Tseng groaned. That had been a disaster.
He had spent the better part of the last hour trying to change President Shinra's mind; a difficult enough task on his better days.
Today, he was tired and could feel the beginning of a cold inside his chest. He felt miserable.
And to add insult to injury, he was now expected to ask one of his Turks to commit an atrocity.
He covered his face with his hands. What with fighting Avalanche, dealing with the constant threat of Sephiroth and trying to maintain a 'normal' office routine, Tseng felt exhausted. This damned mission was the last thing he needed.
He brought up a few of the Turk files, scanning through them quickly.
No, no, no, no...
For one reason or another, each of his Turks were unsuitable. Some were already out on missions, others were required for security, and some, he knew, would not be able to finish the job.
He heard a crash from outside his door. Someone screamed. A muffled voice snickered something after the woman as she walked away, huffing. The door opened, squeaking on its hinges. Someone closed it quietly, clicking it shut.
Reno shifted, standing directly in front of him. He leant forward, covering the Turk files with his body.
Silence. The redhead propped his head on his arms and watched Tseng intently.
"What do you want, Reno?"
Reno regarded him for a moment, as though weighing up what his response should be.
"You wanted to see me, sir. To discuss my... 'interesting conduct of late'."
He swivelled around, perching on the edge of Tseng's desk. He grinned as he imitated the Director and paused, waiting for some kind of response.
When nothing happened, he leant down, looking into Tseng's eyes.
"President Shinra." Cool green eyes closed in apparent sympathy and the redhead slid into the chair opposite him. "What does he want?"
Tseng sighed. On any other day he would have sent the redhead away, telling him it was none of his damn business what instructions the President had given. Today, he couldn't bring himself to summon the passion it required.
"The President has ordered us to drop the Sector Seven Plate."
Reno grinned, raising one hand to adjust his ponytail.
Now there was a question. Tseng didn't know why. He didn't know why Sephiroth had lost his wits. He didn't know why one rebel group was proving so difficult to destroy. He didn't know why the President wanted the plate destroyed.
Reno nodded, as though Tseng had explained everything out loud.
"You gonna order it?"
"He is the President. I'm sure he has determined the best course for the company."
He hoped that was true. He hoped this was one of those things that Veld had referred to as 'the Greater Good.'
Reno shrugged his shoulders, taking one of the reports off the table and examining it with a strange intensity.
"Ya know, ya don't have to do it."
Tseng looked at him, warily.
"I mean, we've got enough problems at the moment. Haven't we? And the company sure doesn't need any more publicity."
Tseng took the report out of Reno's hand. It was on one of the new Turks, only just promoted to the rank, completely unsuitable for the mission. She was smiling in her photo.
After a moments silence, Reno slid off the desk and straightened the reports back into their neat pile. His movements were slow, deliberate. He ran his fingers along the edge of one of the papers. A shallow cut appeared and blood began to ooze out of the thin line.
Tseng watched as Reno pulled his own file out of the pile. He opened it and pressed his finger down onto the page.
"Pretty hard decision to make; you can't ask someone to do that." He stood to attention behind the desk, throwing Tseng one of his signature grins. "So I'll give ya a volunteer."
Tseng stared at him, incredulous. He looked at the man in front of him, with his long red hair hanging in his face. Reno was a thief, a player and a murderer. He had stared death in the face as many times as Tseng himself had and always came out on top. He was almost permanently hung over or drunk and almost never wore a tie. He was frustrating and difficult and once upon a time he had broken into Tseng's house and rearranged all his furniture in protest of what he viewed as an unfair punishment.
Tseng looked up at him, standing benignly with his hands behind his back.