Title: To Sin Alone
Author: Melanthe Vida
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Warnings: Language, violence…could be read as shonen-ai, but not really.
Disclaimer: Not mine, of course.
Summary: A bullet. A gun. A game. And Reno thinks about exactly what his partner is there for. One-shot.
“I really hate it when people won’t talk with me, yo.”
Her hair is red, like his, but curly and a bit shorter. She has bright blue eyes. Like all children’s, they are wide.
“You know? It’s hard, carrying a conversation with myself.”
But this time, her eyes are a bit wider than usual.
Probably because she has a gun aimed at her head. That, and the fact that she’s tied to a chair.
“So anytime you wanna tell me what the fuck you were doing shooting the shit out of me and my partner, feel free to join in.”
Reno avoids looking into her eyes too much, though. It’s just easier not to, and he’s never been one to make things hard on himself.
Her father is trying to hide his panic. He’s a young guy—looks about twenty-four, twenty-five.
Reno hates doing this alone. But Rude can’t make it and Elena’s off interrogating someone else.
He can recall a time when he didn’t like having a partner. Rude hadn’t exactly warmed up to him at first and Reno, always cocky, felt it stupid that he couldn’t just do things by himself, his way; that he didn’t need someone keeping an eye on him.
It wasn’t until a bit later that he finally understood Rude isn’t there just to watch his back.
Abruptly, Reno drops the gun from its position. “Hell, I’m fuckin’ bored. Maybe we should play a game to pass the time.” He opens up the chamber and dumps out the bullets into his hand. Lets five clatter and roll gently along the table while keeping one.
“You live in the slums. I bet you’ve heard of roulette, haven’t you?” He slips the single bullet back inside and spins the cylinder. Counts to four, then stops it.
He’s planned this out, of course, or else he wouldn’t have carried a revolver, but his usual semi-automatic—which turns roulette into pure suicide, not a game.
Although, he rarely uses his pistol, anyway, since he can’t shoot for shit. Plus, simply applying pressure to a trigger has never been as satisfying for him as beating the shit out of and electrocuting somebody.
He cocks the gun and aims it at the girl again.
“You’re a fucking bastard,” the man spits.
“You sound just like all of my exes, yo. I played it once,” Reno goes on, as though he hadn’t ever left the previous topic. “Bit of enlightening experience.”
He remembers playing it, after getting into some shit with a gang. They sat him and his friend at a table and shoved a gun into his hand. Told him that he either took his chances or got shot on the spot.
He took his chances. So did his friend.
(click. click. click. bang)
Yeah, a damn enlightening experience. Especially when he realized his first thought wasn’t, oh fuck! She just blew her head off, but holy shit, I cheated death. Wow.
“I don’t think your girl there knows how to play. So I’ll play for her.” He digs out a pack of cigarettes from his pockets and slips one between his lips. Buying time. He doesn’t want to shoot her yet because there really could be a bullet in the first chamber and it’d be just a waste if the girl dies—then he wouldn’t have anything over the father anymore.
He hates killing people for no reason. It’s annoying and messy.
Besides, he really wants to find the asshole who ordered the attempted assassination which nearly got his fingers blown off and put Rude in the hospital with a hole in his arm.
It makes the job a bit more personal this time.
They were at the bar when it happened. One minute, he was shamelessly teasing Rude
(“come on, it’s your birthday, man. you gotta want something. or are you trying to imply i’m all you need?”)
(“oh, you know i do”)
and the next, his shot glass had shattered in his hand, spraying jagged shards and whiskey everywhere. His immediate thought was: What the fuck? I just paid nine gil for that. It wasn’t until another bullet whizzed past him, nicked his ear, and then hit Rude—who had jumped off his stool by then—in the arm, that Reno really paid attention to exactly what had just happened.
It didn’t take him long to track down the would-be assassin afterwards. The fool hadn’t even bothered to hide his identity.
Of course, the fact that he fucked with a couple of Turks in the first place made him a dumbass all on its own.
“You don’t really wanna see her head blown off, do you?” he says around an unlit cigarette. He still can’t find a damn light. “Maybe I’ll let you think it over for a bit, huh? I’ve got all day. Hell, I’m getting paid by the hour.”
Reno shifts uncomfortably in his seat. His ass is starting to grow numb, so he flips the chair around and sits straddling it instead, one arm hanging over the backrest. The chair wobbles slightly, and he really hopes it doesn’t break. He knows from firsthand experience that nothing ruins the whole intimidation factor than falling flat on your ass during an interrogation. Not even a wimpy, scared-shitless prisoner will take you seriously after that.
Well, not unless you shove a nightstick turned up on high against his throat.
Reno remembers he felt a bit better after doing so. Until they left the interrogation room and Rude—who had managed to keep a straight face up till then—howled with uncontrollable laughter to the point where he couldn’t walk and had to sit down in the middle of the hallway.
The next morning, Reno walked into the Turk staff lounge to discover that all the chairs had been wrapped in bright yellow CAUTION tape.
His current chair creaks precariously. Reno scowls slightly. He has a slight feeling that it will break. The whole tiny, claustrophobia-inducing apartment looks like it’s going to crumble any moment now, with its cracked ceiling and boarded windows. The walls are supposed to be white, he thinks, but they’ve long turned a sickly shade of pale yellow, like someone decided to take a piss over the paint. A lone cockroach scurries across the peeling linoleum floor and disappears into a crack between two broken-down shelves. In the corner sits a sofa, the frayed, faded black cloth peeled back in haphazard patches, allowing dirty, gray stuffing to peek out.
“See, you’re a loyal guy. But you gotta figure out where your loyalties lie. It’s about choosing—” Reno pauses as he continues his hunt for a lighter— “whether you wanna protect your boss or your little girl. Now, if it were me, I’d stop my kid from getting her brains blown out and tell the boss to go screw a chocobo.” He cocks his head, considering. “Actually, if it were me, I wouldn’t have a kid at all, but what the hell.”
Finally managing to dig out a match, he strikes it along the rough edge of the scratched-up table and holds the flame up to the tip of his cigarette, then shakes the match out.
The girl’s father is staring at him. “You’re not going to…you wouldn’t.”
Reno’s only played roulette once. But he’s made people play it a lot more. And though his timing isn’t perfect, he’s pretty good at knowing how long it takes to get the bullet where when using the correct spinning force. He’s fairly certain there isn’t a bullet in the first chamber.
Of course, he could very well be wrong.
But he’ll take his chances.
A scream ricochets off the walls of the tiny room. He thinks her eyes fly shut, but he isn’t sure because he’s not looking at her.
The chair thumps loudly against the floor as her father attempts to stand up, despite the duct tape holding him down.
Score. One down. Five to go.
The girl’s still screaming. It seems louder than it really is, and his patience snaps.
She does. Sort of.
He exhales slowly, letting out a stream of white smoke. His arm’s starting to ache, holding a gun out for so long like that, but he ignores it. The scratch on his ear itches like a bitch, too.
“Maybe you should reconsider covering for your boss. He’s gonna give you hell for failing, anyway. Because you’re a crap shot, you realize that, right? I mean, you’re supposed to take us out and you end up killing my whiskey.” And it was damned good whiskey, too. He barely managed a sip when that glass exploded.
“Yeah? Well, I hit the other guy.” His voice is derisive, but there is an underlying tone of obvious fear.
Blue-green eyes flash dangerously. “Trust me, that’s not a fact you want to keep bringing up.” Reno cocks back the hammer. His finger tightens on the trigger.
“Sorry, not the words I wanna hear—”
“Okay! Okay, it was some guy named Cain, okay? I never met him and he didn’t say why, just offered me some good money so I took the job. Now let her go, okay? She’s my girl. Hey come on…”
Reno’s already replaced the remaining five bullets back in the gun while the guy was babbling on. He takes aim now and watches the guy’s eyes grow wide.
The resounding gunshot echoes, splintering the air. Blood and brain matter splatter.
Looks like the walls aren’t just yellow anymore.
The little girl shrieks again. “Daddy!”
Reno ignores her and pulls out his phone instead. He slips outside of the apartment, slamming the door behind him, and goes down the hall a bit so that he
(doesn’t have to hear her)
won’t have to yell in order to be heard.
The dim light bulb above his head flickers, sending him into darkness every few seconds.
“Tseng,” answers the Turk leader.
Reno leans against the wall near an elevator that has its doors permanently open halfway. “I got it done, but…there’s a kid here.”
“We don’t leave witnesses.”
“She’s a kid, Tseng. What’s she gonna do? Attack ShinRa with a frickin’ doll?”
“Then deal with her however you wish,” Tseng says calmly. “You don’t need my authorization, you know that.” Translation: I’m not here to shoulder whatever guilt you may be feeling, Reno.
“Yeah, fine.” Reno hangs up and hesitates. He starts to go back inside, then changes his mind. He really doesn’t want to see her again.
Instead, he swings the door wide open, allowing anyone who might walk past the apartment a full view inside. He figures someone will take her in.
Reno crushes out his cigarette and heads outside where Elena is already waiting for him in the car. She looks at him oddly, but doesn’t comment when he slams the door and strikes another match with more force than necessary.
“My guy didn’t know anything,” she says finally.
Reno shrugs. He didn’t expect her to yield any results. Today was her first time interrogating someone by herself, after all. He knows she doesn’t have the stomach to do what it takes yet.
“Doesn’t matter,” he replies. “I got what we needed from mine. Hurry up and drive, will ya?”
Elena blinks, but starts the engine and pulls onto the road, swinging the car in the direction of the hospital. “What did you find out?”
“Enough.” He’s hoping she’ll take the hint and shut the hell up already.
Fortunately, she does, and the drive to the hospital is one of awkward silence, with Elena glancing at him every so often while he smokes sullenly.
She doesn’t complain about the smell or her health like she usually does.
By the time they reach Rude’s room at the hospital—where Elena lets him go in first—Reno has gone through three cigarettes and is working on his fourth.
Aside from his arm being in a sling, Rude looks perfectly healthy—albeit, a bit bored. He’s reading the newspaper (published by ShinRa, of course) one-handed, which he glances up from when he hears Reno coming in.
Rude has a tendency to read the paper, which Reno fails to comprehend. As Turks, they already know everything, anyway, and their information is a hell of a lot more accurate than the paper’s, especially considering the crap ShinRa frequently spews out to the general public.
Rude told him once that he liked reading propaganda when he knew that was what it was and only shook in his head when Reno informed him that it was no longer propaganda if you knew that it was a lie because the whole point of propaganda was to make people believe something else, and the moment you no longer believed that, propaganda failed to be propaganda.
Of course, Reno was slightly intoxicated when he made that argument. He still stands firmly by it, however.
Reno flops down on a hard plastic chair, the kind that cuts off your circulation when you sit too long. He swears they do it on purpose, to discourage visitors from overstaying their welcome.
At least it’s more stable than his previous chair.
Rude nods. His sunglasses are absent for once and Reno finds it odd that he can now look into his partner’s eyes rather than into a black abyss.
“Have you gotten any nurses to take pity on you yet?”
Rude rolls his eyes. “Only you do that, Reno.” There’s a few moments of silence. Then:
“…You find the guy?”
Rude’s question causes him to flash back to the mission
and suddenly, Reno finds himself a little pissed at Rude for getting shot. No, not for getting shot—for not being there with him on the job.
He stares blankly at the smoke wafting from the tip of his cigarette for several seconds, not answering.
Rude glances at him, concerned. “You okay, kid?”
Reno smiles briefly at the affectionate term from days long past, back when he, at seventeen years old, really was a kid compared to Rude’s twenty-three. Back when he still scoffed at the thought of a partner, before he realized that no, Rude isn’t just there to watch his back.
He’s there to share the responsibility, the guilt, the mental exhaustion of being a Turk day in and day out.
Because it’s hard to sin alone.