A/N: Be forewarned, this does contain spoilers for Crisis Core! I decided to write this piece because there is so little out there for ZackxCissnei, and even less for Cissnei herself. Which sucks, since she's an awesome character. We need to get cracking and compile fanart and fanfiction for her! :D Anyway. . . I hope you all enjoy!
Disclaimer: Owns nothing
Aftermath of Tragedy
She moved slowly through the floors of the building, her hands hanging limply at her sides. Her wide brown eyes were fixed and steady, but there was a bleak sadness mixed with a despairing anger in them that had the Shinra employees hurrying out of her way.
A quick swipe of her card key opened the door to her small dorm room and she stepped in swiftly, snapping the lock back into place behind her. In the cover of the semi darkness, she leaned back against the solid door, raising her trembling hands to press against her face. Her breathing came rapidly past her lips and she struggled to control it, reaching for the training she had received for the majority of her life, to help compose herself.
Her breath eventually slowed and calmed, but nothing could sooth the tormented emotions warring inside of her. A warm trickle of liquid slid down her cheek, and startled, she moved trembling fingers to touch it. It took the young woman a moment to realize she was crying. She hadn't cried for years. Not since she had been taken from the orphanage.
It wasn't that she hid her emotion. Quite the opposite- she was very up front about how she was feeling for the most part. But she did not cry. Turks didn't cry. But then, it wasn't every day a Turk had her heart blown to bits like a skeet target they used in training.
Swiping at the moisture quickly, she moved forward through the darkness, turning on her small bedside lamp before pulling her duffle bag out from under the bed and began to fill it quickly. Clothes were folded neatly and lined the bottom before she began tossing in her weapons and equipment, two novels, and a few sentimental items. There wasn't much to pack, and she soon zipped the bag closed and slung it over her shoulder with ease. Without so much as a backward glance at the room she had lived in since she was eight, she strode out into the hallway.
Being so late, and since the Turk's quarters were off limits to anyone unless they were higher ups, there was no one around. For that she was glad. Less witnesses, less complications. She really didn't want to have to kill someone she knew. There had been enough of that going around to last her ten lifetimes.
On light feet she sprinted soundlessly down the hall towards the elevators, swiping her card key through and stepping inside. Her finger moved to punch the ground floor button, then paused as a sudden thought crossed her mind. She hesitated only a moment longer to deliberate the matter before quickly jabbing the correct button. The elevator moved smoothly down, and her dark eyes watched the lighted numbers tick slowly downward five floors then stop.
This floor was just as deserted as the other, but then, she wasn't really surprised. All the first class Soldiers were gone after all. No one had moved up in the ranks to take their places yet, and she doubted that anyone ever would. There could never be another Sephiroth, or an Angeal or Genesis. Or a-
She clamped a mental hand down on the thought, blinking back the burning sensation in her eyes. Now was not the time for reminiscing. She had a job to do.
Her chocolate eyes scanned the nameplates by the doors as she moved slowly down the hall, checking each one until she found the one she wanted. Bending down, she eyed the lock carefully, pulling out her key card and slid it through. As she expected, it didn't work, but that wasn't much of a problem. Taking a small electronic device out of her bag she held it firmly over the lock, and swiped the key again. This time there was a soft click as the lock slid open and she managed a small satisfied smile.
Rising, she stepped over the threshold, and it was as if an invisible fist had punched her in the gut. She staggered, clenching her teeth together to keep from crying out in sorrow as the grief threatened to overwhelm her once more. Here, in his room, surrounded by his things, his presence was so tangible, so very real she almost expected to turn around and find him leaning against the doorframe with that innocent little smile twitching his lips to inquire what she was doing in his room, remarking on how inappropriate it was for a lady, even if she was a Turk!
Hell, it hurt.
She forced herself upright, opening her eyes to survey the area. He had a lot more stuff than she did, that was for certain. Not to mention he was something of a slob. A sock dangled from the end of his bed, another draped across his lampshade. The bed was unmade and dirty laundry littered the floor like a second carpet. The only things that looked halfway clean at all were his weapons rack where all of his equipment was neatly stacked and placed. It figured.
Picking her way gingerly through the mess, she moved to his desk where she decided the most important things would be. Moving aside an old newspaper and a few Shinra fliers, she found an array of photographs taken during his time in Soldier. In every one he was grinning widely, his sapphire sky eyes twinkling up at her. In some he was alone, in others he was with Angeal, quite a few with that blond infantryman Cloud, one of him and Sephiroth, a number of him and Aerith. . .there were even a couple of him and her together during the vacation in Costa La Sol. A soft sad smile twitched her lips. Those she would definitely keep for herself. The rest she would take to his parents, and maybe some to Aerith.
In one smooth motion she gathered the photos together and slipped them into an envelope before sticking them into her bag. A few more trinkets joined them along with some newspaper clippings that mentioned him, and then at last, his first sword that had been broken in a training session so only a few inches of blade and the handle remained.
As she slipped it easily into her bag, two outfits hanging up in the closet caught her eye. One was a dark midnight blue, the other black as onyx. His first soldier outfits for second and first class. He'd kept them, even though they had both been torn and retired for newer ones. She shook her head, another smile curving her lips. What a pack rat he was. The blue uniform came down first, folded neatly into a small bundle and shoved into her nearly full bag. Her fingers then tugged the black one out, soft to the touch. A faint oder touched her senses and she froze.
Warmth. Green, open places. An earthy, rich sort of smell. His scent.
"What are you doing, Cissnei?"
She whirled, cursing herself rapidly for not being more aware of her surroundings as she stared at the man who had entered the room so quietly she hadn't even heard the door open and shut.
Tseng stared at her for a long moment, then his gaze fell to the uniform in her hands and the bag at her feet.
"I'm cleaning out-"
He interrupted her before she could finish the lie. "No, you weren't. At least, not under anyone's orders."
Cissnei turned her eyes away from him. "I thought I'd pack up the sentimental things to take to his parents."
"While you were running away?"
"I'm not running away!"
"Your room's been cleaned out. Don't lie to me, Cissnei."
Her flashing brown eyes met his head on. "What would you have me do?" she asked quietly, though the strength was clear in her voice. "You would have me stay and serve a company that had a good, honest, loyal man murdered? Maybe you can do that, Tseng, but I can't."
"You're a Turk, Cissnei. You can't just leave Shinra. You know that."
She nodded. "I know. I know too many secrets. I understand that, and I'm prepared for the consequences."
This answer apparently didn't please Tseng, and he frowned at her, tapping his fingers against his folded arms. "Where will you go?"
"If I told you that, it would defeat the purpose of running away." She blinked, sighing as she adjusted the bag on her shoulder. "I'm going to stop by Gongaga and leave these things for his parents, but first, I think I need to visit Aerith."
Tseng's voice took on a sharp note. "Why?"
Cissnei gazed at him, surprised. "She deserves to know, Tseng. I'm going to tell her and give her these pictures of them together. It will mean a lot to her, to know he did care."
"You can't tell her." Seeing the young female open her mouth to argue, he continued quietly, his voice firm and even. "If you told her classified information, it would warrant a mark for execution. Considering how valuable Aerith is though, they will simply order her capture and return to Hojo's lab."
The Turk's resolve wavered. It was one thing to risk her own life- that was her choice. But she had no right to do that to the young flower girl in the slums.
"For you it would be the ultimate act of betrayal. You would be hunted, captured, and then publicly executed." Tseng looked away. "I would not want to watch that happen to you. Once was bad enough."
The stinging burning sensation returned to her eyes. "He didn't deserve that, Tseng. He. . . he was the best they ever had, and Shinra. . ." A few tears slipped down her rounded cheeks and she swiped at them furiously.
Tseng watched her with a rare glimmer of compassion in his eyes. "I know. Zack deserved better."
The sound of his name seemed to unlock a floodgate inside of her and she couldn't stop the moisture from falling. The dark haired Turk reached into his pocket and produced a plain cotton handkerchief, offering it to her. She accepted it gratefully, dabbing at the pearly tears that wouldn't seem to slow.
But after a time, they eventually did, and she exhaled, pulling her control around her once more. "What would you have me do, Tseng?"
A slight smile tugged at Tseng's lips. "How about a dangerous mission?"
For a moment Cissnei could only stare at him in utter confusion. Then the light went on in her mind and she nearly laughed out loud. "A dangerous mission sounds appealing. Even bloodthirsty monsters have been known to best Turks now and then."
"Deaths and disappearances have been known to happen on missions," he agreed solemnly. "I will mean quite a bit of paperwork and the loss of a good employee, but I suppose I can deal with it."
"Thank you Tseng," she said earnestly, then hesitated, pulling out the pictures she had intended to give to Aerith. "Here. You'll have to give her these then."
He took the envelope and tucked it into his jacket pocket. "What about the rest of Zack's things?"
"I'll take those to his parents myself. They already think that Zack and I- well, you know. I had to tell them something before."
Tseng gave her a raised eyebrow. "Indeed. Interesting that it was that lie you decided to use."
She ignored him pointedly, speaking again. "I won't tell them anything- just that he's missing in action and presumed dead. Then I'll find someplace to settle."
He nodded. "Good. Here." He reached into his jacket once more, producing a small black cell phone without the Shinra logo. "Take this. It's my extra phone. Secure, untraceable line. So I can check in on you from time to time."
Cissnei accepted it quietly before handing him her own phone. "Thank you. . ." she told him again quietly.
Tseng said nothing watching as she strode toward the door. She opened it when his voice stopped her in her tracks.
"Why did you never tell Zack how you felt?"
For several long moments she did not respond, her back to him, one hand resting on the door handle. Through the darkness he saw the glitter of her eyes as she looked back at him, her voice soft and wistful as she spoke.
"I was content with the way things were. I honestly didn't mind about Aerith. As long as Zack was happy, I was happy. That's all that mattered to me."
Her boss gazed at her quietly. "Very noble and unselfish."
She shrugged slightly. "Maybe. I don't know. I don't really think of myself that way. Not after all the things I've done."
"Zack thought of you that way."
Her glimmering brown eyes closed briefly in an attempt to keep her composure. "Zack saw the best in everyone." She breathed out shakily, tucking a lock of her reddish brown hair behind her ear. "That reminds me. . . when that infantryman, Cloud, turns up. . . let me know."
Tseng frowned. "There was no sign of him at the site- you told me that yourself. He's most likely dead, Cissnei."
She shook her head. "Zack wouldn't have died until he was certain that young man would be safe. Cloud is alive, I know. Tseng- Zack gave his life so that he could live. Don't ruin that sacrifice, if you ever come across him, okay?"
His puzzled expression remained, brow wrinkled as he gazed at her. "I'll see what I can do," he said finally.
"I appreciate it," she told him simply.
"You never got to tell Zack your real name."
Her pretty hazel eyes blinked, and she sighed. "No, I didn't. But I will be able to, some day." She gave a small smile, lifting her hand in a wave. "Goodbye, Tseng."
The Turk inclined his head. "Until we meet again, Cissnei."
Nodding one last time in response, Cissnei stepped out into the hall, the door closing behind her with a quiet click. She had to move quickly if she wanted to avoid any of the sentries on their rounds and raised any unnecessary questions, despite Tseng's assurance that he would make it appear she had died in action.
She entered the elevator once more and hit the button for the ground floor, leaning against the cool glass surface. A shiver went through her body, the hair at the back of her neck prickling, and for a second she couldn't figure out why. Then she realized what it was, and closed her eyes, a small sad little smile curving her lips.
His presence was still with her.
"Its okay, Zack," she murmured. "I'm fine for the moment. The person you should be looking out for is that spiky headed blond. He seems the type to get into trouble, don't you think?"
It was as if she could still hear his laugh at the comment, and Cissnei couldn't help giving a muted chuckle of her own.
"Really. I'll be okay. Though. . . I hope you will drop in every now and then." She sighed softly, her eyes opening slightly, looking up through her lashes at her reflection in the glass.
Blue eyes gleamed at her there, and a quick familiar grin accompanied them as a hand lifted in salute. Cissnei's breath caught in her throat and her eyes welled with moisture as she took a step forward, her hand touching the cool surface of the glass.
She was alone once more, staring at only her own image, even the familiar comfort of his larger than life presence gone for now. That was fine though- she didn't mind. It was just how her life was. People would come and go, nothing was permanent or lasted forever. Cissnei understood that better than anyone.