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trust is (in itself) a miracle

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In all honesty, she’s not sure what’s more surprising - the fact she wakes, or that the first thing she hears is Tseng’s voice. “Elena,” he says, voice low, barely a whisper, “Elena.”

Elena sits up, bites back a moan, because her chest is on fire, and it takes her a few moments to realize that she can’t move her arms not because her arms are broken or missing, but, rather, because her arms have been bound behind her back, wrists to forearms. “Sir,” she says, voice hoarse.

It takes her another few moments to realize that her ankles are bound too. Which means her and Tseng are caught. Which means that Tseng didn’t get in the copter, and she wasn’t dreaming before she passed out. He really did come back for her. On some level, she feels a sense of relief, because she’s important enough for Tseng to care about, but, on another level (the most important level) it means Tseng is caught too.

Reno called her to one of the training rooms, and she winced, because she was busy, and her head hurt, but saying that would make Reno thrash her harder. Weakness wasn’t tolerated in the Turks, and if she was down, all the more practice for standing back up, no matter what.

“So...” he drawled, offered her a cigarette, which she took as a peace offering, even though it was Reno, and it could mean anything, “Hear you and Tseng are partners.”

She flushed a little, because it had been a shock, Tseng calling her into his office and telling her that they would be working together from this point onward. Reno grinned, sardonic, his eyes flashing, and then he moved, lightning fast, and pinned her hard against a wall, forearm pressing into her neck, not hard enough to choke her. “Listen up, rookie,” he said, softly, breath ghosting across her face, “You’re Tseng’s partner, so normal rules don’t apply to you. Your partner goes down? You go back. Even if the mission fails, because Tseng is more fucking important than the mission, unless the mission is Rufus, got it?”

With a frown, she thought about it, because one of the first things Rude ever said to her was “never go back for your partner” and “the mission is the priority”. But she met Reno’s eyes, and he pressed her harder into the wall, baring his teeth, and she nodded, because when she tried to imagine the Turks without Tseng, she couldn’t.

Which was probably all the answer she needed.

He pulled back, grinning and lit her cigarette with a spark from a Fire Materia and then left her there.

So not only did Tseng break one of the Turk rules (don’t go back for your partner), he also is well on his way to breaking her Turk rule (don’t let anything happen to Tseng), and she grimaces, shifts, trying to figure out how bad the gun wound is, and she keens, because that was a bad idea, because they had to heal her to keep her from bleeding out, but they didn’t do a good job, feels like she’s on fire, like something has scraped gashes on the underside of her skin, and Tseng says her name again, concern a sharp note.

“Sir,” she says, voice pain-thick.

It’s the only assurance she has to offer, besides I won’t let you die, but she figures he doesn’t want to hear that particular resolution, so she focuses on breathing instead, finally manages to actually look at him. Tseng’s bound like she is, and he’s missing his jacket. Overall, he’s not too roughed up yet, some bruises, some cuts, but the whole room smells strongly of healing and blood, and, she guesses, if they used that much healing on her, there wouldn’t be any pain, so this is him post-healing.

“Interrogation,” she asks, “Or bartering chips?”

He processes her question, then the line of his mouth softens. “Both.”

Elena nods, bites at her lip, and tries to wiggle at her bonds, but they don’t budge. Obviously, their captors know what they’re doing. And she looks back at Tseng and asks, “Reno took it?” her voice is quiet, “The mission succeeded, didn’t it?”

“Yes,” Tseng responds, and she figures that’s something at least.

The room they’re in is sparse, nothing in it except for them and blood-stained stone floor, and she shivers, because she’s not sure whose blood it is - hers, or Tseng’s, or someone else’s - and the only light comes from a barred window too high up to reach. She glances back at Tseng, and his lips are curled in amusement, but then the ghost-smile falls and he asks, “Your wounds?”

“...I won’t bleed out,” she says, then adds, “Sir.”

Something flashes across his face, something she hasn’t learned to read yet. She opens her mouth - to ask, to reassure, to say something, anything - but the door opens, and a man that looks almost like Sephiroth (his little brother?) steps in, and grins a sickly sweet grin that sets her wound to rioting again.

“Where’s Mother?” he asks, his voice even and smooth.

Elena answers before Tseng has the opportunity - because one of the many uses for her big mouth is that she can turn then attention from Tseng onto herself - “Lost your mommy?”

In response, he pulls out a weapon she’s never seen before (a sword with a trigger?) and then the blade cuts fast and harsh through her side and she keens, pain erupts and she can’t - fuck, same side at the unhealed gun wound, fuck fuck - and Tseng doesn’t say her name, knows better, and she’s glad as the room twists and spins, because whatever happens, Tseng has to be -

Green light surrounds her, and part of the wound heals, but she feels on fire, shaking, panting, feels what might be tears streaming down her face, but she looks at the man again, who’s watching her with dilated pupils, green in the middle, blue at the edges, and she smirks, tries to smirk, tries for her best Reno-I-don’t-give-a-fuck-in-fact-I’m-really-enjoying-this reckless smirk, and the man’s expression twists, to a sadistic humor, and this time, the glow is purple, and ice shards bury deep into her skin.

“Where’s Mother?” he asks, over the roar of blizzard in her.

Her words nearly get caught in her throat as she gulps in air while the spell fades, leaving only the blood and the chill, and she spits out, “Like hell I’ll tell you,” and she glances at Tseng, a quick look that’s pain-blurred, but she can make out the tight line of his mouth, wants to kiss him to smiling, “Fucker.”

Rage makes the man strike her across the room and she inwardly curses herself for pushing too hard as the world spins to empty.

When he enters, Yazoo is standing over the girl, grinning, and Kadaj lets his gaze move to the man, who sits still, his mouth firmly set. “Where’s Mother?” Kadaj asks, keeps his voice low, and the man turns to look at him.

But he does not speak; Kadaj frowns.

Fire crackles at his fingertips - the man grimaces as the spell hits, searing flesh, but does not speak, does not cry out, and Kadaj growls, letting a stronger fire spell escape, and this time, the man lets out a heavy breath that might be cry, and Kadaj laughs.

“Why were you looking for Mother?” Yazoo asks, ice shards glittering at his fingertips.

Still the man says nothing, his breath evening out, and Kadaj nods once at his brother, and Yazoo’s smile curves wicked, and the ice digs deep into already burnt skin, and the man shakes with pain, breath coming in short, sharp pants, and Kadaj asks again, “Where’s Mother?”

But there is only silence.

Kadaj growls, feels rage build and build, till he’s shaking with it, darkness in his veins spilling and seething and seizing, and he stills himself, watching the man try to breathe, but he will only breathe for so long, because they will find Mother, have to find Mother, Mother calls -

Grip harsh, Yazoo grasps his shoulder and Kadaj can’t help but glare at his brother, because the rage begins to settle, and he looks at the man, “You’ll tell us where Mother is,” he promises, and Yazoo smiles again, and the man shuts his eyes, still breathing, and Kadaj snarls, spiteful, “They’re not even looking for you.”

And Yazoo tugs him out, fingers digging hard into his arm.

Tseng shifts into a more comfortable position, burns pulling as he moves, and he winces at the flare of pain. Nearby, Elena stirs, and he asks, “Elena?”

“...Sir...?” her voice is stone-muffled, face pressed hard into the floor, and he doesn’t turn his head away.

Instead, he watches her struggle to sitting; her muscles spasm as she pulls subconsciously at her bonds. Blood runs down her face from a head wound, and her eyes are pain-glazed. “Smells like fire,” she says, spits out a mouthful of blood.

“Yes,” he says, only, “They seem to have proficient materia supplies.”

“Of course they do. Sir,” says Elena, and then she laughs, but it’s brittle.

For a moment, he says nothing, takes comfort in the sound of his and her breathing, and then he says, “They also seem skilled in the way of rope tying,” he can’t help the rueful tone to his voice, because they need to get out of here, but it’s not going to be as easy as he wishes it ere.

Elena pauses, looks at him sharply, some of the fog leaving her expression (and something like pride might be caught in his chest, because she’s come a long way from the brash girl who had the audacity to hand him her file personally on his lunch break), and then she points out, “Their interrogation is subpar, sir. That might be to our benefit.”

Always thinking of the mission. Yes, while it will be easier to protect the information, the likelihood of being killed or maimed is much higher when the torturer is an amateur.

“Elena,” he pauses, looks at her, “My name is Tseng, not sir.”

For a moment, she just blinks at him, and then she smiles, lips blood-stained, but she still smiles, and that reassures him just enough to think that they might make it through this, and she nods, says, “Right, sorry - “

He can hear where she cuts off ‘sir’ and he feels himself almost smile, wonders at it, because they’re partners, but he never considered whether or not Elena could make him smile and if that was important, even, and she is - is a Turk, in every sense of the word, and pride catches him more off guard than did gladness.

“Do you remember anything about how we were brought here?” she asks, swallows the sir again, and while she was always a little too excitable, she is a quick learner.

Shutting his eyes, he thinks for a moment, considers, and then shakes his head. “I was knocked out shortly after coming back for you,” he stops, watches a frown tug at the corners of her mouth, but she doesn’t ask the question he can see there.

Frankly, he’s not sure whether he’s disappointed or glad for that.

“I guess,” she pauses, struggles back the flush rising in her cheeks, “I guess we’ll just have to be vigilant.”

And he shuts his eyes again - because that is never the best option. Especially when it’s the only option.

The man never says anything. Never. His silence is heavy like the press of snow, and Loz finds his fingers twitching, curling with electricity, and he wonders if the man will scream. Will it be a low cry? Or will it be a higher-pitched wail? Will it be that sort of raw, animal sound? Loz likes all of those, but he especially hopes it will be the last, because that’s his favorite sort of scream.

“Where’s Mother?” he demands, watches as the girl, stupid stupid girl, opens her mouth to say something.

But the man says nothing, just eats his own silence, and Loz growls, tightens a hand to a fist, and the man cannot silence the snap when Loz’s fist collides with his chest. Behind him, the girl yells something, something mean and hurtful about Mother, but that doesn’t matter, because she’ll hurt more watching the man scream.

He doesn’t cry out, but it’s the first hit. It wouldn’t be any fun if he did.

Loz feels the grin that crosses his face, feels the way the man’s skin leaps under his blows, watches the slowly spreading red that’s quickly becoming blue and black, enjoys the sounds of the snaps and splinters, and he even enjoys the feel of cure magic, because it means he doesn’t have to stop.

“Where’s Mother?” he asks, and laughs, because the man won’t answer, but he’ll be screaming soon enough.

Still, the man does not respond to the pain, seems conditioned, and Loz growls again, laces the blows with clean, fast electricity, and the man convulses, chokes on a cry, and Loz feels welling disappointment sharper than his brother’s blades. Oh, if he’s one of those quiet screamers, it might have been better to use the girl. She screams just fine. “Where’s Mother?” he asks again, and the man chokes.

Loz strikes again, a blow that sends the man into a wall with a sharp, clean crack and Loz laughs as the man finally cries out, a raw, animalistic sound, and that - that is what he was looking for, because someone who can make you scream is someone who must be listened to.

They will find Mother. They will.

Elena breathes a sigh of relief when Tseng sits up, groaning. The bruises haven’t healed all the way, they’d only used a weak Cure spell on him, but it’s something, anything, and she tries for a smile, because she should have done something, anything, but there was nothing (she can’t let Tseng die).

“Elena,” he says, voice low and wheezy, hoarse, and she wants to reach out to him, touch him, make sure he’s okay, but when she pulls at her bonds, they don’t give any. “...Report.”

“They questioned me a little after you passed out, but nothing too gratuitous,” she says, and almost says ‘sir’, winces at it.

He nods, sharp, and flinches with the motion - she grimaces, tries to move, nearer, but her own aches and pains flare, and she stops, stays still, and then she asks, “Si - Tseng, do you trust me?”

It’s a loaded, unfair question, and she doesn’t give a fuck.

His expression changes minutely, the pained expression falling to something sterner, something harder, and his eyes glass over, like he’s looking at someone who isn’t her, is seeing someone else, and, for a moment, she wonders who he’s seeing, and then he looks back at her. “Yes,” a pause, “Yes.”

“Then let me do this my way, alright?”

And he just blinks at her for a moment, and then he says, stern, harsh, “Don’t do anything stupid.”

Elena can’t help the laugh that turns into spluttering pain-cough, feels like her ribs are splintering under the weight of her brittle mirth, and she nods, “I promise,” she says, “I won’t do anything stupid, unless I have to.”

Silence overtakes him and he shuts his eyes, doesn’t look at her, and she wonders again what he’s thinking. Because while they’re partners (keep Tseng safe, no matter what), she doesn’t know how to read him completely yet, wonders if she ever will.

And the question that’s been burning since she woke up (but won’t ask, can’t ask, can’t bear to know, because it scares her and she - she isn’t fearless, not like Reno) comes to mind again and she swallows it, hides it in her chest with all the sir’s she shouldn’t say, and she shuts her eyes, to sit in silence with him, but it’s a little too charged to be comfortable, and the room smells too strongly of blood for security.

Why did you come back for me?

The way she shakes while under the influence of a Doom spell is quite refreshing. Her mouth snaps shut midway through some form of insult, and she merely sits, shuddering, eyes glassy, looking ahead to her own almost-demise. Both Yazoo and her comrade watch as her mouth forms numbers, counting down.

When she reaches forty, she loses control of her hands, fingers spasming, but still she keeps silently counting, and the man shuts his eyes for the next ten counts, thirty. By then, she shakes so violently that the skin of her wrists breaks beneath her bonds, bleeding, and no one’s even touched her yet. Yazoo smiles, revels in the way her breathing stutters as time runs out and she feels it running out so tangibly, almost-loss sharper and harsher than any wound or threat.

At twenty, her lips are blue, trembling hard enough that it’s impossible to make the numbers out as she keeps counting.

“Elena,” her comrade says finally, breath ragged, and she loses count, looks at him, eyes wide -

She opens her mouth, to say something, three two one, and she screams, and she falls, limp, and lays cold on the ground, and her comrade’s mouth forms a thin line, his face ashen, and Yazoo asks softly, “Where is Mother?”

But the man says nothing, acts as though he has not heard, and Yazoo laughs, throws a Phoenix Down at the girl, and she sits up, breathing, gasping, and the color returns to her mouth while she snarls meaningless curses at him, and he merely looks at her for a moment, then turns back to her comrade. “Doom,” he says, points to her.

Sixty. She chokes on the number, and the countdown begins anew, again and again and again.

She comes to with a soft moan, and looks wildly about for the next round of Doom, and he says, “Elena. He’s gone.”

“I’m sorry,” her voice cracks, breaks with it, and she shakes, not from the influence of the spell, and he tugs at his bonds - again and again and again - but can’t reach out, can’t offer anything but the sound of his voice, and Elena’s like Reno, like Rude, needs touch and hands and lips, needs the physical closeness, not mere words.

But he can’t offer anything else, can’t get over to her, can barely shift enough to sit up straighter. “It’s all right,” he says, tries to keep his voice even, because he’s never seen Elena break, never wanted to, “You’re doing well.”

Her eyes snap shut and she shudders again, licks at her cracked lips and then bites them bleeding, and she asks, voice even despite distress, “Why did you come back for me?”

Tseng shuts his eyes for a moment, knows what prompts the question, because he had it drilled into him back when he was a rookie (first, your priority is the President, then it’s the mission, then it’s yourself, and - finally - it’s your partner) and he looks at her again, and replies, “Because you’re my partner - I couldn’t leave you behind.”

Somehow, the mission had gone wrong. The enemy knew they were coming, had staged an ambush. Gunshots sounded all around, and he glanced at Kag (who had promised, one day, to tell Tseng his real name. Tseng had said that day would be the day he talked about why he left Wutai. They’d shook on it, callus brushing callus) who was staring at the files in Tseng’s hands.

“You’re faster,” he said, finally.

Tseng swallowed. “Cover me?” and his throat was dry enough it was barely a croak.

With a nod, Kag reloaded his gun, clever fingers trembling. If they hadn’t been partners for over a year now, Tseng would never have noticed; he almost wished he couldn’t notice. Fear was crippling in the best of situations - now was deadly and he shut his eyes, envisioned blood.

“Tseng - “ Kag said as he gestured him forward, “Take care of yourself. Name’s Geoffrey.”

A ringing sounded in Tseng’s ears and then Kag - Geoffrey - nodded him forward and Tseng ran, and ran and ran and ran, tried to block out the gunfire and the scream from Kag that sounded not long after.

The helicopter picked him up. No one asked where Kag was, but Tseng swore he saw more than one person shed tears. It didn’t matter.

Elena watches him with eyes still glassy, her face blood and tear-stained, and she says, so soft he can barely hear her, “But I can’t let you die.”

And he shakes his head, tries to stop this, stop her, because there’s no time to talk about dying, they’re not dying, can’t die, because they have Rufus, and Reno, and Rude who need them, and Tseng says, “Elena,” he pauses, words getting caught in his throat, and that surprises him, “Elena - listen. We’re partners, we’re Turks. But we’re more than that. There’s more to life than missions and rules - there’s survival too, and loyalty. Loyalty to more than a dead company, to more than the President. To one another as well. We’re not going to die here.”

Elena takes a deep shuddering breath, tries to pull herself together, and whispers, “Okay. Okay, Tseng. Okay,” like it’s a prayer, and who knows, maybe it is.

“I grew up in Wutai,” he says.

She nearly stops breathing, looks at him curious, wide-eyed, grasping at trust and surprise with a short breath that cuts through her chest, makes her wince, but she’s silent, listening. “When I was a boy, I left,” he says, “Because I hated that island, hated those gods and the loyalty to a people I believed broken and foolish. I joined Shinra because I quickly realized it was the only way to get ahead in a world that viewed me only as a piece of the country I so hated. I wanted to prove myself - to everyone, including myself. And to separate myself from the past through any means necessary.”

It takes her a moment to digest this, and then she smiles, and that’s enough, isn’t it? Smiling is enough, and she says, quietly, “I hated Shinra, growing up. Hated it with a passion because my sister loved it. After she died, I hated myself, so I became a part of what I hated. It helped.”

And he almost laughs, because they’re opposites but the same, and he wishes he could reach out with more than his voice, but he can’t. So they’ll make do. They always do.

It hardly surprises him that the easy part is getting them out. It’s what to do after that that baffles him, because he’s so unused to being the rescuer (in fact, every time he’s tried it, he’s fallen more than a little flat) but he looks at their bloody, battered forms, and tells himself he rescued them because they could be useful.

Not because he might have any lingering compassion in him.

Elena stirs first and blinks against the filtered light of the forest. “What...?” she looks at him, sharp, and then her entire form sags.

“Vincent,” she says, and the smile is so relieved he almost - what, believes? - and then she turns to look at Tseng, and the smile falters, she asks, “Do you have any curatives?”

“A few,” he says.

All of them are lucky Yuffie had slipped her favorite Restore materia onto him at their last impromptu meeting. But still, there is only so much a Cure spell can do before the body gets so over-loaded with magic that it rejects the healing. So he heals the worst of it, bandages the rest, and casts sleep spells on both of them.

He has found over the years that rest is the best curative.

When she wakes, there’s something pressed warm into her side. For a second, she panics, and then she jerks, realizes her hands are free, and she sees Tseng’s hair flared around both of them. They smell like healing and she can feel the press of bandage around her torso. It’s then she remembers Vincent’s rescue and freedom is the salt of her tears.

Tseng wakes not long after, with a moan that makes her laugh in relief. “Elena?” he asks, voice raw, “What happened?”

“Vincent Valentine rescued us,” she reports.

She can’t help but reach out, run her fingers through his fine hair, and he seems to understand, doesn’t tell her not to, just shuts his eyes and breathes, reveling in the fact they’re alive, they made it, and they didn’t give away where Jenova or the President are. When she laughs again, his eyes snap open and he watches her for a moment, then smiles that quiet soft smile that makes her heart flutter.

And it’s enough. It’s more than enough to be alive and smiling, except that they need to get back to the others, because the fight’s not over. “Tseng...?”

“Yes, Elena?” he asks after a moment.

It takes time to gather her thoughts enough to speak them, but he waits patiently, just watching her, and finally, she says, “Tseng?” she pauses again, can’t help it, “Thank you. For coming back for me, I know that - I shouldn’t. Thank you, that is. But I really -”

Tseng merely nods, knowing what she means better than she herself does. And she figures that must be what being partners is about, in the end.

He’d never admit it to anyone, but he never expected to see them again. So when they show up, firing those damned net guns Elena’s insisted on carrying around since her first disastrous mission, he almost forgets to breathe, except there’s work to be done and him and Rude have to get the President down.

It doesn’t take long to get everyone together and yeah, okay, they really should be going off to help Strife, but Reno just looks at Tseng and Elena, can't decide whether he wants to punch or kiss them, decides he’d rather kiss them and punch the dicks that have left them gasping and bloodied. Rude redoes one of Elena’s bandages, because she’s bleeding through, and Tseng looks at Reno, a tired, worn expression on his normally stern face. “Reno,” he says, voice sharp, “Go on. We’ll be here later. Rude, you too.”

Okay, so it’s pretty relieving to know that Tseng still gives orders like the best of them, and Reno doesn’t think he’s ever been so happy to follow an order in his life.

He flashes a grin at Elena who smiles a little, like she hasn’t been tortured, like she’s not bleeding, and yeah, okay, maybe he’s a little proud. Rookie ain’t a rookie any more, and, well, he won’t tell her that, but she probably already knows. “Told you these’d come in handy,” she says, cheeky thing that she is, and holds up that stupid fucking net gun.

“Would’ve been more handy if you hadn’t gotten caught,” he drawls and she laughs outright while Tseng shakes his head.

“Go on,” Tseng orders, “We’ll be here when you get back,” and that’s the best fucking thing Reno’s heard in a long time.

Funny thing is that all it took was some rain in the city where it never used to rain to solve the whole mess. There must be something poetic in that, but it goes over his head, because poetry was never something that made any sense to him. All he knows is that Rufus stands and suddenly everything shifts back to how it’s supposed to be.

Rude finds himself breathing, and he glances at Tseng and Elena, still bandaged, but they’re smiling, standing tall, and, to be frank, he didn’t ever expect less.

“We should go home,” he says, and they all look at him in surprise, even Reno, who knows him better, and then there’s relief on their faces, sudden and dragging, and he can feel it in his bones, if he stops to think about it.

For a moment longer, they stand there in the rain, suits clinging to their forms like skin (and, frankly, he’s pretty sure all of them are more comfortable in their suits than their skin) and then Elena laughs, tilts her face back so the water’s splattering on her face, and Rufus reaches his hand out, catches the sleeve of Tseng’s coat. “If you ever-”

“Never,” Tseng promises, easy, like it’s not a promise all of them will hold him to if it kills them, “Never,” he says again, more seriously.

Elena wipes an arm over her face, which doesn’t do anything to dry her off because her sleeve’s sopping, and then she shakes her head, turning her gaze to Reno and flashing a crooked, dare-devil grin. “You owe me a drink,” she says, and brandishes her net gun and Reno scowls at her.

Man never did like losing bets.

But even Rufus laughs at them, because things keep moving in the right direction, and, even though Reno’s hands are twitching with the need to touch, to feel for himself that they’re real, and even though Elena’s wincing, moving gingerly, some things never change. And that’s how it should be.

A week passes before he’s allowed to so much as look at his desk; a week and a half before he’s allowed to sit in it. Even Rufus insists.

But, finally, Tseng sits down with a cup of mint tea and sips at it, surveying his paper-littered desk, and, for a moment, he can’t help but despair. Because he spends time captured and tortured and they didn’t even have the decency to do his paperwork for him.

(It’s a silly thought - they were busy. Paperwork was not on their priority list, but he still feels like he came back from the dead to find no one even acknowledged he was gone, which is even sillier).

He shuts his eyes, relaxing into the comfort of his chair and his drink, takes a sweeping inventory of himself, and decides he’s healing well enough.

The healing process has been his least favorite part about his job for the last two years - it reminds him of Aeris, who loved healing – healing him - so much, and it reminds him that he’s not perfect, no matter how much his fellow Turks wish he were. For their sake, he wishes he were sometimes, as well.

Those thoughts fade quickly, as do other thoughts, until he’s merely sitting in his chair, in his home, sipping his drink, and it is enough.

Footsteps sound and he does not panic, does not react, and Rufus places hands on his shoulders and squeezes tight for a moment, then continues on. He knows it is Rufus because he can smell the hint of cologne hiding the gunpowder scent. It’s a relief - more than a relief - to know that the cologne isn’t there to mask the rot of the Stigma.

“Rufus,” he says, without opening his eyes.

There’s a pause, and then Rufus says, “Tseng.”

And that’s all they need to say. Tseng relaxes further into his chair and decides to sit instead of work, at least for today. He thinks the others will understand.

Rufus never really believed in miracles before. There was no reason to - everything that happened was due to the company, was due to his family. There was no greater power than that of Shinra.

Now, he’s not sure how he feels about miracles. He runs a hand over the clean, healthy skin of his torso and finds himself wondering, even as he blinks against the threat of tears. Who knows? Maybe it was a miracle.

What he does know, however, is that Tseng and Elena coming back alive was no miracle. There was no other option -

They’re his Turks, they always come back alive.