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A/N: My first Reno fic. He never had much of a distinct voice in my head, but one night I was getting a sort of Turk-exploring drabble thing out of my head, and there he was. Clear as day, with that electro-mag rod in hand and that flaming red hair and that frumpy suit. And, ohhh, he was pissed I had neglected him.
Obligatory (but ultimately pointless) CYA: I don't own it.
The Prerogatives of a Corporate Assassin
The first job is always the hardest.
Yeah, no shit, you're probably thinking. Thanks for stating the obvious. We're only Turks. We only kill and steal and kidnap and torture for a living. (Oh, and sometimes act as bodyguards. And SOLDIER recruiters when we have no one to kill. That, too.)
If you cut the tiptoeing paperwork and corporate bullshit, we're salary-paid hit men. It is in our job description to do all those underhanded things that nice people don't discuss, and we do them without complaint and without batting an eye.
We are not psychopathic, or sociopathic, or neurotic.
We are loyal.
Not to Shin-Ra. Yeah, the President (father or son alike) deludes himself into believing that he can order us around, but somewhere in the backs of their minds, they know. They know that we do not need them; they need us. Somewhere in the backs of their minds, they know, and they know that we know.
Shin-Ra is a convenience to a Turk. The benefits, the pay, being able to literally get away with murder—all conveniences. They're nice, we like them, sure, but we don't stick around because of them.
We have no loyalty to Shin-Ra. We stay because of loyalty to the Turks.
The job of being a Turk is actually very secondary, and that's why the first job is always the hardest. Because that's what the first one is always about—the job.
In the beginning, we delude ourselves into thinking it's just selfishness, that it's for the money—after all, we're only human, and everyone has a price, right? Or that doing dirty jobs is better than starving on the streets. Or we say it's roundabout karma or some bullshit—that most of these guys are doing nasty shit anyway, and so we're really doing the world a favor. After that, you try to convince yourself that you're simply an amoral, insane bastard—that maybe you're really just mentally unstable, you know. A closet, suppressed sadist. Whatever the reason, before that first assignment, we make up excuses for choosing to make a profession out of murder.
Mind you, we are not heartless. We react the way anybody else would. After my first mission, it wasn't until after the instinct and adrenaline of a life or death situation had worn off that it hit. And there I was, staring at two guys—rather the bodies of two guys—I had killed. Not just scratched, not just wounded, not just kicked the asses of, but killed. End of life, individuality extinguished, whoever they were, whoever they would have been.
Knees gave out, hands shook, coughing turned to retching, and I turned myself inside out on that filthy, hard pavement, puking until there was nothing left and even then not stopping.
Tseng had been with me at the time. This was before he was promoted. Still regarded as a superior, a veteran, if you will, but it was a time when he did more "field work"—as it was called—instead of paper work. And he just quietly let me have all the time I needed. When my guts had stopped trying to make my body throw up its own intestines, he simply bent down and handed me a handkerchief to wipe my mouth. And then, without a damn word, put an arm around my shoulders, brought me to my feet, and helped me to the nearest bar, where he sat me down and ordered a bottle of whiskey and two glasses.
And we drank.
He actually didn't have more than two shots, I don't think. It was me who had most of it. And then, when I was sufficiently drunk, lost in a slurred, stumbling-footed stupor, he took the bottle from my reach, and then helped me back to my apartment.
It was so routine for him, as if he'd been expecting it. And I realized later, that he had been. Call it a rookie ritual. That's why I didn't get an irritated call the next morning wondering where the hell I was, because they knew. They knew that Reno Monroe was suffering from the worst hangover of his life because he'd just done his first job the night before.
You feel like shit, like absolute shit, the day after the first—and I'm not talking about the hangover, here. You get yourself together as much as you can, and then you put on that suit again and you meander on into work—hours late (I didn't walk in until almost three in the afternoon), but still there. You go back because you have nothing else to do, because you have nowhere else to go. The rest of the world isn't made for people who kill in cold blood like you did.
And you shuffle into those offices still feeling like shit, expecting people to jump down your throat, expecting condescending glares from all those others in navy blue suits. But that doesn't happen. It really throws you off until one of them meets your eyes—and there it is.
It only takes one mission, one kill. And bam—a full-fledged Turk. Initiation complete. That is the first and last assignment you will ever think of as a "kill." All of the others are duty, obligation, and allegiance to those navy-blue-suited co-workers.
There's something in looks between Turks that speak fucking libraries, and until I did that first job, it wasn't directed at me, and I couldn't recognize it between any of the others. There's a bond there. Stronger than friends, stronger than family, stronger than any type of romantic love you'll ever hope to feel. Stronger than comrades, stronger than war buddies. Stronger than contracts signed in blood and stronger than pacts made with a shake of two bleeding palms.
That loyalty is the reason you stay. Because no one else will understand, no one else will be there to cover your blue-suited, hell-bound ass except for those other blue suits. These are people who, when you jump into hell, will willingly jump in with you. Hell, we'll even get a running start before that leap.
It's like burying a body together, but to the power of fifty. The bonds of a Turk don't speak of blood in veins but blood on cold pavement. Blood and death and the acute knowledge that heavenly clouds and white, feathered wings could never, ever be meant for us.
This is why you do not fuck with a Turk.
Angels don't watch out for demons. Sinners like us have to take care of our own.
There had always been something about him that was vaguely familiar, though I knew I'd never seen the guy before in my life.
Vincent Valentine, that is.
Fucking creepy, vampiric, Avalanche-member Vincent Valentine.
Something in the way he shot his guns, something in the way he moved, something in the way those fucking weird red eyes of his looked at us.
We all could tell. Elena was the one who found it.
She came into the private lounge reserved for us one day with a file in her hands and a look on her face, and all she said was, "He was a Turk," and simple as that, Rude and I knew.
He was one of us. He was one of them, but he was one of us.
Suddenly things clicked into place, and we were left wondering, through those glasses of hindsight that make the you of the past look so damn oblivious and stupid, why we hadn't noticed sooner.
The shock was not learning he had been a Turk. It was not seeing his picture and noticing he had gone through significant health and fashion changes since his last ID photo.
The shock was learning when he had been a Turk.
Thirty fucking years ago.
Extremely shocking, even, because despite the fact that his face was too pale and the skin around his eyes was too dark and sunken, the guy didn't look over thirty, himself.
Oh, our eyes ran like bullets over that file. Specialization in firearms, recruited at nineteen, status: missing in action. Age at the time: twenty-seven.
That particular part was dodgy. Dodgy in a way that was very common outside of Shin-Ra, but extremely rare on the inside, especially with higher-ups like us.
Last assignment: bodyguard. Stationed: Nibelheim, the Shin-Ra Mansion, the Jenova Project, and suddenly we knew—
Creepy red eyes and that freaky-looking claw of his and not aging a goddamn day—
I never liked the weirdo before, and I damn well hated him now. Thirty years ago, a generation behind me, I don't care.
You don't fuck with a Turk.
My hand had crumpled half the paper with my fist, and upon noticing this, I immediately tried to smooth it out, as if I had done him some personal injustice.
Ah, shit. Sorry, Valentine. You were probably like Tseng around the office, I bet, judging from your picture. Everything in neat piles, ink never running in round rings of coffee stains, envelopes never wrinkled, reports never turned in late. Guns always in top condition.
Still, despite the strange sort of warm, fuzzy, almost-reminiscing, this presented a very large problem. It had been easy enough to avoid in Wutai (thanks to Elena and her over-enthusiasm—I'm still torn between being pissed or grateful). But things proved far more difficult when shit was really hitting the fan back in Midgar…
If I didn't immediately have a plan of action for a situation, I tended to wing it. For this, though, I wracked my brain about what to do. That was all I could concentrate on, and it figures it did less than shit, because when we actually found them, my mind was still blank. (So much for formulating a plan. Never gonna bother trying that again.)
Elena was talking, and I let her, my mind still flying a millions miles a minute, just over and over in circles.
He was going after Hojo, and they were going after Sephiroth and Hojo, and we were going after Sephiroth and them, and interests overlapped, revenge was rightly sworn, betrayals were made, and bonds weren't broken, and fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!
Lockhart was glaring at me, her fists clenched so tight the knuckles were no doubt showing white under her gloves, and Wallace's contorted face looked like something out of hell, his eyes flaring black fire, and Valentine—
A quick glance was all I could manage.
I imagine I've sinned every goddamn day since I was sixteen, but that was the first time I really, truly felt that I deserved to go, that I should go, that I was going to hell.
Not since that day as a rookie on my first assignment did I feel like puking so much—filled with a guilt and betrayal that made me literally sick to my stomach.
He knew, and we knew, and he knew that we knew, and fuck! I just wanted to tell everyone else in that fucking ragtag team to piss the hell off, because their little personal vengeances and thirsts for justice didn't mean jack shit to me, even if it was my blood they were after, and I wanted to point to him with a finger shaking in rage and yell through gritted teeth, You find him. You find that pencil-necked, geezer asshole of a scientist and you fuck—him—over. Because it is NOT supposed to be this way. This is NOT supposed to happen.
My palm was sweating into the leather of my glove, and I gripped the handle of my EMR harder.
I was only meant to kick his ass in light-hearted sparring matches in the halls, and he was only meant to kick my ass with rightful superiority when my pranks pissed him off, and we were meant to kill, but not each other. Fucking not each other.
Sometimes I wondered if it was that sense of betrayal to another Turk that, more than anything else, made me say something to Elena. Yeah, they were going to try to save the planet, and were probably the only ones who could, and if they didn't succeed, well, everyone—Turks included—would be fucked, but…
Looking between Rude and I after a fumbled attempt to argue, the look of incredulous confusion on her face slowly changed into one of comprehension. And without even one death on her hands in the name of that suit she wore, she realized that it had never really been about orders and missions anyway, in the long run.
Bright little 'Laney. Always full of surprises.
We went out drinking that night. Before that first swallow, Elena spoke up, somberly, seriously.
"To the Turks." Three glasses clinked together.
"Here's hoping he does it," I added. Rude nodded, and we drank.
At least half of the sentiment behind that toast was not directed at Cloud Strife.
Months later, maybe even close to years later, we met in a bar. I was sitting in the corner when he came in, and I didn't notice right away. He was always so damn silent, and I was too preoccupied with watching the way the dim light filtered through the glass of dark amber liquid in front of me. But before I knew it, a shadow passed over the table, and I immediately looked up.
The same expression as ever, stone-faced and not revealing a damn thing. That red cape of his was gone, and in its place was a knee-length black coat that was less conspicuous and better suited for cities and towns. His hair was still a long mess, held back by that bandana of his, and his hands—flesh and metal alike—were shoved into his coat pockets.
No explanation as to why he had come over. Neither of us really needed one.
I half-smirked. "Hey, Valentine."
He nodded back. "Reno." His eyes flicked around me, and he purposely seemed mildly puzzled by the space at the table. "Rude and Elena?"
"Bodyguard detail over in Junon."
"Reeve, yeah," I finished for him. (Reeve Tuesti had reluctantly taken over the remains of Shin-Ra, and though he didn't particularly like being completely in charge, he was good at it.)
He nodded again, and remained silent.
A moment passed where I simply waited to see if he would actually say something. As I expected, he didn't. I shifted back in my seat slightly. "Why don't you sit your ass down?"
After another moment, he obliged, lowering himself into the seat to the left of me, so that his back was against the wall.
I caught a waitress and motioned for another glass, and as she bustled off, I finally gave him a good, level look. He looked straight back. "So," I started, jumping right into the subject, casual business-like, "…did you kill Hojo?"
He continued to look at me for a moment, but then he nodded once. "Yes," was all he said.
I grinned (this is not sadism, this is loyalty). "Good," I simply said, relishing the word.
He gave his piss-poor version of a mirroring smirk, merely a twitch at the corner of his lips, before the expression flickered back to neutral.
The waitress came back, and I poured whiskey into both of the glasses, then slid his drink over to him.
So we sat. And we drank.
A/N: I've always loved the Turks, and have always found their relationships (with each other, with Shin-Ra, with everyone else) fascinating, and ended up really wanting to explore that aspect. Especially in Reno's case. He's so casual with everything, but at the same time he has this almost obsessive loyalty to his comrades, it seems, and I guess I just wanted to capture that. I mean, he blows off helping the Shin-Ra soldiers in Wutai, but has no qualms with pairing up with Avalanche, the enemy, when Elena's in trouble. It always seemed that he had morals (or at least some semblance of them), he was just very selective with where they were placed. Well, and then Vincent…I had to add him in. I often think Vincent as a Turk is more interesting to me than normal ol' red-caped Vincent.
Reviews: never required, but always appreciated, as they taste delicious with breakfast. Hope you enjoyed this.