Disclaimer: I do not own FFVII
Warnings: Short, intro
"Looks like you got another one."
Reno walked over to his desk and was pleasantly surprised to find a pack of his favorite cigarettes among the mess of papers and folders. As usual, the gift was tied with a black ribbon to a dark red rose. He grinned at Rude.
"What's this? You have a secret admirer or something?" A blond woman peered past the taller man's shoulder in an attempt to see what Reno had picked up.
The red head laughed. "Yeah, something like that. And she knows me pretty well. I just ran out of these last night, yo."
Elena raised an eyebrow. "How are you so certain that this person is female?"
Reno's grin didn't fade, and in fact grew wider as he showed his fellow Turk the small present. "I just don't think a guy would tie a rose to every gift, yo."
Elena frowned. "Are you sure it's safe?"
Rude answered, "We took the first few gifts down to the lab to find that they were perfectly normal. Reno has never had a problem with them."
Soft, flaxen hair brushed lightly tanned cheeks. "How long has this been going on?"
Reno shrugged. "A couple of weeks. She even got me a new EMP holster for my birthday last week with a card."
Elena shook her head again as she read the card that wished him a happy 25th birthday. It wasn't signed. She returned the card and handed a file to Rude, turning around to walk out of the office. "Just watch it, Reno."
All she received in reply was a smirk. "Aww, I didn't realize you cared!"
"I don't," her voice seemed to float back. "It just that filling out the paper work for a dead Turk is a major headache."
Several hours later, the slender blond returned to the office shared by the pair. Looking from Rude's pristine desk to where Reno was passed out, she rolled her eyes. "The President wants you two to report to the training room." She turned to face the slowly waking Turk, a smirk of her own just touching red lips. "He especially asked for you Reno."
The man blinked in surprise. "Why does he want to see me?"
Elena couldn't resist the grin any more. "There's a new recruit that he wants to test against you."
"Again, why me?" While this wasn't the first time he'd help "test" the recruits, it was the first time he had been requested.
Elena shrugged. "I'm just the messenger. But we should probably get going. The President isn't a patient man."
The three made their way down to the basement level, Rude and Elena walking side by side with Reno following at a somewhat less enthusiastic pace. A request from the president of Shinra Corporation was not something to be taken lightly, but for some reason, this call for him made Reno uneasy.
"Just go to the Arena," Elena directed the redheaded Turk. "We'll be in Ops."
Reno nodded and, with a typical Reno wave, disappeared into the main training room, otherwise known as the Arena. Rude watched until the doors slid shut before joining Elena on the stairs that would take him to a small room that overlooked the Arena. He wished he could have told his partner how much this was worrying him; from Elena's evil grin to the special request from the head of Shinra.
The doors at the top of the stairs opened to reveal a young man with hair the color of fresh honey seated in front of a wall of windows. His raven haired guardian turned his head to look at them, nodding to acknowledge their presence. A smile touched his lips, making Rude feel even more ill at ease.
"Come and look at this," Rufus Shinra motioned with his finger for the two Turks to join him at the viewing window. As Rude approached, he was taken back by the number of unconscious or dead SOLDIERs that littered the Arena. Even more surprising was the figure that stood in the center of the room.
While the baggy clothes hid most of the small body, Rude could see slender arms coming up to protect a face that was turned away from him. The muscles of those arms spoke of a hard life on the streets, toned and slender. Not unlike those of his partner.
"What do you think of her, Rude?" Rufus asked the tall dark skinned man.
"'Her?'" The figure finished a round house kick and now faced the windows. She was clearly female; her shirt ripped enough to prove that fact. Her brown hair brushed her jaw line and, like the rest of her, was filthy. The most striking feature, though, was the scar that ran from her right eyebrow and across the bridge of her nose, just missing her eye.
"She seems to be holding her own," Rude replied. The woman had finally noticed the shadow that was Reno, and paused to get ready for whatever was to come.
"Yes she does." Rufus chuckled. "Would you like to know where we found her?"
Rude didn't reply, knowing he was going to hate hearing the answer
"It seems that this insignificant piece of filth has a little something for Reno. We caught her leaving that last little present on his desk."
Rude's eyes bugged as he looked at the woman. She couldn't have been much younger then Reno, if that. He could hear Rufus, Tseng and Elena laughing about this little fact, but couldn't bring himself to join them.
"The three of us have a bet going," Rufus remarked, almost casually. "I think she'll fight to the bitter end but loose, Tseng feels that Reno will kill her and Elena seems to think that Reno will loose. What do you think?"
The remaining Turk swallowed. "She won't fight."
A look of surprise crossed the president's face. "Oh? Well, I guess we'll see."