Lydia

"Reno?" Rude walked into his partner's room. He took one look at him and sighed. Reno sat on his bed in his jeans, no shirt, bottles scattered everywhere, red-faced and still crying. "What happened?" Rude asked gently, sitting beside him.

"I made a mistake Rude… a mistake I can't take back…" He cried harder.

Rude didn't say anything. Reno would keep talking. Reno always kept talking.

"I fell in love with my target." Reno looked away. 'It was a simple mission. Meet her, seduce her, get her to trust me, lead me to the others… then take her out… It should have worked…" Reno sighed deeply, lifting the bottle to take another drink. Rude pushed his hand down gently and took the bottle away. Reno sighed. "I can't get drunk Rude. At least… not drunk enough to make it go away…"

Again, Rude said nothing, but he put his hand on Reno's shoulder comfortingly. Part of being partners was keeping Reno sane.

Reno looked up at Rude, sighed, and kept talking. "It was easy at first. It's nothing I haven't done before. Sleeping my way to what I want comes about as naturally to me as lying does to Rufus." Reno chuckled a little, darkly. Everyone knew he'd practically slept his way to 2nd position in ShinRa. "But she was different… The first part was easy…" Reno sighed, "I met her at a park… The first thought that when through my head when she walked up was about how much more hot she was than in the photos." He sighed again, looking down. "How stupid is that huh?"

Rude didn't say anything, just smiled a little sadly.

"I caught her attention, and we talked. I asked her if she wanted to get something to eat and she agreed. We went to little cafe near by and we talked. I usually use the bad-boy cover story… but I didn't this time… she deserved better than me… It wasn't her fault she got involved. Her old boyfriend got her in over her head… when I met her she wasn't connected with them anymore… but she was dangerous to us and to them. She thought she'd left it behind… She was an angel…" Reno stared at the wall, remembering. "Soft blond curls, an almost childlike face. Big eyes… almost as blue as mine… and almost as sad… pale, a few freckles, wore a lot of white… she was an angel… an angel… I didn't deserve her…" He struggled not to cry. "The first date was a mission, the second date was enjoyable… and by the third I was gone… we went back to her place that night and never went to sleep." Reno smiled sadly. "We stayed up all night talking, laughing, eating pizza, watching her favorite movies, and not worrying about anything… We never went anywhere near her room…the next night we did…" Reno closed his eyes, sighing deeply and sadly. "It was her first time Rude… And I wished… I wished I…" He sighed. He didn't need to explain. "She fell asleep cuddling on my shoulder. I was never rough… I couldn't be. Not with her… not that she was shy." He smiled with a slight laugh. "After that it was almost every night…. better every time… every time it was…" He smiled. "This will sound horribly cheesy, but every time it was less like 'having sex' and more like making love… I did Rude. I fell in love with her." He stubbled not to cry again, "Horribly, deeply in love with her…" He closed his eyes with a deep sigh. "I almost forgot about the mission and just thought about her… " He sighed. "About a week ago Rufus started complaining that I hadn't giving him any information. I got him his information. And with her secrets came my secrets. Things we told each other than no one else will ever know. Things I'm never telling Rufus no matter what he does to me…" Reno looked away with a heavy sigh, resting his forehead on his hand.

Rude put his hand on his best friend's back gently. He didn't say anything, just waited, feeling Reno trying to choke back sobs.

"I did it Rude." Reno looked back up at his partner, his eyes full of more pain than Rude had ever seen them, and he'd seen a lot. "Last night…" Reno's voice broke. "We talked… made love… Then I asked her if I could make her a drink. I'd done it before. She had her own favorite that we invented together. It tasted like yellow cherries, with a little bit of a bite." He smiled. "I mixed it for her while she stayed in bed… but…" He looked down, his voice breaking again, this time stronger. "The poison doesn't change the taste and no toxicology test is going to show it. It looks like a heart attack and she has a family history of it… I was so close to handing her the clean glass… drinking the poison myself… but I didn't… It takes a while to work. I started crying almost as soon as she took the first sip and I'm not ashamed of it. She touched my face…. laid her head on my chest… asked me what was wrong." Reno could hardly talk now, "I told her everything. Who I really was, my real name… what I was doing. I've never felt so horrible in my life… but she just looked up at me, tears streaming down her face. She didn't ask me if it was real. She didn't have to. I didn't tell her that I'd killed her… she already knew. She set the glass down on the table by the bed, wrapped her arms around my neck, kissed me… and said 'it's ok'…" Reno struggled not to sob, "She kissed the tears off my face… kissed me… then laid her head on my chest again. I held her close, sobbing when she…" Reno couldn't talk for a moment. "Tried to stay alive… I told her I loved her… that I always will… and she just looked up at me and smiled… And she said the same thing, whispered it…" He couldn't stop sobbing now. "She died in my arms Rude… and I killed her…" Reno buried his face on Rude's shoulder and sobbed and sobbed.

Rude rubbed his back gently. He didn't speak. What could he possibly say. 'It's ok' would be a lie, so would 'I understand' and 'you'll get over it' was both a lie and cruel.'It's part of the job' was true, but it was exactly why Reno was crying, so he just held his best friend gently.

"Shoot me." Reno whispered.

"No."

"Shoot me." Reno looked up at him again.

"No. No I won't."

"Why not?"

"Because I can't. You're my partner, my best friend. I can't do that."

Reno nodded, he understood. "Then… I'll be ok Rude. You can go." He sighed, making himself stop crying.

"Reno. I can't leave."

"Why not?"

"Because there's suicide in your eyes and I won't let you."

Reno sighed, turning away.

"Look at me."

Reno sighed again, looking back at Rude.

"No matter what happens I'm right here to catch you."

"Promise?"

Rude nodded.

Reno smiled, a real smile. "Ok."

Rude turned to leave.

"Wait." Reno looked back at him. "Thanks. See you tomorrow, yo?" Reno smiled.

Rude nodded, returning the smile softly, walking out of the room.

Reno stood up, walking to his kitchen, mixing himself a drink, her favorite. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry…" He sat down again, but he didn't cry. He didn't have any more tears. His phone buzzed in his pocket. It was a text from Rude.

What was her name?

Reno smiled sadly.

Lydia