Protège-moi

contre ce que je veux

-

i. a past better forgotten

He breathed too loud and smelled of heavy liquor. She was repulsed and turned the other way to dispel her philandering husband's far from attractive qualities. He made her sick; from the annoying tone he used when addressing her to the consistent way he parted his hair every morning after his shower. Evil, and not the sexy, exciting way many men could play it off as, was the only word in her extended vocabulary that would do the backfiring car next to her any true justice. She wished he would choke on his own accumulating saliva, the bastard.

Sighing, the slender young woman slipped out from beneath the covers and reached for the soft dressing gown her pigheaded significant other had torn off of her. The man could not take no for an answer, especially when a few shots of whiskey graced his bloodstream. This was the type of man who needed to force his wife into a sexual act and rough her up a bit to feel like a real man. In a way, she thought vehemently, he wasn't to blame. A man did need to compensate for a lack of growth spur below the equator. His actions proved to more than accurately justify such an accusation. It also proved that a father forcing his daughter to marry such a lackluster personality must have really only cared for the power which status would ultimately bestow. One day, the old man would get his and it will be worse than the punishment Barbie would inflict on her sadomasochist Ken. Vengeance was what kept her breathing.

Silver moonlight danced upon shiny ebony hair and encouraged her pale complexion to glow in a sultry manner. Stepping lightly, she crept towards her husband's dresser and slowly pulled a cigarette from its dwindling package. She didn't really smoke too much but felt the night was too lovely to pass up an opportunity to bask in its beauty. Plus, smoking made the ball and chain crazy and who was she to forego such a golden ticket of a chance at a potential irritation. Any inkling of a fortunate piss off would be drowned in even if it meant feeling the sting of a backhand as consequence.

Swiping the lighter, she moved with stealth towards the sliding door which led to the balcony. This was the most peaceful location the estate had to offer and barely anyone, including the nuisance, would bother to sit outside with her due to their slight case of vertigo. The blockade slid open with a tiny whoosh before the jaded youth entered the serenity of the great outdoors and lit the troublesome stick. Inhaling, she smiled as the tension drained almost instantly. She never understood why this tiny hardly intimidating object held such power over so many people until now. It was truly a marvel.

Yuffie Naomi Kisaragi, former AVALANCHE hero and material entrepreneur, was never one to submit easily. Taking the closest seat to the edge overlooking the luminous Junon lights, the former anti-terrorist quietly reflected on her current situation lacing it with past acknowledgement. After Sephiroth's defeat and meteor's collapse, the team had all gone their separate ways. Cloud, Tifa, and Marlene returned to Sector 7, a section of Midgar which had been impressively revamped by Shinra's new president, and rebuilt Seventh Heaven. The bar had been a huge hit amongst dwellers and even tourists, much to the trio's delight. Barret was summoned to duty in Corel and unwillingly left his pride and joy, Marlene, to serve his time as he felt necessary. Red XIII is currently the elder of Cosmo Canyon, proudly accepting his responsibilities and making the best of his leadership. Cid continues to pilot the Highwind with Shera by his side and still aspires to build the rocket which would not only send him into space but lack to need to be fiddled with (much to Shera's relief). Nobody really knows where Vincent disappeared to; Yuffie remembering Cloud mentioning something about penance and Lucretia. Finally, there was Cait Sith who is currently stashed away in a closet and permanently replaced by its creator, Reeve. He seemed to be the most successful of the seven after resurrecting Shinra and cleaning up the name's reputation. All of Shinra's previous employees had faithfully returned to the company, even though it lacked its moral ambiguity. From Scarlet to all three Turks to security and secretarial, everyone once again became one huge dysfunctional Shinra family.

Blowing out the carbon dioxide from her cigarette, Yuffie realized by accounting for her teammates' current whereabouts she had opened old wounds. It had become more than painfully obvious her life after the crisis was a tragedy compared to other recollections. After meteor, the spitfire had reappeared in Wutai and took up a job at Turtle's Paradise. Godo had been furious, saying how women of her stature should not be serving drinks to people socially below her. The ninja, now really taking the time to sit and think this over, concluded it had been an act of blatant rebellion. This libertine had always taken the time, even if it went out of her way, to do the exact opposite of what she was asked to do. Some had called it childish, but she preferred immaturely finishing obstacles to further establish her identity.

Working at the bar had not been all that bad. Men loved her feisty personality and exotic looks, so they tipped very well. She also scored bonus points when she discovered her boss usually missing and under the rule of an extremely laid back replacement. Plus, free drinks and food never hurt anyone. Now, the downfall of this angels dancing naked around the fountain of youth styled utopia – The Turks were regulars. Elena and Rude had remained civil when they drank as they recognized their limits and respected them. But Reno was on a whole different stratosphere when it came to restraint. The man ignored every common law of social etiquette; from obnoxiously shouting out jokes with either a foul punch line to flirting with every skirt in the room, not caring if their boyfriend was standing right next to them. He was a loud, egotistical whore who, if not advised against, would drop his pants and streak through Wutai screaming, "Feed the bird!" The man was annoying, but yet he was never very far from her mind.

She threw the cigarette over the balcony and watched as it hit the water below. Sighing, Yuffie cradled her knees against an unimpressive chest and held her head erect with the palm of a sweaty hand. As a month progressed, Rude and Elena had ceased their visits which left Reno to fend for himself where foolish antics were concerned. Surprisingly, nothing but unprecedented silence came from the table which the lone Turk sat. Vivacious, poisoned green eyes observed the runt behind the bar with a serious expression on his face; one that seemed almost foreign to a man of his caliber. She tried not to look at his as a rosy blush crept up on two fleshy cheeks. By the time Yuffie had gathered up the nerve to fix her predator with a look of malice, he was gone; an empty shot glass, stubbed out cigarette, and Gil left behind as parting gifts for the object of this night's affection to clean up. Reno had been MIA for the following week; his striking red hair nowhere to be seen in the desolate tourist trap town. It wasn't until a Monday night when Yuffie had begun closing that Reno had magically appeared craving a shot of rum. She couldn't help but smile and invite the drifter to sit at the bar while grabbing the desired bottle of alcohol.

"Haven't seen you around lately," the Wutaian declared aloofly as she picked up a random rag and proceeded to wipe off the counter with it.

"Why? Did you miss me?" The Turk asked with a cocky smirk. He fixed trademark sunglasses on top of his head before downing the strong shot of liquor expertly. The slight upturn of thin lips became wider once Reno noticed the red pigments constructing the texture of smooth cheeks brighten.

"No! You just so happen to drink more than anyone that comes to this bar, so if I missed anything it was giving you the check that would pay my rent."

"So, if I'm paying your rent, shouldn't that mean this Sugar Daddy would get a chance to dip into the honey jar?"

Yuffie's cheeks took on more of a crimson shade. Throwing down the rag and placing hands on a narrow waist, she proclaimed, "Don't you have another girl to harass? You know, one who's actually your age?"

Reno kept the smile on his face while explaining, "It's funnier with a younger girl because they always react, without fail, one of two ways; "A It boosts their ego to the point of wondering how something that big could fit in a body that small or B embarrassed, much like the way your highness just acted."

"Don't mock the girl who holds the red light to your jolly good time. Just as easily as I can pour the booze, I can just as easily cork the bottle your power drink come out of, so watch it, ass."

"Touchy."

Yuffie stuck her tongue out and placed the bottle of rum back on the self after pouring her guest one more shot. She walked around the bar and began stacking the chairs on top of the few tables scattered throughout the room. Her muscles ached which caused the barmaid to fantasize about going home and taking a nice hot bath. She was supposed to visit the pagoda tomorrow morning for breakfast with Godo but judging from what a late night this was becoming, breakfast would surely become lunch.

"So what made you start working here?" Reno asked from his place at the bar, "I mean it's pretty damn rare to find royalty serving drinks to us common folk."

"I needed to be on my own. No one can grow under their parent's wing, especially when the parent just so happens to be the lord of Wutai."

"Sometimes a slow progression under mommy and daddy's wing is easier than growing fast and alone. The world's an unfriendly place, princess."

Yuffie turned around and shrugged her shoulders, "I'm not looking for an easy way out and I know how unfriendly this world is. I went up against the unfriendliest or have you forgotten something that colossal?"

"So defensive," the Shinra employee declared while tossing gil on the bar and standing up, "You should really put your guard down. You never know, someone might just come around and surprise you, sugar."

"Hypocrite, you should be one to talk."

"Touché," Reno said before winking and exiting the bar without looking back at the contemplating dame standing in the center of the room, mouth partially open as though willing herself to say something.

His visits had continued every night since then around the same time. Yuffie had even begun to offer Reno drinks on the house depending on the night's income along with her impending mood. Conversation had made the tedious closing process of Turtle's Paradise slightly bearable. She would never openly admit it, but it came to the point where his appearance was looked forward to and appreciated. He was beginning to become more than the nemesis who lacked the sufficient strategy for victory. The lilac eyed beauty smiled when she counted the amount of times AVALANCHE had sent Reno out of battle with a broken limb. But just as quickly as the smile appeared, it evaporated as her memories evaded from war to the night which had set into motion her own traumatizing downward spiral. Yuffie shivered and huddled her knees closer to her body.

She hated mopping the floor; it was quite possibly the most back breaking of all her occupational chores, especially considering the mop itself weighed about half of her total body mass. Grunting, Yuffie threw the tool back into the dirty water and sat down while wiping the sweat from her brow. She sighed, looking up after hearing the jingle of the bells signaling a customer.

"You're back, good, maybe you can help me mop this damn floor," the teenager proclaimed while jumping up and heading towards the bar, "I know you kill people, not germs so I figured I'd let my friend Jack Daniels do the persuading"

Footsteps sounded and Reno appeared in light's unflattering embrace. An expression of agony contorted his rugged features into ones of vulnerability. But what really caught the bartender's attention were the splashes of blood on the Turk's wrinkled white shirt. The shot glass slipped from a loosened grip as it dropped to the floor and shattered against the tiles.

"My god, you're fucking bleeding," Yuffie shouted, running around the bar and gingerly reaching out to the injured redhead.

"It's not my blood. It's Rude's," Reno flatly stated while sidestepping open arms and sitting down on the stool like any other ordinary night. God, he really needed a drink.

"What happened?"

She returned back to her station and reached for the bottle of whiskey along with a new shot glass. Her eyes explored an untamed soul. The man was completely broken, closely resembling the discarded shards by her size six sneakers.

Rough gold flowed down a welcoming throat before the slam of a shot glass against the surface of a lonely bar echoed through empty space. He ran his hand over a distracted face and fixed aquamarine eyes on his interrogator, "Rude's in the hospital because of me. I choked."

"What happened? How did Rude end up in the hospital?"

"Reeve sent me to Sector 5, ya know, 'cause we're supposed to fix up that skid marked shit stain of a town and I ran into an old buddy I used to know…what I didn't know that I should've was my "buddy" now joined allegiance with a rebel faction opposing Shinra's reconstruction plan…we got fucking set up!"

Reno picked up the glass and made it a statistic just like its twin on the floor by hurdling it at the wall in a tantrum. He slammed his fist on the bar as hard as he could, "The cunt pulled out a gun and before I could react he fired two shots, one that hit Rude, and ran off like a little bitch. Now, my partner's in critical condition while the bastard's off somewhere celebrating."

"Reno, I am so sorry," Yuffie whispered with tears in her eyes. She reached out and touched his hand while softly explaining in a reassuring manner, "Reeve won't let this go unpunished. He'll catch the guy…"

Reno looked up with a menacing sneer, "It's gonna be hard to find a guy living the afterlife because when I find the fucker, I'm gonna bury him."

"Calm down. You're too pissed to think straight."

"The piss clouds free flowing on my parade must've broke because I've never thought more fucking clearly in my entire life."

Yuffie sighed and leaned on the bar for support. She almost couldn't believe the predicament. First, everything had been close enough to perfect. He had a place to drink and run his mouth without discretion and she had someone to communicate with. If truth be told, ever since AVALANCHE had dispatched and went their separate ways, she had been craving attention with a little affection sprinkled in the mix. Godo had only really wanted to bother when Wutai was involved so that pretty much summed up all her options. Now that chance had brought Reno to her as a strange yet viable option as a link to the outside world, she no longer felt so restless. Of course, the princess should be used to this predicament by now. After all, the shit only hit the fan when good things happened to her.

"Relax, Reno. Doing something this brash exceeds even your limits for asinine antics. Reeve will take care of it!"

"The guy has too many cronies. If I want to take him out, I need your help."

"What? Didn't you just hear what I said? Leave this to Reeve. Reeve, R-e-e-v-e! Not you, dufus!"

"What would you do if Spike or Tits got hurt? Would you just sit there and wait for someone to take action when you yourself could've gotten up and done something about it? If you had any ounce of loyalty in your blood, you know what your answer would be."

"Why me? Why not Elena or some other nameless Turk you know?"

Reno smirked, the hardness in his eyes softening slightly at the question. Looking her over, he leaned in and planted a simple kiss on thick rose tinted lips. As he pushed back to evaluate his decision, he said, "Because you're one of the most skilled fighters I know. You've got a decent track record where kicking my ass around the globe is concerned. Plus, there's something about you. Something I can trust."

Keeping her eyes closed while desperately trying to slow down an overly eager heart, Yuffie whispered, "How do you know I won't betray you at the last minute?"

Taking advantage of his open door, the older man reattached his lips onto exasperated ones after declaring, "Just call it a Turk's intuition."

He deepened the innocent display of affection, making her moan and want more. Running calloused hands through strands of black licorice, Reno maneuvered lowered until he reached her waist and pulled her onto the bar. She knew this wasn't right, both in a vulnerable state, but the contact felt too good to pass push away. It felt amazing to be touched, to be wanted by someone. Yuffie laid in place, allowing her mouth and body to be ravaged by the man above her. Before she had even noticed, clothes were spilled along the ground and the Lolita was crying out in both pleasure and pain.

The cold air caused Goosebumps to appear on pale arms but memories contributed to the tiny blonde hairs standing on end. She had lost her virginity to someone who now repulsed her in a place that had a potential to carry its fair share of diseases. Thinking back, the bitter anger inside her tiny body escaladed to questioning proportions. Reno had been the first man she had ever loved and hated.

They continued to see each other, christening his apartment, her apartment, the pagoda, Da Cho, and even her childhood bedroom. Yuffie had reached the naïve belief that the Turk had developed some kind of feelings for her and gave up his obsession with tracking down Rude's shooter. Of course, being a professional for seven years, a mission was never forgotten which made him suddenly begin discussing, again, a past topic. Eventually, plans were constructed, weapons were purchased, and a murder was well underway.

"I'm nervous. I don't know if I can do this."

Yuffie removed the mask from her face and played with the shruikens aligning her belt. She had been so confident; pretending the man who had shot Rude had committed more acts of violence against this long suffering planet since Sephiroth. Reno had even told her he had been impressed with her determination. With her lover's compliment and misconceived notions about the mark, the ninja was on top of the world with the fire necessary to take out half of it. But as the days started downsizing, nerves kicked in bringing along with it its baggage of doubts.

"Babe, you'll do fine," Reno whispered, removing his own mask and placing strong hands on his partner's shoulders, "You can't think about it. When we bust in there, you have to wing it and let your instincts kick in. You can do this."

Yuffie nodded before putting the mask back over her head and on her face as Reno did the same. Following Reno's lead, they broke into an old slum shack where a large gathering was occurring between the gang members and some women. Two men were sitting and receiving a sexual favor as the others smoked, drank, and injected any mind altering substance they could get their hands on. Bottles decorated the floor as smoke clouded the little amount of light which illuminated an otherwise doomed atmosphere.

"Get up," Reno shouted, butting the woman on the floor with the handle of his shotgun and gesturing the men to stand, "All of you hoes, get the fuck out now!"

The women screamed and scurried out of the room, not bothering to button up their tops or put their pants back on. During all the commotion, a skinny man with green hair and a nose ring arose from the table and pulled a gun on Reno. The shot was never heard, a bullet unreleased, for a shruiken shot expertly forward and with precision slit his throat. He dropped the gun and slumped down to the ground dead. The other men gracing the table stood up with their hands up when Yuffie pulled three more fatal objects from their resting place.

"Okay, here's what's going on. We're gonna play a little game and all of you bitches are gonna do exactly what I fucking say, understood?"

Small nods were received from three of the four henchmen as one ballsy enough exclaimed, "Fuck you! I'm not doin' shit you ask!"

Rushing forward, Reno swung the shotgun by the barrel. The handle slammed against the side of the loudmouth's face causing his nose to break and two molars to detach from swollen gums. Flipping the gun around, the terrorist pointed the weapon at the other three intimidated men and asked, "Any of you other premadonnas wanna screw the balls back on and test your acting capabilities?"

"Man, what do you want? We didn't do nothing wrong!"

"Wrong, man! You did do something wrong. You broke rule number one – no talking. Now you have to pay the consequences," Reno proclaimed, switching the target from the questionnaire to a man with horrible, tangled purple hair, "You, flock of seagulls, take off your sock and stick it in Hieraldo's mouth. I'm tired of hearing your little sister whine."

Yuffie looked on, an instinctive hand on her metallic stars, and observed as the man with the bad haircut reluctantly put his dirty sock in the other man's mouth. She had never known the true extent of Reno's viciousness. An idea of his attitude during missions had been preconceived but it had never been this drastic. There were guns and profanity, a few bitch slaps here and there, but the sock was something new.

"Now that I finally have your attention, I want you to tell me where Jimmy is."

"Jimmy? We don't know no Jimmy."

"No? Well, I think you're all lying, so I hope none of you bleed easy because I will rip out as many fucking fingernails as I need to get the information I want. And when you run out of nails, ladies, I'll start ripping out other more valuable things so unless you wanna be more than just a Halloween decoration hanging from my front porch, I suggest one of you start talking."

"Man, he'll fucking kill us if we tell you," flock of seagulls anxiously shouted in genuine fear.

"Buddy, right now, your choices are at an all time low, so I suggest you talk," Yuffie suggested from her location in the back.

"He's upstairs. He don't usually go very far," the youngest apostle snitched, bowing his head self consciously at the glares his other three comrades shot him.

"Good boy," Reno said, gesturing the gun towards the front door, "Now, just for being on your best behavior, kid, you can go home. Stay in school! Unfortunately, I can't say the same for you three clowns. Lead me to the boss."

The Turk nodded at Yuffie to follow as he nudged the first boys in line to lead the way. Her heart began to pound as she caught up to Reno. This was it, they were going to carry out their revenge on the derelict and be on their merry little way. No harm, no foul. So as the ninja began to climb the flight of stairs leading to one man's judgment day why did something seem horribly wrong?

"Hurry up, cocksucker, you wanna get home in time to iron your Sunday dress, don't you?"

"I'm going as fast as I can! Just chill, asshole!"

"You've got quite a mouth on you, mammy, must make all the papies loco," the gun wielder taunted before giving the Latin temper in front of him a shove of influence.

Reaching the top, the leader of the line suddenly pushed an unsuspecting Reno backwards and opened the door, screaming, "Boss, we've got company!"

"Shit!"

Taking the outburst as a cue, the man Yuffie took watch upon turned around and tried to sneak a punch in. Luckily, she was fast enough and dodged the attack before any major damage could be inflicted. Grabbing a shrukien, she threw it as hard as she could and lodged it in the thug's neck. Without detaching away from her originally established stealth, she twirled behind her gasping attacker and kicked him down the stairs.

Reno, dealing with his own aggressor, fired the loaded gun causing the ugly lackey to grunt in pain and fall backwards like an abused rag doll. He didn't waste any time as he took initiative and raced up the remaining steps, quickly shooting a glance back at Yuffie to check her condition. As he reached the top, the red head leapt through the doorway, unloaded another shot, and sprung behind the couch to his right.

The room was complete pandemonium. Bullets were flying at random, some hitting the wall behind the Turk causing plaster to rain down on his retracted form. Cursing silently, Reno got back up and fire; counting his lucky stars that the now futile shell went to good use. One down, five to go.

Yuffie ran full speed, afraid that if she took her time second thoughts would formulate, and unleashed her Conformer heroically. Entering the room, the youngster threw the deadly boomerang and copied her companion's exact move but in the opposite direction. The weapon hit two more of Jimmy's boys before flying back into its owner's awaiting hands like a loyal golden retriever.

Taking the gun, Reno got back on his feet and pulled the trigger. Laughing at the failed and feeble attempt, Johnny aimed his pistol at the masked crusader and fired. Flaming strands ducked back behind its sanctuary but not before noticing the shotgun was completely out of ammunition, rendering the firearm completely useless to him. Throwing the well crafted melded iron concoction aside, he muttered, "Fuck."

"I don't know who you are, pal, but you definitely just barked up the wrong tree," the leader of the pack screamed over the noise, keeping aim with the hand gun but ceasing to pull the trigger until absolutely necessary.

"Yuffie, when I count to three, I want you to throw one of your shrukiens at that lamp behind those assholes. After that, sky's the limit. Kick their ass until they're down and out. One."

Johnny began to slowly move forward after waving his hand to keep his men from shooting. He wanted to see who this intruder was, after all pain only came in large doses when those closest to him could feel the aftershocks of their kin's transgression. He must have family or loved ones somewhere in this world his men could play with. The room became deathly silent, the sound of obvious footsteps being the only indicator that there were still other human beings in the room.

Two boney fingers shot up as an indication to continue with his plan. Closing his eyes, his nemesis' oncoming steps ringing in his ears, Reno erected his third finger causing Yuffie to crawl to the other side of the couch. Reaching in her pocket, she kissed the last shrukien in her possession and threw it at full force at the lamp. Just as Reno had anticipated, all three men spun around to analyze the broken lamp and the source of the sound. Using the distraction, the anti-hero jumped into action and tackled his main concern onto the ground. Yuffie kept her position, breathed, and leapt into the scene as well.

The professional dodged the shorter man's punch before delivering a roundhouse kick to the side of his chiseled face. Smiling, he executed an open palm hit followed up by a hard left hook. Picking Johnny up by whatever amount of hair he had left, Reno dug into his shirt and pulled out light blue pair rosary beads, shoving the cross into the older man's face, "Look familiar?"

Ocean blue eyes widened, in disbelief and fear, to the diameter of saucers.

Skillfully, the ex-AVALANCHE member performed a back hand spring to avoid the dislodged bullet, kicking the gun out of the burlier man's grasp. Pulling out the Conformer, Yuffie spun and beheaded both of her oppositions before fixating soft eyes on her lover and his ongoing battle. Dark eyebrows furrowed once their owner noticed the slight glimmer of twilight belonging to beads hanging from Reno's neck. He was an atheist, so why were there rosary beads around his neck?

Still holding the squirming swine, the Turk removed his mask and looked his enemy in the eyes. Insanity swam in bright, lush forests of green as he inched closer to Johnny. Smirking, Reno whispered, "You didn't think I'd come looking for you, did ya? I was too weak to take you on before, motherfucker, but now its judgment day and time to pay the devil his due."

Pulling his head back, rough hands reached to a strapped ankle and removed a bowie knife from its captivity before sliding it against tender skin, Crimson splattered on the murderer's face and uniform as the gang leader's body convulsed twice and dropped onto the ground, dead. Putting the rosaries back in his shirt, Reno got up, spat on the corpse, and began to leave, calling out to the dumbfounded girl behind him, "C'mon, he's dead. We're done here."

"I thought you said you didn't believe in God," Yuffie blurted out while crossing her arms and standing her ground.

"I say a lot of things, babe."

"Why are you wearing rosary beads if you don't believe in God, Reno?"

He froze and, without turning around, stated, "Yuffie, you're not in AVALANCHE anymore so stop asking questions you fucking know are better left unanswered."

"Why are you wearing them?"

Sighing in frustration when realizing she would never leave him alone unless he answered, Reno exclaimed, "They're Rude's, okay? So just drop it, brat!" before he stomped off and left his petite opposite to ponder alone in a room full of corpses.

Yuffie stretched her legs, feeling them begin to cramp under her embrace, and leaned her head back to give grazing eyes more substantial support. Godo had found out about her tryst with a Turk when the cops came to the humbly structured apartment with a warrant for her arrest. The princess had never, in her seventeen years of life, seen her father so furious. The Lord of Wutai was so insatiable and embarrassed that he had refused to bail his own flesh and blood out when they put her away for the night.

It had been exactly one month since the massacre at the sector five slum house and she had been sure they had gotten away with it. Reno had even assured her that those punks were a bunch of drug dealing pushers and even if bodies were discovered, the cops would be so relieved they would give them a medal of honor for taking the trash out for them. She felt her heart skip every other beat and twitching hands secrete sweat beads when a man who looked to be in his early thirties entered the room before slamming a file down in front of the first time offender. He had been wrong and, what's worse, she had not been surprised.

"So, tell me what happened the fourth of October at the sector five slums," Detective Conway requested as he sat down on the table to purposely hover over the raven haired teenager. He raked slender fingers through thick strands of chestnut; artic blue eyes intensely staring down at the criminal.

"I was at home. It was my day off," Yuffie countered feeling incredibly uncomfortable under the retina deteriorating fluorescent light.

"Funny, considering when I questioned your supervisor, she said she had called you that night to pick up a shift for her but there was no answer. Were you on the can, Miss Kisaragi, when that phone rang or did you just decide to take a little trip to Midgar? I mean, your father is the Lord of Wutai so ships, planes, and cars are just a snap of a finger away where possession is concerned."

"I don't pick up my phone when I take off from work because I'm not in the mood to be bothered. Plus, detective, why would I choose to go to Midgar of all places in my various snap of a finger travel accommodations? I have nothing there."

Conway smiled as he flipped the unattended to file on the table open with a single finger, "Except two former teammates and a lover."

Yuffie froze as her eyes beheld two newspaper cutout pictures of the AVALANCHE team paper clipped to her record. It was common knowledge that she had known Cloud Strife and Tifa Lockheart, after all they were on the news, headliners on papers world wide, and lime lighting most television programs for about a year since meteor and Sephiroth's collapse, but how had he known about Reno? Their relationship had been a secret from everyone, including most people they didn't even know or bothered to know. And speaking of Reno, why wasn't he brought to the station right along with her? Her blood suddenly ran cold as she discovered the fruits of her paranoia.

She shook her head. He had deceived her but what made her feel worse was her own naïve expectations for him. She knew who he was, what he has done, and what he is paid on a daily basis to do, so there were no excuses where falling willingly into his web was concerned. Simply, she had fucked up and now consequences were her purgatory for frivolous mistakes. Tiny fingers joined together to make a tightly sealed ball. It had been two years since his betrayal and yet her grudge was still stronger than ever.

During Detective Conway's and her conversation, Yuffie had discovered she had been spotted leaving the scene of the crime but in the form of a silhouette - the only real lead being the slum dweller's confession that the shape looked to have belonged to a female. Also, during his crew's dust for prints, he had received a visit from a particular red headed Turk. Conway said Reno had come to visit his trash town of birth and noticed a commotion at his old buddy Johnny's house so his curiosity had gotten the best of him. He was shocked at his friend's murder and suddenly materialized a look of concern which quickly disappeared. When asked what was wrong, Reno shook his head and mentioned that he was worried about his girlfriend. She had not called him or attempted to get in touch with him in a few days. The detective had smiled wide and broad at this, "He admitted he had told you Rude and himself had been assigned to explore Sector five for a rehabilitation project. The little birdie also said Rude had been shot, upsetting Reno a whole lot. Not only did he confess his agony, but that he had threatened to kill the guy and that you had gotten really quiet all of a sudden. Sound familiar? If it doesn't, maybe these shrukiens with your prints all over them found on the victims' bodies can refresh your memory of your whereabouts."

It had been a set up. Yuffie had worn gloves to the crime scene so it was impossible to find prints. She had paced in her cell all night, shaking, tears blurring her perception, as she wondered why the one man who she would have died for would betray her. What did he have to gain out of this? It wasn't as though he would ever get busted for his felony; they had been too careful, taking all the proper precautions. Plus, even if some magical piece of evidence were discovered for a cop with God's eye, Reno was a Turk. Cops had and would never interfere in Shinra affairs. Why pin this on her when they were about to make out scott free?

"Kisaragi. Get up, you're free to go."

Yuffie rolled over with a confused look on her face. During her one entitled phone call, she had chosen to ask her father to use his very influential title to help her get out of jail. Godo screamed at her for the majority of the time and right before the call was disconnected, he mentioned something about calling her Turk lover for help. Father -check. All of her friends from AVALANCHE were unaware of her predicament and even if they were, she hadn't even stood trial yet so negotiation for her release was out of the question. Friends – check. Reno had stabbed her twice in the back so an attempt to salvage her from a life of inferiority was slim to none. Backstabbing ex-boyfriend – check. With all her options crossed off the very short list, how was she getting out of here so easily?

"You heard the man, Kisaragi, you're free to go unless you want me to leave you in here instead?"

"Reeve," she squealed, jumping up from her uncomfortable resting location and running into extended arms, "I'm so glad you're here. Everything is so messed up, I made a huge mistake."

Reeve looked down at the much shorter young woman with a stern expression on his handsome features, "I know. It's one of the reasons I came here to get you. We need to talk, so get your stuff and come with me."

The drive from the Midgar Police department felt like the longest voyage Yuffie had ever taken. The car was silent, a hum of the engine being the only sound preventing awkwardness from proliferating. Shifting her eyes to the side to steal a look at Reeve, she sighed and looked back out the window. He looked far too serious. Even during their battle at the Northern Crater, his voice coming from Cait Sith's mouth was more happy-go-lucky compared to this excruciating moment. Whatever Reeve wanted to say, it wasn't going to be pleasant. Plus, add in the fact that she had been sleeping with one of his Turks and ended up in jail for a murder she didn't fully commit. To say he would yell would be an understatement.

She smiled as she thought about Reeve. He was a good man and had always assisted her when she was in need. His helping hand had been extended from their time in AVALANCHE into his reign of the Shinra empire, and to this day, Yuffie owed a lot to him. Unfortunately, her husband was a rival to Reeve and his organization, so as time continued, they had lost contact. Some days, she would miss him and others would bring relief. With the president out of her life, Shinra and the Turks went right along with him. In a way, the pixie had never fully recovered from Reno's treason and to say him being unofficially involved in her life was bearable would be a lie.

"Take a seat," Reeve offered as he pointed to an empty chair standing parallel to his desk and waited patiently for his guest to follow the instruction before continuing, "The reason I brought you here is because we need to talk about Reno. I know you two have been seeing each other."

"It's over now, Reeve, so you don't even have to worry about it. The bastard betrayed me. I trusted him and did exactly like he asked me to and he handed me over to the feds to tear me apart."

"I know, kid, he told me everything that's how I know you were behind bars to begin with. Listen, I heard what Reno had to say, but now I need you to tell me the whole story from your mouth. I need to know what happened from both sides so that I can better understand this situation."

Yuffie sucked in some air as tears began to spring forth from uneasy memories. Biting her lower lip, she viciously scrubbed away the weakness manifested through the moisture in the purple haze of her eyes and explained, "This whole mess started when Reno came in one night from a surveillance mission in Sector five for your reconstruction process. He told me he had seen an old friend, some guy named Johnny, and that Johnny was now a part of a rebel faction opposing your plans at cleaning up the slums. Reno said Johnny had pulled a gun, shot Rude, and wanted revenge. He asked me for help…and told me he trusted me…God, I'm so stupid. The guy lies for a living for Chist's sake!"

"Go on."

"We started seeing each other after that night," the heroine told her comrade in confidence, playing with her fingers and looking anywhere but at Reeve's solemn face, "After about two weeks, he started talking about killing Johnny again…and since I had started to…eh…care a little, not much, but enough, I joined in on his discussion and before we both knew it we had a solid, foul-proof plan. When the night came, we went in and did what we had planned to do – kill Johnny and anyone who had gotten in the way. I saw Reno a week after that little incident and everything seemed fine until I lost touch with him. No matter how many times I called, he never picked up. No matter how many times I visited, he conveniently was never there. Now I know why. He was too fucking busy sharpening the knife to dig in my back."

Reeve sat back in his chair, hands on top of his head contemplating her story, and muttered silently, "Oh man. We definitely need to talk"

"About what?"

Reeve reached into his desk drawer and pulled a file out, a thick one at that. Throwing its contents on the surface, the older of the two sighed and proceeded to initiate a conversation topic revival, "How much did you two talk?"

"Pretty frequently," Yuffie answered straight forward, "he used to come by to visit and grab a quick drink long before he asked me to do him a favor."

"Did he ever tell you about his mother and older sister?"

Yuffie was silent; her mouth slightly ajar. She had thought Reno had never known his mother, wandering the streets of Midgar as an orphan. A sibling had never even crossed her mind, especially an older one. It made her feel even more used. They had had sex on more than one occasion and yet she had never known the simplest aspects of Reno's family tree.

"Well, he was with his mother until he was about six years old. His older sister, Vikki, took care of him while his mother worked. One night, their mother hadn't come home from her ten o'clock shift, so Vikki told Reno to put on his jacket and ventured out to the bar where their mother worked. In an alley right next to the bar, four thugs were crowded around a woman. As Vikki told Reno to stay where he was, she got closer and released the woman was her mother and that she was dead. In tears, she lashed out and tried to take out all four men only to have her suffer the same fate as her mom. Reno tried to help, but he was too small and weak. He watched as they raped and murdered his sister and threw her aside as though she were nothing. You know those scars Reno has under his eyes? He got them that night from the leader of that pack."

Tears resurfaced and caressed soft cheeks with their sorrowful flow. Slowly, she looked down at the pictures Reeve had procured and almost gagged. These photos were evidence taken at the crime scene that night; the date at the bottom beginning to blur due to their age. Two women laid on the ground, one shot, the other stabbed repeatedly, with their clothes torn and tattered. Flipping through the gruesome visuals, Yuffie caught sight of something familiar laying alongside Reno's sister. It looked like…rosary beads?

"Oh my God," the Wutaian princess exclaimed as she dropped the pictures and cupped her mouth with her hands, "This whole thing…"

The Shinra president nodded, gathering the displays and placing it back in a folder neatly time lining Reno's history, "Johnny wasn't a buddy; he was the ringleader responsible for killing his family and scaring him, both figuratively and literally, for the rest of his life with that memory. When Reno and Rude went back to evaluate the current situation at Sector five, they encountered each other and that bullet, I can assure you, wasn't meant for Rude."

"So what are you saying? That he completely lied to me about the whole situation?"

"Not completely. He did tell you the truth about Johnny joining a rebel faction opposing my plans to rebuild the slums. A rebel faction that was started by none other than your pal, commissioner and fellow detective Conway. Midgar cops are so corrupted and hungry for power, they'll do anything to stay on top. I had to bribe the asshole for him to let you out. Not only is that money in his pocket but also a golden opportunity to smear my reputation and have people join their anti-restoration act way of thinking. He thinks I'm stupid, though. He thinks I don't know what's going on with his little revolution. In his mind, Shinra is ignorant to his forces' abuse of power and games."

"Why would the cops be so against cleaning up Midgar? It would make their jobs all the simpler."

Reeve shook his head and stood before walking over to the coffee machine and pouring himself a cup. Offering his teammate some, she politely declined and urged him to continue. He stirred the black contents, adding a little cream and sugar to alleviate the bitterness, and abided by the princess' request to continue, "You can't put clean against dirty without the dirty being criticized. That would be exactly what my idea would do; take a nice, organized environment and put it up against something in total disarray and ill morale. Obviously, people are going to start catching on to the abomination that is their police department and run them out of town. So before they could lose their jobs and eventually their homes, they pay off Johnny and his gangbanging friends to keep tabs on the area and stop any unfamiliar faces from entering the territory. Reno knew all of this and played on Conway's ignorance of Johnny and his past. He knew Johnny was affiliated with the police and when the police discovered his rotting corpse, they were going to come looking for blood. If a Turk was caught red handed, he wouldn't have a prayer; they would lock him up and throw away the key. He needed a distraction, someone to take the heat off of him…someone like you."

"I can't believe this. How could he do this to me?" Yuffie asked in disbelief. Her eyes were wide but she could not see a thing in front of her. She felt stupid and almost inhumane. A small unheard giggle escaped from parted lips. How could she ever be so foolish as to believe Reno, a bloody Turk, had actually…loved her? AVALANCHE had constantly played a game deemed 'which organ would you take from a Turk' and Tifa had said she would rip out their shriveling heart. Barrett had laughed and responded almost condescendingly, 'what heart?' She didn't get it then, but he had been right. Of course, it had only taken sleeping and getting betrayed by one to realize it.

"I'm sorry, Yuffie," he genuinely sympathized as he walked in her direction and placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder, "He will be dealt with, I can promise you that. But I advise you to just stay away from him. It'd be for the best."

"Thanks, Reeve."

Standing up from her seat, Yuffie stretched her lean body out before supporting her weight on the balcony and looking down at the crashing waves against the Junon shore. She had been lucky. It was something she told herself practically everyday. Yet again, if it wasn't for Reeve putting himself and his company on the line to get Detective Conway to stash the case away in an unsolved vault, she would be sitting in her two by four cell instead of out on a balcony enjoying the cool salt air. Maybe she would visit him and even tour the new and improved Shinra building. Grimacing, the housewife pictured running into Reno again after all the empty time that lapsed. The last time she had seen the Shinra assassin, things were left awkward and unresolved. The thought of encountering Reno entered her mind again but this time she had ripped out his ponytail and choked him with it. An irrepressible smile spread across a slender face.

Yuffie continued to slam on his apartment door with her foot while screaming at the top of her lungs, "I'm not going away, Reno, so you better open up! You wanna call the cops? Go ahead, after all, that sounds just about right up your alley!"

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

"I bet you're thinking; she's going to get tired eventually and leave, right? Wrong! I'm a ninja, remember? We're a special breed, you see, our legs never run out of energy. I can do this all night, 'babe'!"

BOOM! BOOM!

"Whoa," the disturber of the peace cried out as the door opened suddenly and her tiny body came tumbling inside. Laying on the floor face up, her eyes fell upon her smug yet annoyed ex, who caused her to jump up and brush herself off. Coolly, she walked inside, but not without feeling probing eyes on her with every step that was taken. Looking around, the place looked far more disgusting than usual. Take out containers scattered throughout the spacious studio apartment along with beer bottles and jeans with a couple t-shirts here and there.

"What do you want?" Reno asked while closing the door and leaning against it; bored and hardly acknowledging his blatant betrayal. He watched as Yuffie went from taking notes on the mess of nuclear proportions to turning around and blankly facing him in a Zen like fashion. Her gaze went from his uncombed coif to the heavy bags and dark circles under his eyes to a small cut on his lower lip. It wasn't until her exploration fell upon his rosary beads and remained there that he became self conscience. Growing frustrated, the Turk shoved the beads into his shirt and crossed his arms expectantly.

"What's the matter, Reno? Don't want me to see a memory from your past?"

"What did you just say?"

"Did I stutter?" The hunter shouted prowling closer to the taller man with fire in her passionate eyes, "You can fuck me but you can't tell me something simple like the fact you had an older sister?"

He stood up straight and narrowed an intense glare at his company. Stepping up, Reno asked with a dangerous tone in his voice, "How the hell do you know about…"

Yuffie continued to move closer, taking a step with every word she pronounced, "Vikki? The same way I know about your mother, that Johnny was never your friend but the guy who killed your family and gave you those scars under your eyes, how you knew he was associated with the cops, and how I know you sold me out to save your own ass! I trusted you! How could you betray me like that?"

As she stood centimeters away, small hands reached out and pushed his lanky frame against the door. He didn't do anything to oppose; standing completely still and watching the waterworks begin. After a few moments of a heated, yet silently propelled staring competition, Yuffie reached back and slapped the man she hated more than anyone she had ever encountered. Her lip quivered, whispering softly, "I trusted you and you took advantage of me, you fucking slob."

Reno laughed, touching the side of his face where he had been attacked, and patronizingly denouncing, "You trusted me? You only knew me for a month. How can you take on this world when you don't even have something as simple as common sense? You're too innocent for your own good, kid, go back home to daddy where you belong, you spoiled pampered brat!"

"You're a fucking ass, Reno, but I should be thanking you! You just taught me to never trust a dickhead who walks into a bar with red hair," Yuffie screamed, a tear falling from overpopulated ducts and falling down onto an unscratched hardware floor, "I hate you so fucking much!"

The smile ceased to exist on a rough face as he watched another person he remotely cared about fall apart. Frowning with a sigh, he reached out and wiped a tear from his verbal abuser's face; an action which only got his hand slapped away. Resurrecting the cruel attitude, Reno spat fiercely into her stained face while stomaching his much disdained humanity, "What the hell are you crying about? We slept together, man, we weren't in love! I mean, I sure as hell didn't love you. I did what I needed to do to avenge two people I care a lot about so I'm sorry if I hurt you but you put your hopes way too high on a guy like me. I don't care and I definitely don't love! If you pictured me telling you 'I love you' in a clichéd rose infested garden over a picnic on a warm spring day followed up by a wedding proposal, you're off your rocker and should check yourself into rehab as soon as you can. Why rehab? Because you thinking I would ever marry you proves how whacked out on dope you are."

She felt her heart erupt as her eyes teared much more profusely. Her shoulders shook, breaths becoming harder and harder to take, as she looked up and simply asked in a soft voice, "Are you even in the least bit sorry? Did you even care about me as a friend? I guess not. You manipulated me and had me blamed for something that wasn't even my fight. I believed you when you said you trusted me and cared, but I guess that just proves how much of a naïve spoiled, pampered brat I am."

Reaching for the knob, Yuffie pulled back and moved the door; Reno doing nothing to stop her frantic exit. She ran down the hallway, gasping for breath and praying the tears would stop so she could see where she was going. The last remain of her heart, which hung on by a thread, gave up and fell willingly with the other unfixable pieces.

Luckily, when Yuffie had returned to Wutai, her father had accepted her back into his home with open arms after discovering her falling out with the Turk. She couldn't stay alone. Her vulnerability was too much; meeting up with Reno and experiencing this fact first hand had almost made her fear solidarity. One thing her downward spiral had said which seemed to ring true was 'Sometimes a slow progression under mommy and daddy's wing is easier than growing fast and alone. The world's an unfriendly place, princess.' Maybe she truly did need her father's help to grow up strong and wise. So for the next year, Yuffie quit her job at Turtle's Paradise and remained in the pagoda; working, training, and being what most would consider a good daughter. She had even begun enjoying her newfound dependency. It was easier than living through consequences of the stupid mistakes she becoming accustomed to making.

One night during dinner, Godo gave Yuffie a proposition; one which could restore Wutai to a state of power even more magnificent than before the war against Shinra. A new man was rising to a power. This man had enough power to easily possess the capability to tip the scales of Shinra's renowned monopoly. He had been very interested in Godo's young daughter, observing her when visiting the Kisaragi pagoda, and asked him if on her eighteenth birthday she would be his bride. She said no at first, telling her father she would not marry a man she did not love, but as days went by she slowly began to think about marriage and love in separation. Marriage is loyalty and commitment - an eternal union. Love…love just did not exist and was if it did, was far too difficult to obtain. At least true love was. What if she never would find love? What if she spent her entire life suffering a cycle similar to the occurrence she endured with Reno?

The night before she officially turned eighteen, the only Kisaragi child approached her father and accepted the proposal. Yuffie Naomi Kisaragi was getting married.

"Worst mistake ever," Yuffie whispered to herself before turning her back to the ocean and re-entering from the cold outdoors into and even colder indoor.

-

A/N : Wow. This chapter all on its own could have constituted for an entire story. The ending was a little abrupt, but I'm nearing on 10,000 words so I thought it was time to wrap it up. Anyway, I hoped you like this intro. I am trying to work out some kinks and ideas on the next chapter so if you want me to continue, please review. You as the reader inspire me as the writer to entertain so c'mon, review, you know you want to. Oh, and another thing, this story will be a dark drama/romance. If that offends you in any way shape or form, don't read it. That's all I can say. Thanks.