Author's Note: This is more or less a piece of absolute nonsense that was inspired by Pulp Fiction. I then watched Resevoir Dogs, which is what everyone thought inspired this, and was scared shitless at the resemblance. C'est la vie, y'know? For the record, this is my personal favorite story of mine. Hurrah for redundancy!

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Coffee Break

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"I have one question for you, Tom." The voice was cool, collected; quite the contrast to the room they were in. Some of the bloodstains refused to come off the walls, no matter what they tried to clean them with.

"Mmrph?" Tom wasn't sure if that was an actual word he'd tried to get out, or if he thought he could bluff his captor into thinking any random grunt meant "What?" Either way, it got the point across: He was bound, gagged, and therefore unintelligible.

"What in Leviathan's fucking name gave you the idea that you could ever outrun Rude?" Reno lit a match and started the third cigarette of the ten-minute period he'd been in here, putting the former out on his prisoner's forehead while puffing on the latter.

When your hands are tied by twine and electrical tape to the back of a metal chair, you're very aware of the black, rubber gag in your mouth, and there's some strange device hooked to a wire that's latched around your balls, you control your screaming and writhing. Luckily, Reno decided to be nice, and he removed the gag to allow a response that wouldn't get Tom shot. "Wh-who's Rude?" he gasped, gulping fresh air.

Reno didn't like the term "fresh air." After all, this place smelled a bit too much like pot, and people had stuck their used condoms to the panel ceiling. Besides, he didn't like the way that cat that was drawn on the mirror in lipstick was staring at him. He'd told Tseng repeatedly that he didn't appreciate his interrogation room being used for his nephew's parties, but the Wutain had just leveled him with a look that implied "Shut up" and sent him out each time. "Rude's the one who knocked your fucking teeth out, Buck," he chortled, smoking furiously.

Tom was tonguing his gums as Reno spoke, and did, indeed, find many gaps. This "Rude" fellow, who Tom assumed was the tall bald guy who'd socked him in the jaw, sure could pack a punch. "I didn't know he was workin' for you. I figured. . .hell, a job's a job. You know that better than anyone. You're a T –"

The redhead socked him hard in the cheek, rattling loose a molar. He pointed a finger at him, cigarette threateningly wagging with it. "First, Rude does not work for me. We're companions – we work together. Get it, Buck? Second, being a Turk isn't a job. It's a fucking lifestyle. I haven't been off the clock in seven goddamn years. Jobs are nine-to-five. Turks are midnight-to-midnight and then some."

What had happened was this: Reno and Rude had been at the city park – the city being Junon – looking for a lead on a wannabe-rebel named Nicolas Struttivek. So far their results were few and far between, but Tseng had organized for someone he'd interviewed to meet them there within half an hour of the time this situation took place.

Reno had gotten them some coffee in cups – like teacups, for future importance – from a guy named Mick who ran a coffee cart that went around the park. He'd just been reaching over to grab the cream when something quite unusual happened.

A bullet, obviously fired low and straight, caught one lip of his cup and slid into the coffee, shooting up the other side – "Like a fucking half-pipe," Rude would say later – and swooping around in an arc. It came to land in the middle of the cup from said arc, putting a nice-sized hole in the bottom and draining his coffee.

The pair sat dumbstruck for a moment, and then Rude leaned over and picked up the coffee-covered bullet that was lying on the ground. Reno, on the other hand, was looking bewilderedly at his cup. His immediate thought had been, 'How in the hell didn't the thing shatter?' The second was, 'Where the hell'd that come from?'

Rude always told him he needed to sort his priorities out.

He held up the object that had nearly removed Reno's finger at the knuckle. The redhead seemed a bit more pissed at the loss of a perfectly good triple espresso, but he would later understand the seriousness in the situation. "Reno, this is a bullet."

"Yeah, I fucking picked up on that," was the snappy response. Reno's thought process had moved on to, 'For fuck's sake, I paid eight gil for that cup of coffee, and I just lost it to a failed assassination attempt. At least we didn't lose both of 'em. Maybe Rude'll let me have his. . .'

Rude sighed. "You realize that means someone was shooting at us?" he asked impatiently, turning on his chair and standing up. No doubt he would be told to chase after whoever'd just let a bullet loose at two Turks on a seemingly innocent coffee break.

The other, grabbing his mag-rod, just used it to point in the direction the projectile had come from. "So fucking chase the cocksucker if you're gonna get all tightass about it. 'Fuck's sake." He lit a cigarette and sat back, eager to see someone get his head split open by a six-foot-six bald man on antidepressants.

The culprit wasn't hard to find, as he was the one running toward them and yelling his apologies, but he still turned and ran when he saw Rude take off toward him. No matter how sorry and buff a person was, that guy could make him piss his pants and suck his thumb. He'd done just that a few times, actually.

With Rude pinning him down by the shoulders and Reno bent over in his face, Tom had told them he'd been aiming for a duck that was attacking him and had missed. A bit of pressure to the back and Tom had changed his story to something like, "I was shooting at you because I thought the red-haired guy was the guy the Turks were meeting with here; the guy I'd been sent to shoot before he could say anything."

Rude had seemed appeased, but he'd still flipped poor old Tom over and nailed him in the chin, getting a street address for Nicolas with that one. Reno felt bad, because he hadn't even asked; it took some fun out of torturing him in the interrogation when he lied.

And here they were now, Reno pacing and smoking while Tom sat there, half-oblivious to the fact his pants were around his ankles and he had a motorized vice and probe clamped to his genitals. Rude sure did have some nasty inventions.

"Now," Reno said slowly. "We have a problem. I've got a half-naked assassin at my every goddamn command, but I've got no use for him. Sure as hell can't let him go, but I've got enough morals not to keep him locked up in a little room. What d'ya say I do with this fucker, Tom?"

"If I were you," Tom said carefully, "I'd use him for insider information. Get the dirt on this Nicolas guy. Y'know?"

Reno scoffed, reaching over and putting his hand on a lever, the one that was hooked up to the machine with Tom at its grip right now. "That's what everyone says, Tom. And I fucking hate the majority."

With the flick of the lever, the vice made an opening for the probe, which snaked up through Tom's body – it had a size and weight input to figure out the navigation – and took out each of his vital organs respectively. Reno didn't seem to mind the screaming; his hand didn't even waver when he took his next drag and watched poor Tom get ripped to shreds in his interrogation chair.

Reno turned numbly and walked out, hitting the light switch on the way. He frowned at Rude, who was standing just outside the door, shaking his head.

"What is it, Reno?" Rude sighed, having been through Reno's odd little depressants many times before. He could rattle off a list of them, from most-used to least.

Reno thumbed toward the door. "I just watched a guy get Weasel-Fucked and didn't even laugh." He looked at Rude with sadness in his eyes, sunglasses up in the mess of red hair he took so much pride in. "This really is a job."

The bald man paused, then put a hand on Reno's shoulder and shook his head. "Let's get you some coffee, kid."