantage," the seventeen year old responded, though he was sure that he should recognize the dark haired Wutain.

"My name is Tseng, and I am with the Administrative Research Department of Shin-Ra Electric Company. Would you please come with me sir?"

Odd how the older male was calling him 'sir'. Of course, until just who represented the Administrative Research Department came to mind. A Turk. Shit. He'd been caught…

"Of course," Reeve said, bowing his head.

And in that moment, life as he knew it changed.

Chapter Text

Blazer, check. Dress shirts, check. Shoes, check. Toothbrush and other toiletries that were his, check. The paper back novel he kept by the bed, left over from long nights once she had grown bored of him, check. Glasses case with his reading glasses, check. Socks and other undergarments, check. Allergy medication, check. Watch she had given him for their anniversary… tossed onto her side of the bed and forgotten. Picture of him and the Turks at a bar, check. Sketchpad, check. Spare parts for Cait, check.

"You're blowing this all out of proportion," she sighed, seated on her side of the bed in that skimpy red dress she always wore when she was trying to get her way. Odd how that used to work on him. Odder still how he suddenly seemed immune to it. Then again, he did have the support this time around.

"Frankly Scarlet," a voice came from a chair in the corner, the chair at her makeup table, "I think he's taking this rather well, all things considered. Personally, I would have shot you. Not that the boss would have approved, but it would have been worth it. So feel lucky that Reeve took my gun away."

The blonde woman just glared at the Turk that seemed to have appointed himself the guardian of her husband. Well, soon to be ex-husband, but she wasn't aware of that part yet. Reeve was almost amused by that. She had no clue. She thought he'd come crawling back, like he'd made the mistake of doing so many times lately. Of course, Reno was far more amused at the idea of the prenuptial that she was bound by. That alone would make the divorce bitter for her. If she ever saw it coming. Maybe he was a pushover most of the time, but this was the day he was going to fix that. Fix everything.

"What do you know Reno?" Scarlet hissed angrily. "You're the reason he's leaving me. You and those little homo Turks you hang out with. Corrupting my darling Reeve's mind! How dare you come in here when you don't know what is going on and try to steal my husband away from me?"

"Says the bitch that drove him away from his own home," Reno countered, eyes blazing with what Reeve assumed was a righteous fury. Reno had a right to be mad. The fiery male was his best friend after all, the one who had been forced to pick up the pieces just two days ago when Reeve had encountered the sickening scene on his favorite couch.

Honestly, now, he couldn't see how he'd been blind enough not to notice. This was Scarlet they were talking about after all, who was hardly a pure and innocent woman. When she had lost interest in all the things he had THOUGHT made their relationship worthwhile, he should have known. When the living room smelled like cigars and she took up smoking, he should have known. When she left work early, even for her, he should have known. The fact that he hadn't was what made him so mad now, what made him clench his fists so hard that his nails cut into his palm and left blood oozing out of crescent shaped cuts.

"Drove him away?" Scarlet demanded. "It was an accident! I didn't mean to…"

"Get caught?" Reno offered, cutting her off easily and supplying his own ending to what would have been another pointless apology.

"Stop it. Both of you," Reeve finally spoke up, for the first time since arriving in what had once been his pride and joy of a home.

The red-head fell silent instantly, and when Scarlet opened her mouth to speak further it was the powerful glare from Reeve that held her words at bay. Finally the suitcase was closed and zipped, and Reno rose to take the thing for his friend. It had been the idea of the Turk actually, for Reeve to stay out of the house until Scarlet was thrown out on her ass, until the place could truly belong to the executive again. But who knew taking charge of your life after so long could be so hard?

"Scarlet, I expect you out of the house by the end of next week. There will be one of the junior Turks here at all times to make sure you don't take anything that isn't yours and do no further damage to my home. My lawyer should be getting in touch with you soon, there will be things for you to sign…"

"You can't DO THIS!" the blonde screeched, grabbing up a photo from their wedding, a photo that had always been at their bedside, and flinging it at the dark haired executive. Were it not for Reno being there the thing surely would have made it's mark, but as it was the Turk snatched it out of the air just inches from its intended target.

"I'd call that assault," Reno sighed, placing the picture on the makeup table and slowly standing. Reeve's bag was taken into his hand and slowly the younger male pushed his best friend through the bedroom door.

They listened to her shrieking and making a uproar as they headed downstairs. By the time they got to the door that Reeve had recently noticed wasn't the white he hadn't intended they could faintly hear the sound of her ripping something. Their bedding probably. Oddly enough Reeve couldn't find it in him to care. He'd be replacing the stuff either way. She'd always liked that terrible red anyway. It would be nice to have a new color. Hunter green maybe. A smile actually adorned his previously deadpan features at the idea. Because really… Reno would look good stretched out on hunter green silk sheets.

"Ready for some booze?" Reno asked, Reeve's bag casually over his shoulder and a grin on his face.


Chapter Text

As a kid he'd seen all those sappy fairy tales, mostly because he would read them to his little sister before she went to bed. Not that she was much smaller, there was only three years between them, but she always whined or cried when it wasn't him reading the stories. Their nanny said it was probably because she enjoyed his voice. He knew better. In her mind he was the charming prince that came to save the pretty girl from a horrible life or not being happy or something. Since he was her big brother, he wasn't going to tell her otherwise, especially since it was probably right. He did protect her. When she got to school and kids would pick on her he would rush to her defense. It would usually wind up with him hurt, but that didn't matter. She was the damsel and he was her prince. They were inseparable.

He knew better than her though. While she was still enjoying the fairy tale stories he would tell her before she was tucked into bed, her head resting against his chest, she always fell asleep just before he said the words 'and they lived happily ever after'. She didn't have to hear those words, and how wrong they sounded to him. If they lived happily ever after why didn't the book say how? Did the prince marry the princess, did they have kids and live in a beautiful castle with peace forever afterwards? What if one died? What if they didn't end up happy and went their separate ways? Apparently he was getting a little too big to read her these stories.

Before he knew it she didn't ask for him to read them anymore. She was eight and could read on her own, and he was forced to spend more time with their father, learning about the family business. They grew apart, and he missed how she would fall asleep as he read to her. But he watched her, even if she was pulling away from him. She looked every bit the fairy tale princess, with long hair the same color as his, brilliant green eyes, and a constant smile. That was the one thing that kept her from being one of those princesses she so wanted to be. Her life was perfect. She would never feel their suffering. She had no wicked step-mother or evil witch who envied her beauty. Instead their parents lavished their attention on her, while he sat away from the rest of the family studying things he didn't like, didn't care for, and didn't want to dedicate his life to. She was the princess but he was the one who had the hardship. But he couldn't hate her for that. He didn't want any harm to come to her.

By the time he's sixteen and she's reaching those awkward teen years at last, he's no longer the big brother she loved so much, her prince charming. Instead he's just a sibling that would take over the family business while she spent time with other girls and went to normal schools and looked at him as if he was weird. He couldn't blame her. He was sixteen and in college, a prodigy apparently, only because he thought that if he could just make her proud of him she'd let him be her savior again. But she won't let him close, and he throws himself into his studies, still working on things he doesn't care about but has no choice with. She's a little lady already, the perfect princess with her life still free from any pain. She's never known what it's like to be hungry, but he's seen it. He's traveled to the lower areas of their home city of Junon to study the supports that kept the city above the old fishing village stable. He's seen the people suffering with bad air and dirty water and trying so hard to keep their ways alive. But when he looks on her, that smile dazzling and the bright dresses contrasting beautifully with her dark hair, he doesn't for a minute wish to change anything for those people. It's just another mistake he makes.

When Midgar is made, and his name is that of the designer, they are so distant that she doesn't remember his name half of the time. He's not worthy of being her prince. It's then when he realizes the simple truth he'd been ignoring for so long. It wasn't her that was the star in this fairy tale. No, hers was a truly perfect life. He was the one in distress. He was the one suffering, he was the one who needed saved. But, unlike those stories, their wasn't any hope at all for him. No promise of a sleep to be broken by a kiss, or a person coming to rescue him from his pseudo-imprisonment. And somehow he can't find it in himself to break away on his own. Suddenly he's clinging to those stories like she used to, hoping for some reason that some outer force come to rescue him.

It only gets worse. The city is miserable. The people are miserable. The executives get rich off of that misery. He's alone on the board, the only one that still seems to be human, and concern is slowly melting into apathy. He doesn't want that. But it comes anyway. Everyday it gets harder to get up and listen to the misery, harder to swear he'll make it better. Yet just before all his will fades away the worst happens. His city is ruined. Reactors destroyed, a plate down, and a threat to the world in the form of a fallen SOLDIER looming over them all. He feels again, acting for once like he should have so long ago. His pet project sent out to spy, but a double agent in truth. The wrong side thinks he's loyal and the wrong side thinks he's a traitor. It doesn't end until the president is gone and his own life is risked in his attempts to protect the city. He has to watch it all through fake eyes from a jail cell then, but at that moment he's just a bit closer to that fairy tale ending.

They break him out, when all is said and done. They don't know they've done it at first, not exactly intending it with a certain action. But with the fall of the last two visages of Shin-Ra he becomes in charge, a leader like he always should have been. Again he's a prince, rushing to protect the people of what was always HIS city from death, while a man that is a true knight in no longer shining armor does his best to end it once and for all. And it happens. The threat is gone. Peace is restored in part, at first. Finally he's free from the pain, but for once he really cares about what he'd studied, and does his best to right it. The others help him, and for once, as Edge rises from the ashes, it feels like he's found that happy ending. Where it feels like you'll live happily ever after.

So he does something stupid. He calls. She answers, but doesn't recognize the voice. He goes home, but she doesn't recognize his face. She's married now, with her own little girl. It actually takes their mother's words to convince the still beautiful, still perfect, still untouched princess that this worn and weary man was once her prince. He's home, and his father is gone, and his mother tries but he'll never be that prince he was before, not in the eyes that matter. That died so long ago. So very long ago.

But still he tries, tries so hard. And despite the fact that he can't seem to win, he's sort of happy. Sure, he can't be a prince to his sister any more, the one she would go to every night to listen to those fairy tale stories where a beautiful princess was saved by a prince. Never again will she lean against him, listening to his voice and feeling him breath and being lulled into sleep by the comfort of her own prince before he can even say 'and they lived happily ever after'. So despite the joy at living, at finally getting to her say his name after so long, his ending isn't happy.

Until, that is, one long night with a storm raging above Junon, where the old story book is plopped down in his lap. It's worn and it's tattered, but it's the same. The hands holding it aren't. They aren't his sister's hands, but that of her daughter, his niece. The child doesn't even have to ask, he just moves the book slightly, lifts her into his lap and opens the cover, opens a world of magic mirrors and impossibly long hair and glass slippers. Before he can get to the ending though, the girl is asleep, her arms wrapped around him as best as they can be, with her head leaning against his chest to feel him breathing. He's a prince again, if only for a little while.

She comes back the next night with the same tattered book, and the night after that, and the night after that. Whenever they get to the last of the tales in it they start again from the beginning. He wonders why her father doesn't do this for her, but in the end it's obvious. Her mother is the perfect princess, never forced to do anything in her life, never able to handle responsibility. Her father is the perfect prince, with wealth and servants and unable to really handle something so young and pure. So here he is, the knight that would never be perfect enough for anything, with a sweet little princess safe in his arms, breathing gently as he mumbles that they lived happily ever after. For once the words don't sound empty.

Chapter Text

From the beginning all Reeve had was good intentions. He was a caring little boy who saw how small his home town was, who saw how much better it could be. He listened to his parents and decided that one day he would help people. He would make things easier.

So here he is, and he's eight, and he's trying so hard to help people. He helps his mom cook and his father fix things. He does chores for his older neighbors and while he plays with the other kids, he thinks more about helping the adults. His dream is to help make the world a better place, so when the kids play pretend and pretend they are SOLDIERS or superheroes (is there much difference at that age), he pretends he's that everyday sort of hero. The kind that helps people cross the street and feeds the hungry and teaches a person to fish instead of just giving them one, but he's not sure what all of that means.

He's sixteen now, and he's still trying so hard to help others. The houses aren't in the best condition anymore, so he paints and repairs roofs and fixes water lines, all things he's learned from his dad. When asked he even goes as far as to baby-sit his young neighbor, a four year old boy named Zachary. They play together, Zack playing SOLDIER and the older Reeve pretended along with him, but only for the young boy. Something in the way the child smiles at him makes him sure that he is helping people, helping Zack. And somewhere along the lines he hopes he can hear the boy thank him for all the time they spent together.

He's twenty-one now, a young graduate of Junon University's college of Architectural Design and Engineering. He's so far away from the young child he'd helped out years ago, but that doesn't matter because he's still trying to hard to help people. He spends his weekends in the village below the city, helping people repair and improve their houses, and they love him for it. At last he really thinks he's doing something worth while. Maybe people like helping others, because he's just received this offer from Shin-Ra Electrical Company to help them. They want to make a city, for the poor, for those who need help, to make the world better. And he wants to, once he's done with helping the people here.

He's twenty-eight now, and he's working hard as an executive of Shin-Ra. His city was built but it doesn't seem to be helping people. That little fact breaks him. Sure, he works so very hard whenever he had the chance, trying to improve the slums but finding he wasn't allowed. They don't give him enough money to help the people, and they don't seem to care. He tries to help them out of pocket, tries to improve the slums, but his aide doesn't seem to matter to them. Still, there is some good, because that child from so long ago is now in Midgar, and every time they meet his eyes light up and he throws his arm around Reeve's shoulders in a friendly way and the man feels appreciated. For once he's not alone trying to help people, because Zack is trying too. They are helping each other help others.

He's thirty-three now, and Zack is gone, but he still tries to help. That friend who tried so hard with him went missing and a city was destroyed. He had wanted to help the survivors, and watched as another locked them away for testing instead. He's been forced to rebuild the town that stole away his best friend and he knows it isn't helping anyone. He knows the money would be better spent rebuilding his own home town, ruined by the same people who he thought would make the city beautiful and prosperous. He's a broken man with a broken dream. All that hope he'd had as a child is gone, but he doesn't stop trying at all. He can't stop trying and let down the memory of his friend.

He's thirty-eight and he's a world hero thrice over. For what he's not sure. The first time he'd just really wanted to help the people of his city, make their lives better, make their lives safe. In fact, it was the same reason every time, but under slightly different problems. A meteor, a rebirth of terror, and total destruction. But that doesn't change the fact that he couldn't help the one person he had wanted the most to save. Zack's still dead, his name going unspoken by the three of those heroes that knew him. Still Reeve tries to help the world and slowly, surely, it's working. The cities flourish and the world is so very slowly recovering. Still, he wants to do more, he wants to help people even more…

But he can't. He's only eight, on the beach with his parents building sand castles. His shovel and pail stand forgotten as he watches his dream of helping shatter in a strong wind. It seems that you can't make people homes with sand.

Chapter Text

At first it was your average day at Shin-Ra, as average as pending world destruction from several different sources and a changing of presidents could be. Reeve was staying late at work again, something that was so very far from surprising. It was a regular thing these days, to sleep some at his desk, change into his spare suit after a nice shower and start another hellish shift at work. This was likely to be one of those days, or nights, or whatever. Either way there was Reeve, sitting at his desk and glaring at paperwork. That was the worst thing about his job, the paperwork. Copies in triplicate for everything and he was pretty sure that he was the only person they asked to hand write stuff instead of type. Sometimes he was pretty sure they said that just to keep him too busy to do anything else. The more he thought about it, the more right his fear seemed.

What made it worse though was the fact that his coffee maker was broken. That meant that Reeve was not only lacking the one thing in life the he really loved, but he was lacking a source of caffeine. And no caffeine he wouldn't last awake for very long. It was a very aggravating thought. So began the search for a source of caffeine so he might finish the night's work.

Really, you'd think that as the man who DESIGNED the fucking building he would have a master key. Apparently it turned out that Reeve wasn't trusted much these days. Everywhere he could think of a coffee pot or machine was behind a door that was locked and he could not get through. By the time he climbing up instead of down in search of the life restoring liquid Reeve was sure there was some sort of conspiracy against him. Probably designed by Reno. He wouldn't put anything past that red-headed abomination. Granted, Reno was probably his only real friend in Shin-Ra, but that didn't make his fury against the youth any less righteous. He'd get revenge for the lack of coffee. Maybe he'd hide Reno's precious, beloved fire materia in someone's desk…

Before he knew it the youngest executive was staring at a sight that put fear in his heart… Hojo's lab. He knew what happened here. What executive didn't? What a dreadful place it was. The pain and suffering here was twenty times that of the slums. At every possible instance he avoided the place. Bypassing it by elevator was the most common choice. And yet… being here made sense. Hojo would have a coffee pot. And since the scientist was never around this late there would be no problem with brewing up a pot. Or so Reeve thought until he heard a tell-tale shuffling.

Shit. Why did this have to be one of the few nights that Hojo was staying late as well?

"Mister Tuesti, what brings you to my lab?" came the scratchy voice of the creepy man as he shuffled up behind Reeve. How Hojo managed to sneak up on him out of no where was beyond the executive. Apparently the man was sneakier than anyone expected. But… He'd heard as much from the Turks. If someone could sneak up on Tseng or Rude they had to be sneaky.

"Uh… Just looking for some coffee," Reeve answered as he whirled to regard the shorter male. Rule #1 when dealing with Hojo, never turn your back to him. He might have some kind of injection ready. Being an executive didn't protect him from this one's insanity.

"I only have caffine pills," Hojo said. "There is no point in wasting time consuming coffee when a single pill can do the work of several cups. Any other method is illogical. Surely you have noticed the inefficiency of your intake of coffee, haven't you Mister Tuesti?"

Reeve bit his lip. Right now he didn't care. He needed to finish paper work and avoid Hojo. Hojo was creepy. "You wouldn't mind giving me some would you? I've got reports due in the morning and no way to finish them if I fall asleep."

Hojo stood there for a few minutes, pondering the situation. This would be a good situation to experiment upon the reactions certain actions got out of the younger man. What to do? Ah, already a plan was hatching in his mind.

"And what do I get out of supplying you from my personal supply?" Hojo asked, causing the other man to flinch. This wasn't suppose to be bartering, was it?

Reeve was totally at a loss for how to respond. He could say gratitude, but that would hardly be anything for Hojo. He didn't care for petty emotions and such. The guy was that weird. "Tell me your price and I'll consider it."

He grinned in response. Reeve was as predictable as he had first assumed. When tired the man certainly lacked creativity. But he was very tense, Hojo took that in right away. Reeve was afraid of him then? Not much different from most employees really. Still, Reeve was one amusing to mess with. He was so easy to get freaked out. Really, how someone so weak and... humane became an executive he would never know.

But, as for the price… Well… Hojo took payment without Reeve agreeing to it. Needless to say next time Reeve was one the prowl for caffeine, he avoided the science labs. No matter how often he washed his mouth out with soap one could never really scrub the taste of old, creepy man out.

Chapter Text

Truth is that he'd found it purely by accident. Or maybe it had always been there, calling out for his attention. But once he'd seen it, he had known. In the remains of all of the chaos the world had suffered, in the remains of Midgar, there was still one thing that didn't change. There was still one garden that bloomed, flowers plentiful even though nothing should be able to grow on the dead land. The land he had killed.

He found it amid her flowers. Amid the whites and yellows that had always been there, always bloomed, was one thing that had no explanation. Flowers got their coloration from their parents, just like children, just like puppies, just like ever other living thing in the world. Yet here it was, the exception to those rules. And somehow, in being an exception, it was so much better. Where everything else was the same whites and yellows, this was a perfect, flawless, gorgeous pink lily. There was a perfect symmetry there, something that he knew by instinct existed no where else in the world. No other flower, no other work of nature was as truly perfect as this one beautiful plant.

It reminded him of her. A young woman who was truly perfect and like no one else left on the planet. She too had chosen pink to dress in, a color that seemed so pathetic on others and glowed on her. A color that offset the green of her eyes just like the pink of the petals complimented the green of the stem. They were two of a kind, that girl and this flower.

The choice was obvious, or maybe it only would be to him. A delicate task for a masterful mage, but something he was no doubt capable of. Slowly a materia was selected from his bangle and the softly glowing green orb was cradled in his hands. Reeve had always found it easier to control the things when he was actually touching them. Who knew, maybe it went back to the old fashion ways of using magic, before bangles and equipping. But that was something to ponder for another time.

They said a true test of the skills of a materia user did not come with the ability to use the high end spells, but with the ability to hamper the first level to something even lower down than that, to use it with precision rivaling that of a doctor with a scalpel. There weren't many people in the world that could use materia the way he did, and even less could do it outside of Wutains or in the dead city of Midgar. Still, he managed to slowly draw out the power of the magic, siphoning off just enough into himself to make the outwardly cast spell little more than the faintest breath of the true power. And with that faint breath the perfect pink flower was slowly covered in frost. And thus the beauty was preserved.

Once he was sure of his layer of perfectly clear ice, Reeve pocketed his materia and gently broke the frozen stem off. The thing was so cold that mere contact made his fingers numb, but Reeve didn't much notice. Even like this, dead, it was as perfect as ever. Still it was like her. It would always be like her, frozen in a moment of time that would never end.

In the end though, he couldn't bring himself to commit the precious thing to the watery grave he had intended from the start. That was left to Cloud. One last package to deliver, one last dream to be passed on... One last life she had saved by giving her own.

They were alike, Aeris and that flower. Both were single, perfect blossoms, the likes of which would never be seen again.

Chapter Text

Really, it was ridiculous, to hold a grudge against a bed like this. What possible reason could anyone have for disliking a bed after all? It was soft, it was firm, it was really rather nice. It was even king sized, which meant he had a whole lot of room on it all to himself. But therein was the problem. So much room, so much empty room. It never seemed to matter how firm the mattress was, or how tight the blankets in their attempts to keep him still. Every method exhausted in his silly attempts to be rooted in one spot, to get real rest for once. Nothing worked, nothing at all. He was restless and there was nothing he could do about it except forsake his bed at home and sleep instead on the couch in his office. It was more practical anyway seeing as he worked late and got up early to do more work.

Soon even that didn't help though. Sure it was a small space and he couldn't roll much or else he'd end up on the floor, but it wasn't i right. /i It was either too cold at night, or too hot, or too soft, or too hard. Reeve didn't really know, and he didn't much care. The fact of that matter was that he couldn't get to sleep anymore, not even to be plagued by nightmares of Midgar and Deep Ground and all of the pain that seemed to come from him. He even chuckled once or twice at how sad his inner demons must feel now that they couldn't torture him while he slept. Of course at the same time he knew they were winning by the way he couldn't sleep, couldn't think of anything but the mistakes. It was something he could never be free of. He couldn't be mad at the memories though, because he deserved this suffering, no matter how much he wanted to be free of it.

Tonight though, tonight was different. The three year grudge had melted away, and the tossing and turning was long forgotten. Somehow the timid former-executive had stumbled upon the best sleeping pill in the world. It was warm, and strong, and damned if that sculpted torso just didn't make a perfect pillow. Maybe all he'd ever needed from the start was someone there beside him to promise him things would be okay, even if the promise was said only through a tight hold at his waist and fingers stroking up and down his back. And maybe, just maybe, laying here in the arms of the silent Turk was all he had ever needed all along.

Chapter Text

He wasn't quite sure when he'd started to notice it, but he'd noticed it none the less. In fact, he was pretty sure his agent had been trying to hide it for a while now. And, all things considered, the man hadn't been doing too bad of a job of it. That was what Hojo was for after all, keeping all worries away from the young star. So he could focus on his 'career'. Some career it was. He read the papers, he knew what was going on. Lines of clothes sold with his name that he'd never known anything about, DVDs he watched suddenly sold out at all stores. Honestly, the 'fans' thought too much of him. He was just a normal guy, right? Or maybe he was, years ago.

Slowly the limo pulled to a stop in front of one of the biggest and hottest clubs in New York. Another damn party. The invitations didn't stop coming of course. He wished they would. Other people had to grease palms to get into the parties he got into, and for free at that. Everything he could ever want served up on a silver platter. Sickening really. The connections and the fake friendships and smiles. All for the public. All for a sad little poster-boy who was starting to regret it all.

Outside he could hear the screaming and shouting fans. Hell, he could practically hear the girls dropping like flies at the prospect of seeing him in the flesh. Wonderful. Was he really nothing but a walking wet dream to them? Did they even begin to realize that he was a person, not just some celebrity? He had a life, hobbies and passions he couldn't enjoy anymore because of the press and obsessive fans. Women wanted to marry him. Men wanted to be him. Girls tried to make their boyfriends just like one of his characters and those boys let them while hating him the whole time. This wasn't what he wanted.

"I… don't want to do this," he finally said, turning his glance from the dark tinted windows of the limo. If he looked out there, if he let them be more than just vague blurs and blobs he was going to be sick. Why couldn't they let him be normal? Why must everything he did outside of his own home, inside it even, be news worthy to them? Was he no better than some show animal on parade at a zoo?

"Come on Reeve, isn't this what you always dreamed of? Fame, fortune, glamour. This is the life kid, don't back out on it now. Your public awaits!" Hojo insisted, smiling that greedy smile at the young star.

"Is it worth it though? Everywhere I go they are there Hojo. No where I can go to escape. No one I know who doesn't see me as an actor before they see me as me…"

"That doesn't matter!" Hojo insisted, shifting his dark tie as he looked over a PDA that Reeve swore the man was never without. "Just go in there and turn on the charm. You are an artist, an actor. Just use those wonderful skills of yours. Smile, wave, sign some autographs, then go inside and behave yourself, but look like you're having fun. You're here for the party after all. You are their hero Reeve, use that."

Reeve looked out through the tinted window, staring at his reflection as it seemed to blend and merge with the blurs and blobs. The blurs and blobs that were looking more and more human every moment. Sickness would have to wait. He knew that. The door was being opened and he was smiling and waving as he got out. Sometimes though… he just wished he could disappear from their hearts and minds. Maybe it would be better to be a zero, huddled in the crowd looking for a glimpse of some famous actor instead of being the hero that was the actor.

He heard them shout and scream. Cameras flashed and girls swooned when he'd smile at them. Another day, another gig acting like someone that he wasn't. This one didn't pay though. In fact, this one took a price from him instead. The price of his humanity. Everyday he was less human to them, and more a model, a damned celebrity and nothing more. Maybe that was why he felt so empty inside. Worst thing was that he would probably never know. He could disappear into nothingness and they would all still remember faintly some celebrity. He'd be on those shows asking 'where are they now?' and the invasions would never stop. Never stop. And each one stole away another piece of humanity. Each one left him emptier. One day it would consume him. And maybe one day he would look forward to that blissful end.

Chapter Text

Forced to guess, Reeve would probably have to say he hadn't been well and truly innocent since he was about thirteen. Before he'd found alcohol and the streets. Before he'd found women, before he'd found men. But, more than that, before they had found him. Morality was more of a word and innocence some faint memory to them after all. And he was, for all intents and purposes, one of them.

They weren't who his poor parents would have wanted him around. Honestly, he couldn't blame them. Reeve really didn't want to be around them either, but it was more for their safety than for his. He wasn't a kid anymore, wasn't safe, wasn't worthy of being their son. No, Reeve was one of the worst. He was Shin-Ra's assassin. Reeve was Turk. One of the worst of them, and by being so one of the best. By kidnapping, by stealing, by cutting the throats of children and wives to get their fathers and husbands to cooperate. These days he went so far as to always have a gun at his side in his own home, and lacking that, a butterfly knife. It was the lifestyle. Had been for twenty-some years. Wasn't about to change either.

That didn't stop him from recognizing true innocence though., Especially not when it looked him in the face. Not when she looked him in the face. A girl of seven, who wasn't even flinching away from the gun he had at her temple. There was no fear in her eyes either, just pity. Maybe some sorrow, but for him, not for her. Children seemed to be more understanding after all, especially the innocent ones.

Inside, for the first time in many, many years, Reeve mourned the loss of his own innocence as he pulled the trigger. Sometimes he wished someone had been kind enough to do the same to him before he found the blood of someone as innocent as this on his hands.

Chapter Text

Fights happened. Bar brawls and fist fights and the occasional ruckus was in there too. But there were sadder fights than those. Abuse of children, fights within families, and worst of all of those being beating someone you claimed to love and who loved you back within inches of their lives. And sometimes even those inches were lost. Sometimes the abused retaliated. Sometimes they fought back because they couldn't take it anymore.

He knew that, he really did, but the thought of being a mere statistic disgusted him. It would anyone when they realized they were one of those faceless, nameless masses. Masses who had enough and fought back. Masses who were victims and treated like criminals. It didn't matter how of course, because Midgar loved a show, loved watching a victim pushed to the edge. It was what the city was. They loved a vigilante, they loved to read about their deaths when the 'fair trails' came to an end. Life and death were a circus in the city these days. And he was the ring master.

Reeve could imagine it now, he really could. The slums would applaud him in some areas, while others would denounce him. Who was he, after all, to tell their mighty president no? Who was he to be the one who got that killing shot in? Who was he to have even been worthy of the white clad savior? Hell, who was he? Just a lowly executive. The new attraction in their silly games.

They would thing they deserved to know. But there was a more important question that no one would be willing to ask. What would have been left of him if he had let it go on? The man had destroyed his city, his dignity, his home, and his body. Another question: why hadn't he realized this dangerous invader for what it was long ago? Why did it take the 'blue blood' of this 'mighty man' staining the immaculate white suit red with all the lies and broken promises before he realized it? Most important of all, why did it hurt to know that he had killed the man who would have killed him? Was it because he had thought himself in love?

But that is the thing about questions you know. No matter how many were asked, some would always be left unanswered, and others would lead to yet more questions. Like the one the Turks had to ask of themselves when they came upon the scene later that day. Why had calm, sweet Reeve Tuesti shot President Rufus? And was it really the torture they would have given him for it that lead to the man taking his own life afterwards? What could drive such a pushover over the edge?

And that… that was the one that they would never know the answer to.

Chapter Text

He looked out at the most beautiful sunrise he'd ever seen in his life. The sky, which should be azure normally but was a chalky gray here in Midgar, was painted with red. Not blood red, or the red of a good wine. No, it was the red that was really sorta pink like a grapefruit. Or the red of a kid blushing. The kind of red sky that sayings claimed sailors took warning from. Might have been from the clouds hanging over Midgar. Might have been from the normal dust in the air. For once Reeve didn't care and didn't intend to.

Behind him was a small apartment, nothing fancy at all. It was all he actually owned in the city. Amazing that an executive like him owned nothing but a small piece of property that wasn't even his in the long run. None of the hopes, dreams, not even his dignity belonged to him. Hadn't for a while now. He'd sold it all, sold his soul, to Shin-Ra. Even his heart and name was theirs now. All he had was the small bag on his shoulder with a few meager possessions like a sketch pad, his shaving kit, a comb. Nothing they would want. Nothing they couldn't replace with some other young impressionable kid who dreamt of the big times, like he once used to. Hell, even the one who had claimed to love him had found him easy to replace, so the mighty Shin-Ra shouldn't have too hard of a time of it, right?

In front of him was nothing but the city. Lifestream knew that it wasn't much of a city, despite all of his efforts. All the hope of the people was here, foolishly. They thought they could find a better life here. Find someone who loved you, get a good job, live on the plates, be i happy /i . An old dream, the human dream. Just as stupid as dreaming of flying without an air ship. Or dreaming of having super powers. Life didn't work that way. Midgar wasn't some magic cure-all for life's little problems. More like the Marlboro of the world. And if it was a Marlboro then Shin-Ra was Bad Breath and Reeve had somehow managed to get blind, confusion, poison, sleep, frog, mini, all of it in one fell swoop. The first time he'd realized it, Reeve had thought that he'd managed to avoid Doom on top of that. Turns out the count down was just stealthy. Every moment in the city brought him closer to that fatal moment.

Thing was, Reeve had no intention of being here when that counter reached zero. He had not intention of letting Shin-Ra have him for much longer. No more dead end relationship with a man that cheated on him. No more selling his ideas to those who would corrupt them. No more throwing his life away for some pipe-dream. It was time to stop existing, and start living.

Still, one couldn't help but wonder. After all, the saying did go '…red sky at morning, sailors take warning'.

Chapter Text

Things always happened this way. Just as things got good, just as they got comfortable and things were looking up for the long run, fate had put you in your place. That was the way things went now. Try as he might to keep that comfortable peace, there was very little hope for that. Hell, these days where was little hope for things ending with minimal pain. Lately it was even seeming like the mako based pain killers they had recovered from Nibelheim did nothing.

Never before had Reeve felt so powerless. When AVALANCHE blew up the reactors, when he was made a Shin-Ra executive with no real powers, when Meteor had fallen, even through all of the Deepground and Omega business he had never felt so weak. In fact, he'd watched Vincent in a tube after passing out in Edge two years previous and had felt more useful. All he could do now was watch, wait and curse the names of Lucretia and Weiss. Well, that and do his best to keep his lover comfortable.

There was Vincent now, in their bed, sleeping so peacefully. At least, Reeve hopped he was sleeping. He couldn't find it in himself just yet to check. Checking could be final, checking could find Vincent still with him, still suffering. Right now all Reeve wanted was to look at that beautiful smile. The same smile Vincent has when Reeve cuddled against him after sex. The same smile Vincent had when their fingers laced together across the kitchen table or on the couch. The same smiled Vincent had worn when they had pledge themselves to each other.

Reeve wasn't quite ready to give that smile up. For all of the pain at least he smiled when he slept. Really, Reeve wasn't ready to admit that Lucretia, not Hojo, had caused this pain. That she had lengthened his life. And that it was her fault that two years ago the man had looked twenty-seven and now looked his whole fifty-eight years. She was to blame for the man, his love, slowly dying in the bed before him.

"Vincent," Reeve whispered, taking one wrinkled hand into his own, "I'm not ready to say that you died twice because of that woman…"

But with that hand so cold in his, it wouldn't matter if he was ready or not.

Chapter Text

The tradition at Shin-Ra was an odd one indeed. Every year Hojo and his staff calculated the exact second that the planet would arrive at the exact point in space that would mark the new year. And then a large party would be arranged for the higher ups, the main financial 'backers' of the company, and any one else the President or executives would invite that passed the thorough inspection of the Turks that filled their free time in the month before the party. For hours they would party and celebrate, even if that exact moment would strike at 3:23:07 in the morning like it was this year.

At the exact strike of the new year a large toast would be delivered by the President that would last about another ten minutes while people ignored him and toasted and chatted and shared resolutions as they had been for the past several hours. Couples kissed and Scarlet flirted. Hojo would marvel at his perfect timing once again. And Reeve? Well, he'd ignore Scarlet's words, smile at the wonder of another year of decorations that he'd somehow gotten approved and placed at the absolute last minute, and drank himself silly in attempt to finally go through with his annual resolution.

This year it was actually working. He'd finished about three bottles himself, one before the party began alone while placing the turtle dove ice sculptures at the center of each table with Hojo following him around explaining his pointless and complex math. The one before him was emptying as it was, and his glass was running dry.

If he had to guess, he'd say that lady destiny was trying to drive him to it this year. Maybe the kind woman that controlled all the paths of men was actually taking pity on him for once. Maybe she was making up for having his name being the one Midgar was credited to. Or possibly she was finally paying him back for years of torture by the very presence of Scarlet. Still, no matter what she was up to, it could be no harm to him. She had managed to place the object of many years failed resolutions beside him.

How it happened was anyone's guess. The Turks were most often seated nearest to the President, ever 'ready' to give their lives for him. Reeve, a minor executive if anything, was seated rather far away, among the nameless, faceless masses. Executive or not he was just another check to pay and another voice to ignore after all. No better than those who only qualified in the 'plus one' category. Hell, his own invitation had not even allowed for him to bring another, not that he'd have one to bring.

Still, there he was, their bodies tantalizingly close and both were drunk enough that Reeve wasn't likely to be punched were he to finally go through with it. Five years now it had been at the top of his list of things to do in the coming year. Five years he'd come to this party with all intentions upon the Turk. Five years he'd failed to make that first step towards his happiness. He didn't want to make it six. He couldn't make it six. Another year like this, watching from afar, he didn't think he could handle it.

The man was everything you could want. Strong and silent, but at the same time he was gentle and kind. When not on the job Reeve was very sure he would not even bring harm to Reno, despite the annoyances that Reno inflicted upon all of those around him. Reeve looked up to him, both literally and figuratively. But, most of all, he listened. Ever since Reeve had become part of Shin-Ra, ever since that first time he had tried to do SOMETHING for those in the slums and been laughed at and shot down, his Turk had been there to listen, to comfort. Sure, it had been just resting a hand on his shoulder and pressing a small flask of strong scotch into his hands, but it had been something. The next time he had listened while Reeve had spilled his whole heart, all his pain over his job, his battle of conscious, for who could understand like a Turk?

He didn't know when it had become love though. He'd just woken up one morning and his first thought at been that everything was going to be okay because his Turk was back from a mission. Because he could get that small, almost unnoticeable nod and the vaguest curling of lips. Everything would be okay and everything would turn out fine.

"Happy New Year Reeve," the man said, shaking him from his thoughts. "Or, it will be tomorrow."

Yes, this year Hojo's 'perfect' timing was a whole twenty one hours before the official time, give or take half an hour.

"Yeah. Maybe this one will be worth it. Actually accomplish a few of those resolutions…" Reeve responded nervously. This was it. His Turk would ask what kind of resolutions and Reeve would lean in to kiss him. If the guy freaked or something, Reeve would freak too, brush it off and claim to be drunk. Something he was ready for after all. He could take rejection as long as he got this off of his chest… hopefully.

"Like getting Reno to leave the model alone?"

They chuckled, but it was empty. Whether from the booze or the realization that you couldn't keep Reno from that kind of trouble was anyone's guess.

"Actually…" Reeve started, finally screwing up his courage so that he could lean in when least expected to kiss the man of his desires…

"Happy New Year!" came a shout as Reno somehow managed to insert himself in the limited space between the executive and the Turk that was older than Reeve or Reno alone, and maybe even together (how old could Reno be after all?).

There was little more Reeve could do but watch in morbid fascination, and utter pain as Reno plopped himself down in Rude's lap and leaned in to place a kiss upon those surprised lips. The lips Reeve had been working up the courage to kiss. And it got no better when Rude pressed closer to Reno, seeking more of the contact when Reno finally pulled away. If you listened closely you could actually hear the sound of his heart breaking, if his heart breaking sounded like a chair falling to the floor as its occupant rose hastily and like a champagne flute hitting the marble floors to break into many little pieces. If the sound of his heart breaking was the sound of retreating footsteps in a noisy hall that you had to strain to notice, then you could definitely hear it. And if the sound of a breaking heart was that of Reno and Rude pulling apart long enough to share a shuddering breath, then you could hear a heart breaking.

So here he was, on the top floor of the Shin-Ra building, standing on the President's balcony and looking out at the city. All around there were darkened streets. People should be sleeping now, preparing for their own celebrations at midnight on new year's day instead of three something or other on new year's eve. They shouldn't be dealing with a broken heart and wondering just how high seventy floors was. He'd heard before that you'd die of a heart attack before you hit the ground. Half of him was hoping that was true, because it would probably hurt less. The other half prayed it wasn't because he wanted his body, which was singing with energy and buzzing with liquor, to feel just what his heart was as the moment.

One thing they wouldn't tell you though, was that when you're on the 70th floor here in Midgar, which was more than 70 floors from the earth because of the plates is that it is very windy. There is nothing between you and the winds blowing in from the sea. They don't tell you that when there is a storm at sea the night before the winds howl around the President's office for days. They don't ell you that you can't hear what is said aloud unless it is right there beside you. You can't hear your thoughts in your own head. You can't even hear the beating of your heart. All you hear is the howling and the screaming of the air. It coaxes you to the edge, asks you to let it show you how to fly, to trust it to carry you on forever.

What they don't tell you is that when you're that high up you don't feel like you're on top of the world and like you can do anything. No, what they don't tell you is that when you're that high up you don't even have a life to lose anymore. You left it far below you amid the silly cares and worries of the mortal flesh. Here… Here you were eternal, even if only for one brief shining moment.

The oddest thing was that the only thing that stood between him and that one moment of forever was a strong hand on his shoulder and another hand pushing a small flask of strong scotch into your hands. Then again, memories were fickle things, and this high up you couldn't hear yourself, only the wind coaxing you to the edge, and asking you to trust it to let you fly...

Chapter Text

Never before had he lain eyes upon such a beauty in his life. Yes, he'd seen all sorts, flat and curvy, slow and fast, dark and light, beautiful and just plain repulsive. There were those whose buttons were not only easy to press, but it was a pleasure to press them in the first place. There were those who had that extra bit of personality, did more than sit there and listen to you. There were those that responded, reacted, and most of all, acted before you could do so yourself. Those were, of course, Reeve's favorites. He loved to not only guide actions, but react to whatever was thrown at him from the beauties.

But never before had he seen one quiet like this. All the right planes and curves in all of the right places. A soft purr you could barely hear but still drove a shiver down your spine. Responsiveness of such a style that even his current one could not compete with this one. There was even a near radiant glow to the sleek silver that clothed this particular beautiful model. Oh what he would give to press those buttons, to toy with the smooth exterior to coax his joy from the insides of this beautiful creation. Truly there was no greater pleasure upon this earth than watching and waiting for it to react with such beauty and grace.

Alas though, it was not his to possess, not his to own, not his to coax. That Tseng was such a greedy man, refusing to let Reeve toy with it even in the littlest bit. Even if Reeve promised over and over that he would make it better. More talented, far more skilled, far better for such an inexperienced man like Tseng… He would break her in, show her the ropes, and THEN maybe give her back to Tseng if she didn't want him more.

"Reeve, will you get your hands off of my laptop!" Tseng shouted. He'd left the room for just three minutes to fetch a file delivered from one of his junior Turks so that he could look over it, as it was about half an hour late in coming, only to find Reeve was back in his office. He'd probably kicked Reeve out at least ten times in the last three hours. It was almost amazing how the executive always managed the greatest feats of stealth to break in that he might examine the new steel laptop that Tseng had been given.

"I'm not doing anything to it!" Reeve protested, leaping away from the beautiful piece of technology.

"I'm quite tempted to have Reno and Rude attempt to destroy that so that you will stop interrupting my work…" Tseng said with a sigh.

"No! You can't! It's so amazing Tseng! Oh… have them break mine so I can get one too!"

Tseng rolled his eyes. This was going to be a horribly long day.

Chapter Text

His name was Reeve Tuesti. He was nothing more than a meaningless executive in Shin-Ra Inc. He looked after a city and a people that the higher-ups cared nothing for. Looked after it more than he looked after himself. He'd been honorable and kind, self-sacrificing until the very end. An end few would like to think of, splattered all over the sidewalk because the wind had lied in promises of flight.

That was what they would say, part of his mind shouted, trying to talk him off of the ledge up here on the 70th floor. Of course that part of him was obviously losing, seeing as he hadn't moved an inch, not out of indecision, but out of pleasure. It was amazing really, the feeling of standing here, knowing he was but inches from the end. A rush of excitement flowed through him, and for the first time, he really felt like he could control something in his life. Here the wind kissed away his troubles, caressed his body, and beckoned him into it's gentle hold. Up here, despite the frigid chill, he felt warm. Despite the death before him, he felt alive. He was emptied of all care, all pain, living only in this one split second before the next split second, and for once he really felt alive. Nothing and no one could take it away from him.

Now, why the man was here and so hell bent upon his own destruction was a story for another time and another place. But to put it simply, his heart had been broken, his life rendered nearly meaningless. One might say that his was an everyday tale, and that life would most definitely go on. Yet anyone that went through what he did and so recently, they would think the same things he thought most likely. To be in love and lose it just before he was about to admit it, there was no greater pain.

So he had decided, and here he now stood, but inches from the edge of his end. Time would go on and leave no memory of Reeve Tuesti in it's wake, not even in the minds of other people. It was hardly as if he had been noticed or had any real impact upon the world. No one would miss him, and he wasn't sure if he would miss anyone either. Besides, he would return to the lifestream, according to his beliefs, and there was nothing wrong with that.

"Stop," a voice commanded, cutting through the noise that had blocked even Reeve's own mind from itself.

It was one of those moments you think can only happen in the movies, where time itself seems to stand still. The kind of scene where everything stops and the background music comes to the front and you see just one person reaching out to another. It lasts maybe a few seconds and then the action resumes, something intense or amazing or uplifting happening, but it's really only that one moment you remember. This was what it felt like to Reeve, a moment so right that you have to stop and absorb it before moving on. So he did stop, just as the voice commanded.

"And what," the voice continued, just as powerful, just as confident as before, "Do you think you're doing?"

In all honesty, Reeve wasn't quite sure how to answer that. He could tell the truth, but somehow what he thought to be the truth suddenly didn't sound all that true. Something about 'jumping' just didn't seem to fit, as he wasn't actually jumping at the moment. 'Killing myself' wasn't right either, because while it was his intention, the presence of another seemed to kill his motivation. So he gave the only answer he could think of.


"For what?"

There was no right way to answer that question, so Reeve ignored the slight command in that tone of voice, and just continued standing where he was.

"I see..."

Once more the wind kicked up, tugging at the corners of Reeve's coat, begging him to fly free with it. Yet the part of him that wanted that small freedom had died with the presence of the voice. He couldn't find it in himself to want to lose his life any more, but at the same time he couldn't say he wanted it. Right now he wasn't quite sure what he wanted, or why he would want it. The one time he really should be decisive, he was far from such.

"You should come down from there," the voice said, closer now than it had been moments before. Reeve wanted to flinch away, wanted to scare the speaker off, but he knew nothing could do that. So once more he held still, unmoving, unmoved, and breaking inside.


There was a sigh as the speaker slowly climbed up to join him on the ledge. Suddenly Reeve felt ashamed of his place now, looking away and more towards the stone under him than the city before him. Suddenly he was wondering if he was a coward to want to jump, or brave for not doing it yet. More than anything though, he actually wanted to leave the ledge, but for some reason he couldn't find it in him to move. In fact, he couldn't find very much in him, be it emotion, thought or desire.

"You made quite a scene back there Reeve," Tseng started, the Wutain unaffected by the height or wind, even though it was toying with his hair like a cat does with string.

"Yes, I suppose so," the man agreed, running a hand through his hair.

"Granted, not many people are speaking about it, but those that are..."

The younger man easily cut Tseng off, his voice devoid of any emotions at all, "What does it feel like? Being a Turk?"

Even Tseng was thrown off slightly by such a question. How could one answer something like that for a man that was not only timid, but seemingly naive? Naive and wise beyond his years? Admit the horrors, to say it wasn't too bad?

"Empty," Tseng replied just as easily, "Empty. And lonely."

A smirk touched the lips of the executive, though there was no real emotion behind it, his eyes as cold and empty as Tseng's. A hand rose to rest upon his chest, and he turned just the slightest bit to glance at Tseng. "I... Know that very well."

"People wouldn't think you the sort."

"I was just... so close for once. Something other than fear, other than nerves and cowardice. Maybe I would have been rejected, or even hurt, but it's something other than fear and loneliness."

The silence between them was an easy thing, making seconds stretch into what felt like hours. Apparently here you didn't just feel like you could fly, you felt like time really could continue on forever with you just waiting in one moment. There was no time, no pain, no past or future, only this one moment with them. It was almost beautiful, too, the way Tseng's hand found his and squeezed in that perfectly comforting way. So perfect was the eternity of that moment between life and death that when Tseng guided him from the ledge and back onto the actual balcony, Reeve barely noticed.

When he found himself in Tseng's arm's, held close and given a place to cry on that otherwise perfect shoulder, the magic was broken, and everything came flooding back. Anguish, hatred, self-loathing, longing, hope, despair, all cried out on a steady shoulder of a man who was at least willing to listen. And in Tseng's arms he was at least warm, shielded from the empty promises of the wind that would have lead him to his death.

"Reeve... It would not be like you to throw away a friend like him over something like this. Will killing yourself win him over?"

There was nothing to be said, no way to explain himself, so he just shook his head and stood there, sheltered from the world as long as Tseng would let him. He'd have to face the rest of the world soon enough, just not right now. Just not this second. Right now, for this moment in time, he just wanted to feel like there was still some hope for him.

Chapter Text

It was something you could only appreciate here, appreciate now, and it was hard to appreciate without the right background. The storms and rain were just nature to the ones here, but to Reeve, an outsider, he could tell what else it was. Torrents so powerful they were practically washing the red off of the cliffs, lightning strikes so large and loud and close together that they stuck in your mind far longer than they should have been. It was no storm of nature, it was a storm of epic sorts. It was the world's reaction to the terrible things a brew in the north. Horrible, horrible things.

"Will you be staying here?" came a voice from just behind the man who stared out at the storm. A calm voice, a wise voice, and somehow the voice of a child…

"Midgar needs me," came the response of the executive. He turned to regard the creature known as Red XIII among the heroes, but ever as Nanaki in his own mind.

"And what of the others? Do they not need you as well?"

Reeve sighed and resumed his seat upon the large rug on the floor. He remembered sitting here often when he was younger, listening to Bugenhagen tell him stories of the old days. Somewhere inside he could not help but feel guilty for letting the man down, for helping Midgar exist.

"Barret would probably have my head on a platter," Reeve said, his chuckle half-hearted. "The others wouldn't even want to become involved in a ShinRa spy, even if I am upon their side."

"You could tell them the truth," the wiser creature said, rather patient.

Here the man shook his head and turned to look out at the storm once more. "Truth means nothing right now, only survival."

He rose and stretched a bit. "If you're going, you best go soon. Can't have Cloud waiting."

"Shall I be expecting Cait with me?"

Reeve nodded, "I too have something to fight for Nanaki. Bugenhagen was like a father to me as well. If I cannot protect the city and the people for my own sake, I will protect it for his. I can't let those innocents die."

The great red creature, both like a lion and a wolf at the same time, rose and nodded, his tail flicking back and forth. "Do not worry. This WILL work. We cannot afford for it not to."

There was a silent agreement between them now, and Cait Sith rose without his master's command to follow the noble creature. Reeve though, he just looked out through the window and watched the rain washing red away from the cliffs. It almost looked like a sea of blood, a sea of sins being washed away. If only his own could be washed away as well… But maybe, maybe that was what would happen, maybe his sins could wash away in this rain. Make him worthy of saving the world. Or at least try to…

Chapter Text

Over the years, Reeve had experienced many sorts of pain. He'd had his legs broken, he'd been stabbed, he'd been shot, hell, he'd watched the first Cait destroyed and thrown away his life, past and present, more times than he could count. He'd been in the hospital at least twice for cases of dehydration because he'd overworked himself, and so many stitches had been put in his head that he'd given up keeping track. Two different women had given him back his ring, one divorcing him after a year as the wife of an executive of Shin-Ra, the other when she realized just WHICH Reeve Tuesti he was (not that there was another). There were three men that laid in their graves because of bullets from Reeve's own gun and he mourned them each morning and each night, even though it was him or them. Hell, he'd even stood by and done nothing really to stop the plate of Sector 7 from being dropped and killing more people that he really wanted to think of. But this… this was a greater pain than he'd ever known.

"What do you know of suffering, Tuesti? Your life has been more pampered than that of Prince ShinRa. Speak not to me of letting things go when you don't understand them!"

The words hung in the air and the former Shin-Ra yes man could see the moment they were spoken that Vincent almost wanted to snatch them back. Of course, he could also see that little defiant gleam in crimson eyes daring him to prove the former Turk wrong. And to think all he'd said to provoke Valentine's reaction was to tell him to stop moping around, though in less gentle words.

Despite the fury, the indignation he felt at those words, Reeve was calm, and utterly so. To the right audience it would almost seem as if he were a highly annoyed Tseng, bordering on explosive, while dealing with a particularly suicidal Reno. One who knew him better, or Tseng for that matter, would realize that the total serenity of his face was merely a wall, repressing his desire to shoot the man before him. The pen that had been in his hand was placed so carefully down on the desk that it might have been a piece of paper thin glass, or an ancient parchment from Cetra days that could be broken at the wrong inhalation. With the same care and look of eternal patience he pushed back from the desk and rose, all in one fluid motion.

His path brought him to the door, and he carefully, calmly, told his secretary to reschedule all his appointments for the rest of the day. After that the president of the WRO slowly closed his office door so that it made no sound. Then, before Vincent could even back away or ponder just what was going on, the timid man rounded on him. Next thing the crimson clad man knew, he was laid flat out on the floor and the whole left side of his face was hurting like mad. All he could do was gingerly touch his cheek with his 'normal' hand and stare up at Reeve in shock.

The façade of calmness had melted from the man's face, replaced by the pain, and the fury, and the near hatred had held for the gunner laid out below him. There was no regret there, much less worry for Vincent's state of health.

"How dare you?" Reeve hissed through clenched teeth. "You, of all people, to say something like that. You're damn lucky I didn't do something a bit more lasting."

The fallen gunner was about to respond when Reeve went so far as to put a foot on his chest.

"I want you to leave Vincent. Leave here, leave me, and don't come back until you can live with your past like the rest of us. If Cloud can do it, if I can do it, then you sure as hell can."

With that Reeve removed his foot from Vincent's chest and returned to his desk. Vincent said nothing as he stood, nothing as he brushed off his clothes, and nothing as he moved to the door.

"Tell me, Reeve, what do you know of suffering?"

There was a bit of a sigh, and the man looked up from his work. "If you tried to walk a mile in my shoes… you'd stumble and fall."

Those ended up being the last words Reeve would ever give to Vincent.

That night a rogue, former Anti-ShinRa terrorist shot the president of the WRO, claiming him working with the last remaining ShinRa.

Only six beings attended the funeral. The one that really should have been there was not. There was what the others felt to be a weak excuse of 'walking a mile' in some shoes or another…

Chapter Text

Crimson, orange, pink, violet, every color known for being vibrant, every cliché color of the perfect sunset was out tonight. There was no detail missed, no stops were pulled, no holds barred. The sun was setting into a calm blue sea and the sky was so surreal that you either had to be with a loved one to appreciate it, or you had to have an artist's eye. Something so fake in it's reality that you almost had to reach out to prove yourself wrong. It was perfect in every way, a sunset that you dreamt of for proposing to your lover, for sharing a quiet picnic, for just existing for a short moment in time in absolute splendor. A moment that made you believe in the Lifestream, in the gods, in the best of humanity. Such beauty was something you saw in museums and galleries, but this one was before you, painted in hopes and dreams, love and devotion, promises and bonds. Every emotion painted into one short moment of love, each emotion a different and important color. It was life in one short breath.

It was the best of sunsets, all for him. So breathtaking, so absolutely beautiful, and the way it painted the face of his lover in reds and oranges and pinks… There were no words to describe it really. Tseng's hair seemed to be ablaze with the colors, and even those dark eyes shone with a light he had never before seen in them. Reeve's greatest desire at the moment was to pull the Wutain close and just kiss the lips tinted rose by the light. He wanted to share in the sheer beauty that brought tears to his eyes.

No sooner had it come than it was gone again. The colors suddenly weren't perfect. The way the light caught the water just made him feel a bit cold instead of warm. Peering into Tseng's face made him feel empty inside instead of overflowing. And the faith he'd had for humanity, for Tseng, for himself, were washed away with the waves. It was, after all, just another sunset, just another moment. One among many, no more important than that before it nor after it, except for it was to be the last of the moments. Maybe not for him, but definitely for them.

"Beautiful," Tseng purred as the sun finally faded away, and the shudder of desire that purr always caused rushed up Reeve's back. Something about that voice always turned him to putty, and he almost hated Tseng for it. Almost.

"Quite," he did agree though, looking at Tseng instead of the sunset. It was right up there with those old cliché lines, but he couldn't help it. Somewhere inside he was still a hopeless romantic, but sadly more of the former than the latter.

When the Wutain turned and smiled at him, he could do little more than smile back. All he really wanted at the moment was to reach out and kill the Turk, take him back to their room at the inn and remind him just why they were together. It would be good too, he wouldn't regret it for a while. Hell, it'd be damn good, it always was. Never mattered how it would start, just where it would end up, and how he would feel afterwards.

There would be kisses first, fast and far too teasing for the man's liking, but well suited to the near hit and run tactics Tseng had taken up these days. Reeve's fingers would fumble with buttons while Tseng would strip him with such efficiency that Reeve could feel like little more than some report that the man was going over. The bed would bounce as with a single shove Tseng would show the former executive his place. And he would lay there as Tseng finished the task of shedding their clothes, every move precise and using the least amount of effort possible. Again their lips would meet, frantic on Reeve's part, commanding on Tseng's. With no words, no warning, Tseng would prepare him, and they would join together. Their breath would mingle and the air filled with the sounds of moaning and panting, punctuated occasionally with a growl and gasp as the Turk would claw down Reeve's chest, leaving behind scratches that were both arousing and alarming to the executive. There would be pleasure, pain, and, for a time, the most beautiful sound Reeve knew of, that of Tseng nearly crooning.

That was all there was these days. All rush, no sweet and tender kisses. They didn't share anymore. Somehow, the more passionate they became in bed, the less passion was really shared. There was no heated touches between the sheets, no explorations, no whispered words of love and devotion. Well, not from Tseng at least. Given the chance Reeve would have covered every inch of that pure skin in little open mouth kisses. He'd attack those little rosy nipples with teeth and listen to the purrs that they drew from between pearly whites. Those nights he could become drunk on all that was Tseng, and only want more. Those days Tseng would return each attention three times over with such gentle and loving accuracy that Reeve would have sworn he could have melted into Tseng and never regret it. They used to set aside hours just for making love, just for touching with no need for baser gratification. All the pleasure they could ever need or want was in each other's company, but when they did satisfy the primal needs… gods on high.

While he hated to admit to it, Reeve felt like a fool. He couldn't remember when making love had given way to sex, and when sex had been shoved aside for fucking. Tseng had always called it 'making love' though, and he'd always believed what Tseng said. Odd how that in all of his life he could never be turned into the court jester President ShinRa had wanted, but at one word from Tseng he was dancing around in a silly hat telling stupid jokes. He was chained to the man's words, actions, desires, so he'd had no reason to question any of it. Who was he to question the man who said he loved him anyway?

For a moment the thoughts and memories and suspicions were wiped away though, as Tseng leaned in to kiss him. Reeve had almost forgotten, for just a minute, how soft and sweet those lips were. There was no time to enjoy the flavor though, as Tseng pulled back for a moment, a playful look upon his face. The look didn't reach the eyes though, and it was that alone that kept Reeve from being sucked in again. As much as he wanted to spend the whole night abed with his lover, now was not the time.

"Reeve," the man purred into Reeve's ear, nibbling at the earlobe before continuing. "We've still got all night left for our little vacation. I was thinking we could spend some time alone."

"Gods Tseng," he moaned, leaning into the nibbling. So tempting to just give in one more time, feel those fingers burning over his skin, watch those eyes filled with lust for one breath and wonderful moment. He could feel wanted, desired, loved by the man he called lover.

"So is that a yes?"

"No," he groaned while his body was screaming yes with all it's might and demanding that it should be heard and obeyed.

The Turk recoiled in shock, but his expression was as cool and collected as ever. Reeve didn't say no, not to him at least, so his shock was well founded. But Reeve was almost hurt there was no real sign of the surprise. He looked just like he would have had Reeve told him they were currently in Costa Del Sol, or if he'd said Rufus wore white too much.

"No? Playing difficult tonight? Are you looking for a game? I think I brought a few toys from home…"

"No," Reeve repeated, his voice actually firm. "We need to talk."

He'd always told himself that he would never use words like that with Tseng. They were damning words, 'we need to talk'. Wars began with them, empires tumbled, husbands trembled with fear of some chore or lecture. He could remember that the last words he'd heard his mother say to his father was 'we need to talk'. At eight they hadn't thought he had a right to any of the words that came after that, and he finally knew why.

"Reeve? Is something wrong?"

Emerald eyes cast about for something to focus on other than Tseng's face. Finding nothing he sighed, looked up and met the stern gaze of a Turk, not a partner.


The word might have carried more weight if there had been silence to accompany it. Any kind of silence. The comfortable silence, the awkward silence, the long silence, the friendly silence, the silence of held breath. Any of them would have suited it all just fine. What didn't fit was the laughing of children, the call of vendors attempting to sell their wares, and the cat calls that came from a few bodacious females who seemed to be enjoying their little display of intimacy.

"What do you mean?"

How could Reeve explain it? The looks he saw in Tseng's eyes, the looks that he used to see pointed at him without realizing what they meant. How did he bring up the amount of time Tseng was spending at work instead of at home? There was the wistful sigh that came during their lunches together, and how often Tseng was late for dinner and dates now. How was he supposed to explain the change from their love to their passion? That they once made love all night long and now he was lucky if they fucked for fifteen minutes? Reeve, of course, had figured out what it all meant, but did Tseng even realize what it meant of himself?

"You're in love Tseng. Madly and deeply in love."

Finally, a reaction on that elegant face. Bewilderment was more obvious there than it could be if it had been written in big block letters on his forehead.

"Of course I am. I've told you that."

Reeve chuckled and closed the space between them, resting his forehead against that of the Wutain. "Not with me."

"I don't understand," his response came, and there was true confusion in that confident voice.

"I suppose not…"

A kiss was placed upon the small black mark that Reeve had never taken the time to ask about, and he pulled away. "You've always given the best of everything to Rufus you know. Your time, your devotion, and your love. I'd always held some childish belief that it was only the feelings of an employee for his boss, or a man for a friend…"


"I don't blame you Tseng. In a way, I'm glad. I've never had the best of you, not in any way, but I'll never have to miss it. And I have faith that you'll make him happy."

"Reeve," Tseng repeated, sounding almost desperate as the man took a step back, out of casual reach, but still easily accessible if he really tried. Problem was that he couldn't find it in him to bridge that gap. Was Reeve right?

"It's been a pleasure. I suppose you will be joining Master Rufus when he comes in for that meeting he has scheduled with the WRO next week."

There was a meek nod and nothing else. Reeve took the chance to turn and walk away.

And so, no sooner had it come than it was gone again. The love suddenly wasn't right. The way they looked at each other was more sorrowful than meaningful. Lips that once shared the sweetest devotions resolved to do no more than exchange pleasantries. And the faith they'd put into their love was wiped easily away. It had been, after all, just another fling, just another relationship. One among many, no more important than that before it nor after it, except for it was the one that mattered. Maybe not for them, but definitely for him. Because, by having only the mediocre, and all of the worst, at least he could hazard a guess at what the best might have been. Perhaps one day he too might get to have the best of someone, but never of the one he wanted.

Chapter Text

The first time had been innocent enough really. He'd just been passing through the cafeteria to fetch a coffee, as the machines on his floor had all seemed to have been filled with something green (probably by Reno). Before he could really react to anything though, he ran right into a lowly accountant. Iced tea had been spilled upon him and ruined his favorite shirt, but Reeve had barely noticed, and accepted the panicked apologies with little grunts of barely there acknowledgement.

The second time was another accident, because who was he to expect this to be a regular event? Lunch had beckoned him for once, so he'd taken his reports downstairs to work on while trying to consume the poor excuse for a salad. It was more leaf than lettuce and there wasn't even a tomato in sight. Well, there wasn't one until it was the worst opportune time for it. His jaw had practically dropped open, and his fork had come down hard on a tomato he hadn't noticed hiding under a leaf of SOMETHING green. It was three hours before he even noticed the stain left behind by the juice.

After that there were no accidental events. He'd learned there was a routine. Once a month, every month, on the third Friday at three in the afternoon. It was three in the afternoon because no one else really ever seemed to be there, and it was something to be enjoyed alone. It was a Friday because the object of his affection seemed to feel that Fridays were a day where some relaxation had been earned. It was the third Friday because that was when the fresh shipments of 'food' came to the cafeteria, but 'fresh' only applied to things that were canned or frozen. And the once of month seemed to be because the object of his desires was very, very cautious about appearances.

Today was the third Friday of the month. The time now was two fifty and seven seconds. And the elevator let out a gentle 'ding' as it opened to release its load. There was only a single person upon it, and with all the grace of his Turk training and Wutain heritage, that passenger made his way towards the lunch counter. Reeve, who was doing very well at his monthly imitation of a wall, was almost drooling by the time that gil and foodstuff were exchanged. And when Tseng took a seat at the traditional Turk table in the far corner Reeve almost groaned in anticipation.

He was silent in his little corner as he watched the elegant Turk tear open the paper container with his teeth, looking at the reports he had brought with him instead of at the foodstuff. Long, slender fingers closed around a wooden stick as a small pink tongue darted out to lick all the way around the bottom of the fruit treat to prevent any drops of the sweet treat from dripping onto his perfectly manicured hands. From his hiding place Reeve could do no more than shiver.

Every month Tseng went through this process of satisfying his sweet tooth, and Reeve enjoyed the little show. Yes, he'd always had his little personal delusions of having Tseng as his own one day, but the first time he had seen this ritual he had practically melted like the frozen treat. Quite honestly, he was surprised he hadn't given himself away yet in all of the months of watching the sultry man consume the fruit pop in ways that would make even Reno blush.

Now he looked on as Tseng ran the tip of the orange flavored treat around his lips, his free hand signing another report that was probably poorly spelled from the sound of frustration coming from the Turk. A hand floated south as he watched Tseng take the tip of the treat into his mouth. On he watched as Tseng corrected reports while nibbling at the popsicle. The whole while he wondered if Tseng knew how desirable he looked when he would pause to lick at the drips running down the sides. What Tseng probably didn't know was that Reeve made sure that the temperature was always in excess of sixty five when he came to have his snack. After all, he did so enjoy watching Tseng tend to his treat and imagining himself… Well…

But, as it always did, the display came to an end, leaving Tseng sucking on a stick that was stained orange from the juices of his frozen treat. The paperwork had been finished and the Wutain was leaning back, looking thoroughly satisfied with himself. It happened like this every month, and every month Reeve would just sit by and watch Tseng, wishing, waiting for a moment where he might be noticed. Yes, he was aware of what the man would probably do for the spying, yes he was afraid of losing a damn good friend, and yes he knew it was wrong, but he could not stop watching. Such beauty, such grace, and such damn talent…

Popsicle stick was placed slowly on the previously discarded paper packaging and a smirk touched Tseng's orange stained lips. What Reeve always forgot was just how fast Tseng could be if he wanted to be, so it was no surprised that he was caught off guard when, what felt like seconds after the Wutain had risen, the man was before him, hauling him out of his hiding place. The hand around his wrist was so tight that Reeve could almost feel the bruises forming, and the look in his eyes was practically death.

"Tell me, Tuesti, do you enjoy spying upon me?" Tseng asked, voice utterly level, betraying no anger, or anything else for that matter.

Unsurprisingly, Reeve could not find a response in himself.

"I would suppose so, seeing as you have been here every single month for the last year, watching me. Same place, same time. Always watching me."

Reeve shuddered, learning into the far too strong grip, ignoring the spreading numbness. He'd heard Reno tell stories of how Tseng had brought men twice his size to their knees while touching only their fingers or wrists. But Reeve had never known himself to be a masochist. Really, he had to be one if he was enjoying this sheer pain so much. He was pretty sure that just the tiniest bit more pressure would break his wrist.

"I don't appreciate being watched, even by an executive. In fact, I dislike the scrutiny of any executives more than anything else. Should I make an example of you?"

'Oh gods yes,' his mind screamed. His lips betrayed him with a pathetic little whimper as he crumpled to his knees before Tseng.

Tseng, of course, didn't seem to appreciate the fact that Reeve was on his knees before him. Part of Reeve assumed this was because the Turks were trained to protect the executives unless told explicitly other wise. The other part was holding out that Tseng was just toying with him, and it was more exciting than the little show Reeve had seen just moments before. He wanted nothing more than for Tseng to be toying with him, but it was a rather irrational idea. Tseng was, after all, the most asexual thing in this building, unless he was with his little frozen treat. Still, the Wutain hauled Reeve to his feet and loosened his grip. Before Reeve knew it he was pinned to the wall, hands above his head, both held by just one of Tseng's.

"Oh yes, I should make an example of you Tuesti. After all, you are the most harmless one here. Even Hojo might take this kind of threat… My business is my own."

He expected a punch delivered from Tseng's free hand. He deserved a knee to the crotch. He was sure that Tseng was going to punch him in the gut. The punishment he was not expecting was the one he was getting. He gasped at the cold lips against his own, moaned at the taste of oranges and cream mixed with strong coffee, and had to swallow back a yelp at the unexpected contact of Tseng's thigh and his crotch. It was the most confusing, and most pleasant moment in the whole of his life.

When the Wutain withdrew all Reeve was capable of was panting, his eyes still shut and his whole body suffering from more tension than he'd ever known in his life. Gods on high what was going on? This had to be just a dream, Tseng would never do this, and he was always so careful not to get caught. And yet, there was pain still lancing through the arm Tseng had gripped earlier, grounding him to what had to be reality.

"Will that teach you not to spy upon me?"

"Ungh…" was all he could manage at the moment.

"What was that Tuesti? Was that a no? Were you saying 'no way in hell'? Do I have to dole out a harsher punishment?"

The whole thing was purred so close to his ear that Reeve could practically feel the rumbling deep in the other man's chest. The heat of Tseng's breath was setting the whole of his body on fire, and Reeve was so sure he could die happily at this moment.

"No," he finally managed to whimper to Tseng. "I mean… yes… I mean… Just kiss me again. Please."

"Gladly," Tseng chuckled, amused more at Reeve's inability to get his point across than at the command. Once more he pressed his lips against Reeve's, chuckling as the man attempted to press closer despite being very thoroughly pinned.

Reeve whimpered as Tseng pulled away, releasing him from the hold. There was, no doubt, a smirk on the Wutain's as he watched the executive slide down the wall, his legs jello. Thoughts flew around his head but he couldn't focus on any except for just how sadistic this Turk was.


"Do you not have a watch? It's nearly four. Lower level employees always stop in for a snack for their trips home… In a few minutes this place will be crawling with other people."

Damn, he hated that stupid logic.

"But… but…"

His heart fell as the Wutain turned on his heels and made his way towards the elevators. When he was halfway there the man paused and glanced over his shoulder. "Aren't you joining me?"

It was the work of seconds for the man to reach Tseng's side. "You want me to come with you?"

There was a chuckle from the Wutain. "Well, I would suppose that was the point, but I can't guarantee it would be at the same time. But… I'm sure one of us will be doing just that."

Tseng didn't say anything else as he made his way for the elevators. He didn't need to...

After that night, Reeve always made sure there was a damn good supply of name brand popsicles stored away in the small mini fridge he kept in his office.

Chapter Text

Before the large doors of the boardroom stood a young man with wide eyes who was practically shivering in the sweltering heat that the President insisted upon. Five hours ago he'd been nothing more than another employee in another small office with no windows. Five hours ago he'd had problems keeping the mess of the person he shared his office with from his desk. Five hours ago he'd been studying a pointlessly simple reports to check them for spelling errors before they were sent on to the executive in charge of Urban Development. Now he stood before large and sturdy doors of the executive board room as the executive of the Urban Development department.

It was a substantial promotion that he could not for the life of him understand. There was no obvious reason that he should be given the position before people with more experience and seniority, but here he was none the less. Part of his mind echoed that he was no more than a scapegoat for the problems created by his predecessor. Another part commented upon the fact that the man was at the moment adorning a cold metal slab in the subbasement morgue. That part also commented on how easy it would be to put him on a matching slab.

After another moment of staring at the large doors, the young Reeve Tuesti backed up a few steps, running right into a person who had been coming towards the doors, and knocking them both to the floor. Eyes that had already been wide in awe were filled with shock and horror as he rushed to his feet, mumbling apology after apology as he attempted to help whoever it was up.

The fallen man refused the help and rose with such grace that one could easily mistake the whole fall as something that had occurred on purpose just so that the man could stand up once more. A dark blue suit, nearly black, registered in Reeve's mind and the young man backed away in horror.

He'd knocked down a Turk.

And from the looks of it, not just any Turk.

He'd knocked down Tseng, the LEADER of the Turks.

"I'm… I'm sorry sir…" he stuttered, backing away and bowing repeatedly. His mind was filled with a mantra of 'please don't kill me'.

"Are you alright?" the Turk asked, straightening his suit at the same time.

"Are you alright sir?" Reeve countered. It wasn't that he was stupid enough to ignore a Turk's question. It was that he was more concerned that the man might break his neck for getting his suit dusty.

Tseng took a moment to look over the young executive, and Reeve couldn't help but shiver from the sheer intensity of the look. It was as if the Wutain Turk could see right through him, and he didn't like that feeling very much.

"Mister Tuesti, I presume," Tseng said at length. "I hope I have caused you no harm."

"No really, it's okay. I'm fine. I didn't mean to…"

"No, I suspect you did not. But you cannot be blamed for wayward feet. It seems they have inadvertently lead you away from your destination."

As rattled as he was, it took Reeve a few moments to figure out just what Tseng meant by that. Was the man really trying to brush the whole situation off, call it an accident? Well, it was, but that wasn't the point. He'd seen Tseng threaten people for less than this offense.

"Here, I will help you sir. It would be rather unfortunate if you missed your official instatement as an executive. One would hate for the honor to be received posthumously."

Threat, warning, whatever it was, Reeve understood as plainly as if a diagram had been drawn for him. Either he went into that room now, or ShinRa would do away with their next executive before he even became one. This was a life or death situation already. There was no escape now was there?

"Oh. Okay. Thank you," Reeve said nervously, flinching a bit as Tseng brushed past him to place his hands on the door handles.

"And, sir," Tseng said, "If you flinch, they will eat you alive. Be confident."

With that the Wutain threw open the doors to Reeve's future, never knowing just how much those words would help him in the future. Maybe, just maybe, he could do this.

Chapter Text

What they have, and what they are, is but a dance. It isn't graceful, it isn't elegant, it isn't even enough to stir their hearts or minds. Theirs isn't the sort of dance people pay to see, or wild animals and young humans use as a courtship ritual. It is hardly even a dance if you sit there and stare at it for minutes, hours, days or months on end. There is no music to accompany it, and the partners in the dance seem neither to recognize their part in it, nor that of their companion.

None the less, it is a dance. And they don't even have to be together for it to consume them.

Here they are though, working together on a bit of minor design that needed to be finished. Designs for a new orphanage for the surviving children who had been infected with Geostigma. One almost knocks over a glass of water, only to have it be swept away by the other seconds before there would be danger to the paperwork. When a pen runs out of ink another is already held out. Meals arrive before hunger is noted. And, more than anything, they anticipate each other. No matter what they move as if they were one mind in two bodies. And even they fail to notice.

What they have, and what they are, is but a dance. There is no choreography, no practice, and it isn't intended. It doesn't come from the heart or the soul, there is no story behind it other than the story of life itself. The dance is silence and motion, instinct that they shouldn't have and desires they can never fulfill.

But none the less, it is a dance. Were one to look down upon it from above, were their motions to leave a trail of light through the air, one could see it as plain as day. Two lives so inexplicably entwined, and unable to realize it.

"Reeve," Cloud spoke, looking up from the last piece of paperwork that he had signed.

The former executive looked up at the blonde, fatigue written plainly across his face. At least, plainly enough for the former SOLDIER to read it.


"Go home."


"You've been up for three days straight. And don't deny it. Your eyes are so bloodshot that you give Vincent a run for his money."

Reeve frowned and looked back down at this work, annoyed at how the words and numbers were blurring together. They'd been conspiring against him for the last hour, and apparently Cloud was in upon it as well.


"No buts Tuesti. It can wait until you've had sleep. The WRO is only as good as it's president, and if you're practically living dead, what good is it?"

Reeve sighed and had to grudgingly admit that Cloud could be right. But stubbornness refused him that liberty.

What they are and what they have is but a dance. Sometimes it is slow and soft and hidden by all the hustle and bustle of life. Other times it is fast and furious and filled with their very different and very similar passions, taking center stage in the eyes of the world. Still other times it is a line dance as they try to deal with red tape, or a form dance where things are expected, or dances that are judged and rated by their public.

The fact remains though, that it is a dance. They are a dance together, flowing and changing with the times and needs around them. Neither of them know that they are in it, that their movements are so perfect together that they are living art. But it isn't the sort of art that creates warmth and happiness in the souls of men.

"If I have to drag you out here Reeve, I'll do it," Cloud said, the look in his eyes one of a man who had grown used to being obeyed. The look of a man who had saved the world more times than he cared to remember and was willing to save it again, even if it meant forcing a stubborn fool to sleep.

"Tifa wants this done as soon as possible. Rufus wants the money provided the second we get the estimates because he's trying to avoid detection in these affairs. And the people need this Cloud."

"They can survive another day without it and without you." Words that meant he wasn't beyond forcing sleep upon Reeve, be it by knocking him out or using materia to aide him.

What they are and what they have is but a dance. Not a dance to summon rain, or praise some deity that has never truly helped them. It isn't a dance filled with thinly veiled lust, and they do not degrade themselves by being all over each other. There is no tradition or ceremony or culture behind it. Only two bodies moving together so perfectly that it almost seems that their aim is to mimic planets circling and star and a star moving through the edges of a galaxy. Their dance is the dance of life and harmony, of death and war. It's a dance as old as time and young as the tentative peace covering the planet. As precious as the whole of existence and worthless as a grain of sand on a beach.

Yet it is still a dance. One that they do not know or would accept it they did know. There is no applause waiting at the end, or roses for their efforts. Ultimately all it will leave them with is pain, so it is better that they don't realize just what it is that they do. But they still dance with every fiber of their beings, with every breath they take, with every ounce of their soul.

And as Cloud leads Reeve from the room, half dragging, half coaxing, he doesn't know he's just moving through the next steps. As Reeve lets himself be lead, and tries to lead at the same time, he doesn't notice that he's just repeating something that has come before and will come after.

Forever like this they are bound to dance. Their silence is the music, and their pain the tempo. The rhythm is in their anticipation of the other. Their steps are written in the daily lives they plan for when they rise each morning, and in the memories of the day before they go to sleep. Before them is the audience, looking on in wonder that they do not understand, awe that they keep going, hatred that they do not fail. Their stage is Gaia itself, and their teacher is the past and the present and the chance of the future.

Still they dance, and forever they will do so. With each breath, each thought, each step they dance the same steps they have danced before. They dance through hatred and sorrow, pain and healing, life and death, hope and joy. But it is what they dance around that makes their dance so ultimately worthwhile and worthless. They dance around each other, dance around things they feel should not exist, dance around desires that demand fulfillment. They dance around love, afraid of coming too close and straying too far. They dance around unity for fear that they lose themselves, or lose their partner to it.

Until their death they will dance, and never will the dance leave the simple intro and overtures. Never will it reach the true beauty, for they deny themselves, and therefore each other, that little pleasure. For their sins they dance around what matters, never wanting to taint their partner with their past, and thus never letting themselves be purified.

And it is this very fact that makes the dance so beautiful and so horrible at the same time. It is this that makes it perpetual. It is this that makes it life and death. It is this that makes them… them.

They have the dance, and they are the dance. It is graceful, it is elegant, and it stirs lesser hearts and minds to tears of pity and joy. Any others would look on given the chance and envy their dance. If you stared at it, for minutes, for hours, for weeks, for months, you would know it. Life is their music, and the steps are so easy to do, but hard to learn. And they would wish it upon no others, for each moment of their dance, each hesitant step, is full of fear and reluctance. No matter how long they dance it will never be complete, and it will never be right. But they can't stop. It is what they are and what they have.

And so…

They dance.

Chapter Text


"Black, right?"

"Yes, just black."

"You're sure that you…"

"Just give me the coffee." The words were filled with annoyance.

"Right away sir," mumbled the waitress nervously. With that she rushed off to the kitchen.

"Why are you always so mean to her Reeve?"

The executive glared hard at the young SOLDIER before him. It was the same question every morning, with the same answer. Someday Zack would learn not to question and Reeve not to answer. Today was not that day, so their ritual would run its course again. Yet the defense would be completely empty and the rebuttal without its former passion.

"Every day I come in here and order the same cup of coffee," Reeve sighed.

"And that doesn't give you any license to be short with her," was the usual response.

What Reeve wasn't expecting was what was actually said, "Yeah, you have got a good point there."

Reeve looked up, ready to use his normal 'but she's always our waitress', but instead found himself stunned. Zack was changing the game on him when he was finally sure of the rules and it wasn't fair. For nearly a year they had come to this place, shared a morning meal, and moved on without another word. Now was not the time to change the good thing they had going, or to rid themselves of their comfortable silence.

"Zack," Reeve said, his voice low and pleading, "don't do this right now, I'm not ready to give up your friendship yet."

The dark haired youth chuckled at the foolishness of his executive, because he had come to see Reeve as his, and only his.

"I have no intention of giving it, or you, up just yet," he purred, leaning across the table to lay his hand on Reeve's. "The way I see it, Mister Tuesti, you are stuck with me for as long as you're willing to have me, and some weeks extra."

"I," Reeve started, but could find no way to respond to the mere idea of that promise, much less how to react, so he didn't try.

"What, did you think that I came here for the food, because we both know it sucks, hell my toast is barely brown bread." Here Zack shook his head and gave Reeve's hand a reassuring squeeze, "I'm not here for the service, Reeve, I come only to see you."

It all would have been rather touching if it wasn't for the fact that it was Zack speaking and it wasn't Reeve he was speaking too. As it was, this was them, and Reeve was more than used to Zack's play flirting and wasn't one to take the bait so plainly laid out. The problem with that fact was that he was so sure that he knew when Zack was playing, that he wasn't able to know when he was serious. So, as could be expected, Reeve pulled away and sent a withering glare in the direction of the man he considered friend, a reminder that he didn't buy it. These days Zack wasn't quite sure what was joking and what was serious anymore when Reeve was around him, because there was just no way of knowing what he wanted.

"I'm not in the mood for any of your games today," Reeve almost snarled, placing his hands into the safety of his lap and glaring around in search of the waitress.

Zack frowned down at his hand as if it had betrayed him, and found himself unable to do anything but miss the warmth he had just held, "Neither am I, not anymore."

When he rose to leave, appetite gone and desire for company all but fleeing him, Zack couldn't help but growl under his breath as Reeve's hand flashed out and closed around his arm. For a while they didn't say anything, Zack just stood there and Reeve just sat there, until the spell was broken by the waitress finally arriving with a mug of tar posing as coffee. With the arrival of his mug Reeve released his captive and gladly took the cup of pseudo-poison into hand so that he might sample the horrid liquid within, desperate for any distraction from the situation. Still, neither of them spoke for a while, and Zack did not return to his seat, leaving things uncomfortable until Reeve finally put the drink aside and pressed his hands together, as if he was praying.

"I expect," he said, starting slow to find courage that he was lacking, "that you would not," the executive continued, speeding up, "mindjoiningmefordinnertonight," and the last words were rushed out as if they were only one word.

Zack turned on his heels, something normally reserved for quick retreats from a rather irritated Sephiroth (the irritation usually caused by Zack doing something crafted specifically to annoy the General of course), to look at Reeve in shock. Reeve didn't react to the movement, daring not to get his hopes up, praying still that Zack would not be horrified, that maybe for once the teasing wasn't all teasing, and waited for an answer, any answer at all. When Zack smiled fondly down at him it was all the answer he needed, and suddenly all the questions of 'where would I take him' and 'what time should I say' and 'what if he says no' faded into oblivion. After all, with that kind of beautiful smile turned upon him, with that look of joy in those dark eyes, with that gentle face covered with signs of happiness, no, ecstasy, what kind of bearing would those questions have on anything? Suddenly all the fears, and all the uncertainty in his life melted away because Zack was, in that Zackish way (which currently included shouting and whoops of joy in front of the whole dinner), answering the only question that mattered to Reeve.

Chapter Text

An hour earlier and he could have been stopped, even if only by force. Two hours earlier he could have been talked down, swayed by a voice as broken as himself. Three hours earlier and he would have been able to understand right away. Four hours earlier and a gun never would have been considered. Five hours earlier…

Were it not for the blood, it would have been beautiful. The suddenly fragile Wutain, skin as pale as a lily, eyes as dark as night, hair as soft as silk, looked like doll. The already broken executive, covering the still body, his cheeks wet from the tears he had shed, bruises and burns still visible on the skin of the broken man. Yes, were it not for the blood, it would have been beautiful. But there was blood soaked into the dark hair of the Wutain, and an unearthly stillness to the mourning man whose body was draped over the former-Turk.

Five hours earlier and maybe they would have been okay. Six hours earlier and the pair would have already been working through the pain. Seven hours earlier and the fact that he was alive would have been a cause for celebration. Eight hours earlier and they would have been talking about how the corpse hadn't looked anything like Reeve. Nine hours earlier and…

But it didn't matter anymore, did it? You could go on forever like that. Twelve hours earlier and the executive could have watched as those who deserved to die were brought to justice. Eighteen hours earlier and they wouldn't have found the charred 'remains' of the man. Twenty-four hours earlier and he never would have been gone in the first place.

It wasn't twenty-four hours earlier though. This was here, and this was now. Here and now the apartment was empty, save him and the dead. Here and now there was silence, save for his breaths. Here and now there were two bodies, one dead by it's own hand, the other betrayed by an already ravaged body, mind and heart.

Here and now there was Tseng, leader of the Turks, victim of suicide, and the belief that his best friend had been captured, raped and murdered. Here and now there was Reeve, victim of kidnapping, ransom, torture and rape. Here and now there were two bodies, tied together more in death than the two had ever allowed themselves in life.

And he knew, Rufus knew, that with a flick of his hand they would be gone, swept away to be cleaned and committed to the earth and the sea. A single motion and Tseng would be sent to Wutai, given the burial of a coward and traitor instead of cremation of the noble. One moment and Reeve would be sent to his family in Junon and committed to the sea in the age old way.

Twenty-four hours ago he might have considered doing just that.

But this wasn't twenty-four hours ago. It wasn't eighteen, or twelve, or six. It wasn't even an hour ago. It was here and now. Here and now he knew what he could do for them. Here and now he gave the order.

In twenty-four hours their ashes would mingle together, allowing them in death what they had been denied in life.

All it took was time.

Chapter Text

There was a red tint to the room now, or at least to parts. Half of it was from the crimson of light shining through a bloodied lampshade. The other half was from the blood splattered over the walls, the bed, his hands… his face. Nothing that couldn't be cleaned given time, and possibly bleed, but it was likely always to stain his mind. Well, not his mind. Nothing there was pure anyway. Never had been, despite popular opinion.

He'd never been an angel. Far from it. He wasn't some peace loving, world saving, times changing hero. Or he never would have been, given the choice. But he was loyal, to a fault. Orders were orders, and got him where he was intact, even after ShinRa had fallen. Even now all he was acting upon was orders, though he had to admit, it felt wonderful to have a gun in his hand again. It was ecstasy to see the body before him, bloody and with the light gone from those eyes. They'd been pretty eyes of course, but he always got more out of the fogged glass look that came with death. Death that he had caused.

A tremor ran up his spine at the sight of the body, some ghost of regret maybe, but far from anything worth noticing. A phone was snatched up, which didn't much matter, and dialed the number that would be a dead end after the first time he dialed and waited for the answer.

"And to what do I owe this call?" the voice on the other end asked, cool and collected despite the shock he was sure would come from his call.

"You've got a mess to clean up, President. He got to close…"


"Now you know better than to question my meanings, boy. Valentine put his nose where it didn't belong… So I blew it off."

Reeve tossed a look over his shoulder to the body, and couldn't hold back a chuckle. "I think I might have taken a good part of the rest of his head with it."


"Weren't supposed to wake up?" Reeve snarled into the phone, reaching out for the holster Valentine had made for Death Penalty. It took a moment to make a new notch so that the new master of the weapon could fit around his waist. Once that was done the rare weapon was placed at his side.

"I'll tell you something, boss-co, I don't know just what you had Hojo do to fuck with my head, but he does good work. Think me and the Death Penalty can do the same for you? I promise it won't hurt, and you won't remember a damn thing about being Rufus ShinRa."

The phone was shut off and smashed under his heel. Reeve Tuesti smirked, a bloody thing, what with Vincent's blood covering the pearly whites, as he headed for the door. When it slammed shut all that was left was the body of a once great gunner, the crimson of the stains, and the old façade of Reeve Tuesti, executive of ShinRa, pushover extraordinaire, and all around nice guy. All that was left was the cold, collected, and murderous Turk whose mind had been locked away behind that cover story for more years than he cared to remember.

Look out world, the real Reeve Tuesti was back after nearly ten years…

…and the fun had only just begun.

Chapter Text

Red is for the blood you've bled,

Orange is for the tears that you've shed.

Yellow is for the light in your eyes,

Green is for the forgiveness of your lies.

Blue is for the blood in your veins,

Indigo is for

"Hey Vincent."

"Yeah Reeve?"

"What rhymes with veins?"

"Pains. Brains. Mains. Canes. Why?"

"No reason."

Indigo is for all of your pains.

Violet is for being so true,

And so I can say that I love you.

"Seriously, why do you want something that rhymes with veins?"

"No reason."

A gold claw darted out before Reeve could hide his sketch pad away from Vincent. After a few moments the older man began to chuckle. Reeve couldn't help but feel righteously offended. He'd been working hard on that poem. Kinda. Okay, so it wasn't much, but it wasn't his fault that he could never really find the right words for everything he wanted to say.

"You know, Reeve…" Vincent said after a while of watching the younger man fiddle with the sketchpad, but not really doing anything with it.

"Hmmm?" Reeve murmured, moving to rest his head against Vincent's chest.

"I love you too."

"Yeah. I know."

As Reeve fell asleep in his lover's arms, his mind attempted another poem, though it was probably as good as the last one if you asked him.

Could try to use the rainbow to describe it,

But I wouldn't know what to say.

Because, my dear, I love you,

In a wholly colorless way.

Chapter Text

A chill came with a breeze that played over his skin, and it was this that awoke the Wutain. Coming awake was slow at first, but after a moment, after his mind registered the fact that he had closed the windows before turning in for the night, he was up. Up and out of the bed. Up, out of the bed, and looking around the room for signs of movement as he pulled out his gun, Tseng almost didn't notice the slightest bit of light from a corner. A lit cigarette. He moved quickly and leveled the gun for the smoker. What he didn't expect was the smile that met his action, or the smooth chuckle that he hadn't expected.


"That sounded almost like a question, sir. Surely you don't need to question if I am here. I'm always with you, am I not? Always at your side, a dog loyal to its master, serving blindly before betrayal. Tell me, Mister President, did you get off making use of a puppet in a new way? Was your bed not good enough for me anymore?"

"This isn't fair Reeve," Vincent sighed, frowning from his place on the bed. Nearly an hour ago the elegant, sweet, moronic commissioner had insisted that he only needed five more minutes to finish some of his work before he'd come to bed. And now Vincent was being forced to his feet, and after prowling over to his lover's desk the former-Turk frowned. More of Hojo's old files. While usually indecipherable, Hojo had always left records, of everything. Reeve was currently seeking out information on just what had been done to Vincent, but getting through everything else was hard, and taking away their private time.

But a certain aspect of the file caught Vincent's attention. It was in Turk battle code… "Just what is this?"

"Is it forbidden for me to visit you Tseng?" Reeve asked, slowly rising from the seat and putting the cigarette out in the flesh of his palm. There was no reaction to the what had to be painful action from the normally emotional man though. Something told Tseng that letting go of the gun just yet would be a foolish thing to do. Maybe it was the fact that Reeve wasn't a smoker, maybe it was the fact that he'd obviously come in through the window, or maybe it was just the smile in those eyes that just felt… wrong.

"No, but most people use the door. So… what gives me the honor of your presence?"

"I thought you'd be happy to see me," Reeve purred. Finally the former-Turk appeared, directly to Rufus's right. Before the President could react his former lover had removed the gun from his side, and smiled as it was cast to some dark corner, for now.

"Happy isn't the proper word here Reeve. You are, after all, planning to kill me, aren't you? How much blood have you spilled tonight? And after killing the best gunman in the world… What will stop this madness Reeve? Was it wrong of my father to try and stop it eleven years ago? You were uncontrollable… You shot my MOTHER."

"The bitch had it coming," Reeve countered, his arms wrapping around Rufus's body to restrain him, the Death Penalty coming to rest against Rufus's leg. He could try to kick it away, but he knew, knew too well, that were he even to try he'd be slain without remorse by this man. Vincent had become a legend among Turks only because of the fact that he went missing for standing against Hojo. Reno was a legend, and would be a legend, because of the wholly un-Turklike way he managed to be a Turk. But Reeve, given the chance, he would have been known for bloody reasons. Highest score ever on the entrance exam, best shot they'd ever had, absolute loyalty, absolute blood lust. Any perceived threats, true or not, lead to instant defense. It was how Rufus's mother had died.

"She only wanted me sent…"

"She would have made you soft. You needed to be strong Rufus. And you are strong now."

"How many have you killed?" Rufus demanded again.

"Just a few," Reeve responded at last. It meant just the opposite of course. Or at least it did in…

"Old Turk code."

"What was that?" Reeve asked, not looking up at his partner, too consumed by trying to understand the code.

"It's old Turk battle language. Hojo couldn't have written this. According to Tseng this specific kind of code hasn't been used in about twelve years. It makes no sense…"

"What does it say?" Reeve asked, handing the file over.

Vincent couldn't help but smile as he felt Reeve's eyes take him in while he read from the report. He was shocked by the contents though, and soon sat on the edge of their bed. What was written here… It changed everything. Blood red eyes rose to look upon Reeve, taking him in for the first time. How had he not seen it before? He'd been trained as a Turk after all. Something like this, even so subtle, so unexpected, he should have seen.

"Reeve… what is your full name again?"

The man blinked in shock, and rose to sit beside the dark haired gunner. "Reeve Evan Tuesti. You know that Vincent."

"So your initials would be R.E.T., right?"

Reeve nodded, but looked mystified. "What is going on here?"

"This file, is about a Turk, Reeve. A Turk put out of commission over ten years go by Hojo…"


"He was called Ret, and if he was alive today… He would be…"


The Wutain dropped the gun as it hit him. He knew that look, that smirk, those eyes. This wasn't Reeve. No, Reeve was sweet and gentle, and at this person's side was a gun. No… the Death Penalty. Vincent's only sacred possession these days. This wasn't Reeve Tuesti. At least, it wasn't anymore.

"Ret…?" Tseng asked, almost afraid of getting an answer.

"So you still remember me, rookie," Reeve purred, moving to close the space between them.

"How could I forget?" Tseng asked. No one had called him rookie in so long. He'd been only eighteen back then, and Ret, the amazing and unstoppable Reeve 'Ret' Tuesti had been known through all of Midgar. A man whose mere presence outside of the tower meant death to someone, whose hair had been every color of the rainbow at one point, who had more piercings than Rude and Reno put together. A man who hadn't just worn the dark suit of the Turks, but blood red shades, as if he wanted to see the world drenched in blood. The most dangerous man the world had seen save Sephiroth himself. He was THE Turk, even though Veld had called the shots. Everything one could have wanted in a Turk. Tseng's other role model…

"You seem to be the only one that would remember me," Ret purred as he finished closing the distance, as a hand came to rest on a bare hip, and another cupped Tseng's face. It was only now that Tseng remembered that he had never really been one to sleep in clothes, far too restrictive.

"Tell me this is a dream," Rufus said with a sigh. He'd had it before. Ret coming back, returning the favor for the betrayal he'd thought he'd suffered. Of course, it wasn't a baseless fear. He had, after all, lured his lover into Hojo's waiting embrace, so to speak.

"If it is, it's a nightmare my dear," the former-Turk purred, Death Penalty redirecting to press cold against the back of Rufus's head.

"Why now?"

"Like I said… Vincent put his nose where he shouldn't have. See, Hojo wasn't a fool, my Prince. He doesn't get rid of useful things. Made me more than what the President wanted, more than some little pawn Turk that he could possibly return in the future. No, Hojo made sure I was indebted to him. All I needed was to be restored, to do his work. I was, after all, always the loyal little fuck."

"But Hojo is gone."

"And I'm not," Ret purred, slowly forcing Rufus further and further back. Soon the blond was forced against a wall. Those cold green eyes were laughing at him as soft lips that he could only just remember pressed against his own. The hand that didn't hold his gun pinned Rufus's wrists to the wall, keeping him where he was.

"Ret, please don't do this…" Rufus said softly. "I can make it up to you."

"Oh, you will Rufus. I promise that you will… I've come for my pound of flesh."

"I don't understand."

"According to this," Vincent said, frowning, "you were a Turk, Reeve."

"That can't be right," Reeve protested, snatching the file and trying to understand the code. "I was never a Turk. I was in school at this time. I was studying to…"

"Hojo is good at creating false memories Reeve…"

"NO!" the kind man shouted, on his feet and pacing around the room. "NO! You're WRONG. This is a LIE! It's all a lie!"

"Reeve," Vincent sighed, moving to get on his feet and calm his lover. What he wasn't expecting was for the man to grab the Death Penalty from by the door and whirl on him.

"Stay the FUCK away from me Valentine!"

The options were obvious of course. He could fight for the weapon, possibly killing one or both of them in the struggle, or he could talk his lover down. The answer was obvious. His lover was rational after all. It would just take a bit of time. So both good hand and claw came up and Vincent backed away. Reeve needed a few minutes to think.

"Reeve, listen to me…"

"You don't get it Valentine. You got to DIE for your loyalty. You think it's bad to be betrayed by a fucking WHORE of a scientist? Lucrecia was small potatoes. At least you had a CHANCE to make up for all your fucking sins you whore. The only reason your name was even remembered is because you went missing!"


"Shut-up," Reeve hissed, his voice low, cold. There was death in it. Then and there Vincent knew that he wasn't living through the night.

"Just tell me that you still care for me."

Ret grinned. "You were always smarter than the boss gave you credit for."

The lips of the other man pressed against those of the Wutain as the hand at his hip traveled lazily back, squeezing at his backside. He didn't much mind the fact that the older man was guiding him towards the bed, shedding clothes all the while. Hell, before he much cared about anything other than this moment, this time, right here and now, he was pinned to the bed, his body covered by the former-Turk, former-executive, the commissioner, the deadliest man left alive. There had never been a greater rush in his life, and he'd actually let Reno drive his car once.

For years he'd dreamt of this, of being in the arms of the former-Turk. Just to be here now…

"Oh God," Rufus whimpered as Reeve's hands moved over him in the old ways. And somehow, he wasn't surprised when Death Penalty went off.

And the silence was absolute, after the gun went off. Crimson painted the bedroom. Reeve, who should have been shaking in shock, was grinning. Vincent could see the madness in those eyes. The ecstasy that had come with the shot that had barely missed his head. He knew that the next shot wouldn't miss.

"I love you," Tseng purred, unknowingly echoing the final words of the first victim of the night. Echoing what Rufus had said when Ret had first been given to Hojo. Echoing all those empty promises form all of Reeve Tuesti's life.

He didn't live to regret it though. Reeve had always been an amazing shot. The final bullet in Death Penalty's chamber, delivered at just the right angle, just the right time, to pass through both of their hearts. The last thing they would ever hear would be the words Tseng had left to ring into silence that had always been between them.

Chapter Text

"What are you doing?"

"Enjoying the rain."

"Couldn't you do that somewhere dry?"

There was a chuckle as the drenched man looked over his shoulder at the speaker.

"It wouldn't be the same."

Tseng sighed and shook his head. Sometimes the former-executive could act rather… childish.

"You're going to get sick if you stay out much longer."


Reeve smiled and spread his arms out, almost as if he was hoping to embrace the rain. He didn't seem bothered that his best coat was drenched, that his shoes were being ruined, or that he was making a total fool of himself. In fact, the man turned after a moment and held his hand out to Tseng.

"Join me."

The flustered expression gets laughter from Reeve. He had expected it of course. This was Tseng, a Turk, a hard headed fool, a man so set in his ways it wasn't funny, and a person very caught up in personal appearance. Even now, in the middle of summer, he was clad in the full suit of a Turk on duty. Of course he was the only one. Even Rude, a stickler for procedures, had abandoned the blazer a few weeks ago when the heat wave had hit. Still Tseng wore something that was probably uncomfortable and sweltering, a classic reminder of how unchanging the man was. And one of how Reeve had been as well.

Tseng shifted awkwardly from foot to foot under the awning that kept him dry but his face managed to regain its blankness.

"You're supposed to just be getting coffee. You have a meeting with the President…"

"He can wait," Reeve pointed out. And Rufus could. The blond had been waiting two weeks for their meeting, what was another ten minutes? There could always be ten minutes that wasn't about Shinra or Avalanche or the WRO. Ten minutes where they could just be people.

Ten minutes was what it took to be something more than just a figure head.

A wet hand closed around Tseng's arm. Shock alone allowed for Reeve pulling Tseng out into the rain and puddles. Never would Tseng have thought that the man would have the courage to do something like that. He remembered years before, when Reeve, the designer of Midgar and its Mako Reactors, had just become an executive. Back then Tuesti had been a man afraid of a Turk's shadow, who would never dare to touch one, much less pull them around. Apparently the man had changed a lot from that time. How could he not have noticed it before now?

Of course he still pulled away and made for the shelter of the awning.

"It wouldn't kill you to be human once in a while…"

Words. They were nothing more than words. And yet they froze Tseng in his tracks, halfway back to safety, and long enough to get him thoroughly wet. It was something he'd said to Reeve a week into his new job. Back then Reeve had worked late into the night, he'd worked too hard to detach himself from the job, just to survive.

They were just words, but even the rain didn't seem to wash them away. Even the music of the weather didn't drown them out.

"In fact," Reeve continued, reaching out to grab Tseng's arm again, "it might help."


"Shut up and close your eyes."

"Why are you…"

Reeve shook his head and pulled Tseng further away from the safety of Healin', the Shinra headquarters for the time. Further away from the dry of the back door and further into the clearing, where there was nothing between them and the clouds in the sky but the rain. So Tseng just listened. The sooner he humored the man the sooner he could get inside and dry off.

For a moment he stood there, eyes closed, letting the rain cool him off after a week that had been far too hot for his good. And with each drop of water he seemed to find himself more and more relaxed. It was just him and the music of the water and the feel of the rain.

"See what I mean?"

Tseng's eyes snapped open and looked over at Reeve. The former executive was just smiling and looking up at a sky that didn't seem as overcast as it had when Tseng had closed his eyes.

"Sometimes," Reeve said, finally turning his attention to the Wutain, "you just have to stand back and forget."


Again he was cut off by the smiling man.

"We're a lot alike Tseng. Or we were. I've gotten a bit better at being human. Now it's your turn."

Slowly the rain began to let up and Reeve's hand closed around his arm again.

"Come on. We've left Rufus to his own devices for too long now."

"It's only been five minutes since you left."

There was a chuckle as the drenched man looked over his shoulder at the Wutain he was practically dragging back towards the building.

"You were standing there a good ten minutes."

"What? Why didn't you…"

"You looked so… peaceful. It was beautiful."

And with that, the teasing tone, hanging between them, Reeve released his captive and smiled again before bolting for the building, splashing through as many puddles on the way as possible.

Chapter Text

There had probably never been a more beautiful sky over Edge. A full moon like a pearl rested on a background of sable silk scattered with diamonds. It was a romantic way to look upon it, but it was well deserved. Normally the evening sky was cloudy at this time of the year. Normally dust and soot from the ruins of Midgar would mix into a haze to hide the sky enough to make the moon more of a glow than a thing. Tonight was different though. This was one of those rare nights when the rain clouds had parted after washing dust and dirt from the air. A rarity that had even the overly busy WRO President away from his work.

Tonight the man stood on the balcony outside of his temporary office and stared up at the full moon. It was the second this month. And, contrary to what people said about the color, it wasn't blue. In fact, it was the exact same color it had been pretty much every other time he'd gotten a real chance to look at the moon. There really wasn't anything special about it either. Just another full moon in another lifetime full of them…

To think that only a few weeks back or so he'd been afraid that he'd never even get to see another one.


A smile was forced onto his face as Reeve turned to regard the blond in his office. He bowed his head a bit in respect to the man as he reentered the office, gesturing to the seat across from his own.

"Please, have a seat Cloud…"

"I prefer to stand, thanks."

"Understandable," Reeve sighed as he moved to his own seat. The bad thing about it was that no matter how comfortable the leather thing was, it always had stacks of paperwork before it.

"Why did you want to see me?"

The older man leaned forward on his desk, a hand coming up to pinch the bridge of his nose. Cloud was going to make this difficult and that was hardly fair on the part of the swordsman. Even now, after all they'd been through, after the end of the world three times over and more, Cloud wasn't all that trusting of him. It was understandable of course. Neither did Barrett in all honesty. Yes, he wasn't exactly Shin-Ra, hadn't exactly worked happily for them, but some old wounds didn't close, even in three years. But really, considering the last few months the blond should have at least dropped the hostility for one meeting.

"Yes," he nodded, not voicing those feelings. "There seems to be a rather large increase in the number of dragons in the mountains of Nibelheim…"

"I'm a delivery boy Reeve. Taking two short breaks to keep the business going doesn't mean I'm at your beck and call."

"I know, but…"

"Have Cid do it."

Really, for having opened up during the past year, for having accepted his lot in life, Cloud still could be rather… difficult to work with if you needed a favor.

"Captain Highwind is currently working to help with the disposal of Omega. Unlike Meteor, we cannot leave it up there. For all we know it could crash down at any time. Gaia might be merciful but even she can defy her own gravity for only so long."

When Cloud opened his mouth to speak again Reeve shook his head. "Barrett cannot handle a full grown dragon, not even with the help of Nanaki. Tifa no longer fights and Yuffie has business to attend to in Wutai. Cloud, I would not be asking you unless there was no other choice. I have even spoken with the former President Shin-Ra regarding the lending of his Turks to this, but there have been several renewed threats against his life by extremists so they are rather preoccupied."

The blond sighed and finally seated himself across from Reeve. While he wasn't exactly frowning, he didn't exactly look happy. Everyone knew that Cloud enjoyed feeling needed, but he'd fight the whole way as you dragged him kicking and screaming (figuratively of course) into the situation.

"And Vincent?"

"Is indisposed at the moment…"

"So you don't know where he is?" Cloud countered, easily reading between the lines of the statement.

Which was true enough of course. While Vincent had opened up more after the Omega incident just as Cloud had after the Geostigma, he was still an evasive and private person. Not that Reeve could blame him. He had, after all, dragged Vincent into the whole thing. The former Turk probably hated him for all of that. And Reeve probably deserved it.

"Will you do this or not?"

The blond actually flinched back at the harsh tone from the normally patient man. None the less he nodded and stood. "Have someone phone me the details. I've got some sleep to get if I'm heading all the way there with Cid busy."

Reeve nodded and was silent as Cloud left. Once he was alone again the man rose and returned to the balcony and the beauty of the full moon.

"Vincent… why are you avoiding me?"

The question went unanswered in the quiet of the night.



He hadn't seen a blue moon since he was maybe ten years old. Half a century since he'd had a chance to see a night like this. Days were different back then. The sky was clearer, the stars brighter, life better. Or it had been in ways. Fifty years ago he'd had a father. Fifty years ago the world hadn't been in danger far too often in far too little time. Fifty years ago there hadn't been a Sephiroth or a Hojo or a Weiss to mess up his life.

Then again, fifty years ago, there hadn't been him either…

Vincent shook his head and turned away from the moon and back towards the man who was pouring the drinks. Cid was still rambling on about something or other, but in the buzz Vincent really wasn't paying attention. At least there had been some advantages to losing Chaos. He could get drunk again…

"…bashtard thinks he's better than, than us and all that shit. Hav't seen my damn wife in two weeks," the pilot slurred slightly as he slid Vincent's shot glass back across the table. While the gunner hadn't exactly been keeping up with the conversation he had easily picked up where Cid was going with this.

"He's doing what he thinks is best."

"'Sy for you ta say," Cid countered, gesturing with his own drink and causing some to splash onto his shirt. Of course the gruff man didn't even notice. "He don't even got ya workin'."

"There is a reason for that," Vincent pointed out, moving a bit further from Cid's shot glass. He was yet to be drunk enough to appreciate liquor on his leathers.

"Ya're hidin'," Cid said, grinning and leaning across the table. "Wh'zat?"

"I don't hide."

And in Vincent's mind that was perfectly true. In his own little mind he'd never hidden a day in his life. Merely relocated to a location with less pressing matters other than his thoughts. Too bad he couldn't find a suitable place that removed him from his thoughts as well. Maybe that would make all of this easier.

"Y're hidin'," Cid declared again. There would be no dissuading him. "Ya did tell meh not ta tell Reeve where y're at."

"That is different."

"Not much."


The pilot shrugged and finally downed his shot, though there was barely anything left in the glass at this point. Not that Cid cared. Once the glass was slammed down on the table the blond grinned and stood, albeit shakily.

"Ya keep tellin' yaself that. I gotta get shome sleep. Work 'n' all."

Vincent nodded and waved the pilot away with a small gesture of his gold claw. At this point he was quite content at the thought of sending the one who counted as his best friend away. While he was more social the gunner still needed time alone.

Once the blond was gone the man turned his attention back to the moon outside. The galley had a very good angle on the beautiful thing.

Blue moons were a rare thing to see, even at his age. His mom had told him all about them before she'd died. About how people said that things that were rare and special were said to happen once in a blue moon. She talked about how the moon wasn't actually blue. Told him stories about how sometimes there was two in one year. Told him lots of things about the power of a blue moon, not that he'd believed any of it.

She said that true love was something you found only once in a blue moon…

At least he was starting to believe her in that matter.


A name whispered as a picture of a laughing and happy man, talking to Shelke. A picture Yuffie had taken and given to Vincent in secret. A picture that both broke him and made him happy at the same time. Because at least Reeve was happy. It was all he could ask.

"Be happy Reeve…"

Chapter Text

Not once in his life had Reeve Evans Tuesti understood the idea of seeing the world through rose colored glasses. People always used it to refer to other people who seemed too naïve, too optimistic, or too hopeful to see the world for what it was.

Thing was, and he could tell anyone from experience, rose colored glasses didn't make you see the world in any better light. He'd tried all sorts of red lenses to try and find this perfect shade that apparently made you see things better than they were. Frankly all he'd ever found was that everything looked bloody.

Not that much remained free of blood for long when he was wearing his shades…

"Do you find something amusing about the city?"

There was a smirk in place by the time the Turk glanced over his shoulder to look upon his guest. Well, if one wanted to be technical he was the guest here. Not that he couldn't also be a killer here, burglar here, or some other thing that didn't require permission… Shin-Ra was yet to build a security system that could keep its prize killer out for long. These days it was starting to seem like half the reason they kept him around was to test the new systems. Apparently the line of thought had become 'if Ret can't get past it, no one can'. So far they hadn't found something he couldn't get past except for the doors of vaults, and even those only lasted so long in front of the proper tools and explosives.

"Yeah," he replied at length, turning to give the blond his trademark grin. Not that Ret practiced it or anything, but people had told him he looked damn unnerving when he did it. A lot of people flinched when he grinned at them. His rookie had suggested it might have something to do with the predatory look in his eyes, or the fact that half the time that Ret had a reason to grin there was blood in his teeth… that wasn't his.

"Are you going to share?"

"Your city would look damn cool covered in blood."

Rufus moved to the Turk's side on the balcony, looked out at the city for a moment, and then calmly plucked the pair of blood red sunglasses from his face. After a moment of looking out at the city with them on, Rufus too smiled. An empty smile like all the others, but when mixed with the blood red shades and pure white sheet currently wrapped around his torso… Well, the Turk had never seen the annoying twit more desirable in his life.

"I think you might be right," the young Shin-Ra agreed, removing the shades and holding them back out to their owner. "It gives a rather… eerie glow to the place."

"Damn worthwhile. When you're president you've got to let me sneak out some night to replace the streetlights or something with red bulbs. Really freak some people out…"

In silence Ret replaced his shades and looked at Rufus with them on. The kid, barely twenty now, looked amazing in red. Part of him couldn't help but wonder what the boy would look like spattered in blood… Of course the idea was quickly killed by the part of him that was purely and simply Turk. You didn't hurt one of the Shin-Ra family unless you had to. Especially not the prince.

"It's a long way down," Rufus said, breaking their silence a few minutes later.

"They say you die of a heart attack before you hit the ground when you're this high up."

"That scare you?"

"Should it?"

Honestly? Reeve thought it should. Any other person in the building, except maybe Hojo and most of the Turks, would be terrified at the thought. The Turks found it served as a great threat. Not one they carried out very often, but a great threat none the less. It wasn't that they were fearless either. Hell, he was pretty damn sure that his rookie had a problem with heights. The Turks just didn't care. It was training. They were going to die anyway, so why not in some grand way that will get everyone watching?

Or maybe that was just Ret.

"I think it should."

"Does it scare you?"

"Should it?"

Rufus was probably the exception to the general fear. As far as Reeve knew, he was the only thing that the young Shin-Ra feared. With good reason. The blond was being trained with Turks for his own safety. Ret had come up with the idea about a year back as an excuse to spend more time with the blond. And damned if the old President hadn't given right in… The boy was doing good, easily developing that cold Turk attitude. Or maybe it was just Ret rubbing off on him.

"I guess not."

Again the pair settled into a comfortable silence, looking out at Midgar. After a while the Turk began to speak, only to find himself cut off by the Vice-President.

"Would you jump if I ordered you to?"

There was actually a flinch before Ret turned to grin at his little Prince. Well, that was unexpected.

"Would it get you off to see me die because you ordered it?"

"And if it did?"

With a smirk the Turk put his foot against the metal railing and began to lift himself up. He only stopped when Rufus grabbed his hand. And he'd almost gotten himself fully standing. Damn. Would have been fun to see the little blond panic a bit. It'd be getting some sort of emotion out of the little prince. Hell, it'd be fun.


"What, you afraid of losing me?"

Despite the comment Ret hopped back down onto the balcony and gathered Rufus into his arms, grinning wildly the whole time. He'd really thought he could have some fun pushing that shit to the limit. Apparently the little Prince cared just enough to not want to lose him tonight. Too bad really. Sometimes he was sure he was just waiting for the order because Rufus had grown bored with him.

Oh well, he'd see it some time.

"I wasn't afraid of losing you. I just think it would have been an inconvenience to have to explain to my father what your corpse was doing naked below my balcony…"

Ret smirked and pushed the young man back into the bedroom. Really, there were better things that could be done inside without questioning his loyalty to the family.

Because why would Rufus need to know that Reeve didn't care about the President's or Veld's orders?

Hell, information like that could almost make it sound as if he'd gone soft for this boy over the many weeks of their relationship.

Not that, the Turk noticed later as he watched the young man fall asleep in his arms, he hadn't gone and done just that…

Chapter Text

All he wanted to do, in all honesty, was curl up under his desk and fall asleep. The day had been that bad. Sure, it was great and all to have gotten here, to finally be recognized for his abilities, and even to work as an assistant to the Head of Urban Development of Shin-Ra, but it had all been a bit much for just one day. For most of the day he'd been escorted around by some SOLDIER utterly lacking a personality who pointed out the varied offices and functions of floors in a type of monotone that had almost put the excitable young man to sleep on various occasions. Then there had been the mound of paperwork left by his predecessor that had to be completed before he could go home. And let no one forget the odd looks he'd been getting all day, including people walking slowly back and forth past his office door attempting to get a glance at the new employee.

Reeve was about a minute and a stare away from ripping his own hair out. Couldn't people just leave him alone? Was he nothing more than a toy for their amusement? Last time he checked he was as qualified, if not more so, than any other low level employee in the building. Which meant he was nothing to be gawked at. Right?

If the sound of someone shifting their weight at his door was any judge, then no. He wasn't right.

The tired man raised his head from behind the stacks of impossible paper work to try and glare his new unwanted visitor away. But the eyes that met his, dark eyes heavy with confusion, weren't much like the ones that had been following him earlier. There was concern there with the shock… Something that stirred an odd feeling of familiarity.

"Ret…?" the man, Wutain most likely, clad in a black suit said as Reeve looked up. Even more hesitance rested in the voice than there was in those eyes.

"I'm sorry," Reeve said with a grin as he stood and moved to that oddly familiar face. "I suppose the person who had this job before me was a friend of yours?"

"Uh, well…" the Wutain shook his head and Reeve could see that the smile was forced as the man held his hand out. "My name is Tseng. Would I be correct in believing you are the new assistant to the Head of Urban Development?"

"Yes. My name is Reeve. Reeve Tuesti."

The new employee took the offered hand and ignored the odd feelings that came with it. He'd been having them all day anyway…

All day he'd been hearing whispers he hadn't heard in over a year and a half. Maybe that wouldn't have bothered Tseng so much if it had been limited to the secretaries. Those women gossiped like no one's business and when there was nothing new they would bring up old news. Ret himself had taught Tseng that. But when the whispering had spread to Tseng's underlings in the Turks, when the whispers had the name 'Ret' in them, even the stoic Wutain had to pay attention.

Ret had been missing for over two years now. Gone without a trace. Everyone said he'd probably off and gotten himself killed. While it was likely, Tseng had never believed it. He'd always known that somewhere, somehow, Ret was still out there.

Nothing could have prepared Tseng for 'out there' actually being 'in here' though.

He'd just followed the whispering of 'Ret' and 'Tuesti', followed it all the way to the Urban Development department. To the door of an office that had been empty for almost a month. To the sight of a man sleeping behind paperwork.

Tseng considered walking off, knowing that there was no way the person could have heard him almost enter the room. But the person's head came up quickly, and Tseng could do little more than stare. The hair wasn't some impossible color like purple or teal. It wasn't cut really short and spiked. The eyes weren't hidden behind blood red sunglasses. The suit was too crisp, the whole look of this person too clean cut. Tseng knew though…


Quickly the man grinned and rose. Could this really be Tseng's mentor? The one that had given him a life?

"I'm sorry. I suppose the person who had this job before me was a friend of yours?"

Except even though it was Ret the man obviously didn't know it himself. Tseng forced a smile onto his face and held his hand out.

"Uh, well…"

Tseng didn't know what to do. This was more definitely the man he'd looked up to. The one who had taught him how to be a Turk. A man who had been missing for years for no reason. How could Reeve not remember that?

"My name is Tseng. Would I be correct in believing you are the new assistant to the Head of Urban Development?"

When the hand closed around his, when the man smiled, Tseng's heart gave. There was nothing he could do. This wasn't his Ret. Hell, it was practically the polar opposite.

"Yes. My name is Reeve. Reeve Tuesti."

"The pleasure it mine sir."

They stood there in silence for a little while before Reeve looked at the Turk, a flash of confusion in his eyes.

"Have we… met before?"

Reeve couldn't help but be amused by the look of hope that was in the Wutain's eyes at that question. Even the way the man was carrying himself changed. He stood straighter, his eyes seemed to glow just a bit. There was hope there.

Of course the man didn't know why, but who was to guess the motives of the Turk? Because something told Reeve that this was a Turk.

"Uh… I don't think so."

"Shame," Reeve said with a smile as he returned to his over crowded desk. "I was sure I'd seen you before in my dreams."

Tseng watched the 'new' employee with a smile. At least the man seemed happier like this. Not once had Tseng ever seen Ret really smile. Maybe this was for the best.

"I suppose I should leave you to your work then. If you ever need anything just ask around for me…"

Again Reeve smiled before returning to his paper work. For a moment Tseng watched before backing out of the office. All the while he tried to keep telling himself that it really was for the best. For Reeve.

Maybe if he kept telling himself that, he could move on.

Chapter Text

"He doesn't belong here. He's not like the other ones. There is hope in that one. You can see it in his eyes. And I don't know what to do about it."

"You've said that before. And in the end they are more suited to the work than you are."

"Not this one. He's…" the younger man fumbled for words, "like you must have been before you came here."

"Then I truly pity him, Zack. There is nothing worse than being like I was back then."

"I just can't believe that Reeve."

"No. You just don't want to."

There was a chuckle from the younger man before warm, strong arms came to wrap around Reeve's waist. Zack knew. Reeve knew that Zack knew. They just didn't talk about it. Family was always a taboo subject between them. Maybe it was because Reeve's had been abusive, and still was. Maybe it was because Zack's was neglectful and hadn't even seemed to notice that the oldest son had been gone for three years already. Or maybe it was because it was just too serious a subject for either of them to bring up. It made them think too hard about relationships, even their own. Zack was, after all, fourteen years younger than Reeve.

"He's still a good kid Reeve. Can't you just pull some strings and get him assigned to night duty or something? Maybe then he'll just give up and go home."

"Would you in his place?" was Reeve's response, because there was no need to point out that he didn't even have any strings to pull.

"Well sure…"

"You're lying."

Reeve sighed and pulled away from the warm embrace of his lover. His robe was pulled from where it rested against a bed post and pulled on to protect him against the chill of the evening. In silence he made his way to the desk that took up most of the room in his cheap apartment bedroom and looked over the piles of paperwork. Even though he was only a minor member of the Urban Development Department, he was still Midgar's engineer, the designer of these new, higher tech mako reactors. There was always paperwork for him to do that no one else, not even the head of the department, was qualified for. The nearest pile was pulled under the light of a lamp as Reeve rooted around for a pen.

But, as was to be expected, Zack wasn't going to accept the weak attempt to escape the conversation. Instead the SOLDIER pulled the chair, quite easily too, away from the desk. With a smile he sat himself down in Reeve's lap and pinched the cheeks of the older man.

"No way you're getting off the hook that easily, rosy cheeks."

"I have work, Zack," Reeve said weakly. He had, after all, given up his evening for the young man, as they wouldn't see each other for at least a week when Zack was shipped out tomorrow. To some small mountain town suffering troubles with its reactor. Reeve wasn't too worried about the mission either. Word was that Sephiroth himself was being sent because the man was bored, and Reeve knew that if anyone other than Hojo knew of how to handle a reactor, it would be the General.

"You can do it tomorrow," the teen pointed out with a smile, pinching a cheek again. "You're really going to deny me my precious time with you? For all you know I'm going to be pushing up daisies after this. You better bury me in the park, you know? None of that creepy cemetery stuff."

"Don't say that," Reeve responded, his head lowering to rest against Zack's chest. Little jerk always said stuff like that before a mission, and Reeve was getting tired of the bad dreams that came with it. Of a bullet riddled corpse in the dirt. Of blood mixing with the dust and of parched soil hungrily drinking in the offered moisture…

"Please, just don't say that."

"Hey," Zack said, cupping Reeve's face in his hands and forcing the man to look right at him. "I have every intention of coming back to you. You won't be rid of me so easily. Okay?"

"Zack, I…"


Reeve nodded and accepted the kiss that followed.

"Good boy."

"Promise you'll come back?"

"Of course."

There was a sigh of relief from the older man. Zack wasn't the sort to break his word.


"Do we have to do this every time?"

"Absolutely. Now listen, because if you mess up this homework assignment I will be very upset with you Reeve."

"Alright already. Just tell me what it is you want from me, Zack."

"You figure something out that will help me keep Cloud from this. He doesn't belong in Shin-Ra. Sure, he's got hope like you, but he has too much. He'll be crushed here. He isn't strong like you are. He's got his head in the clouds instead of keeping his feet on the ground, like you."

"Is that really something so bad?"

Zack chuckled. Of all the people in Shin-Ra, only Reeve was likely to ask something like that. "No. But it won't let him be happy."

Reeve nodded and rested his head against Zack's chest again. "I'll figure it out. You just make sure to come back to me Zack. You hear me?"

"Roger, captain. I'll be back before you know it. Soon you'll be wishing I was still in Nibelheim."

"Somehow," Reeve mumbled as he stood at Zack's prompting and followed him back to the bed they shared when Zack could sneak away from the barracks, "I doubt that."

Chapter Text

They'd lain aside for two years now. Very shortly after the defeat of Sephiroth, Reeve himself had helped to lay down the laws that forbid the use of materia in non-emergency situations. Using materia only took away from the strength of the planet and the Lifestream. So even the heroes had set aside their extensive amounts of the precious orbs. It had taken some convincing on the part of Yuffie of course, and everyone had been left a few orbs for the most dire situations. They knew how to abstain from usage though, so Reeve had seen no problem in it. And Cloud, who had never really used the stuff anyway, had been chosen to guard the majority of the orbs that had been birthed from materia they had mastered through the journey, mastering them slowly but surely.

So they'd lain aside for years, sealed away in the vault in Reeve's office at the WRO when he worked, and in his personal safe at home when he wasn't there. Yes, there had been temptation over the years to reach out into the power of the planet again. It was something that Reeve had learned to control over the years though. All of those with his kind of aptitude with materia had to learn control at one point or another in their lives anyway. But each day was more and more of a trial. It was growing harder and harder not to reach out and call forth the powers locked away in the faintly glowing orbs. This was the test, the curse that came with the magical abilities that Reeve had since he was a child, and while it wasn't easy to handle, he had gotten by.

Until today.

Then again, Reeve couldn't have thought of any better day for the breaking of his vow not to use magic.

Edge was in chaos. What had seemed to be a normal day, like any other in his life as director of the WRO, was turning out to be nothing like normal. He'd awoken near midnight with a rapid string of calls and messages from Yuffie, Tifa, and Rufus ShinRa himself. Calls that children had gone missing from Wutai. A call to say that Marlene and Denzel were both missing and that Cloud had gone after the people who took them. A call explaining, with the least amount of information possible, about the three men who called Cloud brother.

And let no one forget the show stopper before Reeve had even managed to get into his suit and get some food in him. That the silver haired men had shown up in Edge at the memorial. That they seemed to be preparing to tear the thing down.

Still, there was little that the leader of the WRO could do. He, unlike the others, was hardly useful in battle these days. Reeve lacked the ability to lift a sword, his body wasn't a lethal weapon, and his aim with a gun was atrocious. It was with a heavy heart that Reeve sent Cait out that morning, with directions to find and assist the others in any way it could manage.

Without his magic, something he had given up for the sake of the planet years back, Reeve was useless to the others. The only thing he could do was stay out of their way as they did their best to save the world yet again.

His part in the battle taken care of with the dispatching of one of his robots, Reeve continued about the preparations of the morning. It was likely that by the time dinner rolled around there would be new damage estimates to draw up, to restore Edge before he could continue with the new constructions and the deconstruction of Midgar.

It was ritual alone that found Reeve transferring two bangles studded with the materia left to him, into secure pockets on the inside of his coat. It was ritual alone that caused the timid man to take them with him to work so they might be ritually locked up in his safe, just like any other day. And it was ritual alone that insisted he keep the faintly glowing gems close to him. There was at least a whisper of magic left flowing out from them, enough of a comfort for him to just remember what it was like to cast spells over whole continents in timing such that it would look like his little robot was performing instead of him.

So with rituals performed Reeve took up his brief case and headed out of his rarely used apartment.

Later he would come to blame the confusion of the streets for his feet wandering closer and closer to the square where the monument to Meteor and the lives lost to it stood. There was, of course, confusion, and a large flow of people towards the square, but it wasn't that which pulled Reeve in that direction. Maybe it was the desire to actually see his allies in combat for himself just once. Maybe it was the need of the designer of the monument to make sure it was really still there. Or maybe it was the weight of metal and materia in his pockets.

Ultimately, Reeve only managed to make it halfway to the square when they came barreling down the streets. The creatures were horrible to look upon and dark as night, once you got past the bony, almost white… things that covered their heads. Further up the street he can just barely make out the square and the panic ensuing from more of these… things running around. The screaming from the square, making its way towards Reeve, sent a shudder down his spine.

Instincts that Reeve had been sure had gone extinct in himself years before quickly kicked in. Hands buried into secret pockets and first one, then the other, bangle of old was snapped into place at his wrists. And before the first creature actually manages to lay a claw within five feet of Reeve, the three closest, all pouncing for prey, fell victim to rapidly fired fire spells. Before the realization of what he had done set in, the executive had already cast aside his bag and picked off another few front runners with well aimed ice spells.

They'd lain aside for two years now, the faintly glowing orbs never managing to build up a layer of dust or lose even the littlest bit of their luster. There was a red and a yellow, two blues and two greens, four purples twinkling merrily in their metal settings as round after round of spells were shot off, barely leaving a dent in the stamina of the former executive. Attacks that would barely miss the mage won the one foolish enough to attempt to bring him harm the pain of bio spells. Those who dared to threaten or harm the people got a fate that was hardly so kind. Fatal blasts went off in rapid succession with protective barriers and restorative spells. And all the while the man made his way forward, towards the square where even more of the beasts seemed to take joy in their destructive madness.

By the time the executive managed to make the square though, a battle was already raging far above. Allies he'd never truly fought beside battled with a monstrous being that seemed no more than a mockery of the summons. Elsewhere Reeve even managed to catch a glimpse of vibrant red and cold silver, a sure sign of Turks doing their own part in this fight.

But with the eyes of the former heroes on the airborne summon, and those of the Turks upon silver haired men, none were left to deal with the chaos unleashed by the shadowy beasts. People were still falling victim to bites and slashes. So many people, so much pain, and so little that even those experienced in combat could do.

Reeve wasn't trained in combat, and even the intense stamina of a mage such as himself was quickly wearing thin. There really was little left that he could do. So many targets, so many innocents, and so little time and strength left to him. Had he the sharp shooting of Vincent it might not be so hard, or the rapid shots of Barret's gun arm. But all Reeve had left to him were the materia lain aside for two years. The magic he had given up for the sake of the planet, and taken up again for the same reasons.

One red, one yellow, two blue and two green, four purple orbs shone with a gentle glow as Reeve gathered and concentrated the last of his strength. Slowly the light died away from the red, the yellow, a blue, a green. Soon three of the purples followed in course, the powers of the orbs sacrificed for the sake of one last display of the power of the mage. And after the remaining purple, green, and blue, unleashed a spell of their combined power, controlled only by the strong will of one man who none had ever seen as strong, they too faded, all light dying away.

It was only the will of one strong, independent, and gifted man that kept the power of the spell in check. Only his strength that kept the ultima from losing its focus. Only years of experience with magic kept those innocents free from the blast, and protected the city around the shadowy things from harm.

But will could only get one so far. Strength could only hold out so long. Experience could only get you so far before you were in new territory.

Still, there was a faint smile on Reeve's face as he fell forward, consumed by the greedy embrace of unconsciousness. And so tight was that lady's grip, so strong her sway over a weary body, mind, and soul that the man didn't even notice the fine cracks that formed in his beloved materia. His beloved, and now dead, materia.

Chapter Text

"You're going home."

It's more of a statement than a question, but the younger man answers anyway.

"Nothing left for me here."

"Where will you go?"

Cid picked at the remains of the picnic between them, not quite looking at his dinner partner. Reeve had already grown used to it, the pilot had been avoiding his gaze all night. Something made the blond unable to look him in the eye, and Reeve knew it wasn't just that he was leaving. There had to be something more for Cid to be so wholly avoiding him and their conversation on what might be their last night together.

"Rocket Town. The place is practically my home anyway."

"I see," Reeve mumbled, looking up at the star filled sky. Except, he didn't see. He didn't understand. Cid said there was nothing left in Midgar for him. But Reeve was here, always would be. The place was the only home he had after all. Midgar was his place. But apparently it wasn't Cid's.

"If you don't want…"

"You're leaving for her, aren't you?"

It's a sudden realization for Reeve, and it hurt all the more because he hadn't known it right off. Or maybe because Cid hadn't felt like telling him from the beginning. Reeve knew why as well. There had been a woman involved with the incident at the recent attempt to put a man into space. A woman named Shera. A woman who lived in Rocket Town. A woman who was apparently stealing Cid away from the young engineer.

"It's not like…"

Reeve easily cuts the man off with a shake of his head. Really, he didn't want to hear it. With a sigh he rose, and gave Cid the best smile he could manage in the given situation.

"I wish you well, Mister Highwind, in all that you pursue. May you one day rest your head among the stars."

There was silence as Reeve walked away, leaving Cid with the remains of their dinner and the same words he'd given the man after their very first meeting.

It was all he could do to keep himself from breaking down until he was out of sight.

Chapter Text

You could see the whole of the school grounds from here, and Reeve had grown to love it. The place was quiet, secluded, and not exactly easy to get to anyway. No one went out onto the roof anyway, and the little area above the band room saw even less traffic. After all, there were student areas fenced off above some parts of the school, but the band roof was only accessed by a maintenance ladder. And it helped that while he could see down and out, it wasn't easy to see up to him.

The place had grown into the refuge for the fifteen year old, despite discovering it two weeks after he had stopped needing places to hide out. Reeve knew irony when he saw it, and the discovery of this place most definitely qualified under that header. Still, the place had its uses. While he was free of physical abuse, that didn't stop the emotional, verbal, or any other shit. Only fear of his fellow seniors taking him in as a 'pet' kept him safe anyway. Were the trio to leave who knew what would happen to the young genius of the school.

Reeve closed his eyes and stretched his arms out as the wind began to blow in. The air was heavy with the smell of rain, and the smell of rain had always made Reeve happy. It was the scent of a fresh start, of washing away sins and failures and short comings.

"If you're going to say something cheesy like 'I'm king of the school', please, just jump now."

Quickly the young man turned to face the voice, only to be met with the teasing grin of an arrogant red haired senior. Reno, with his uniform shirt untucked, his posture slumped, and a cigarette hanging between his lips, just gave a mock salute before plopping himself down on the roof. He didn't come any closer than his predetermined five foot radius though. Somehow the obnoxious teen just seemed to sense how nervous Reeve was around him and knew how close he could get without scaring the kid off.

Of course, where Reno want, so went Rude, and when the shaved head of the silent senior soon appeared over the top of the ladder, it didn't come as any surprise to Reeve. Rude was the total opposite to Reno. Where the red head was boisterous and wore his heart on his sleeve, Rude was silent and stoic. A good compliment to each other. Rude pretty much dominated the school in maths and sciences, while Reno took to the arts like a moth to the flame. Reeve often mused that were one to combine the two there would actually be a challenge to his status as top student. Well, one other than Tseng.

And speaking of the asian…

Reeve turned back to the view, not letting himself look towards the ladder anymore. If he did, he'd only betray a smile when he laid eyes upon the charismatic leader of the small assemblage. A smile and a frown. And who knew what that would lead to.

"I should have expected you knew about this place too."

The comment, maybe an accusation, was met with silence save for the sound of shoes on the roof as someone approached. After a moment there was a sound of annoyance from Reno.

"Come on Rude. Looks like Dot-Head wants time alone with Poindexter."

There was a grunt, Rude's agreement, before Reeve heard the sound of shoes on metal rungs. If the duo was leaving, then Tseng did have something he wanted to talk about. The older teen never really spoke to Reeve alone, something that both upset and comforted the young genius. Time alone with the asian was always awkward. Reeve would always blunder somehow, sound stupid, and apologize near obsessively until Tseng just laughed it off and bid him farewell for the day.

And Reeve didn't want what could turn out to be their last conversation to end up like that.

"You didn't hang around long after rehearsal," Tseng said at length, not yet moving closer.

"Had no reason to."

"There was the picnic."

Reeve just chuckled. He was well aware of how the rest of the senior class felt about him. No way was he going to put himself in the middle of a park, thick with trees and a lot of people who didn't like him anyway.

"You know as well as I do that I'm hardly considered part of the senior class. Hell, I'm three years younger than most of the students in the class. I wasn't welcome."

"You were at prom," Tseng pointed out, "And you did turn a few heads."

"My parents insisted."

"I see."

Tseng sighed and moved forward, coming to rest just behind Reeve. He too stared out at the school grounds below him, or so Reeve assumed. There was little else to look after all. Only the view and himself. Reeve hoped that the asian could at least understand where he was coming from. People didn't like the kid who had showed up and moved through four years of high school in only two. People didn't like the smart kid that all the teachers liked, and the most popular kids in school protected.

"Don't get me wrong, Tseng," Reeve said with a sigh. He could almost sense the disappointment radiating off of the only real friend he'd come to have. "It's not that I didn't want to go. It's that… I didn't belong. I don't belong. The rest of you… or a good part… You've been together for four years or more. Who am I to consider myself part of that?"

"One of us," Tseng responded without hesitation, moving forward at last to stand besides Reeve.

"Tseng…" Reeve actually had to turn away from questing eyes, for the tears such a statement brought to him. Tseng hadn't even known him for a year, and he was saying stuff like that.

"It doesn't matter if you've been here four years or two weeks. You're one of us, like it or not. Or… at least that is how Reno would put it."

Reeve didn't respond as he attempted to regain control of his emotions. Why they were always so on the edge with Tseng around was something he didn't know, but the fact was that he needed control right now.

"What are you going to do?"

A neutral topic, and loaded all at once. Reeve knew it, and he knew Tseng knew it. Thinking he didn't wouldn't be giving the teen the credit he deserved. He was, after all, only half a point behind Reeve's position of Valedictorian.

"Give a speech, cross a stage, take some pictures, and go home."

There was a chuckle from Tseng, "No. Not tomorrow. I meant…"

"I know what you meant."

The silence between them was comfortable for a few minutes before Reeve finally came up with a response.

"My life has been planned out for me for a while now. I'm going to MTI. Robotics. What about you?"

"My father is the head medical researcher for the ShinRa Corporation," Tseng said with a smile. "I'm expected to follow in his footsteps."

Reeve turned quickly to look at Tseng. He hadn't expected something like that. The ShinRa Corporation was a powerful company in this day and age. They were in every field from medical research to robotics to plastics to even agriculture. And that was just in addition to a booming industry in computers. For Tseng's father to be who he was meant that Tseng's future had been laid out long before Reeve's was.

"It might surprise you to know that Rude is the son of the main bodyguard of the ShinRa CEO, Mister ShinRa himself. And Reno's father is the CFO of the company. They come here by request. Well… Reno got kicked out of his private school, and Rude joined him as protection. My father sent me here to have more of an experience with normal people than I had in my youth."

Suddenly Reeve felt less confident about his fears about a preplanned future. Tseng and the others were more on a set course than he was. It was almost scary.

"You know what the secret is?"

Reeve looked at the asian nervously. He had no clue what Tseng meant and he was almost afraid of what would be said.

"Living for the moment while you can. Tell me, Reeve, have you ever just shouted in the halls after hours?"

The question was responded to with a frown. What did that have to do with anything?

"How about just running through the halls?"

Another shaking of the head.

"Are you going to come back here in ten years and regret not doing stuff like this? Regret not living while you had the chance?"


Tseng chuckled and shook his head. "Well then. I guess we'll have to wait and see then."

Reeve nodded, his eyes still on the school grounds before them.

"I have no intention of regretting my time here."

Before Reeve could react he found himself pulled up against the older teen, with Tseng's lips against his own. His eyes widened and the first instinct was to pull away. Of course, as close to the edge as they were, and lacking a fence, that was hardly a good idea. And with Tseng's strength it wasn't likely the other senior would allow it if he didn't want to. So the best thing he could do was just wait it out.

Though, just when Reeve was getting comfortable with the contact, and when an odd fluttering filled his stomach, the older teen pulled away. There was a smile as Tseng backed up and then turned away. And while Reeve was still completely shocked and speechless the popular asian made his way to the ladder down.

"See you tomorrow Reeve."

There was a chuckle as the male went over the ladder and started down.

"And try not to trip when you get your diploma!"

In silence Reeve stared out over the school grounds. After a while he watched as Tseng rejoined Reno and Rude near the parking lot. There was something said by the red head and laughter resulted before the trio clambered into Tseng's convertible.

And it was with a smile that Reeve finally climbed down from his safe haven. Tomorrow he was going to have to find a way to make sure he wouldn't regret all of his time in high school…

Chapter Text

"How does it work?"

The question is innocent enough, or would be under the right circumstances. Considering the fact that this was Reno he was asking, that they were in bed together, and they'd just been involved in quite… strenuous activities. Well, Reeve really shouldn't have been so surprised with the response he got.

"Well, when two men love each other very much, or are just really horny…"

There was laughter as Reeve punched the red head in the arm.

"I'm being serious Reno."

"So was I. It's not my fault you don't understand the dynamics of what we just did."

This time Reeve rolled his eyes and rolled a bit to get a better view of the smoking Turk. Really, couldn't the man have enough respect not to smoke immediately after? It wasn't fair. Almost made Reeve feel insufficient.

"I'm not talking about sex. I'm talking about the pyramid."

Reno rolled his own eyes in response. "I don't know how the pyramids work. I ain't even seen one before."

Another punch from Reeve, though half hearted this time. If he was too abusive then Reeve would kick him out of the bed, and the executive was very comfortable with one of the Turk's arms slung around his waist.

"Your pyramid, dumbass. That thing you do that traps people until someone from the outside breaks it. How does it work?"

The Turk shrugged and put the cigarette out in a nearby ashtray. Carefully he shifted to wrap his arms further around Reeve, pulling the executive close. There was a smile as he kissed Reeve's forehead.

"How does your limit break work? How does Cloud do that Omnislash thing? If you can tell me that, I can tell you just how pyramid works."

"So it's limit magic?"

Reno shrugged before pulling the blanket up around himself and the executive. "Sorta, I guess. I don't know. Something like that. Leave that sort of answer to scientists or something. I'm tired. Get some damn sleep."

The executive murmured in agreement, curling up closer to his lover. Really, the answer wasn't too important, but he had a few ideas for later…

Chapter Text

When he wakes, it's because he's knocked the alarm to the floor in an attempt to shut the wailing off. Instantly a curse comes to his lips, just like every other day. A curse at himself, at fate, at the world around him. As he rolls to the side to glare at the fallen clock there is a self pitying mewl from the kitten who had chosen his stomach as a bed yet again. Elsewhere there is beeping as an automated coffee machine comes to life to reassure him that yes, it really is time to haul himself up. Through the fog in his mind, a weary man hauls himself to the shower, whose song was like that of a siren.

And after that, it all followed in the same formula that it had for time untold. He didn't know when it had begun, or when it would end, not that either much mattered by this point. In the usual melancholy he showered, drank coffee, fed the feline, headed to work. The daze was the same as he swam, and lifted weights, and just existed. It was five cups of coffee between starting and lunch, no more, no less. Later, he has the same boring, meatless lunch. There is routine disapproval from the woman who delivered it, and routine picking with no appetite to be found. Let none forget the practical plethora of paperwork either.

Then comes the only break from the tedious routine of life. The Turk enters his office. With the Turk comes violently red hair, horribly messy clothes, a barely repressed desire for a lovely body, and a confidence all his own. After a moment the whole thing turns into routine as well. The habit has almost broken the last of him by this point. What was once a little five minute shelter from the monotony of life was not as much of a repeat as everything else. Reno knows that he is going to say no, and he knows that Reno knows. They both know he wants to say yes, and they both know he never will. It would bring a tear to his eye, were that not out of his normal routine.

So, in the end, like always, the Turk leaves, mumbling something about having to strengthen the red in his hair. The same bad, tasteless joke in the same bad, tasteless life. While he's thankful that Reno has left, pulling away the temptation to break the cycle, it hurts, just like it does every other time. He's not sure how much more of it he can take before he just breaks down and cries.

And, somehow, he's shocked to find that his cheeks are wet.

Somehow he makes it through the routine of the day. The cup of coffee an hour, the paperwork, the staying in until nine, somehow it all puts him back on track and by the time that his cheeks no longer feel oddly stiff from the dried tears, he's got control again. Once he's read, just a bit later than normal, he packs up his stuff and heads out into the night for yet another evening of ritual. Just another night of jeans and coffee and leftovers and news that isn't filled with any news at all.

In the end he curls up in bed with a kitten on his stomach, knowing that in the morning he's going to hit the alarm clock off of the table and there will be a pathetic mewl and distant beeping. It's the way of things, and he's grown to accept that.

It's to laughter that Reeve awakens no more than an hour later. Laughter and the smell of cinnamon. The scent of the spice draws him from the bed more than the laughter. For all he knows, the laughter is some lingering dream. But cinnamon…

Reeve's feet slip into fuzzy brown slippers as a fuzzy brown robe is pulled on. And down the brown and beige hall he shuffles, slowly making his way towards the scent of cinnamon. By the time he makes it to the living room the man became sure that something was different, other than the delicious smell. The laughter grew stronger instead of fading away. In fact, it took on the voice of someone he knew.

"Look! Sleeping beauty is up!" a voice cheered.

At last Reeve really woke up, and gawked at the pair of Turks sitting smack dab in the center of his living room. The plain brown couch had been pushed up against a wall and the wooden table placed on top of it. In fact, most of his living room had been pushed to the walls to leave room for the odd couple. Rude was sitting up straight many different bottles and glasses and garnishes all around him. Reno was stretched out on the floor, grinning like a drunken fool. And given the way Reno went about life, Reeve wouldn't have been surprised.

"What… what are you doing here?" Reeve croaked out. This wasn't normal. Not at all.

"You seemed lonely at work. You were crying man. So, like, me and chrome dome here went out and got lots of fixin's and we're like… gonna get you good and liquored up."

"I don't drink."

"Ya do now!" Reno chuckled before slowly getting to his feet and shuffling for the kitchen. When he returned it was with a piece of cinnamon toast. "Come on. Ya know we ain't leaving until you're wasted."

After a moment more of staring, Reeve slowly shuffled closer to the pair. This was very unusual…

"Sit!" Reno commanded, patting the floor next to where he had plopped himself down.

No sooner was the man seated than Reno shoved a piece of cinnamon toast into his mouth. "Eat! Can't drink on an empty stomach!"

It took a lot for Reeve not to choke on the food suddenly in his mouth, but once the first bite went down, once the taste of cinnamon reached his tongue, Reeve began to devour the toast. He even went so far as to lick his fingers when it was done.

"Woah," Reno commented, which lead to Reeve opening eyes he hadn't even realized he had closed. "Man, you must really like toast."

"What do you…"

"You've been, like, sucking on your fingers for three minutes!"

While Reeve was sure this was an exaggeration, it probably wasn't far off. Cinnamon was something he didn't keep at home because… well, Reeve was slightly addicted to the taste. He'd discovered very shortly after his initial hiring into the ShinRa company that everything tasted better with cinnamon.

"The cinnamon," he began to explain, only to be cut off by the red-head.

"Rude, we need a Hot Gold."

In shock the executive watched the older Turk set about mixing several things together. Well, not several things. Just what looked like orange juice and some gold-ish liquid. A cinnamon stick was plucked from some container and added to the glass that was then passed to Reeve.


"Just try it. Let the cinnamon soak in for a while. Or you can do like I do and use the stick as a bit of a straw."

"Why would I…"

"Just do it," Reno insisted with a smile.

After a few moments Reeve gave in with a sigh and sampled the drink.

When he wakes, it's not because he's knocked the alarm to the floor in an attempt to shut the wailing off. He doesn't roll to the side to glare at the fallen clock, and there isn't a self pitying mewl from the kitten who had chosen his stomach as a bed yet again. While elsewhere there is beeping as an automated coffee machine comes to life, for once he doesn't seem to be moved. There is a fog in his mind, but no shower calls out to him through it. In fact, all that does is the now empty glass laying on the living room floor some five feet away, and a cinnamon stick that had fallen from his mouth some time during that night.

Instead of waking, of starting his routine, of condemning himself to another round of the usual, Reeve just cuddled up to the heat of the bodies he was between. Work could wait. The world could wait. Hell, even cinnamon coffee could wait another hour or so.

Here, now, like this…

He was breaking the routine, for once and for all.

Chapter Text

When they met, it was over coffee, and he was hardly a willing party to it. The Turks, men he hadn't seen in half a year, had just arrived at the door of the WRO headquarters outside of Edge, and had instructed him to follow. While Reeve probably could have handled one Turk at great personal injury, handling two would have been impossible. He would have, after all, had the edge on Reno since the red head had never known about the former-executive's combat capabilities. So, for his own safety and that of his limited staff, he had silently followed, only to be met with the least likely face. Well, voice at least. The only reason Reeve could assume for the former President hiding his face would have been the Stigma anyway. Rufus was, after all, a proud man, unwilling to admit weakness.

"I was under the impression that you were dead," Reeve finally said with a sigh, staring down at his untouched drink.

"There are many still under that belief, and I would prefer it remained so for the time being."

Reeve watched in silence as the words settled in around them. There had been an edge to them, a threat no doubt. Not that Reeve was much concerned with the threat. Were he to die after being escorted away from his office by Turks, well, Shalua would likely put one and one together to come up with the expected two. And word would soon enough reach his comrades as to just who was probably still around.

"I do not take lightly to threats, ShinRa. You would do well to avoid them, lest they cause me to speak out of spite."

There was a sound, possibly pleased, from under the sheet that obscured the face of the last ShinRa. Reeve knew that sound of course, he'd known Rufus long enough in his short time as an executive, and dealt with him enough in his time as the second in command of his department, to know what it meant. The blond was amused. Honestly, Reeve wasn't sure that he could blame the man. When last they had spoken, Reeve had hardly had a backbone to his name.

"You've changed quite a bit over the last six months, Reeve."

"It is Mister Tuesti to you, ShinRa."

This time the blond chuckles, but it sounds hollow. The blond was in no way amused with how he was being treated, and that was almost pleasing to Reeve. It was not as if Rufus deserved his respect any more than his father had. Both were vile men after only their own ends. They had no care for the people, for the planet, or for anything but their power.

"As you wish," Rufus conceded. "I suppose I should be happy that you haven't up and left yet."

"You should be happy that it is me before you and not one of the others. All have their reasons to want your head, me not the least of all."

"A spine and a sharp tongue. You have come far in little time."

"That I could say the same of you," Reeve growled. He was quickly getting tired of dancing around whatever purpose Rufus had him here for. Right now he'd much rather be sitting through another technical lecture from Shalua that he could only barely understand. Or trying to teach Number 7 the proper way to prepare a coffee. It was still mixing sugar and salt up. Really, where had he gone wrong on that thing?

"I did not ask you here to suffer hostility."

"You didn't ask me here," the older man pointed, "I was practically kidnapped by your goons."

"Now let us be fair here Tue…"

"Yes, let us be fair. Kidnapping is just a bit too kind for them. Second nature, yes, but too kind. It would also imply the possibility of ransom, but for that one needs someone they can profit from. Along the same lines, goon would probably be too kind as well, save for in the case of Elena. I'd term Reno a coward, Rude a ruffian, Elena a ditz, and Tseng, more often than not, more soulless than yourself. Is this fair enough for you?"

"I would have preferred temporary detainment to kidnapping, and professionals to goons, but your opinion is welcome."

"That would be a first, ShinRa."

There was bit of creaking as Rude, silent in his corner of the room, shifted from one foot to another. That too Reeve was familiar enough with. While the bald man wasn't often fazed, and rarely spoke his mind, the shifting was often a nervous habit. Of course, that couldn't be the case now, could it? Reeve, making a Turk nervous? Almost laughable really. But there were first times for everything, and today seemed to be that time.

"Have you spoken your peace yet? I do have a proposal here…"

"No, I haven't, and I'm sure I don't want to hear any of your proposals. I seem to remember that your last one had you following a madman to the northern crater, playing right into Hojo's desires. Oh no, wait, there was the time after that where your idea of shooting THROUGH Diamond Weapon, which for all rights and regards should have gotten you killed. Or hiding from the reckoning you and your family are due for what you did in Midgar, what you did to this world. The ruins of Midgar stand testament to the ShinRa legacy!"

Reeve stood and his fists hit the table harder than he intended, but nothing was upset. Which was almost a shame. It was quite likely that Reeve would never have another chance to stain the perfect white that the former President prided himself on.

"I am quite aware of all of these facts, Mister Tuesti. And it is because of them that I have called you here. It has come to my attention that the WRO is badly lacking in vital funding. Not all people are patient when it comes to pay checks, you know. Volunteers will only get one so far, especially when considering a potential military force to handle the weakening, but still existent trouble that comes with the creatures in the wild. I believe that you have spent quite a bit of your own personal funds on the development of your Organization. Drawing in the brightest minds left over from ShinRa, those who want to make a difference, even those who have worked for you in the past, it must be setting you back quite a bit. There isn't even a WRO headquarters yet so far as I know. Unless you want to count that small office building you are currently using…"

The more Rufus spoke, the more deflated Reeve became. Before there was even a comment about Reeve's own money, the former executive was sitting again. Apparently, for all the distance he'd come in the last half year, he was still not able to stand long against the Prince of Midgar.

"And your point?" was all the defense for himself that Reeve could muster.

"You are quite right, Tuesti, I do owe a lot to the planet, and I intend to pay back in full. Right now, the best way I can do so is by devoting what I can to the cause of the WRO, for as long as I can manage. Who knows how long that will be, all things considered…"

For the first time Reeve was presented with a glimpse at just how bad the young ShinRa's case of the Stigma was. Of course it was only the hand that he could see, but it far more extensive than Reeve had seen even upon some of the worse children. Far worse than Denzel as well, but the boy wasn't the worst he'd seen.

"There aren't as many adults that have contracted…"

"Quite true. But that is not the concern. The WRO needs financial backing, and the funds of the ShinRa family were not all in the company and city itself. My offer is simple. You get funding, and in return, I retain my status as dead for now. I have far too much to do to make up to the world for my sins, and those of my father, to have Strife and the rest of your friends breathing down the back of my neck."

"And if there are questions as to my new funding?"

"An anonymous donor that you've only met a representative of. Which will be true enough. I would rather leave this business to Tseng. I have other things to focus on as well. Further arrangements and conditions can be set at another time. To give you time to consider my proposal. Is this to your liking?"

Reeve could only nod, almost shocked by it all. What more could he ask for after all?

"Of course, Mister ShinRa."

"A pleasure doing business with you Mister Tuesti. I shall look forward to doing more in the future."

The man nodded and was silent as the man in the wheelchair rolled off. There was a lot to think of after all.

Chapter Text

"Father, might I speak with you in earnest?"

The question earned the child a sharp blow to the side from the cane held in the man's hand. Tears came to the eyes of the boy as he fell to his knees. No doubt there would be a horrible bruise tomorrow from the blow; the man had struck him with the extravagant handle, an arc dragon claw wrapped around a large piece of glass shaped and colored to look like a summon materia, rather than the end. While the child was used to such blows, he was by no means capable of taking one without some sign of pain. There was strength in his father yet, despite the man's advanced age.

"What have I told you about speaking, boy?"

"Never speak out of turn. Only speak when spoken to and then respond in a clear and concise manner. Always address your superiors and betters in ways befitting their status. Never take familiarities that have not been permitted."

Another blow came, this time to the boy's back. This one caught the child completely off guard and he was thrown to the floor by the strength of it. Tears that he'd barely had a hold on before now fell freely. Were it not for the knowledge that punishment would only get worse if he appeared to be weak, the boy would have been sobbing. Somehow he managed to hold his whimpers back, and quickly moved to wipe away the tears on the long sleeve of his practice uniform.

"Do you know what you have done wrong this time?"

After a moment the child nodded. When he answered it was impossible to hide the pain in his voice. "I forgot to address you as is befitting your status, Master Ishikawa."

"At least you have come to learn from your pain, child. Now wipe your tears and straighten yourself. Your mother would be upset it we came to her at the dinner table with you in tears. Can't you even control your emotions, boy?"

The question was rhetorical, and the boy knew it. So it was in silence that he slowly struggled to his feet, trying to ignore the pain lancing through his side that probably meant a cracked rib. There would be time enough after a formal meal with the family he hadn't seen in years to have it looked at by the physician his father employed. So, the boy grit his teeth and bore the pain for now. Weakness would mean another blow from that horrible man who claimed to be his father. Already today he'd suffered four blows for his incompetence, and more at this point would be more than he could handle.

"Well, at least you learn to hold your tongue fast enough. Come, we cannot keep the lady waiting."

Theirs wasn't a very normal Wutain family. The master of the house was an old man set in his ways, a Wutain lord who cared more for appearances and traditions than he did for his family at times. The lady was a beautiful woman born of Mideel, with hair like chocolate and eyes like emeralds. She was the only thing that the master of the house had seen fit to wave tradition for. Of course, she was his second wife, and mother of only one of the master's three children. The eldest son was much like his father: cold, rigid, stuck in tradition, and hardly fair to his younger brother. The only daughter, the middle child, was a great beauty, who had suitors from all over Wutai, and other areas. She was soft spoken, sweet, and everything that one wanted in a woman to take as your bride.

And then there was him. The youngest of the family at only eleven years. The let down of the family. He took more after his mother than his father. His hair was brown, his eyes were green, and his body far less wiry than that of his brother. The child looked more like he was from the Junon area than the Mideel. Mideelian people had a similar exotic look to the Wutain. While their hair wasn't as dark, and their eyes not as slanted, they were not as rough looking as those from the continents.

He was the disappointment, the let down. His father looked down upon him, his brother thought him a waste of their father's time, and his sister wouldn't even smile for him.

Not even was he given a name befitting his Wutain blood.

The name he was given was Reeve.


"Wrong!" a voice bellowed, causing the young boy to flinch. And with that flinch came a pain lancing up his arm as Reeve's sparring partner took advantage of a moment lapse in attention.

"Again!" Master Ishikawa shouted. When Reeve didn't pick up the wooden practice blade fast enough his father rushed in and swung the cane at him. Reeve barely managed to move out of the range of the cane, but in doing so lost the chance to recover his practice blade.

Before the youth could really do anything, he found himself defending against the repeated and violent advances of his father. Each time he avoided being struck by less and less distance, and less and less time. In the end though, Reeve's stamina just didn't hold out, and his flexibility proved not enough to protect himself from the experienced fighter. The glass orb smashed into Reeve's leg, throwing him to the floor, and arms were brought up to protect his face just in time to get his arm broken by another blow.

"Pathetic. I've seen children half your age defend better against such an assault. Get yourself to the physician. And I do not want to see you again until that arm is healed. Now, out of my sight!"

Despite the pain, the boy slowly rose and limped his way out of the training room to find the physician.


"Ah, young master," came the kind voice of the family physician, "Today is the day, is it not? We'll have your cast off quite quickly. With your recovery rate, I wouldn't be surprised if you'd have full control over your arm quite soon. I'm sure that will please your father."

Reeve had no response for the cheerful man. The time he'd spent in the cast, working with the servants of the family away from his father's site, had hardly been kind. His whole body was still sore from scrubbing the floors with one hand just that morning. Still were his knees raw from the work, and his feet were suffering from running errands in the city barefoot. And it just so happened that their home was closer to the mountains, which meant sharp stones underfoot for most of the trip.

Finally the young boy found his voice, "Couldn't you… tell my father that it didn't heal properly?"


"Maybe… maybe if he thought I couldn't fight anymore…"

"I don't think that would be wise, young master. Your father would be upset to hear that."

True enough. Another reason for his father to hate him. But it seemed like these days there were more than enough. Reeve wasn't the fighter his father wanted him to be. He wasn't the gentleman his older brother was. He wasn't going to fetch a dowry that would be worthwhile like his sister. In all truth, he was completely useless to his father and his house. Maybe, just maybe, if he couldn't be the fighter he wanted, his father would allow him to attempt something else that would help the family. There was always education. He could learn business like his brother had. Or take up a trade that would make him worthy of his father's love.

"Forgive me. It was a foolish request."

So Reeve remained silent as the physician removed his cast and checked over his arm for proper healing. What more could he do?


"I will not allow this."

"I am not asking you, Master Ishikawa. I am telling you."

"And who are you to think you can speak freely in my home?"

"Your SON!" Reeve shouted, jumping to his feet. Two years had not changed his will at all. If anything, he'd become more resolved to be free of his father's demands. If the man hated him, well then he would accept that. He'd known it for years anyway.

"A poor one at that!" was the old man's retort. "No gratitude for all I have given you!"

"And what exactly is it that you've given me?" the youth demanded angrily. "Broken bones, a bruised body, and nothing that makes me feel like your son. I'm leaving and there is nothing you can do about that!"

In fact, the only reason Reeve was even speaking to his father about leaving was because the man had apparently been alerted to his intentions by a maid. Reeve had been on the porch, pulling on a pair of boots and a rain coat over the Midgarian clothes he'd bought from a traveling merchant. Apparently the foolish little woman had thought that the master would care. And apparently she'd been right in one way. Ishikawa hated people disobeying him.

"I'll not have one of my children leaving my home dressed as… a begger!"

"This isn't what a begger would wear!" Reeve shouted back, fists clenched. He'd been about to pick up his pack and the ticket for his boat to Midgar when his father had spoken. "Just because you are unaware of the world outside of your little delusions doesn't mean it doesn't exist!"

"If you set one foot off this porch then you will never be welcomed back into my home. You will be considered a bastard child of a servant."

"How do I know that isn't true anyway?"

With that the young man grabbed up his pack and ticket and headed out into the rain. It didn't matter that he was leaving all he knew behind. This place had never been a home to him, that man never a father. There had to be something better in Midgar, even for someone as young as him. Anywhere was better than this hell. Even the hell of Midgar.


Midgar was a rainy place when you were up on the plates. Reeve had only come to know that in the last few weeks though. While he'd lived in the city itself for over a year, he'd only managed to make the plate about a month before. And even that was an iffy thing. It was just another hiding place, this time from a gang in the slums that he'd run afoul of. Time hadn't done anything to rid him of the coldness that had been born in him the day he left home. The year hadn't weakened the arrogance that even half blood Wutains had. And all the days did nothing to teach him how to keep out of trouble. Already he'd spilled more blood in this city than the whole of his life in Wutai as the son of a noble lord.

Gods only knew how much more he'd spill were it to be found out just who he was, or were he to actually go home and admit fault.

That wasn't the kind of man that Reeve was these days though. Ishikawa was already placed far behind him. He'd taken up his mother's maiden name, Evans, as the only reminder of his birth. And then he'd taken Tuesti in place of his own surname. It had been the name of the woman who'd taken him in for a week before she'd died from some illness that didn't happen up on the plates.

"Hey… you. Kid!"

Reeve looked up from his hiding spot, and when he saw a man looming before him the instincts that had been beat into him from an early age kicked in. Before he even got a look at the man the youth was on his feet and lashing out with a kick. The man was caught off guard enough that Reeve managed to deliver a good hit to the stomach. As the man doubled over, winded, Reeve moved quickly around him and rushed into the rainy streets. It was time for a new hiding spot.

He didn't get far before he heard the person he'd attacked starting to give chase. Really, like some man would catch him. Easily the youth ducked into an alley, hoping to lose his pursuer in the hopeless twists and turns of the Midgar plates.

For what felt like hours he ran, until Reeve was sure he couldn't have been tracked. Panting, and drenched from all the rain, Reeve leaned against a building to catch his breath. While it had been nice and all to get some exercise, he wasn't really appreciating the whole soaked to the bone thing. After a moment he pushed off of the wall and turned to head down the street, intending on finding a new place to dry off. When he passed an alley, though, a hand shot out and grabbed him. Before he could even lash out at his captor, Reeve found himself pinned to the ground by the greater bulk of the man who had been pursuing him.

"You're good kid, but you're not good enough."

"Let me go!"

The man, whose face seemed badly burned, just smiled before pulling handcuffs from somewhere in his dark blue suit.

"Come on… I'm taking you in."

"Let me go you pervert!" Reeve shouted, hoping that someone would see and help him.

The shouting did bring attention, but oddly enough, the people that stared only whispered to each other and shook their heads.

"They aren't going to help," the man said as he hauled Reeve to his feet. "No one questions a Turk…"


"You got a name?" the burned man asked as he pushed Reeve forward, hand clamped tight down on his shoulder.

"Ret," the boy offered quickly. Giving his own name might be stupid after all.

"I'm Veld, not that you'll have much time or cause to remember it… Kid, you really shouldn't have kicked me."

"Not my fault you left yourself open," the youth sighed, defeated.

But hey, at least this way he'd have an easier death than he would have at the hands of that gang. And even if this guy was as good as the rumors made Turks out to be, Reeve was sure he would be able to get away. What exactly could the Turks get out of killing him anyway?

Not like he was any use to them, and just attacking a Turk who had scared him wouldn't get him into too much trouble…


Chapter Text

"Did you know him?"

Reeve froze, with his hand on the door of the fridge. Really, he should have known that the conversation was going to go down this path. For all the tact that Cloud had, some subjects didn't seem to be graced by it. Zack was one of them. Really, Reeve knew he should have stirred the subject away from this before Cloud asked. But the blond had looked so needy, and Reeve could deny his young lover nothing.

"What was that?" he said after a moment, finally opening the fridge and pulling out the orange juice he'd been after.

"Did you know Zack?"

Stalling wouldn't work, as much as Reeve wanted it to. He owed Cloud the truth, even if it would hurt the younger man.

"I knew him. Through Lazard at first. I was often involved in helping Lazard arrange operations in the city. The former Head of Urban Development wasn't exactly fond of having such a young and 'green' executive. And since I was the only other one with the access to all the blueprints in the city…"

"I didn't ask about Lazard," Cloud pointed out as he took the orange juice that Reeve had retrieved from the fridge to pour himself a glass. "I asked about Zack."

"We knew each other. I never actually worked with him though."

"Aeris and Tifa avoided questions about him in the same way you are."

Reeve sighed and took up a seat across from Cloud. He knew what Cloud wanted. Assurances that Reeve didn't like him because he was like Zack. Promises that his love was not just the echo of a man who was dead. Some kind of proof that Reeve wanted him because he was Cloud, not because he could have been Zack. It was something that Reeve wasn't quite sure he could give the blond, as much as he wanted to. For the last few months, Reeve had been asking himself that question. And still he didn't have an answer.

"Zack and I were good friends. I heard a lot of good things about you from him. Before he passed on that was…"

"Good friends like Tifa and Barret are good friends, or good friends like Aeris and Zack were good friends."

"Aeris and Zack were good friends like Zack and myself before they met."

"So you were…"

Reeve nodded, frowning to himself. This would be where Cloud would blow up at him and accuse him of only having feelings for him because he was like Zack.

"Did you love him?"

That caught Reeve off guard. Where was the shouting? Where was the pouting? Where was anything other than an odd and solemn acceptance? Why wasn't Cloud doing… anything?

"What does that matter?"

"Just answer."

He didn't know. There hadn't been enough time to know. Rare meetings over two years, most of them broken memories of drinking and quiet moments together in dark corners. Was that what you called love? They'd barely been involved beyond the physical aspects.

"I don't know," he answered after a while.

The blond nodded and set aside his drink. Before Reeve knew it the swordsman was at his side, his hand coming up to force Reeve to look at him.

"Do you love me?"

That was a far easier question. The fact that they were here together, sharing breakfast at almost five in the morning before heading to do their separate jobs should have been answer enough. Or the fact that Cloud had spent the night with him. Or that Reeve had cooked for them so they might have an evening alone. Wasn't that enough to say he was in love?

"What does it matter?"

Cloud smirked and shook his head. "You're just so difficult Tuesti."

"Isn't that why you like being here?"

The smirk became a smile as Cloud leaned in close.

"Maybe it is," he whispered before kissing Reeve. "Or maybe, unlike Zack, I'm willing to try. Guess that means there is hope for me yet."

After that Cloud just smiled and headed for their shared bedroom to get ready for his day. Left behind, all Reeve could think of was that Cloud wasn't really like Zack at all. The masochist was going to stick it out, through thick and thin. Maybe the blond had something to prove, maybe the man was just using him… but damn if Reeve didn't want to enjoy that while it lasted.

Chapter Text

Luctor et emergo. - I'll struggle but I'll survive.

Edge was not Midgar. It was nothing like it really. Sure, there was the same style of building, the same people, but it was not Midgar and never would be. Midgar had been a city of lights, a city that always smelled like mako, a city in the sky. And as much as Reeve had hated what the city had become, it was his home more than Edge ever could be.

It was where he went, when the days were long and the work too hard. He didn't go to Aeris's church, or to the remains or seven. Nor did he go to the ruins of the reactors he had created for this city. Instead he went to the only place he really knew, to the tower of ShinRa. To the shadow of the once powerful company where he'd held less power than now, where things had been just as tedious, but somehow more like life.

Climbing through the ruins of Midgar was no simple task, not even for Reeve. When once he had known every road of the city, knew how to get from any one place to any other place, the way the city was now made it hard. Sure, he had learned a few routes into the tower over the years, but he'd kept to several routes to throw off any potential watches. And then there had been Cloud and Kadaj's duel in the city that had damaged the paths further, and the war with Deep Ground. It had been weeks since Reeve had managed to reach his perch, looking out over the city. And even now the perch was again different.

By the time the former executive reached his place in the broken down tower, looking out over both the ruins and Edge in the distance, the sun was setting. Already the lights of the town in the east were coming on, looking like a poor mimicry of the great city that had been there before it. In the distance beyond that Reeve could even see just about where the WRO HQ should be.

This was the world he knew, the world of his future just beyond the world of his past. His greatest success and his greatest failure so close together that you could not see one without the other… Really, it was a special kind of cruelty to have a fate like this.

Yet, if Reeve was not here to bear this burden, then who would do it in his place? Who would make the decisions that would either save or ruin the world? Could anyone else even survive with that weight on their shoulders? Cloud had refused the burden, Barret was not trusted with it. Tifa was too soft for such a thing, and Yuffie would have her own weight to deal with soon enough. Cid was too much a free spirit, and Vincent too much a loner. And Nanaki already had worries all his own.

If not him, then who?

No one. There was no one else to take this burden.

And so he sat, long into the night, looking out over his past, his present, his future. Already Reeve had come this far, and no matter the pain, no matter the cost, he would not relent now.

When there was no longer any moon in the sky, only the stars and the lightening that promised the sun to come, he finally rose and started out of the ruins of his past. Even from here, from so high, from so far, he could hear the beck and call of his present, and what would await beyond.

Somehow, he'd find the strength to keep going.