Memoires Of A Mental Breakdown

Conversations And Altercations Continued

Shelke rises two hours early. She's not trying to avoid her manic companion – well, not completely, at any rate – it's just that she has yet to finish Proust and there's no other time for her to commence such an endeavor. The silence of the breakfast nook should be refreshing. She has a lot on her mind. Too much on her mind.

She silently slinks into the kitchen, armed with nothing but a hardcover tome written by a long dead author and the adamant determination to digest the remaining seventy five pages in under sixty minutes.

In reality it should take all of ten.

Shelke goes about fixing a cup of decaffeinated coffee. She still does not favor the beverage, but it seems to be the drink of choice among budding intellectuals and she figures she may as well acquire a taste.

She proceeds to fill her cup to the rim and thinks nothing of the very pointed 'ahem' directed toward her vicinity.

"Vincent," she concludes, not turning around. "I would appreciate your naturally taciturn nature for the next half an hour or so. I'm almost done with my book and I need to reread certain passages to make sure I adequately comprehend the innate symbolism laden within the pages."

"Damn, kid. Would it kill you to speak English?"

That was decidedly not from the mouth of Vincent Valentine.

Shelke turns around slowly. She has never been one to panic.

"Reno," she states. "You're here."

"Well now, aren't you the perceptive one?"

Reno takes it upon himself to applaud Shelke for her observant tendencies. The sound grates on her ears. She wishes he would stop with the bravado, but ultimately concludes he will not, simply because it's in his incorrigible nature.

"Why not sit down so we can conduct this little conversation in a mature fashion?"

Shelke is hesitant – for obvious reasons.

"I despise most humans," she retaliates, aware Reno has taken up temporary residency in her best friend's seat. "You happen to fall into this category."

"Yes, humans are terrifying creatures," Reno agrees, a smirk adorning his features. Shelke momentarily wonders if he ever stops smiling. Perhaps it's a birth defect. "You, on the other hand, are the stuff of nightmares."

"I'm flattered," she dead pans, attempting the feat of sarcasm. "But I do not wish to share words with you. If you would be so kind as to remove yourself from my presence, I would be most grateful."

"Now why would I want to do that?"

It's a rhetorical line of inquiry, and Shelke knows better than to venture an answer.

"I find your honesty terribly amusing. Besides, I could do with a good laugh or two. So sit down. You and I both know we're too stubborn to go anywhere."

Shelke contemplates her potential transparency but thinks better of it. In retrospect, it was the right move. Reno didn't need to know she was trying to rekindle her powers.

"Very well," she sighs. "I see no other alternative."

"You mean you're not going to scream for your beloved Vincent or go crying to that certifiable ninja friend of yours?"

"I'm a Tsviet. We don't scream and we don't cry."

Reno laughs at this because, well, ha ha, isn't it funny?

His amusement echoes off the walls and the room resounds with his affable mimicry.

"Good to know."

The Turk then takes the initiative to stretch his arms to maximum wingspan. He casually drapes them on either side of the bench.

"So you gonna sit down or what?"

Shelke complies, albeit begrudgingly.

(She really did want to finish reading Proust.)

"I am not fond of you," she dictates, because she deems it important enough to warrant repetition.

"I couldn't tell."

"I also do not favor your presence."

"Ah – but you said presence, m'dear, not proximity. Small, technical detail. Easily overlooked. Don't worry, I understand. I'm not particularly fond of fine print myself – unless, of course, it works in my favor. As it does now."

Shelke balks.

"You have provided me with no such documents!"

"Documents?" Reno echoes, taken aback by what seems to be a declaration of no relevance. "You mean, like, a restraining order? Hate to break it to you, hun, but I don't recall you issuing one."

"No – I mean to reference these alleged papers containing said fine print. I bore witness to no such literature. You have no tangible fine print for me to read. I must say, that was most un-thorough of you. My disappointment is unprecedented."

"It was a joke, Miss Transparent. You do know what a joke is, right?"

"As was mine."

Shelke is too busy contemplating her old misnomer to provide Reno with more adequate response.

"I presume you are here to acquire a blood sample."

"Oh please – if I wanted a blood sample I would just take it."

Shelke sits down and folds her hands in front of her – if for no other reason than to prove she is not, in fact, trembling.

"You would try."

Reno graces her with another one of his obnoxious chuckles.

"Ah, big words for a little girl."

"Nineteen," she hisses. "I'm nineteen."

Never mind the fact that Yuffie is constantly reminding her she has yet to hit puberty, that she belongs in middle school, that she has not yet outgrown her training bra. With Reno, it's different. With Reno, she feels the dire need to enforce her age. With Reno, she needs to be as formidable as possible.

"Tread carefully, Shelke. I think you're on the verge of exhibiting emotion."

"God Forbid."

"Oooh – sarcasm!" Reno sits up straight and leans across the table, his face leering dangerously close to hers. "Tell me, did Yuffie train you in the art of persuasion as well?"

Shelke simmers in discontent.

"I am not to be trained."

"You already are."

Miss Transparent blinks and resists the urge to change the color of her eyes.

"If your intent is not to bleed me try, then why did you come here?"

"Ah, Shelke – you underestimate us Turks. Maybe we no longer need a blood sample. Maybe I'm just here to pump you for information."

Shelke actually makes an effort to roll her eyes.

"Why would you inform me of such things? That would defeat the purpose of this interrogation entirely."

"This is hardly an interrogation."

"You accost me and I reply. Such does not constitute as a conversation. Therefore my previous statement remains valid."

"No it doesn't," Reno laughs. "It's not an interrogation unless it involves torture. If I just extract information it remains a conversation."

Shelke doesn't wish to extend this encounter any longer than she has to.

"Very well," she amends. "Present your inquiries and be done with it."

"Ha; you sure as hell don't mince words."

"Why bother? I do not favor your company, and I pity those who have suffered the distinct misfortune of your prolonged presence."

"Oh Shelke, how you wound me."

Shelke represses the urge to vomit.

"I could rectify that."

"Awesome!" Reno exclaims, all but rising from his chair. "Let's fight! Do your thing and kick my ass!"

"I fail to see the purpose of such an undertaking."

"You don't want to make a lunge for my jugular? What about my knee caps? Sternum? Oh – I know! My shin bones! Go for my shin bones!"

"Your capacity for lunacy astounds me."

Reno extracts himself from the breakfast nook. Shelke finds his newfound disposition way too chipper for such requests. It's disconcerting.

"Wanna take this outside? I know how much you must value this table."

Shelke opts to go with honesty. "No."

"Gimme a reason."

"Give me a reason why I should."

Reno resorts to mock sympathy.

"Aw, are you afraid you can't beat me?"

Shelke could kill him easily and she knows it. She's fairly certain he knows it, too.

And if he doesn't – well, he should.

"I thought you aspired to obtain information. Not bragging rights."

"You see right through me," Reno demures.

He resumes his former position, once again returning to his normal, more placid, countenance. He still wears a ghost of a smirk, though.

"How about this: I'll be upfront with you and you be upfront with me. Deal?"

Shelke merits the necessity of reiteration. "No."

"Look," Reno begins, trying to switch tactics and segue into another form of attack. "Maybe we don't need a blood sample because we already got one. Maybe we've already cloned you. Maybe – "

"Then why show up at all?"

Silence. Reno revels in it.

"Maybe we found ourselves one of your companions from Deep Ground and we already have all the pertinent information we need."

This was said to elicit an emotional response from Shelke, and she knows it.

"So? Bother them and leave me alone."

Reno leans in for the kill.

"Your eyes are orange. You do know that, right?"

" … Shit."

"You swear now, too! My, my Shelke, you're just growing up in all sorts of ways."

Shelke tries to revert her eyes back to their normal hue, but they will not comply.

"So let's talk about all that mako you've got surging through your veins. And your eyes too, apparently."

She should have invested in a good pair of contacts before injecting said mako back into her system. Accursed hindsight.

"Oh, where are my manners?" Reno feigns. "Tell me, how's that sister of yours doing? Still on life support? You thinking about pulling the plug? She must have a good insurance policy – after all, she did work for the government."

Shelke rubs her temples fervently. This is not going well.

Reno plasters on a grin wide enough to crack half his face.

"Wanna try and kill me yet?"

Shelke stops messaging her temples and looks up.

"Why? So you can ascertain how much mako I've put back into my system? I think not."

The minute Reno's eyes widen is the minute Shelke realizes she's said something horribly wrong.

"So you have been shooting up!" Reno declares triumphantly.

A derogatory Tviet appellation escapes her mouth. She should have known better.

"Only once," Shelke lies. "Mako is in short supply."

"Bull shit. The left side of your face is see through."

Shelke panics and reaches up to assess this alleged phenomenon.

"Gotchya!" Reno cries. "Now why would you trust a word I say if it didn't hold the potential to be true?"

"For fun and profit," Shelke drips sardonically.

It seems not all of Yuffie's lessons were lost on her.

Shelke abruptly stands up.

"You got what you came for. Now tell me about this supposed Deep Ground member you managed to obtain or I will kill you."

"Not if I don't answer your question. You need me alive for an answer, don't you?"

Again with the lack of foresight.

" . . . There are things worse than death."

"Funny. That's exactly what Nero said two days ago."

Shelke's mouth involuntarily hangs open.

"Shelke? Oh Shelke, where did you go?"

The girl in question looks down at her hands and finds that they are currently invisible.

"Well, I'd say this was a productive meeting, wouldn't you? Let us know when you decide to launch a rescue mission. Maybe we can negotiate. Until then, I bid thee ado."

Shelke says nothing. There is nothing left to say.

o-o-o-o

The room is as cold as always, but Shelke knows she is not trembling because of the temperature. She doesn't even bother to consult her comatose sister for an answer that will never come. She just silently produces five syringes, each containing a hefty dose of mako, and begins the silent ritual of rolling up her sleeve to expose the skin of her upper arm.

"For Nero," she decides, picking up the first vial and beginning the injection.

"For Azul," she says in similar fashion, making use of the second needle. She drains the thing of its contents in under ten seconds.

"For Rosso."

A third needle finds its way into her arm.

"For Weiss."

A fourth.

"And for my sister."

A fifth.

"And … me."

She reaches for another syringe but comes up short. There is nothing left to administer.

She doesn't have time to worry about the matter, though. Five seconds later darkness engulfs her and all she can remember is the distinct sound her head made as it collided with the tile floor.

o-o-o-o

"Gawds, why the hell won't she wake up?"

"Look at the empty syringes, Yuffie. Why do you think she won't wake up?"

Shelke detects a hint of urgency in Vincent's voice. It's a first for her. Possibly him, too.

"I'm trying not to, Vinnie, thank you very much. Now help me elevate her head, will you?"

"Her feet," Vincent corrects. "You want to elevate her feet."

"Then don't just stand there, do it!"

Yuffie's panic is more evident.

"I just don't understand it, Vinnie! She used to sleep in this stuff. Why the hell is she on the goddamn floor? I mean, for heaven's sake! Are these things filled with black market mako? Cut with other shit? Was it not pure enough for her? Where did she find this stuff? And why the hell didn't she tell me?"

"You're rambling again."

"Vincent Valentine – you can officially shut the hell up!"

Impressive. She used his whole name. Another first.

"Did you elevate her feet yet?"

"Five minutes ago."

"Okay. Good. Does she, like, need CPR or something? Because I am totally willing to sacrifice my dignity and give her the kiss of life if I have to!"

"Not necessary. I already checked her pulse. She'll come around soon enough. Though I don't recommend shaking her so hard. You're going to break her neck."

"Damn it Shelke! When she wakes up, I'm knocking her back out, just outta spite. Hold me to that, will you? Cuz I'll probably forget I said it ten minutes from now."

"I sincerely doubt that."

Shelke hears Yuffie stomp over to confront her cohort.

"How can you stay so calm in a time like this?"

"Because I don't aspire to fracture her collar bone."

"What if someone spiked the mako? What if her … dealer … mixed it with cyanide? What if she doesn't wake up? What if there's permanent brain damage? What if we have to bury her tomorrow? What if we accidentally bury her alive? … knights of the round, how long as she been like this?"

Shelke tries to figure out when Yuffie finds time to breathe.

"Approximately thirty minutes – I heard a noise and came to check on Shelua. Admittedly, I did not expect to find Shelke in need of our aid."

"I knew something was wrong when she didn't show up for breakfast!"

Shelke is secretly glad such events did not occur, for she does not know how much longer she could have held out in front of Yuffie.

"I think Reno was here."

"Wait – what? How? Why?"

"The door," Vincent supplies. "Someone tampered with the security system. Also: Shelke left her Proust book at the bar – not the table. She never sits at the bar. I'm guessing someone interrupted her."

"Gawds, she was trying to read Proust again? No wonder she tried to OD."

"I sincerely doubt that was her intent."

"Oh! Oh! I got an idea! Quick, gimme some coffee! That'll perk her right up!"

"Yuffie, coffee doesn't work that way. Caffeine is not a remedy for unconsciousness."

"Well it should be."

Shelke finally begins to stir.

"See? Just mentioning coffee brought her back! The power of mental suggestion!"

Shelke opens her eyes, now back to their normal shade of blue, and stares blankly at Yuffie, who is leaning over her with two clenched fists.

"Shelkster, you've got some serious explaining to do!"

But she can't resist the maternal urge to smother her companion in an all encompassing hug. Clenched fists and all.

"Um. Yuffie, I believe you told me to remind you of something."

"Oh, right!"

Yuffie breaks away from the embrace and fixes Shelke with angry eyes.

"Don't ever pull this type of bull shit again! Do you hear me? Never!"

She then issues a slap for good measure.

Well, perhaps it was more than a mere slap – for Shelke careened backwards, hit her head on the tile, and was rendered unconscious for the next half hour.

Yuffie kept vigil, but she utilized every vulgar phrase she knew in the process.

o-o-o-o

Author's Note

o-o-o-o

Merry Christmas Distant Glory and Za Za!

I fear the pacing of this story is meandering – I mean, all plot related elements still center around the breakfast nook, but my characters seem to have run away with plot related ideas and the story no longer centers around reminiscing about the Tsviets.

Hm, perhaps a Tsviet related chapter is in order. For old time's sake.

Well, leave a review and tell me what you think!