*Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own these characters. They are owned by Square Enix.
*A/N: Hello everyone! If you are an old fan, welcome back! If it is your first time reading one of my stories, I hope you enjoy! I finally am out of my writing slump and am going to start uploading more of my fanfics for Crisis Core. They are all linked, but are from different POV. I hope you will also check out my other fanfic titled "Cissnei's Discovery"! Thank you so much for your support! Oh and please DO review it makes me all happy and fuzzy inside when my readers review (even contructive criticism….i always have room for improvement! XD). SO I will stop talking now and let you get on with the story! Enjoy!
Tseng's Last Message
Tseng stood at his office window, staring out at the land below with a blank expression on his face. The land before him was dead. ShinRa had sucked the life out of it, causing the land to become a dull, empty landscape. No life could survive out there for long. He looked up and watched as dark clouds made their way toward him, acting like a dark omen. He had an uneasy feeling in his stomach. Sure his best officers were on the job, but he couldn't shake this feeling of dread.
Zack was out there. Out in that desolate wasteland. And for once, Tseng wasn't able to do anything about it. He hated feeling powerless. He was so used to being the one in control, the one everyone relied on to get the job done. But now, the very company that relied on him so much was asking him to do the toughest assignment yet: hunt down a friend. Zack was out there, running from the very company that he had worked for and been loyal to his whole life. He was being hunted down like an animal and he didn't deserve it. He didn't deserve anything but respect and admiration. But that was the last thing ShinRa had in store for him, once he was found.
Flashback to forty-five minutes earlier
Tseng was sitting at his desk, staring uncertainly at a pile of letters that sat on top. He placed his elbows on the smooth surface and leaned forward, bringing his clasped hands to lean against his lips. Aerith had given him another letter that morning. Everytime she saw Tseng, she had a letter for him to deliver. Tseng was surprised that she hadn't given up, not even after four years with no reply. It was extremely difficult for Tseng to be around Aerith, especially since he knew where Zack was. But Tseng had promised Zack that he would protect Aerith as well as do his assigned duty of watching her. So, Tseng had to look into those hopeful, but sad eyes without saying a word.
Suddenly, his call button lit up on his desk, interrupting his thoughts. Tseng cleared his throat before pushing the button.
"It's Rufus. I have a job for you."
Tseng immediately shook off the remainder of his thoughts and focused only on what his boss had to say.
"Two experiments have escaped from Nibelheim. You are to capture them and bring them back to ShinRa."
Tseng's heart sank. There were only two current experiments in Nibelheim. Zack Fair and Cloud Strife. One of his good friends had finally escaped, but now he had to be hunted down. It wasn't fair. However, Tseng couldn't help but be relieved. You sure did take your own sweet time Zack, he thought. I would have thought you would bust out the first day. Four years. Maybe you're not as great as you thought. Tseng could picture Zack's reaction to his teasing and couldn't help but smirk. There was a moment of silence before Rufus added one little catch.
"Oh and Tseng. I know that Zack is close to you. So you might want to hurry and grab him...before ShinRa infantry forces do."
With that he hung up, leaving Tseng to stare numbly at the speaker on his desk. After a moment, Tseng shook off his stupor and got down to business. His next step was to call in his best officers, ones that were also friends with Zack and would get this job done as quickly as possible. With a small smile, he punched in the code for Cissnei's pager and hit the button that would cause the green light to blink on her pager. This was the Turk code for: Tseng's office. After that was done, he scowled and punched in the code for Reno. As obnoxious as he was, he was an amazing Turk. He just pushed all of Tseng's buttons...and he knew it. His final officer was Rude. He knew that the large silent man was usually with Reno, but the chance that they were separated was enough to make him send out two messages. After looking at all the blinking green lights on his desk, Tseng leaned back in his chair with a sigh. After a moment of thought, he switched Reno's pager message to blue. Which meant: NOW. Reno was the only officer that Tseng had ever used that button for. Then again, there has never been a Turk like Reno and for that Tseng was thankful. One Reno was enough for his lifetime. Sometimes even one was too much. With a chuckle, Tseng went to go stand by the window.
Tseng stood at the window for a moment longer before hearing the ping of his door unlocking. His Turk senses could make out three pairs of foot steps. One; light and barely audible. Another; quiet yet solid. And the last was extremely loud, yet if you listened hard enough you could hear the cat-like spring in the step. With a straight face, Tseng turned to face his officers. Cissnei stood on his left, her dainty little frame looking even more so next to Rude. He stood directly in front of Tseng, his face calm but intense at the same time behind his famous sunglasses. Reno stood on Tseng's right, slouching and studying the objects in the room with his usual smirk.
"So what's the sitch, yo?" Reno asked after turning his red tattooed face towards Tseng's general direction but not making eye contact. This was normal for Reno; he always found a way to rebel. No matter how small.
Tseng gave Reno a disapproving look, which only made the red head's smirk grow, and began telling them their mission. When he was done, Cissnei was almost bouncing in place with her impatience. Rude looked concerned and Reno had his usual I don't care face, but if you knew Reno well enough you would notice that he had stood up straight and that his eyes had a far away look; a result of the calculations going through his head. Tseng excused them, and turned back to the window. After a few minutes he watched as two helicopters took off from the launching pad.
Please find him. He sent them that last mental message and went to sit in his chair, where the letters were still waiting.
Almost two hours later, Tseng was pacing in front of his window, glancing out anxiously every few minutes. There was still no word from his Turks. And it had started raining about an hour ago. Tseng knew this made it extremely difficult for his Turks to do their job. That desolate wasteland was hard enough to search when it was a clear sunny day.
Tseng's train of thought was interrupted when a beeping noise suddenly filled the silent room. Tseng quickly walked over to his desk and pushed the 'receive call' button.
"Did you get them?" Tseng tried to sound professional, but he knew Cissnei could hear the worry in his voice.
Cissnei hesitated. And that was all Tseng needed.
"So he's gone then."
"I'm so sorry, Tseng. I failed. And broke my promise and now...now Zack is..."
"Cissnei. If you did your best, that's all that matters. Zack made his own choices. Don't blame yourself."
Tseng did his best to comfort Cissnei. He knew she was hurting. He was hurting too but he could not show it.
"Thank you." she choked out between body shaking sobs.
"Please, say goodbye for me." with that, Tseng hung up.
For a moment he stared blankly at the letters on his desk. He gave himself a moment and shed one single tear. The tear made its solitary journey down his cheek and fell to its final resting place: on one of Aerith's letters. The ink mixed with the tear drop and formed a big black dot on the paper but Tseng hardly noticed. It's not like Zack would be reading these letters.
Suddenly, Tseng knew what he had to do. He gathered all the letters up and held them together with a tight rubber band. He tucked them under his arm and pushed the "out of office" button on his desk. With a sigh, he then turned and walked out, an explanation forming in his mind.
The church looked as it did everyday: old, falling apart, abandoned. But it definitely was not abandoned. If one looked closely, they would see faint footprints in the layer of dust that surrounded the slums. The footprints led right up to the door, which opened quite smoothly due to its constant use.
Tseng stood quietly at the door for a moment and listened. Nothing could be heard from within. He pushed the door open silently and stepped inside. The door shut quietly behind him. Ahead of him, sunlight streamed through a large hole in the ceiling. Zack had apparently fallen through the roof some time ago. The sunlight filtered down onto a beautiful patch of yellow flowers. Most people would be surprised that flowers could grow in such a place, but Tseng knew that Aerith was special. Speaking of Aerith, Tseng looked around but could not see her at first. As he ventured farther into the church, he looked to the left and found her there, standing silently by the flower cart. He stopped a respectful distance away and stood there. He knew that she could sense his presence. He waited until she was ready.
"I know why you're here." her voice was soft and musical, and full of sadness.
Tseng was only slightly surprised by this. He did not know the limits of her 'powers'. She turned to face him and looked directly into his eyes. Hers were filled with tears although none were falling down her face. Her expression was blank, only her eyes gave away her pain. Tseng did not say anything.
"I felt him pass." without blinking, one tear finally found it's way to her cheek. She looked over at her flowers thoughtfully.
"I knew something was going to happen today I just, couldn't figure out what. Now it all makes sense."
Tseng watched as she walked over to the flowers and kneeled down in front of them. She looked back at Tseng, who hadn't moved, and pointed to the middle of the flowers.
"They were like that when I came in this morning."
Tseng slowly walked over to the flowers and couldn't help but lift his eyebrows and look at them with wonder. In the middle of the flower garden, a cluster of flowers were dead. Their stems were a golden brown and all their petals had fallen away to form a layer on the dirt. But that wasn't the most shocking. The most shocking was that every single petal that had fallen away had now turned a blood red. The middle of the flower garden looked like a pool of blood.
"That's where Zack fell." Aerith explained quietly.
Tseng was in shock. Not only were the flowers dead, which never happened under Aerith's watch, but they had also changed. It was mind boggling to think that the only flowers that underwent this change were the ones that Zack had undoubtedly crushed when landing from his fall. As Tseng watched, Aerith carefully walked to the middle of the red pool and picked one of the dead stems up. The stem slowly turned from brown to green and then sprouted brand new yellow petals. However as soon as she placed it on the ground, it returned to its previous state.
"There is nothing I can do for them"
Tseng heard the tears in her voice and decided it was time for him to leave. He wanted to give her space and privacy to mourn. He bent down and placed the letters on the ground.
He stood up and said "I'm sorry". With that, he turned and walked away.
Tseng was mentally exhausted by the time he returned to his office. He pushed the door open and walked over to his desk. At first he didn't notice it, but when he did he was stopped in his tracks. On the seat of his chair was a feather. Tseng bent to pick it up then examined it. It was white, and soft as satin. The very base of it was a familiar black. Tseng quickly glanced around his office, almost expecting to see Zack somewhere within. When he realized his foolishness, he sighed and walked to the window, still holding the feather gently in his hand. Tseng received another shock when, in the distance, he could make out a figure in the sky. His first thought was that it was Zack, but he mentally scolded himself for thinking such ridiculous thoughts. The figure he saw flew closer, revealing its identity: Cissnei's helicopter. He watched as it landed and Cissnei got out carrying...carrying Zack. Tseng looked away. He looked at the feather in his hand. So it had been Zack flying towards him after all. Just not in the way foolishly expected.
Just as Cissnei and her pilot disappeared into the building, Tseng looked up in time to see Reno and Rude returning as well. He suddenly felt oddly at peace. The feather had healed the guilt he had initially felt. It was proof that Zack finally had his wings. Tseng could almost hear his laughter as he gazed at the feather in his hand
Tseng don't worry man. I'm finally able to fly free.