THUNK. A shot-glass, emptied of its alcoholic contents, was brought down upon a worn wooden table forcefully. The man holding it stole a glance at it to make sure that it hadn't been cracked by the impact, before refilling the tiny glass with liquor from a bottle he was holding with his other hand. Without wasting any time, he downed the shot, feeling the familiar burning sensation as the fiery drink flowed down his throat. As always, it tasted bitter, spicy, and yet with a sweet aftertaste; such was the regular taste of gysahl liquor, a taste which he had become rather accustomed to in the last six months.

The first time he'd tried turning to the amber liquid for solace from his sorrows, he'd underestimated the amber colored liquid's potency. True, he had only been knocked out for about eight hours almost immediately after downing the entire bottle without stopping, waking up in a puddle of his own vomit, but now, he was proud to be able to call the drink his equal. Hell, he could easily pour three steins of the stuff down his throat before he passed out by now. And it was with the utmost reluctance that he didn't pop himself a couple of sleeping tablets to be washed down with his newly-found friend.

"Gysahl liquor," he slurred drunkenly, trying to read the bottle's label, "Alcohol content..."

The words swam together and did little cartwheels all over the label, preventing him from reading it any further. Nonetheless, he went on to declare the rest of the label's contents, this time reading from memory rather than printed words.

"... thirty-seven percent. Pressed and distilled by BoCo & Sons. Purveyors of fine wines and liquors by appointment of the ShinRa Electric Company."

He let out a drunken giggle before continuing on to the next line, which he recalled had been printed on the label in one of those annoyingly curly fonts that resembled fowl's scratches.

"Lovely to be shared among friends. HEH!"

With that slurred comment, the shot-glass was sent flying into the wall, its diminutive form shattering upon hitting the solid brick wall. Tiny glass shards rained down upon the floor, joining the shards of previously destroyed shot-glasses that were scattered all over that particular section of floor.

The man stared at the stain on the wall`where the glass had hit it. His eyes flicked about, noting the innumerable other stains on the wall, and also the telltale cracks and dents. Glancing momentarily at the dustpan and broom in the corner of the room, he decided that sweeping up the entire glassy mess wasn't worth the time and effort.

"FUCK-" he said, before deciding that he was talking way too loud for someone who lived in an apartment, "- this shit!"

Bracing his arms against the table, he stood up painstakingly, on legs that felt like rubber. His vision was blurry, and he saw that his carpet was blue, instead of the red that he recalled it being when he had stolen it from his neighbor's front door (it still had the word 'Welcome' on it, but he didn't care too much).

"Hmm..." The bottle of gysahl liquor, upon closer inspection, still had about three shots worth of good drinking in it. Deciding that he would finish the enticing beverage, he staggered out from behind his dining table, and slowly made his way to the kitchen area of his one-room apartment.

The kitchen area was no more than five feet from his dining table, and consisted of nothing more than a one-burner Milux stove, a small cabinet that contained nothing save for shot-glasses, gysahl liquor, and a hunk of moldy cheese that he had affectionately named Kevin since he noticed its existence about two months back. Reaching into the already opened cabinet, he grabbed... thin air.

"WHAAFAAK?" he mumbled, somehow blending three words into one as he cautiously groped about the empty shelf in the cabinet for a shot-glass that wasn't there. He stared at the empty shelf stupidly for a moment, his expression almost bovine in its blankness. With a grunt of annoyance, he turned and stumbled back towards his dining area.

As he drew closer to the wall, shot-glass shards crunched under the soles of his shoes. Despite the blossoming migraine he felt, and the way his eyes were currently doing the hula-hula, he forced himself to count the dents on the wall that had been made by shot-glasses impacting upon the age-worn paintwork.

"One... Two... Ten!" he counted, feeling his blood boil, "OOM!"

Within a second, his revolver was in his hand, and he was glaring murderously at the cabinet in the kitchen area.

"I... had... ten shot-glasses," he recited laboriously, as if trying to persuade himself of the facts, "So... cabinet must've EATEN one of them!"

He stared in horror at the cabinet for a moment, in his mind's eye seeing the wooden shelves sprout teeth and claws.

With a panicked cry, he fired at the cabinet once. The bullet effortlessly tore through the cheap plywood and smashed open several bottles of gysahl liquor. Amber liquid pooled out onto the floor, and he spat in the cabinet's direction, "Fu... fuckin' jerkwad!"

A rustle from behind him caused him to whip about and level his firearm at the source of the noise, and before he knew it, his alcohol-clouded mind had made his finger pull the trigger once more.

The last thing he remembered before blacking out was a startled cat jumping off the ledge outside his window, and the sound of breaking as his second bullet of the night hit the mirror hung near the sink under the window.


Sunlight shone in brightly through the window, directly onto the unconscious man's eyes. Not ten feet away from him, the telephone rang several times. The light and noise, however, failed to rouse the man, who remained motionless as a corpse on the red carpet that had once been his neighbor's welcome mat. The phone, unanswered after eight rings, went into voice-mail mode, allowing the crisp words of the male caller to echo loudly in the silent apartment.

"Get to work now. See me for tardy punishment later. Goodbye."

The words, spoken in a business-like manner with a faint trace of Wutaian in them, were duly recorded by the phone's attached tape recorder.


The ancient clock on the wall was showing sixteen minutes past three in the afternoon when the man finally woke up from his liquor-induced sleep. The first thing he noticed was that he was on the floor.

The second was that his kitchen cabinet had been destroyed by some fool with a shotgun, by the looks of it.

The third was that his revolver was lying a measly six inches away from the splayed out fingers of his right hand.

The fourth was that the mirror above his sink was gone, and that glass littered the floor around the old sink, its enamel yellowed with age. A single bullet hole was visible on the wall which the mirror used to hang in front of; a clear dust-free square was very obvious especially since the walls had been painted light green.

"The Hell?" he got up slowly, ignoring as much as he could the flaming headache he had woken up with. Staggering to his feet, he picked up his revolver and slipped it into a pocket casually. Walking over to the kitchen cabinet, he saw that only three bottles of gysahl liquor had been spared by the bullet.

With a pained sigh, he drew his gun and removed its magazine for inspection; only ten bullets were left in the magazine. That probably meant that one bullet had taken the kitchen cabinet, and the other had done in the poor ol' mirror, since he always had a a full magazine in his gun.

After five minute's deliberation, he walked over to the sink, and took a look inside it.

Several images of himself in miniature looked back dolefully out of mirror pieces, all angled differently depending on how they had fallen into the sink.

As he took in the sight, he recalled why he had picked up drinking in the first place. He choked back an angry cry as he whipped about to glare at an empty picture frame beside his television set, which had once held a picture of someone dear to him. Now, the picture was just so much ash in the metal ashtray on his dining table. Memories emerged with jarring clarity in his mind, and a sob escaped from his throat.

He glanced once again towards the pieces of glass in the sink, and he recalled someone once telling him that hearts were like mirrors; you could smash them, but in every fragment, you would still see a part of yourself.

A single tear rolled down his cheek as he turned around and walked towards his bedroom.

Reno, for the umpteenth time, looked with tears in his eyes at the photo taped to lampshade on his bedside table.

It showed Tseng and Elena kissing on an altar, with Reno standing in the best man's position.