Fandom: Final Fantasy VII; after Advent Children, I'd say four or five months. Some minorminor spoilers, I suppose.
Rating: Technically an R, as it features the 'f' word repeatedly, but all things considered, it's just pg14.
Pairing: Eheh. TsengxElena, though not yet.
Word Count and time taken: 1,631; over an hour, sadly.
commentary: It's okay until you get to the dialogue. Damn it. I didn't mean for Shinra to be quite so misogynic, but you know... It kind of works. Anyway. All critique is very welcome.
The clock was driving her mad.
Its incessant ticking echoed in the hallways of the makeshift Shinra headquarters--empty, by now. No, not quite yet. Rufus would stay late, today, and wait for Reeve to return to the 'headquarters' and file a report for the day. Reeve was obsessed with filing reports. Anyway, Rufus seemed to be fond of putting down Reeve, whose efforts that were actually for, shock and awe, the better of the people, were apparently costing a fair bit, and this was about the time they would be finishing their semi-weekly struggles.
As far as Elena could gather, though, these expenses were out of Mr. Reeve's pockets.
Why Rufus cared, Elena couldn't decipher.
Politics had never made sense to her anyway.
The main door slammed closed floor below her, sending a draft of cold air in to the office, and sending papers aflutter with it.
Elena sighed. Just like yesterday, she got up quietly to pick up the papers knocked askew by the wind, and just like yesterday, disposed of the dirty magazine unearthed by the papers' having been so rudely disrupted, in the nearest trash-can, and buried it under a soda can and a trashed Loveless pamphlet for good measure. She hated sharing an office with Reno. It was rare that they'd both be there at the same time; however, Reno certainly made his mark.
She was STILL finding empty beer bottles and half-cartons of cigarettes in the weirdest places, even after Tseng had given him a strict talking to. Reno knew he could get away with it.
Though she didn't mind the cigarettes, actually. Elena had always hated smokers but recently had been finding herself smoking when she had nothing to occupy her mind with.
What the fuck had happen?
A few years back, she'd been enjoying a comfortable life--Special Shinra forces, then the Turks. A good place to live, good food, a bed to go home to.
Some still had that. A few lucky ones and all of the remainder of Shinra, really.
Sure, Reno and Rude had to share an apartment and money was much tighter then usual, all around, but Reeve and Rufus and probably Tseng had it good and even if if they didn't, at least they had a place to live and a vehicle to drive.
Didn't have to curl up in a roll out futon with a rough blanket in the corner of their offices and take half a bottle of sleeping pills just to fall into a restless half-sleep that left one feeling hungover in the morning but without the nice haze of alcohol before the crash. Didn't have to smoke to keep themselves from hurting themselves out of frustration with worse things then tobacco.
Stupid Shinra. She was sure her pay-check was much smaller as well. And that was saying something if Reno's bitching was a hint.
Her cell-phone vibrated in her pocket. She looked up at that stupid clock. Everyone would be gone now.
Sleeping pills time. She slid her key in the bottom drawer of the locked file cabinet, and groped around for a few seconds before wrapping her hands around the bottle. Damn, it was almost empty. She was up to eight pills for an hour of tossing and turning before getting about six hours of something vaugly resembling sleep. Partly, because her body had become addicted to them, but taking any more would kill her liver faster then drinking hardcore, Reno-style. Not that it really mattered so much anymore, but if she was going to die, it would be best to do it all in one go rather then slowly.
But without the pills, there were the nightmares.
How god-damned lame. That sort of thing happened in silly comic books and children's TV shows that tried to be cool but were just downright cheesy and stupid and showed on TV on weekend mornings that were the bane of parents with a shred of inteligence everywhere, not in real life.
But every night she slept (or tried to, anyway, in a rare fit of realization and actually caring what she did to her worn body) without the aid of those pills, once she finally fell into the puddle of sleep, she would relive the events of the North Crater,
Kind of. There was pain, like being shocked with electricity and burned with fire at the same time, the hot, salty-metallic taste of blood in her mouth, the feel of it spilling over her face and chest, someone laughing at her, kicking her as she writhed on the rough cavern floor...
More painful then a vivid mental retelling, she couldn't remember a thing when she was awake. Not about the events in the North Crater, being tortured, if that's what really happened, really, she barely remembered having been saved. How did that happened, anyway? She remembered someone with dark hair bent over her, holding something that glowed, and then waking up in a grubby hospital bandaged and bruised, but from there back, things were hazy.
She wasn't sure if she wanted to remember, but it felt wrong to not remember things, especially something so important! How could she just forget? She'd never been a forgetful one.
Elena's eyelids were drooping now, and she tipped the bottle of pills into her hand, only to have it slip out of her limp hand and fall, rolling off the desk, to the floor in front of her desk with a loud clatter. They rolled under her desk.
The were footsteps. Heavy ones, in the hallway, right outside her door.
If there were any deer left in Midgar, and they got caught in the headlights of one of those damn big-ass trucks that were everywhere now, that would be the expression on her face to a tee, as the door opened.
"...? Elena? What are you doing here, still?"
Oh god no. The door had opened to reveal, in all his glory, and damn, it was glorious, Tseng, current leader of the Turks, and, even after all this time, subject of Elena's long-standing school-girlish crush.
Fuck. Fuck, fuck. She was a disaster. Her coat and tie were off, her shirt was rumpled as was her hair, and let's not even mention the makeup. Her eyes were ringed with black, and the long dead butt of a cigarette was tucked into the corner of her mouth lazily. Like a man. A slobby man. Slobbier then Reno drunk off his ass.
"Er... I was just finishing something. Nothing, really. I'm about to go."
"Hm." He looked somewhat unconvinced but thankfully likewise unfazed by Elena's diasterous appearance. "I see Reno's bad habits have rubbed off on you." She blushed furiously. "Can't really blame you, however, Elena."
You could have, for a lack of a better metaphor, fried a chocobo egg on her face.
"I forgot to drop something off in Reeve's office. It's very late, you know." He narrowed his eyes. "Not really safe for someone like you to be out alone." She knew he meant because she was a women and a rather small one at that but she had a pang of guilt as though he knew what she'd been doing to herself. "Perhaps I should take you home." Not a question. Not really a command, either... Kind of a... Invitation?
"It's all right, sir. I can manage."
He raised his eyebrow farther, if possible. "I wouldn't want to lose a Turk. It's a long walk to the residential district."
"I, I can manage."
"Elena, I'm not leaving knowing you are going to be walking home in the dark in one of the slummiest parts of town."
Oh, fuck, again. Of the list of all the people she didn't want to know that she was essentially homeless, Tseng was right below Reno, and only because Reno wouldn't reserve verbal judgement.
"Er, I've been staying here," she replied, awkwardly. This was very quiet; she could barely hear herself.
Please don't make me repeat it... "I've been staying here, damn it!" She stood up rather abruptly and pounded the desk top, sending a pencil jar and a pin-up flying. "I can't afford anywhere to stay, all right?!" Despite herself, she collapsed back in to her chair, and, to her utter dismay, started sobbing rather uncontrollably."
There needs to be more words for 'uncomfortable', which is what Tseng very muchly was, though times three or four. Mostly at Elena's outburst. Elena had always been very peaceable, and had complained exactly once she had become a Turk. Tseng prided himself on caring for his Turks, and it bothered him that he had never noticed she had problems. He would have solved them. He shifted his weight, and swallowed hard before answering.
"... How did this happen?"
"You know already! Shinra has always hated women! It's a lie if they say otherwise!"
Tseng blushed. "I didn't know. And that's not true."
"Right." This was muffled, as Elena had her face under her blazer.
"I didn't. I will have to speak with him."
"Er. You could..." Hotel? Not a chance. Never. That would be asking for disaster. "... Stay with me for tonight..." Wonderful. That sounded so inappropriate. Very much not the intent.
"...I'll be fine here."
"It's going to snow tonight. This building has no heat. And it's not safe for you to stay here at night. That aside," he blushed even more deeply, "I have two bedrooms, and the doors are locked. It's not like..."
How the hell did he get an apartment with two bedrooms? Her old apartment had been one room, and didn't even have a bathroom.
She was too worn out and embarrassed already to open her mouth. She nodded miserably, and got up, tugging her tear-and-mascara stained coat across her back.
Minisidenoteofdoom: Caudatus is from Amaranthus caudatus, a flower in a family of flowers that generically can be called 'amaranthine', and can also be called... 'Love-lies-bleeding'. I suck. Hard enough to leave a hickey. Damn.
PS: Reno-bashing unintentional. I love that bastard, but man... >;P