on crushes and dreams

He had eyes like the sky—mako infused, but when she looked into them all she saw was the sky, and sometimes she felt like she really did have those wings she'd always dreamed about. She always knew she couldn't have him. (But sometimes with him everything seems possible.)

---

Generally, she didn't mingle with the other Turks much, but sometimes she'd stop to talk to Reno. He was always up for a conversation and seemed to enjoy it.

"You're always gossiping about who likes who. Tseng likes Aerith, and Elena likes Tseng. But who do you like?"

He smiled at her. "That's for me to know, and you to maybe find out someday. What about you?"

She shrugged, blushing. "No one."

"Uh-huh."

They went about their business.

---

and crushed dreams

---

"Cissnei, you're going to save Zack's life."

---

Blood ran down his skin in scarlet rivulets. So much blood.

She heard Tseng's voice, muted in the background. "Take the body...nothing we could do."

"Hey, Cissnei. You okay?"

"I'm fine, Reno."

---

She didn't mind that Zack was gone. She looked at herself in the mirror after she tied her black tie around her collar and smiled. She was dry-eyed as always. Neat and clean and punctual as always. (Today isn't any different from yesterday, and tomorrow won't be any different from any other day.)

On her way out, she found a letter addressed to her from a Mrs. Fair. She remembered eating dinner in Gongaga, feeling like she belonged to something that wasn't Shinra. A family. But she shouldn't have been there. He should have.

She could picture him, eating dinner with his parents, laughing with them. His mom giving him a home cooked meal, pestering him about finding a wife. For a minute, none of this was real. It was just Zack Fair, at home.

He'd never go home.

She threw the letter in the trash and went to work.

---

She worked harder than ever. She could spy anywhere, kidnap anyone, kill anyone. She didn't care. This was what it meant to be a Turk, and she'd always been a Turk. Shinra was everything to her, simply by necessity. It was the only thing she had.

She didn't have wings, and she didn't belong with the angels. People don't fly. They fall. It's something she'd always known; she just forgot it for a while. (But I've never fallen this far.)

"Hey, Cissnei." Reno caught her on her way out. If things were different, and she was someone else, his bright red hair and wide grin might have been charming. "Want to go have dinner or something?"

She blinked at him. "Not really."

"Well, too bad you don't have a choice in the matter. Shinra orders."

"Shinra is ordering me to go to dinner with you?" Shinra often ordered stupid things, but this seemed a bit beyond them.

"Well, Tseng is. Which I figure is close enough."

She crossed her arms and frowned at him. The picture was still not becoming clear to her.

"He's worried about you. He says if you don't start working better soon, they might have to let you go."

"Working better? I'm working fine. I'm working great! I've gotten more done these past weeks than—"

"You're working like someone who wants to die," Reno said. "Being reckless might get things done, but it also gets people killed. Now come on." He grabbed her hand and pulled her out the door.

The fact that she was being lectured on recklessness by Reno struck her as slightly ironic, but she let him drag her on.

---

"So," Reno said at the restaurant. "You're not okay."

She looked down at her water with lemon and across the table at his margarita. She sighed. "Not exactly."

He took a drink and watched her.

She took a breath and wondered where to start.

---

Sobbing over pasta and water, with Reno watching her coolly while he ate steak and drank margaritas was not exactly how she'd been planning on spending her night. But somehow, it worked. She told him everything. About Zack and about angel wings and about wishing to fly and about Zack's family sending her letters all the time and how she just couldn't handle it anymore.

"I'm not usually like this," she sniffed. "I'm a Turk. I know how to deal with things like this! You don't get attached. And I don't, usually. I never have before. It's just—Zack—" she hiccuped. "I should have saved him. I tried so hard. It just..."

"Sometimes you can't win," Reno said, more serious than she'd ever seen him. "Sometimes you just have to let it go." He took a drink. "Though I can't blame you for dreaming. Everyone does that." He looked at her for a long moment and smiled—not his cheeky grin, but something else. "Let me take you home," he said after a moment, standing up and offering a hand for her.

---

"So how come you treat me so different from how you treat Elena?"

"And how do I treat Elena?"

"Well—rude," she said, crossing her arms.

He smiled. "Now, why would I be rude to my favorite Turk girl?" He spotted Rude coming down the hallway and leaned one arm on his shoulder, stopping the bald, silent man. "After all, only Rude can really be Rude."

She blinked. "That's not funny."

"But you're smiling."

---

There were days when she felt like throwing herself into a field of monsters all alone. She could fight them. Maybe she'd win. Maybe she'd die, but it didn't really matter. She wasn't like Zack, with a family that would miss her. She didn't really have anyone.

If someone was going to die, it should have been her, not Zack. (If I die, maybe he can come back somehow.)

But she remembered dinner and flipped open her cell phone. She quickly dialed the number and waited for his voice on the other end.

"Hey, Reno. I'm in a bit of a tight spot. Could you—"

"I'll be there."

---

She wrote to Zack's parents. She couldn't tell them much, but she told them about their son's bravery, how he died facing an entire army, trying to save the life of a friend. She told them how caring he was about all his friends, how kind he'd always been to her.

It was a nice letter, something they could appreciate, even if they couldn't appreciate the real news: that Zack was dead, and he would never, ever come back. But she didn't mention that. She wanted them to remember him in life, not in death. She had that memory fixed too well in her mind to wish it on anyone else.

They wrote back that they were brokenhearted, but they were glad she'd told them what happened and shared some of his last moments with them. And they were so, so proud of him, even though he was gone. And they hoped she'd write more and maybe come and visit them in Gongaga. And if she was tired of Shinra and all that spy work, she could come and stay with them as long as she liked.

She smiled as she read the letter. (Thanks for the offer, but I think I'm going to be okay.)

---

She was in the helicopter with Reno, flying back to Shinra headquarters after finishing a mission. Midgar was just below them now, and she stared down at the city. It all seemed so small from up here, so far removed. A city of ants, while they were in their own world far above.

Until they landed. Then it would be back to work, back to everything down there.

They were just beginning to lower when Reno turned the helicopter around the other way. She looked at him. "Where are you going?"

He shrugged. "Oh, you know, thought maybe we could take a trip."

"We're expected back from our mission," she reminded him, crossing her arms.

"When we're finished with it. And I don't know about you, but I just don't feel quite done with those monsters we had to fight."

"We killed them all."

"Did we?" He raised the helicopter higher until Midgar was little more than a dot down below. "Look out your window," he said after a moment.

With a sigh, she turned to look—and stared. The sun was setting, and all the sky was a blaze of colors. Lines of orange and pink reached into the dusty blue, and from all the way up here, she felt like it was close, like she could have touched it if she'd just reached out a hand. "Reno," she said, turning to face him, "did you fly up here just to show me the sunset?"

"No, I thought the helicopter would want to see," he said dryly.

She laughed and looked out the window again. It was so beautiful.

"You said you wanted to fly before, but I didn't think you'd really want to be injected with Jenova cells just so you could have wings, so I thought hey, I can drive a helicopter."

She leaned over and kissed him.

He looked the most surprised she'd ever seen him, and he scratched his hair awkwardly. "You know, I didn't actually think all that," he said. "Well, I did, but as an afterthought, when we were already in the helicopter. It wasn't planned out or anything."

"I know," she said, smiling at him. "I don't mind."

He scratched his bright red hair again and gave her a wide grin. "So," he said, "how about dinner? And I'm asking without orders this time; you should be impressed."

She smiled. "I think I'd like that. But there's no rush. I'm sure there's still monsters somewhere, right? So we're not necessarily done with our mission yet." She gave a sly grin. "Why don't you show me the sky?"

He grinned back at her. "I like the way you think, babe."

Wings are for people who want to be free. But sometimes, helicopters do the same trick.