The rookies had about a week before the unit shipped out. For the first few days, they both kept to themselves, taking their cues from everyone else and every now and then stopping being nervous long enough to snipe at each other. Now THAT was amusing. From what Greed could tell, the two of them had known each other in training, and their bickering had the mostly-comfortable give and take of two people who enjoyed constantly getting on each others' nerves. Not that there still wasn't fire underneath. Kimberly was a manipulative bastard who liked to see how far he could push (he reminded Greed way too much of himself in that respect), and Elric blew up satisfyingly when he went over the line. Greed had to wonder if Elric noticed the slightly-more-than-platonic interest that Kimberly hid behind his smirk. It simmered in the back of his eyes when Elric wasn't looking.
Greed heard the others one night laying odds on whether the two of them would end up fucking or killing each other. He'd laid money on fucking.
After watching them for a few days, Greed began to think, all the rest aside, that those two might work out just fine. They were certainly very different, but once Greed'd gotten an idea of their specialties and just how good they were, he had to admit that he probably owed Sephiroth more than one bottle of good Junon brandy.
Elric's specialties were listed as hand-to-hand combat, tactics, and materia usage. He'd gotten a relativey high mako dose, and though Greed had a feeling that it would probably shorten the kid's life by a few years, watching him move around the training salle was poetry. His fighting style was a lot like Martel's: relying on speed and precision and very sharp blades, but from the numbers in his record and watching the kid spar, Greed could tell that he was stronger than he should have been. Hell, the kid flipped Dorochet over his shoulder like he didn't have about a hundred pounds on him. He was good enough that he and Martel could chase each other around the salle all day, and Martel confided in Greed that it was probably just a matter of time and experience before the kid surpassed her.
As nice as another hand-to-hander was, Greed had to admit that Kimberly probably was the most valuable in extending their abilities as a unit. The man was a frickin' multikit. Excellent marks in ranged rifle and handgun that could have gotten him sniper training if he'd wanted it, and specialties in demolitions and materia-based combat. Demolitions was something only Dorochet had had any experience in, and he'd never been comfortable enough with it to do more than nervously disarm anything they couldn't get away from quick enough. And they were all good with a rifle, but someone of sniper caliber was a welcome addition. Greed had gone to watch Kimberly practice one morning and seen the man put three bullets into a one-inch square at 750m, smooth and easy as you please.
Greed had had to remind himself that jumping the bastard's bones would be a bad idea. At that point, anyway.
Personality-wise, they weren't bad, either, once they settled in and got over their jitters. Greed was glad to see the rest of the pack adopt them right in, especially the Elric kid. He was the more honest of the two, seemed to genuinely care more, though he always held himself a bit apart. Greed wasn't worried about him at all.
Kimberly was a snake in the grass, and the first couple days were a bit rough as he figured out just how far he could push everyone. Dorochet and Martel made it clear that they wouldn't take any shit, and Kimberly had enough sense of self-preservation to not even attempt fucking about with Law. Of course, after that, Kimberly turned his attention to Greed. Greed saw the kid watching him, calculating, and didn't mind. They'd have their little pissing contest whenever, and the kid'd learn his place or not. Greed found himself hoping that Kimberly'd knock off the manipulation schtick. It was counterproductive, and he liked his team tight-knit. Made things easier, knowing everyone would watch each others' backs. Kimberly seemed smart. Maybe he'd figure that out, too.
Greed lit up a cigarette, watching out the window as Elric and Kimberly sparred under Martel's watchful eye. Elric was holding back to keep from pounding Kimberly into the ground, but Kimberly wasn't all that bad, for a SOLDIER. He'd be able to cream any civilian and most military he'd come across.
Kimberly made some sort of crack that Greed couldn't hear, and he saw Elric tense up. Kimberly said something else, and Greed shook his head as Elric's attention wavered, his defense skewed, and Kimberly got in a solid shot, the heel of his hand to the smaller man's breastbone. It pushed Elric back onto his ass, wheezing, but could have crushed ribs if it hadn't been pulled. Martel's voice was indistinct through the glass, but sharp, reining Elric in as he started to lunge at Kimberly again, technique forgotten. Greed pushed away from the windowsill, heading outside.
"--he's a fucking asshole!"
"Never said he wasn't," Martel shot back, hands on her hips. Kimberly chuckled and mock-bowed to her. "But if all it takes to make you break form is a jibe in the middle of a fight, you're not gonna last long. Look, when you come up against someone who's better than you, it's really common to do exactly what he did: try and make the opponent mad, so they lose focus and drop their guard. And you fell for it."
Elric blinked, mouth opening and closing. His shoulders were tight, jaw set, still mad. Then he sighed, tension flowing out of him. "Okay. Yeah. I see."
Martel relented a bit. "Don't worry about it. Just remember it, next time. You can't keep control of a fight if you can't control yourself. And believe you me, real fights area hell of a lot harder to keep control of than a spar."
"Right. Thanks." Elric wiped the sweat from his forehead. He jumped nearly a mile when Greed clapped him on the shoulder.
Greed gave him a reassuring smile and looked over at Kimberly, who was still standing there sweating and looking pleased with himself. "So. Since we're doing show and tell...what the hell is 'experimental materia-enhanced incendiary hand-to-hand'?"
Martel stopped with the canteen halfway to her lips. "What's WHAT?"
"S'on his record as a specialty. Figured it deserved an explanation."
Kimberly grinned. "Want me to show you?"
"Hell yeah. I like to know everything my men can do."
"Heh. I gotta go get something then."
"We're not goin' anywhere."
Kimberly trotted back into the barracks, and Elric looked up at Greed, mouth twisted wryly. "Showing those things off is just going to swell his head even more."
"Heh. Don't worry. Afterwards I'll make him spar with me. THAT'll bring it back down to size." Greed waggled his eyebrows and cracked his knuckles.
Elric grinned, and Greed had to remind himself that jumping THIS kid's bones would be a bad idea, too. Hell, the kid'd probably have a heart attack.
Kimberly returned, pulling on what looked like a pair of gloves. "Want the demonstration or the explanation?"
Greed shrugged and leaned against the barracks wall. "Both. We don't use much materia, so keep it simple."
"Sure." Kimberly held up his hands. There was some intricate circular design on the palms of the gloves, glowing red in the sunlight. "These are embedded with three different materia types. Basically fire, for obvious reasons, wind to amplify the fire, and earth to affect matter. I activate them and they set up a delayed charge in whatever I'm touching." He walked over to a broken training dummy that had been leaning drunkenly against the barracks for a few seasons. With a twist, he wrenched the battered head off and grabbed a chunk of stone that'd fallen off the wall before returning to the middle of the yard. "Might want to stand back."
There was a brief tingle of magic, a dull flash, and he tossed the rock high up in the air, where it fizzed, hissed like a firecracker, and then with a loud CRACK! and a sharp burning smell, burst into a hundred smoking pieces.
"Shit," Martel breathed.
"That was only because it can't really burn. Get something flammable and...." There was another flash, redder this time, and Kimberly tossed the chunk of dummy head into the air. It got about ten feet up before it EXPLODED into flames, so hot they were almost white. The thing fragmented in the air with a hissing pop, but by the time any of the pieces hit the ground, they were just ashes.
"Show-off," Elric muttered under his breath.
Kimberly spread his hands. "It's more impressive on a person, but I doubt anyone's going to volunteer."
"You can do that to a PERSON?" Martel's eyes widened just a bit.
Kimberly flexed his hands. His eyes met Greed's, serious for once. "Yeah."
"Messy." Greed observed mildly.
Kimberly raised an eyebrow. "But effective."
Greed nodded. "I imagine. You need the gloves for it?"
"Yeah. And you've probably noticed that I don't usually wear 'em around. They count as specialized equipment. Made 'em myself. They're probably worth more than I am. Besides, trying to fire a gun with projective fire materia that close would be all kinds of a bad idea." Kimberly stretched one palm, stroked a finger over the tiny jewels of fire materia, smiling.
"You MADE those?" Damned if Martel didn't sound a bit impressed. "You can do materia crafting?"
And damned if Kimberly didn't hear it, too. He slid a look over at her, some of the snake coming back into his eyes. "Some." He shrugged. "Materials are expensive, and working with prototypes is kind of...ah...dicey." He gestured to the light burn scars that dribbled white against the pale skin of his forearms.
"Huh. Still, good to know." Greed pushed himself upright, stretching. "Any other tricks up your sleeve?"
Kimberly's head tilted to the side as he smirked. "Definitely. None that need to be shared with the class, though."
"Well, then...one more go before lunch?" Greed matched Kimberly's grin. "You ever fought against a street fighter before?"
Martel chuckled evilly, gesturing for Elric to come with her to the other side of the yard. "C'mon kid, give the Captain room to kick ass."
Kimberly shook his head, falling back into a fighting stance and following Greed as he shrugged out of his jacket and stepped out into the yard. "Not as such. I imagine I should expect dirt flinging and kicks to the crotch?"
"Uh huh. And kid?"
"Take those damn gloves off first."
"Aw, Captain, you've got no sense of adventure...."