Final Fantasy VII

Not Too Late

By LuckyLadybug

Notes: The characters are not mine and this story is! I've been dabbling in the FF7 fandom for the past few months, and while I was trying to write a story for a different fandom, I got distracted by this random blurb. I thought I was going to add more to it, but eh, it looks pretty complete as-is. So, here is some shameless (and clean) hurt/comfort.

Rude did not know what he was expecting to find when he dared to venture into the wreckage left from the explosion. Beams from the ceiling were now on the floor, both ones that were whole and ones that featured jagged, splintered edges. Water was pouring out of the broken pipes, and a great dust cloud had risen, mingling with the smoke from the bomb.

The large man coughed, placing a hand over his nose and mouth as he advanced into the room. It was all a disaster area, barely recognizable as what it had once been---a proud and spacious office. Now it was little more than twisted wood and metal, interspersed with the bodies of those foolish enough to have been inside at the time. . . .

A flash of red caught Rude's eye, and a wave of panic rose in his throat. That was not the color of blood; it was too spiky and messy, with a hint of orange mixed into the crimson. He picked up his pace, only vaguely aware of the unfamiliar forms in his path that he had to step across. Once he splashed into a puddle of blood mixed with water, but he ignored that as well---even the stain that quickly spread over the bottoms of his pant legs. All he could see was the red amidst the debris ahead of him, and one limp hand that was hanging out from between two beams.

It seemed that it took much too long to reach it, even though it was only a span of a few seconds. Immediately he seized upon the nearest beam, gripping it with shaking hands before thrusting it aside. There was red on it, too---the deep red of the life-sustaining substance. He felt sick.

"Reno!" he called desperately, a cough exploding from his mouth almost as soon as he had spoken the name. It seemed that the clouds of debris were only getting thicker. He needed to get out of there, but he would not leave without his longtime partner and friend. That was something he absolutely refused to do. But . . . Reno had not responded. Was he unconscious? Or . . . was it worse than that?

Rude grabbed another beam, shoving it aside to finally free the lifeless hand. It fell to the floor with a weak thump, and to Rude the sound was much too loud. He wanted to take hold of it, to check desperately for a pulse, but he would be wasting valuable time. He had to finish digging Reno out of this mess before doing anything else. Even if . . . if the obnoxious redhead was not breathing, Rude would not be able to attempt a resuscitation until the other was released from his prison.

"Reno!" he cried again, hearing a pleading tone slip into his voice. How had his foolish friend ended up in this situation in the first place? He had not thought, had not ever imagined, that Reno had still been here when the bomb ripped through. Reno should not have been. Had the fighting detained him? Would he have left if not for their enemies? Could he have had a different reason for staying? Rude could not imagine what it would have been. No, this was most likely a bad stroke of luck, completely unpredicted and unpreventable.

Rude could see other alarming things as he lifted the remainder of the wood and metal that had fallen over his partner. Reno was sprawled on his stomach, as if he may have been trying to leave when he had been caught by the falling ceiling. His clothes were badly ripped and torn, and through many of the openings, his flesh could be seen as being equally battered. Blood was leaking from several of the wounds, weaving its way over his skin in rivulets until it dripped off to land on the floor beneath---or on whatever was nearby. Rude drew his hand back when several drops splashed upon it.

The younger man's hair tie had come undone, leaving the bright red locks spread out around him, over his back and half-hiding his face. He had always kept his hair back so that it would not interfere with his work, and now that it was loose, it only added to his all-around disheveled and defeated appearance.

Quickly and carefully Rude brushed the strands aside, his hands shaking as he tried to examine the other's spine and neck. Nothing seemed to be broken, and as he gently turned his partner onto his back, he had to hope that was correct.

Reno fell limply into place as Rude rolled him over, and his lips parted in the vaguest trace of a moan at the movement. His goggles were hanging ajar, tangled up in the hair. His face was scratched, and a bit of blood ran down from his forehead over his left eyelid and across his cheek. Another thin trail ran from his mouth, but he did not notice or care. Rude could see now that Reno's chest was rising and falling in an unsteady, ragged manner, and the fear clawed at him again.

"Reno . . ." he breathed, shakily sliding one hand around the limp shoulders and the other under his knees. Slowly he began to stand, taking his partner with him. Reno was easy to carry, and especially so now, when he could not protest needing help. Now that Rude knew Reno was alive, the next step was to get out of this mess. The redhead obviously needed immediate medical treatment, and Rude was determined to get it to him.

The green eyes opened weakly. "Hey, Rude. . . ." Reno's voice came out rasping and harsh, unlike the normal, smooth tones Rude was so used to hearing from him. "Looks like you got here just a little too late. . . ." He struggled to grin, his remark obviously being a jab at himself and not at his partner.

Even so, Rude held the shuddering body closer to him, his jaw set. "Don't try to talk." He was determined to have not come too late. Reno would be fine.

The redhead jerked as a cough rippled through his body. "I was wondering if . . . if you'd make it at all," he mumbled.

Rude refused to answer. Instead he stepped over the lifeless forms in his path, making his way to his goal of the door. There were definitely things he wanted to know, to demand to be told, but he would hold his tongue for now. Reno would have plenty of time to tell him, once he recovered.