Challenge Pairing: Tseng and Rude, no romance.

Fic Title: One of a Hundred Thousand Deaths

"...and so we have three hours to get our target before the boat from Junon leaves. Any questions?" The car moved smoothly through the streets of the city, its thick, bullet-proof glass muting most of the sounds outside. The driver, a slender Wutaian in a blue suit, glanced over at his silent passenger. "Rude?"

"Only one," the other man said after a moment. He, too, wore an identical blue suit, though there the similarity ended. He barely seemed to fit inside the immaculate seat, though somehow he managed to balance an open briefcase on his lap as well as a styrofoam cup in his hand. "Why did you bring me with you this time, and not Reno?"

The driver hit the brake pedal hard to avoid a pedestrian. The briefcase on Rude's lap snapped shut while the big man caught the coffeecup before it could spill.

"Dammit, Tseng!" Rude swore. "The hell."

Tseng smirked. "I knew I wouldn't have to clean my car after you." He put the car in gear and took a left. "That, and we may just be able to catch our target without a chase. We're supposed to avoid bloodshed this time if at all possible."

Rude raised a brow over the top of his ever-present black glasses.

"Don't ask me," said Tseng, "But the order is from Rufus."

"Ah." Rude spoke as if that explained everything, earning another glance from his fellow Turk. "What?"

"You say 'ah' like it means something. Elaborate."

"I'm a man of—"

"Few words, right, right. Heard it. Save the strong silent act for the President. What do you know?"

Rude sighed and rolled his eyes. "Rufus is sleeping with the target's daughter. She probably asked him to go easy on the guy."

"Oh, bloody fucking hells. Next they'll expect us to interrogate people by saying please and thank you. Goddammit, ShinRa's growing soft."

"Mm-hmm." Rude took a sip of coffee and looked out the window.

The building was only a few blocks away. Tseng parked the car and the two men got out. People pretended not to see them. Turk suits were designed to blend in, though the Turk reputation did more for that than any clothing could. If you didn't watch what a Turk was doing, you weren't a witness.

There were a lot of times where witnesses were—discouraged.

So it was easy for them to walk casually into the lobby of one of the richest corporations owned under the ShinRa umbrella. They were able to ascend to the highest floor, unchallenged by any of the black-suited guards. They were even allowed into the main penthouse office, where their target began shooting wildly at them.

"Dammit, we just want to talk to you!" Tseng cried as he ducked behind a bookcase.

"I won't talk! ShinRa is corrupt! I have proof! I swear, I'll go to the papers!"

Rude and Tseng sighed in unison. It was so routine.

The man hid behind his desk, firing every so often. "Amateur," muttered Tseng from his makeshift shield. Pages from exploded books fluttered around him like cherry blossoms. "Why do they always resist? You'd think they'd know by now."

Rude shrugged. He looked impressed when a shot actually hit the wall near his head. "His aim is improving."

"Fuck it." Tseng checked his weapon, though it was in as perfect working order as his car's engine. "The guy resisted. The girl can screw Rufus for comfort." Louder, he said so the man could hear him, "On three?"

The man screamed at them, tried to run at One. Tseng and Rude came out at Two, and the target was down at Three. Tseng picked his way over the body to retrieve a briefcase, then the two of them strolled back down to the main lobby. Police streamed past them, officers shouted orders into radios while ambulances pulled up all around them. The two Turks crossed the street and got into Tseng's car.

They were halfway across town when Rude noticed the red spot on the carpet under his shoe. "Uh, Se?"

"Dammit, Rude," Tseng hit the steering wheel with his hand. "I take back what I said. You're as bad as Reno." He swerved to avoid a bicycle courier, and once more, Rude's reflexes kept the cup from hitting the floor.

"At least I didn't spill my coffee." He looked out the window. "Reno would have spilled his coffee."

Tseng smiled. "You're right. He would have."


"Yeah. I know a great place on 5th."

"Not Wutaian again?"

"Why not? You got a problem with my people's cuisine?"

The day went on.