Questions and Answers

By Phantom Starwolf

With permission from Faestian to play in her ALNM Verse.

Waking wasn't the most pleasant of experiences at the moment. Johnny awoke laying on his stomach on a very hard and unforgiving surface with his arms wrenched behind his back. Cuffed together by the feel of cool metal against his wrists. His hands felt bloated, fingers slow to respond as he tried to wiggle them and his arms were distinctively bare. With a groan he lifted his head from the odd smelling surface and tried to look around. The room itself was not very large, maybe ten feet on a side. Closing his eyes once more he lay his head back down. It felt like a pair of Ruby Dragons were using his head as a battle arena. Oh, yes… and his hair was in his face causing his nose to itch fiercely and he couldn't scratch it or flick his hair out of his face.

With a groan he rolled over, ignoring the discomfort of having his arms bound behind his back, he tried to blow his hair out of his face. It wasn't working very well. Gods what had he been doing the night before? Form the way his head was pounding he'd guess he'd been out having the time of his life. But that wouldn't explain the cuffs. Unless he found someone that liked kinky sex that is. Keeping his eyes closed due to the lights he tried to think back on what had happened to cause him to be in this situation. He kept coming up with fuzzy memories of having a good time, a lot of running and pranks then a blank spot.

With an annoyed sigh at not being able to get his hair out of his face he contemplated getting rid of the cuffs, and his shoulders started to protest at being in this position. Thankfully he was flexible enough to take care of the problem. Positioning his body correctly -no need for improvising at the moment- he brought his legs straight up and forward, bending at the waist till his knees were resting against his forehead. Rolling his body he was able to drag his cuffed wrists down over his ass, past his thighs to stop at the back of his knees. Rocking forward so that he was sitting up now, he eased first one leg then the other from between his wrists.

Johnny turned around so that he was sitting on the bunk, knees up against his chest as he stealthily felt along the seams of his pants looking for the lock pick that had been hidden there. When he found it he then turned so he was sitting with his back to the darker wall and used the lock pick to undo the cuffs. It took him about 30 seconds to unlock one cuff and another 10 or so to get the second. Stretching out on the firm surface, he folded his hands under his head and stared up at the ceiling in thought. He was obviously in a lockup facility of some sorts, but that wouldn't explain why he still had the hidden picks but was missing his over-shirt and his choker. Unless of course someone was a) too lazy to check him over very well, b) wasn't suppose to have been awake so soon, c) left there on purpose for some hidden/unknown reason or d) a combo of all of the above.

He would have continued to lay there and ponder events if his bladder had not had other plans. Rolling to his feet he blinked, raking his hair out of his face with both hands then looked around. The bunk he'd been laying on was fastened to one wall, what looked to be a stainless steel toilet in the corner and there was a drain in the center of the floor, nothing else. Though one wall seemed strangely dark compared to the others. He availed himself to the use of the facility then started pacing back and forth in the cell. Getting bored he sat down back down on the bunk, finger combing his hair back then braiding it as best he could.

"Your not suppose to be awake yet," said a much to cheerful and perky voice sounded from the direction of the darkened wall. "And your not suppose to be out of the restraints either."

Johnny guessed that there was a built in speaker somewhere. "Eh… sorry? They were kinda tight and starting to chafe," he muttered with an innocent look as he rubbed his wrists. "Is there any chance I can get my choker and medallion back? It's a bit of a family heirloom." He looked around the room again, "And maybe something for this migraine."

"We'll see what we can do to remedy the second problem," the person said, still sounding perky and cheerful. "But I'm afraid the first might be a bit harder. So sorry," and quite unapologetic too.

"Has be a blonde," he muttered as stood up again and started to pace the cell once more.

"And why do you say that?" there was a hint of something in the voice. That something promised unpleasant things too.

"Don't believe I said that."

There was bubbling laughter, "Please, I'd like to hear why you think I'm a blonde."

His higher brain functions had ceased some time ago in an effort to ignore the pain, therefore his mouth operated on a different level. One that had all restrictions stripped from it. And it showed. "You sound like my roommate… bright bubbly disgustingly cheerful blonde who likes to-" Suddenly the lights brightened up considerably. "Fuck!" someone had shoved glass shards though his eyes directly into his brain. He rubbed at them, wiping away the tears that welled up from the intense pain.

"Really now."

"Gods fucking damn it…. I can't bloody well see now," he muttered cautiously making his way forward till he bumped into the bunk. With one hand still rubbing at his eyes he used the other to make sure he wasn't going to miss the bunk as he sat down. Things were starting to come back to him now. "By any chance do your people use Benzodiazepines for standard tranqs?"

There was a long pause before the woman answered him. "Yes, why do you ask?"

"Cause I'm one of the very low percentage of people that have reactions to said family of drugs," Johnny explained. He doubted it would do much but maybe he'd be able to get something for his migraine a little faster.

There were several long minutes of silence before the sound of something sliding or opening echoed in the room followed by the sound of several people entering the holding cell. One was lighter then the rest but that didn't mean anything.

Johnny kept his eyes tightly closed as he tilted his head from one side to the other. His hands were resting lightly, within sight, on his thighs. He was drumming of his fingers absently as well.

"Since you have been, so far, co-operative and non-violent, I'm going to give you a chance to come along with us willingly." Again it was the same voice from earlier. "If you refuse I will use any means necessary."

"So it's wither willingly follow you wherever to have gods knows what done to me or you can drag me out of here kicking, screaming, fighting and struggling all the way. Correct?" Johnny asked, again tilting his head, this time in the direction of the speaker.

"Correct."

The auburn haired young man heaved a dramatic sigh. "Oh then multitudes of choices, what ever shall I do?"

There was a muffled snort of laughter that was hushed quickly. "You're running out of time."

"Fine, fine. I'll go. As the saying goes, can't rape the willing." He shook his head as he stood up, hands by his side waiting.

"I would advise mister…."

"Johnny," Johnny supplied as he held up a hand and ticked off the other names he'd been called over time. "Otherwise know as 'brat', 'imp', 'pain in the ass', 'troublemaker', 'child of chaos' and a host of other less then favorable names."

"I would advise.. Johnny.. that you choose your words with care around here." There was a cold edge to her voice now.

"Brr.." was his only comment as he was once more cuffed and lead out of the cell and off to somewhere else. He didn't bother trying to get anyone to talk since he had the inkling he wasn't being held in the highest regards at the moment thanks to his less then wise choice of words. He might play the fool from time to time but he wasn't an idiot contrary to some people's opinion and thoughts.

Johnny had to rely on his other senses to try and figure out where he was since no one had said a thing the entire trip to wherever they were. From the slightly sterile yet chemical smell to the place he'd have to guess a medical lab of some sorts. But at the same time there were some missing key points, such as the sound of machines, staffers and patients. He could feel the presence of a secondary person quite close. A moment later the cuffs were removed.

"Sit," someone instructed.

"Where-" Johnny he felt around himself, "Ah, here I take it?" he asked as his hands came in contact with something. He let them roam over the surface for a moment to determine which way was which.

"Oh for the love of the planet!" an exasperated huff. "Sit here."

The young man was grabbed and jerked around, the back of his legs banging into the hard surface causing him to grunt in response. He reached out and grabbed the person trying to force him back, using them as a counter to keep himself upright. The person pushed and he yanked back.

"Let go and sit down," the person said.

"I won't till you let go of me," he replied back with a falsely sweet tone to his voice. He took the moment of distraction to slip one arm about the person's waist and pull him/her close. He laughed at the sudden squawk of surprise when his hand found the other's posterior and caressed it.

"Oh for the … Johnny!" the exasperated sound of the woman whom had brought the young man here in the first place. "Let go of him," she instructed. "Now."

Johnny's quick and nimble fingers filched the wallet in the assistant's rear pocket before he was pulled away and forcefully seated in the chair. The small leather object was palmed so that it was partially hidden between flesh and the arm rest, an innocent smile graced his lips. He wonders how long it will take before said object is discovered. The chill of the metal bands closing about his wrists and upper arms was a bit disconcerting. He tensed when his ankles, upper legs, waist and chest were also secured down to the chair. He let his displeasure be known with an indrawn hiss as a thinner but still cold, metal band was fitted snugly across his throat and a second band was placed across his forehead. He didn't like this one bit, not at all. "What are you doing?" there was an edge to his voice.

"Nothing you need to be worried about," came a neutral, bored sounding older male's voice. "This will be easier if you calm down young man."

"Let me blind you, give you a migraine from Hades itself the strap you down in a chair then play mad scientist around you and see how you react to it all," he grumbled. "'calm down' my ass."


No one was saying a thing to him, just talking back and forth in quiet tones. The occasional sounds of objects bouncing off other objects, metal and glass predominate amongst the sounds. The longer he was ignored and forced to wait for what was in store for him the more tense and twitchy he became. He even tried opening his eyes to look around but they were still so light sensitive he couldn't open them without it feeling like someone was jabbing white-hot needles into his brain.

Behind shielding, darkened glass the woman waited for the Medlab techs to complete their assigned tasks. It was taking longer then usual but there was no pressing matter for her to return to at the moment, so she waited. She turned her head and nodded to the person entering the observation room.

"So that's our runner?" asked a newcomer.

"Yep," she replied cheerfully. "Much easier to work with then the others."

There was a chuckle, "Not to mention a lot easier on the eyes I bet."

She laughed lightly. "No harm in looking right?"

He just smiled, "No, no harm in looking."

Their light banter was interrupted when one of the med-techs entered the room.

"Ma'am? We can't draw the samples until he calms down and stops fighting us. Otherwise we risk puncturing completely through the median cubital vein or even sevear bruising of the area if it rolls during the venipuncture process," the young med-tech said quietly to the woman in charge. "We've tried giving him time but he's just getting worse."

"Layman's terms?" he asked.

The med-tech blinked a moment. "If he doesn't calm down we can't draw blood without possibly blowing his veins in the process. Blown veins are both nasty and hurt like a sonofabitch."

"Ah…" the man said with a shake of his head. "I don't blame him then. I'd probably act the same way if I were in that situation. He doesn't know what's going on therefore he's reacting accordingly. Of course he's not going to calm down anytime soon either I bet," he pointed out.

"Sir?" the assistant asked, a puzzled expression on her face as she turned back to look through the glass at the young man in question.

The man looked at the woman. "Do you mind if I give it a try?"

She shook her head and motioned for him to go ahead. "Go right ahead, you've got the knack when it comes to getting someone to cooperate. His name is Johnny by the way."

"Thanks," he said with a smile, then gestured for the med-tech to precede him into the lab itself. He didn't even need to be close to see how worked up the young man was. Every tiny sound caused him to twitch and jerk, the closer the sound the worse it was. He spotted the black leather wallet under a hand as fingers drummed rapidly over armrests. He snagged one of the wheeled stools and sat down. He purposely made noise as he wheeled himself over next to the chair where the young man was secured. "Hey there, how you doing?" he reached out and patted Johnny's leg a couple of times then left it there. "Johnny right? I'm Ari." He didn't miss the jerk or the fingers clamping down tightly as he touched him.

Johnny had been told he had such an expressive face at times. That he had the ability to communicate his thoughts even without speech just with a few looks. Apparently it must have been true since whomever the person talking to him was, seemed to pick up on those thoughts.

"Sorry, the restraints are as much our protection as yours," Ari said removing his hand from Johnny's leg to rest it on his arm. "This will all go much faster if you calm down, you do know that right?"

Johnny huffed an annoyed sigh that said 'yeah right, sure it will.'

Ari laughed. "It will, really. Besides you don't want to piss the person off who's in charge of you at the moment." He rolled around so he was closer to Johnny's head and leaned over to speak softly into his ear. "Do as your told, don't cause trouble for anyone here, be respectful and you may just survive to leave here with everything intact." He then pulled away completely from Johnny.

Johnny grunted in annoyance, especially when part of his anatomy responded to the warm breath that had ghosted over his ear a moment ago in a rather poorly chosen moment. "Tease."

"Cold?" he asked innocently, watching the fine tremor of muscles as Johnny shivered.

"You heard me," Johnny replied back, the corner of his lips curling upwards in a smirk. He cracked an eye open or tried to but hissed as pain flared up once more. "Well that's a damned good way to solve that problem," he grumbled to himself.

Ari raised an eyebrow as the smirk suddenly vanished to be replaced by a pained grimace and an indrawn hiss. He looked up and over to the darkened observation window, a quizzical look on his face. A moment later the woman came out and spoke with the chief med-tech then started doing something. He turned back around and watched Johnny for a few more minutes. "Hang on, I know something that might help," he said before getting up.

Johnny waved a hand negligently, "Yeah, yeah," he muttered. "I've heard that before," he added to himself softly a moment later. As he waited he heard the man, Ari, answer what was apparently a call. There was a flurry of activity as something important happened, he thought he hear Ari saying something about having to go and someone else would take care of it for him. But he figured he was mistaken about it. With another huffed sigh he went back to aimlessly drumming his fingers against the armrest. At least until he heard someone sit down on the stool next to him.

"Ari asked me to finish what he planed to start," the woman said as she settled a few items on the surface next to her. "Now while I normally wouldn't care what type pain you are in through all this, I'll make an exception since your behaving yourself fairly well."

Johnny tensed as the chair suddenly moved; his fingers clamping down till the skin across his knuckles were white as he sucked in a breath.

The woman laughed softly. "Relax, I'm just adjusting the chair. You're a jumpy fellow aren't you?"

"I wonder why…" he said rather dryly.

"Silly fox, it's what you get for snooping in the wrong place," said in a rather disconcertingly playful tone. "Now, this is going to be cold," she informed him before placing the ice pack over his eyes.

"Fuck!" he yelped as the iciness touched his skin but let out a soft hissed sigh as it went from painfully cold to blissfully numb in moments. It was a sensation he felt himself fall into, the cold numbness. He relaxed even further when he felt her running her nails lightly over his scalp repeatedly as she played with his hair.

The woman just rolled her eyes at how fast Johnny calmed down with a simple touch. Sometimes it just wasn't worth putting any effort behind playing with mind games with someone. But as she continued to play with the silken strands, she thought back on his actions and reactions. Perhaps that was his flaw, he had to have some type contact be it verbal or physical. Maybe if he's not cooperative she'll be allowed to test a theory by putting him in a sensory depravation tank and seeing how long he'd last.

When the needle was slid into his right arm, it felt like a tiny pinch then a sting at first then settled into a weirdly odd sensation. The tips of his fingers tingled but not enough to be worried about since it was the same when he'd given blood a few times before. "What are you looking for?"

"Oh, the usual."

"Blood type, genetics, drugs, etcetera, etcetera, ec-cet-er-a…."

"And as long as someone is paying attention to you in some way or form, you could careless what's being done to you I bet."

A pause then the slow curl of the lips. "Well…. I have been told I have all the hedonistic morals of a cat in heat. Does that count?" he then let out a throaty, purring chuckle.

"Hmmm….," she murmured softly as she read over the information contained on the data pad she had been handed moments before. His blood type of B- a perfect match for a handful of others, TURKS and employees both. "Maybe," she answered at last. She would have to wait for the rest of the reports. "Almost finished," she said cheerfully. "Just a saline wash now." And a chemical cocktail of sodium pentothal, narcotic painkillers, as well as a few other drugs. She knew her stuff so wasn't worried that it would take effect immediately and last 24-48 hours before the effects wore off.

Johnny started wiggling his fingers at the room temperature liquid entered his vein. "Cold," he complained. "And it stings….Are you sure it's just saline?"

"Why Johnny, are you saying that I'd lie to you?"

He tried to shake his head no even though the restraints prevented him, "Yep."

"Ma'am? We're finished here," the med-tech said to her once the puncture area was bandaged. Another ice pack had been placed over his eyes and lightly bandaged into place for the time being.

"Good. Boys take him back to his room please," she ordered then turned to the med-tech. "As soon as the reports are in I want them on my desk."

"Yes ma'am."

"Awww… no goodbye kisses from the pretties?" Johnny said with a soft yet drunken laugh.

"Afraid not Johnny, now be a good boy, place nice, and you might just get out of here alive," The woman informed him. It was amusing she had to admit to watch him stagger out of the lab between her two goons, flirting and being chatty.


At some point in time Johnny had fallen asleep, sprawled out in a boneless heap on the rather hard surface of the bunk. When he awoke hours later, still feeling inebriated but without the sick, hung-over sensation that usually went along with drinking. "Sweet merciful lady of the stars….what in the name of Hades did I get into?" he muttered as he untwisted himself and sat up.

"I would say the Shin-Ra compound, where you are neither an employee nor a guest of any employee."

"Who..?" he reached up, shoving the now warm icepack up so he could see. Or try to at least. His eyes were still light sensitive but not to the extent of earlier. He blinked several times then gave up and squinted. Then grinned like a cat that got the canary and the cream. "..Mmmmmm.." he hummed to himself as he licked his lips, eyeing the person for a few moments. "Well hello there."

The impeccably dressed male never changed expressions or even made any indication that he heard Johnny. He merely blinked his eyes slowly as he stood there with hands clasp in front, waiting.

~*~!~*~

In another location somewhere in the compound the shift on monitor duty traded out, the old crew leaving while the new crew settled. "Alright boys and girls, another fun and exciting shift has begun. Everyone is to be on their toes."

"Hey, isn't that the guy that ran security ragged before they had to bring in the 3rds and 4ths to catch him?" one person asked, motioning to the monitor in question.

"Yeah, you should have been on duty that day. He drove everyone nuts, not to mention pissed off quite a few too," quipped another one.

"Enough with the chatter boys and girls."

A chorus of 'Yes sir's filled the room before it went silent again. The Agent in charge turned slightly and nodded to his superior, who was sitting at an observation station, before going back to watching the agents on duty.

Elena smiled as she watched Johnny start to flirt with Tseng. She had passed on the preliminary report on the young man and was now just waiting on the last few pieces of data on him. With a soft laugh she shook her head. That boy was playing with fire and was fixing to get burned. Bad.

~*~!~*~

Johnny huffed a sigh after getting no response whatsoever from the man. "You know, your not very much fun. At least Giggles did talk to me."

One eyebrow rose a fraction of a millimeter at the name 'Giggles'.

"Someone mark it down on the calendar I got a response out of the living statue," he muttered sarcastically to himself as he stood up then started pacing back and forth. "Yeah, Giggles. The… man? Woman? Person?…. No wait, Giggles has to be a woman. Only women can be that…evil… well and my roommate. But he's a demanding little bitch of a bottom that has one of the sweetest, tightest…umm-hmm right time to switch subjects… sure you don't want to hear about his oral skills either…Damn he's gonna be pissed… ah well, he'll make demands, I'll give in.. Best of both worlds with him around.,." He stopped pacing then chuckled as he crossed one arm over his chest, elbow resting in palm of his hand. He traced his lips with a finger before he started biting it, a grin still in place. "But I digress. It was Giggles that I was talking about in the first place. She at least talked to me. And poked needles into me… Why on Gaia's green earth did she need to draw blood?" He glanced to the side at the man then blinked as he reached up and slapped his forehead. "Manners Johnny boy… Manners…" he muttered to himself then turned to face the man, then bowed deeply. "Nai-ji nai'am mishidi ne mainaigi. Hajime mashite. Dozo youroshiko."

Tseng's eyebrow rose a little higher this time. The young man's pronunciation was questionable but it wasn't butchered completely either. Given time he might, with a lot of help, have a decent language skill. He not only had been shown respect with the formal introduction but he had also been proposition all at the same time.

Johnny straightened up having gotten no response and stared at the dark haired man. "Ohkay.. either I said it wrong or else I was mistaken." He slowly approached him, hands clasp behind his back and head tilting to the side. "Perhaps the proper way to greet you would be this?" With only inches separating the two, he leaned his head down slightly, head still tilted and slowly traced a path from the man's shoulder to his neck. As he did he inhaled deeply. "You smell of incense," voice dropped to a low purr as he spoke softly, "Of water... and an underlying tang of blood and sex and…" his lips ghosted over the shell of the man's ear.

Tseng never let him finish. With the speed only a highly experienced TURK had, he spun around and had Johnny's arms twisted up behind his back in a quite painful position as well as having a hand full of hair. He slammed him into the wall, pinning him there.

"…. Wall!" Johnny yelped turning his head barely in time to keep his nose from being broken upon impact with the hard surface. "Ok, ok! So maybe that wasn't the best greeting..." The tightening grip of both his wrists and his hair gave him the idea that he had best shut up.

Tseng took the time to study the young man without easing his grip. When standing up straight he would be just taller then Rude yet was slender with a dancer's body. The silky fine strands, though dirty, were tangle free and held traces of coppery red as well as burgundies and browns in it's dark auburn depths. When free, it flowed down his back in waves and curls masking its true length. And what he saw of Johnny's eyes, they were likening to the purest emerald greens he'd seen in quite some time. If someone combined Rude and Reno, then threw in a dash of Elena this young man would most likely be the product of said genetics. And with recent events Tseng found it hard to believe in mere coincidences that this young man had just shown up out of the blue to wander the compound like a tourist. The easiest and quickest solution on how to deal with this intruder would be to simply kill him, but that would not gain any answers and would leave possibilities to come back and bite them on the ass. Something Tseng liked even less.

Johnny gritted his teeth biting back the words and sounds he was tempted to make. He was a thief not a fighter but still knew better then to do anything without permission less he wanted to end up in a shit load of more pain. Experimentally he parted his lips, easing his tongue out to trace his lips. The coppery tasted of blood came from the small split where his teeth had cut open the corner of his mouth when he was slammed into the wall. Overall a very minor injury compared to what could have happened.

~*~!~*~

Elena looked up from the monitor when a med-tech assistant cleared her throat. Only those agents on duty or with sufficient clearance were allowed in here. She glanced past the med-tech to the agent standing behind her. "Yes?"

"Ma'am, I was told to give you these reports as soon as they were completed," the med-tech said, holding out a data pad.

Elena took it with a smile. "Thanks," she said waving a hand to dismiss the girl as she started reading the report. The blood type she already knew as well as the state of general health such as being clean of any diseases. The part she was most interested in was the part on his genes.

Genetic wise he was not related to any currently living ShinRa employee so he couldn't claim to be visiting family. Deceased on the other hand, he matched up quite nicely with several, either as a younger sibling, offspring or both. No names were listed, only the number of matches and the ID numbers. She'd have to go through the database to pull the complete records for said matches to find out who those people were. The very last report was about Mako levels in a person's body. It was a standard test even though the use of Mako was now illegal worldwide. She blinked, scrolled back and re-read one section over several times. When the boss found out about it, inquiries would be made.

Elena stood, nodding to the agent in charge then left.

Traversing the halls and corridors of the ShinRa compound would have gone much faster if she chose a motorized cart, but she opted for walking instead. She had time to think over the findings. Most humans didn't even register on the Mako scale Professor Hojo created. The top half of the scale was strictly SOLDIER class with everyone else coming in under that. Johnny registered in at the bottom of the scale. He shouldn't even be on the scale in the first place and that meant that at some point in time he came into contact with raw Mako or was given a Mako treatment, willing or not.

~*~!~*~

Johnny hissed softly as his feet were kicked wider apart causing him to slide down the wall several inches in the process. The only warning he had was the sound of silk or satin rubbing against itself before his hands were bound, quite expertly he might add, behind his back. A second tie or rope or whatever it was wrapped around his throat twice, upper and lower. It felt like it was tied around his wrists with the first one. 'Fuck,' was his oh so eloquent thought at the moment. "If you're into that bondage kink count me out. I like a good fuck same as anyone, but I don't do heavy kink. Light kink is fine, sometimes even fu-"

Tseng jerked the silk rope tight, cutting off the airway of the overly talkative young man thus shutting him up. With ease (and leverage) he turned Johnny around so he was facing the bunk, shoved him across the room to stop next to the bunk and then jerked down on the rope indicating that the young man should get to his knees.

Johnny knew the signs of subtle implications. If he didn't get to his knees he'd be put there in a less then friendly manner. With as much grace and aplomb as he could, he sank down on his knees folding his feet under him. Head held high with his chin tilted up, he fixed his eyes on a point above the bunk. Slowly he relaxed his shoulders and arms till he found the point where any lower he would be chocking himself, yet he wasn't straining too much either. He was walking on the knife's edge at the moment, both literal and metaphorically speaking.

The TURK sat down on the bunk, arms crossed over his chest and leg crossed over knee. His foot rested a mere inch above Johnny's groin. "Now this is how it will be. I ask questions, you answer. You will act well mannered and answer everything I ask to the fullest." When he received no reply, he pressed down. "Do you understand me?"

"Yes," Johnny hissed as the pressure increased.

"What was that?" Tseng asked pressing down even harder.

Johnny had to bite down on his lip to keep from yelping. "Yes sir." The pressure was gone.

"Good. Let us begin then."


"Name."

Johnny shifted slightly still looking up. "Johnny," he replied. "Johnnathan," he amended at the light pressure.

"Why are you here?"

"That question can be answered in several ways, all of which will cause me a lot of pain," Johnny said after a handful of silent minutes.

Externally there was no change in his _expression, but mentally he smiled ever so slightly. The boy was rather amusing at times from the little he'd seen of him and from what he'd read in the reports. And the youth had a point but he would not verbally agree it so instead he asked another question. "Who do you work for."

"No one," Johnny said.

Tseng's eyed narrowed a fraction. No one with the skills the boy showed was a freelance rogue. If he was freelance, ShinRa would be the first to try and recruit the boy. But he let it pass for now, there would be opportunities to catch him in a lie. "How old are you?"

The young man paused in thought. How old was he? Honestly he wasn't sure and he'd never seen his birth certificate. "Eh...nineteen, twenty maybe?"

Tseng nodded and accepted that answer. Not everyone was fortunate enough to know when they were born. "Why did you choose the ShinRa Compound in which to foolishly enter uninvited." He came back around to a previous question.

"I wanted to test my skill against a real challenge," Johnny admitted after a few moments thought. "Those places I can get to hold no interest to me anymore." A slight shift of a shoulder did for a shrug. He was good, but not arrogant. He'd learned not to go boasting about what he could and couldn't do. Several members of the Silver Talons had goaded him into bragging then made him prove it. That had been a bitter pill to swallow and he had painfully learned never to do it again less he could back up his words.

If Tseng had not been use to dealing with Reno, his craziness and his ego over the past near decade he would have been quite irked at Johnny's similar attitude. Though this youth had some iota of common sense when it came to some areas, he seemed to lack severely in others. But at least he was like a breath of fresh air compared to who and what he'd been dealing with over the last few weeks. "Who do you work for," he asked again.

"I don't work for anyone," Johnny replied again.

Elena's arrival put a pause to the questioning from Tseng. She waited till he acknowledged her before moving closer to hand him the data pad containing the last pieces of information on the youth that knelt on the floor in front of her leader. "Here's the last of the information sir."

"Thank you. Please sit," Tseng said as he politely indicated that she should take a seat on the bunk next to him and on the other side of Johnny. He took the time to read though the entire report, not just the sections Elena had flagged for him. He would glance at Johnny during this time, no emotions on his face whatsoever.

Elena sat and waited. She was curious as to what Tseng would do with (or to) the young man. She wanted to know how he had become tainted with Mako just as much as she was sure Tseng wanted to know. She was disappointed though when she was dismissed.

"Thank you Elena, that shall be all."

"Yes sir," she said as she stood up. With a last look at their 'guest' she left the cell. Unless and until she was told more of his past, she'd be in the dark like everyone else.

Tseng waited till Elena was gone before he spoke again. "Tell me Johnnathan, who were your parents?"

"Huh?" was Johnny's articulate reply.

"Your parents, who were they?" Tseng asked again.

Johnny frowned, eyebrows furrowing as he did. The question itself puzzled him. "My mum and da," how else was he suppose to answer?

The TURK leader stood up, dropping the data pad in a pocket as he did before clasping hands behind his back. "You don't know their names? You don't know anything about the man and woman that are your biological parents?"

"Were," Johnny corrected.

"Were?" Tseng asked back.

"Yeah, were as in they are dead," he said back. "Have been for quite some time now," he muttered to himself.

"I.. see. How long have they been dead and how did they die?"

Johnny lowered his chin so he was looking straight at the wall now instead of where the ceiling and wall met. "How's a kid suppose to know that info?" Tilting his head to the side slightly, he went on. "Look, I was probably no more then three or four when I went to live with a friend of my Da's. All I ever knew was that they were me mum and da. Nothing more then that. As for how I found out about their deaths, I was older and sneaking around when I over heard my name in conjunction with comments about some couple's death."

The TURK turned the youth's words over in his mind for several moments. "That does not mean your parents were killed or somehow died. Were you sent to live with the friend of your Father's or were you taken away from your family?"

Johnny let out a rather rude snort. "Gee... Considering after that day I was encouraged to play sneak-thief instead of discouraged, even was actively trained in some areas, I'd have to say that my parents were as good as dead. I went to live with him after I'd gotten sick. He said it was for the best not to be living around the reactors and their waste products."

Tseng stopped directly behind the auburn haired young man. His words were painting a picture that was not pleasant. Making no conclusions, he pieced together what he had been told. Johnny had obviously been taken away from his parents quite young, his parents may have worked around or in one of the Mako reactors and they later died or was killed. The TURK stared down at the crown of the youth's head as he continued with his train of thought. Being sick might have been from anything, though if his parents had worked in a reactor then it might have been from Mako poisoning. Until safety measures had been enforced, the infant morality rate had gone through the roof. An entire generation had vanished, thus creating a gap in the population ages. "Do you remember how you became sick?"

"You don't have much experience with children between the ages of newborn to at least 5 years of age do you?" Johnny chuckled. "Yes I remember how I got sick. Da had brought home this bottle of glowing green liquid to show someone and I did like any normal kid would do. I managed to open it then I started playing with it, even ended up eating some of it. Freaked them out, that much I do remember. It was after that.."

Tseng raised an eyebrow slightly. To have ingested raw Mako, if that was what the liquid truly was, and have survived with no lasting effects was so rare that it could be considered impossible. Especially at that age. If Professor Hojo had found out, he was quite certain someone from ShinRa would have been sent to retrieve the boy, parental willingness or no. Tseng returned to the bunk and sat back down, this time directly in front of the youth, crossing his legs as he did so. "Tell me your opinion of Mako." His gloved hands were clasp over his knee, in direct view.

Throughout the entire questioning session Johnny was asked no one solid path of questions. He was surprised he hadn't been asked his thoughts on current fashions, entertainment events, actors and actress or other irrelevant stuff. "It's better to leave it alone. Should never have been touched in the first place. The bad doesn't out weigh the good. Not that I've ever seen."

A trace of a mocking smile graced Tseng's lips. "Are you aware that you have tested positive for having Mako in your system?"

Up to this point Johnny had avoided looking at the TURK. "What!" he jerked his head up to glare at the dark haired man. "What the fuck are you talking about? If this is a joke then it's a sick fucking joke. I don't mess with that shit, especially before it went illegal. I'd have to be psycho to even want to in the first place. I've seen first hand how that stuff can screw with someone."

Tseng watched as Johnny's eyes went from the pure emerald green into a lighter hue which sparkled with inner fire before they darkened back to their natural color. "Then how do you explained your agility, the seeming ease in which you evaded the guards, your higher then average flexibility, even your reaction to certain drugs?" he uncrossed his legs and leaned forward, his face not that far from the youth's. "I'll give you one last chance on this one young Johnnathan. Who do you work for."

"Anyone with the willingness to practice can be agile and as flexible. I got lucky with the guards, nothing special there. And as for the drugs... Not everyone has the same reactions to drugs." Johnny glowered at the TURK for several moments then turned his head away. "And I told you. I work for no one." Before the last syllable was uttered his head was twisted forward and to the side. The rope about his throat was suddenly gone as something cold that left a stinging trail of fire in its wake was used to trace the Silver Talon tattoo that adorned the back right side of his neck.

"This," the word was made into a dangerous hiss, "This tells me differently. Do you want me to peel it from you neck and show you what I am speaking of?" Tseng asked from his new position at Johnny's back. He forced the boy forward, pressing his head into the hard surface of the bunk.

Warm wetness dribbled down his skin. "Ayie.. Fucking hellfires!" Johnny gasped out as what had to be a very sharp blade continued to trace around the delicate inkings. "I'm not contracted at the moment! I don't work for any one person. If you know the mark then you know what I am."

"The Silver Talons were destroyed. There are none left."

"Then tell that to Ba..." he replied back, the name on the tip of his tongue as he realized what he had been about to say. He quickly went silent on the matter. It was a name never to be uttered outside of the Silver Talons and rarely inside. The man that the name belonged to was just psychotically evil to his way of thinking. Not to mention the man just plain scared the shit out of Johnny without even doing anything.

"Tell that to who Johnnathan? Give me the name of the person who is now running the Silver Talons."

"I can't!"

"Can't or won't Johnnathan?"

"I can't!"

"If you don't tell me, I can easily kill you. Without a thought."

"You'd be giving me mercy if you did. He'll do much worse then just kill me when he finds out about me being here," Johnny spat back.

The boy was not giving in easily which meant he had loyalty, where though fear or otherwise. A good quality to have even if the loyalty was misplaced, Tseng thought to himself. With utmost control he pressed the tip of the blade deeper into the youth's flesh but not dangerously so. "Tell. Me."

"No!" Johnny yelled as he jerked backwards, aiming to drive the blade even deeper.

Tseng was no novice when it came to blades or bodies. He felt the young man tense, thus telegraphing his every move. In complete control of his actions as well as the blade, he spun it over in his nimble fingers using the hilt to render Johnny unconscious in one precise move. Standing up, he cleaned then sheathed the blade back where it came from. Traversing the cell he unlocked the door and stepped out. A pair of TURKs waited for his orders. "Young Master Johnnathan will be our guest for a little while. Make sure someone sees to his wounds then place him in one of the secure guest rooms," Tseng ordered before walking away.


Tempus Fugit…

A knock on his office door pulled the big TURK from the sea of paperwork. "Enter," he said not bothering to look up.

"Hey big guy," Elena said in greeting, a folder clasp to her chest as she stuck her head into Rude's territory. "How are you doing?"

"Other then drowning is a sea of ink?" Rude commented as he sat back, closing the folder with one hand as he reached up and rubbed his eyes with the other. "Ups and downs. What about you little sister?"

"Oh can't complain too much," Elena said cheerfully. "Listen, Rude, I'd like your help with something."

"If it's that calendar idea again, hang it up little sister."

"Oh come on Rude, 'Hot guys of Shin-Ra' calendar would sell faster then I don't know what. You'd be a shoe in," Elena said back with a laugh and a wink. "But no, it's not the calendar idea. Have you ever heard of the tracker chips people put on pets?"

Rude blinked, raised an eyebrow slightly as he leaned back in his chair. "Can't say that I have." Right now he was willing to let Elena go on about whatever she was thinking about since it gave him a much-needed break. It had been just under four months since the incident; he was playing second to Rufus at the moment until Tseng was allowed back. It would be a little while longer before Reno was allowed back to work as well.

"Well, using that same technology I was thinking on how it could be put to use for us. You know, tag people with it incase something like what happened…" she shrugged looking a little embarrassed and apologetic, "… happens again." It was a lame ending and she knew it. "Gaia forefend that it should!" she added hastily.

"Amen to that sister," Rude agreed. "Alight then, tell me what you got. I make no promises that I'll understand it but I'll at least hear you out. Good enough?"

Elena practically grinned ear to ear. "Deal!" The bubbly blonde then proceeded to explain her idea, the theory behind it, the mechanics of the tracker as well as the myriad details that went along with it. She also explained that she had a test subject tagged, ready to put it to the test and was already in the database.

Give him explosives or anything else that may go 'Boom' any day and he'd either be up to par or ahead of the game. Electronics, gadgets and gidgets were Ren's specialty. This was a mix of electronics and animal control it seemed. He garnered the fact that the tracker was sub-dermal, ran on the electrical impulses produced by a human body and could transmit in both active and passive modes. Any TURK could track the subject simply by dialing '#*#track' on their cell, thus bringing up ever tracker within range as well as automatically updating the database on the subject's location. In theory it sounded good, but theory was always perfect. He couldn't think of any downsides to the trackers at the moment but he was also up to his eyebrows in paperwork he rarely had to deal with.

"So?" Elena prompted after several minutes of silence. She gave the big TURK time to digest everything.

He just nodded. "Sounds solid in theory, but theory and reality are two different monsters. All I can say is pass it up the food chain and see who bites."

"Good enough for me. Thanks big guy," Elena said with another ear reaching grin before she hopped up and was out the door.

Rude just shook his head before sinking back into the sea of ink.

Elena didn't get a chance to complete the final stage of testing for the tracker.

Johnny's Guardian had been persistent in his inquiries about the boy and President Rufus had finally allowed a meeting between himself and Johnny's Guardian. A meeting in which the youth would be turned back over to the older man's care even though Shin-Ra needed few reasons to keep the young man around. So far he'd been quite stubborn about reveling anything more on the Silver Talons as well as refusing opportunities to join the ranks of Shin-Ra.

"What's this?" Johnny asked head tilting to the side as he closed the book he had been in the process of reading and studying for the last month or more. He was curled into the corner of a plush couch, quite comfortable and relaxed seeming.

"Your guardian is here to retrieve you. You are to change into the provided items and accompany me," Elena said in a professional, no-nonsense tone of voice as she set a satchel down on the couch next to Johnny. "You've continually refused to provide information requested and you constantly turn down all offers of recruitments. Frankly Johnnathan, we don't care for lazy bums like you here. You pull your own weight or you're out the door."

He eyed the satchel like it was a venomous creature out for his blood. "I would have been 'out the door' as you put it months ago, but my request to leave have been constantly turned down. And I'm sure you know about the few times I've tried to leave on my own." He eyed the two big brutes that stood behind Elena, on either side of the door. "Do you know what's in the bag?"

"Clothes," the blonde replied. "Nothing that will or could be used against us, no explosives, weapons, spying devices or anything of that nature. Other then that, I don't care what's in the bag. But I would advise you to get moving since you have less then thirty minutes to be in President Rufus's office. It's not a short trip either."

With a disgusted sigh Johnny uncurled form the couch, grabbed the satchel and stalked into the bedroom to change. When he emerged about ten minutes later, he was fully dressed but still sulking.

Elena raised an eyebrow and let out a low whistle. The young man looked quite exotic in the clothes that had been brought to him by his guardian. Black knee-high boots with dark rusty red leather pants tucked into them. A white shirt was tucked into the pants and over that was a matching rusty red jacket, elbow length fingerless gloves completed the outfit, or so it seemed. When he walked past her to grab the book he had been reading, Elena got an eye full of multiple fluffy, white tipped, rusty red furred tails hanging down from just above his ass to the back of his calves. She let out a second whistle. "Nice tails," she said with a smirk.

Johnny just gave her a rather annoyed look as he slung the satchel strap over his shoulder, after tucking the book securely into it. "Let's get this over with," he muttered as he gestured to the door.

The trip to President Rufus's office was interesting. The number of looks Johnny got along the way –curious and lustful, hateful and disgusted, or otherwise- was astounding. Though the negative looks came more from the regular security then anyone else. The auburn haired youth seemed to be either ignorant of the looks, oblivious to them or ignoring them since his head was down as he watched where his feet were going. When they reached the elevators, the two big goons took their places on either side of the elevator doors but didn't enter as the doors opened. The site of a tall, well-built, bald dark skinned TURK and an equally tall and muscular yet shorthaired blonde greeted Elena and Johnny.

Elena raised an eyebrow at the fact Rude and Morgan was in the elevator waiting on them. Rude stood in his classic stance, hands clasp in front of him, shades covering his eyes, and a no-nonsense attitude plainly written in every line of his body. Morgan on the other hand leaned against the back of the elevator, arms crossed over his chest and an upward curve to his lips. The small blonde woman just rolled her eyes then motioned Johnny to step into the waiting car. Once he did, she stepped in then turned around the doors closed silently, the required floor was already lit up.

Johnny did an about face after entering the elevator so that he was no facing the doors. He ignored the poorly muffled laughter-turned-cough from the blonde as the multiple tails flared out behind him before settling against the back of his legs. He had the feeling that the outfit sent to him wasn't picked out by his 'guardian'. The older man would have chose a business suite at worst and business casuals at best. No, this outfit had the flavoring of his mentor's hand in it. Though he didn't find any notes or messages, the subtle jab at the 'fox in the henhouse' was there. It also meant that if he survived he was going to be going though holy hell to get back his mentor's favor.

From his position at the back of the elevator, Rude played the silent observer, something he was good at when assigned to escort jobs such as this. He could easily see the adaptability the boy had, how he adjusted his entire being to blend in with his surroundings, going from outsider to belonging in mere moments. All they had to do was put him in a suite and one would be hard pressed tell the difference between him and a true TURK. The big guy also dismissed the seemingly weak slenderness of the youth as being deceptive, the clothes hiding his true physique easily. He had to mentally agree with Tseng's offhanded comment though that the boy was eerily similar to Reno in many aspects, yet uniquely different at the same time. He'd seen the security clips of the boy's tomfoolery and shenanigans in the tunnels when he was evading security. The fact that it had taken level 3s and 4s to catch him was saying something, but he was still unimpressed overall with the youth. It had been a very long time since he'd been impressed by anyone.

Johnny wanted so badly to fidget, twitch or do something to get rid of the build up of nervous energy. Usually if he was out on a job he'd be putting that energy to use, but since he had no clue what was going on or what to expect he couldn't chance things. Not to mention he was in an elevator with one rather intimidating dark skinned man, a second fellow that continued to smirk (he could see it in the reflection of the highly polished doors) and Giggles, who was scary enough by herself. (He'd come to know her real name but he still thought of her as 'Giggles'.) Once the doors opened he waited till Giggles stepped out, leading him along another hall towards a waiting area and a set of ornate double doors (which was flanked by another set of TURKS). His toe-heel step making it look as if he glided across the floor towards his destination. After crossing over into the waiting room proper, he stopped suddenly.

Rude was on Johnny's right hand side, within easy reach and even easier view point when the youth stopped suddenly. Through the tinted lenses of his shades, Rude watched several expressions flitter across the youth's face. Surprise and hatred with underlying distrust and fear. The last emotion he'd seen much too often over the last few months. Turning his head he looked at the person that elicited the emotions in question. Dark hair neatly combed back, dark colored business suite, and an air of a businessman about him, nothing about the person that would warrant such a reaction until he looked into ruthless, cold gray eyes.

The man folded up the business paper he had been reading; casually dropping it on the table next to the chair he was sitting in as he crossed his leg over his knee. He eyed the boys clothes with some distaste before steepling his fingers under his chin. "Hello Johnnathan. I hope you realize that with all your… carelessness... you managed to miss not only your own birthday celebration, but your daughter's too. She had been so looking forward to seeing her daddy again. I guess it's a good thing I brought her with me then, is it not?" a slight uplift of the corners of his mouth might have been called a smile in some circles.

Johnny's eyes widened as jerked back in reaction as if he'd been shot. His daughter, here and in the hands of the man that he loathed and fared. Jumbled questions of how he'd gotten his hands on her and when collided with anger, fear and concern over her safety. "Where is she…" he breathed out, "..Where's Alara?"

"Why Johnnathan she's perfectly fine," the older man said as he reached down to the side of the chair to curl his fingers around a length of fabric that wound around to vanish behind the chair. "Isn't that right Alara?" he asked as he tugged on the fabric. A shuffling sound accompanied the light golden tones of several bells from behind the chair as a moment later a child, no older then two, slowly came out. "See? She's perfectly fine," he said dropping his hand the child's shoulder to stop her from moving forward.

Johnny was torn between the desire to go to his daughter take her in his arms and never let go and cringing away from the man he hated and feared like nothing else. After several moments he compromised with himself by taking several steps forward then dropping to one knee, then holding his arms out for Alara to come to him. From this level he could see the silver neck ring that encircled his daughters throat as well as the bracelets on both tiny wrists. Anger blazed brightly in his emerald eyes, overshadowing the fear for the moment as he looked up at his guardian. "Why do you have those on her?" he asked in a soft voice that barely carried the small distance between them.

Rude motioned subtly with his head for Morgan to back off at the same time he took a step back into position by the hall they just entered by, Elena had gone on ahead to inform Tseng of their arrival. So far the young man's guardian had yet to be called into Schachou's office but as far as he was concerned, he'd be just as happy if he weren't. There was just something about the older man that gave him bad vibes about the whole deal. The man reminded him of a Nibel Wolf, as long as you didn't turn your back on them and watched them closer then Hojo watching a specimen for changes during an experiment, they were fine.

The older man uncrossed his legs then leaned forward, his voice was just as cold as his eyes. "Collar the sire or leash the offspring. One way or the other you will work for me. By choice or by force, it is your decision which path is taken." The corner of his lips curled up in a cruel smirk then vanished as he sat back, releasing his hold on the child. His hand slipped down beside him a moment before coming back up again. Hanging from his fingers were three silver rings, one large and two small.

Alara stumbled forward into the waiting arms of her father, the leash trailing back behind her to the chair and the man that sat there. "Papa!" she cried as she wrapped her small arms about his neck, burring her face against his shoulder. Her tiny hands gripped the fabric of the jacket her father was wearing, refusing to let go as she whimpered in confusion and fright. She didn't understand what was going on or why her Papa had been gone for so long or why the cold man was so scary to her.

Johnny glared over his daughter's shoulder at his guardian for several moments before standing up. With easy he caught the rings as they were tossed at him, holding them in his hand like they were vile and poisonous things as he moved away, ignoring all those around him once more. One handed he unhooked the leash's lead from the harness his daughter had been put in then used it to tie the rings to his belt for the moment. Now that his hand was free, he wiped his palm against his thing before reaching up and rubbing Alara's back slowly as he hummed softly to her. When the office door opened with a soft click, only Johnny reacted. His head snapped up at the same time he turned slightly to protect Alara from any imagined (or real) danger he perceived.

Tseng stood in the doorway, dark eyes glancing over the room before alighting on the auburn haired youth. Lifting a hand he made a single gesture before turning and vanishing into the office once more.

Johnny glanced down into his daughters face and then let out a soft sigh. With the same grace he'd shown on his way up he crossed the waiting area and entered into the ornate double doors.


Rufus, leaning back in his chair, legs crossed and elbows propped on the arms with a cup casually cradled between his hands, watched as the young man entered his office. He watched how the tall youth stopped just inside the door, glanced around for a few seconds before tilting his head down and to the side, eyes still wary. The soft chime of golden bells drew his eyes to the child in the youth's arms before a tilt of his head and a subtly raised eyebrow questioned the dark haired man who stood beside him. 'Did you know about the child?' were the words behind the look.

Tseng answered back with an equally subtle shake of his head. 'No, the child was an unexpected addition but could easily be worked in,' was the equally non-vocalized reply. He had to hand it to the boy that though the entire time he had been a 'guest' here, he had uttered not one single word about either the Silver Talons, beyond the initial exchange, or the child.

Johnny made a soft whuffling sound against his daughter's hair causing her to quietly mew back at him. It was a language of sounds and touch only the two shared, a private means of communicating when words were lacking. He had started 'speaking' it to her days after she had been born and she knew instinctively how to answer back. A presence brushed the edge of his awareness out of the blue causing him to twist his head around, shifting his daughter to shield her as he did. Emerald eyes narrowing as lips curled back, a soft low growl threaded its way out of his throat.

The door clicked shut reveling a redhead leaning casually against the wall smirked, arms crossed and one foot resting against the plain yet elegant wall. He glanced at his watch before dropping his arms and pushing off against the vertical surface to meander his way to the white leather couch. It had taken the youth nearly a minute to even notice him. Well, 47 seconds to be precise but who was counting? For the average person entering the office when Reno was there, it took upwards of minutes before they noticed him when he chose to remain still. Sometimes they never realized he was there. For this one though, he'd somehow noticed him in under a minute. Definite potential.

Johnny stopped abruptly when Alara's hand settled against his cheek. "Meh?" he muttered in question as he looked down at her face. What he saw there was enough to relax him. After a quick kiss on her forehead, he shifted her so she balanced on his right hip, one tiny hand still fisted in the material of his jacket as the other rested against the back of his hand. He then and only then made his way over to stand in front of the large desk. He stopped far enough back that it would require a step forward and reach to take anything from the desk.

Rufus slowly sipped his coffee, blue eyes studying the pair over the rim of the cup as he did. He noted that the child was dressed the same as the youth, expect for the number of foxtails and the silver rings. That was where the similarities ended. Bright emerald green eyes compared to plain hazel. Dark auburn hair women would love to have in contrast to dull, mousy brown hair. Even body type promised to be different. The father was elegantly tall and slim but the child promised to be slender and of average to below average height. He was please though to see that the youth didn't take liberties since he had not made a move to sit down in one of the chairs. Finally sitting up he placed the cup on his disk and gestured to a chair, "Please, have a seat."

Johnny looked at the seat that was gestured to. It was a high backed, wing chair that sat directly across from the President of Shin-Ra. The chair looked more like a throne then a comfortable seat and he didn't care to have his view of what (or who) was behind him blocked. Instead his eyes shifted to the chairs to either side of the one indicated. The one closer to the door still had a high back but was positioned so that he could see the rest of the room, just not who entered or left through the double doors. Instead he took the third chair. It was somewhat out of place in the expensive settings of this palatial office but it offered everything he wanted at the moment. A low back so he had a 360 degree view, open sides and back so his satchel and the tails could drape down without getting in his way, he wasn't directly across from the President (thus not declaring himself an equal or a challenger) and he had plenty of natural light from the windows. Moving to the third chair, he tucked one foot up under him as he sat, then brought his other up to rest against the edge of the seat. Alara was nestled in his lap facing him so that he could remove the wrist and neck rings.

Rufus watched a few more moments as the auburn haired youth settled himself then pulled out a few slender pick like instruments from the satchel and started fiddling with one of the child's silver bracelets. "Tell me Johnnathan, did you know you're the sole beneficiary of not one, but three former employees of Shin-Ra?" he asked as he once more browsed though the three employee records.

"Meh-wha?"

"You have such an elegant way with words Johnnathan."

Johnny snorted inelegantly. "I'm a mongrel cur not a pedigreed pooch," he muttered before placing the handle of a pick between his teeth as he used both hands to work the final latch open. As soon as the latch disengaged he had the bracelet off his daughter's wrist he neatly tucked the picks out of the way then reached to untie the larger rings from his belt at the same time he was unlacing his left glove. It took him a few seconds to match the code that was electronically embedded in the small ring to that of the larger. Once matched he placed the ring about his wrist he matched the second code, satisfied he then re-laced his glove and repeated the process for the other wrist. "If you're trying to buy me or my services, don't bother. I'm not for sale at the moment. Besides I doubt HE would let me go no matter how wealthy, powerful or influential the person asking for me was." He gave a single glare at the blonde behind the desk, ignoring both the redhead that had gotten up and was approaching from behind him as well as the dark haired man standing calmly beside the desk. He dropped his eyes as he went to work on the ring about his daughter's neck.

Rufus narrowed his eyes at the accusation he was trying to buy the youth. Even with Tseng's earlier words to him, he disliked the mere idea let alone allowing the youth to speak to him in such a manner. But he also heard the underlying anger and bravado-covered fear in Johnny's voice as well. It was just a matter of treating this as any of the numerous hostile business deals he'd had in the past. "As I was saying, you are the sole heir to the death benefits of one Level Five Mako Tech Zilvara Arithon LeFleaur, one Level Two Mako Tech Jared Nathanial LeFleaur and finally one SOLDIER 2nd Class Myrak Renard Val'Kryn. Total benefits package brings the amount to a solid five hundred thousand gil. SOLDIER 2nd Class Val'Kyrn's body wasn't discovered until a decade after he was reported MIA, thus factoring in yearly pay increase and all benefits that went with it. Add in varying interest over the last fifteen years easily brings it up to a grand total of one million gil." Rufus leaned back once more, the corner of his mouth turned up in the barest of smiles. "If I was trying to 'buy you or your services' as you put it, I seriously doubt I would be willing to pay that much for someone of your dubious quality." He then glanced to the side a moment before reaching up to brush blonde bangs out of his face. "No matter how well recommended you are or how much praise you've been given."

"Even giving the fluctuating interest rates over the last few years let alone the last fifteen I seriously doubt it added up to that total unless you rolled everything up to the nearest hundred a few times over," Johnny countered without missing a beat. "And as for my qualifications I never once stated that I was anything other then a sneak thief and a flirt. Those that know me know what I can do, what I can push myself into accomplishing on a tight timetable and just what type of incentive prompts me to do the best that I can with what I have." As he spoke, his hands continued their work. The two smaller rings were twisted tighter then slipped onto the medium ring forming a simple knot work design. That was in turn threaded onto the large ring creating a centerpiece that would draw the eye to it instead of what he was doing with his hands.

"Down Papa?" Alara said lifting her arms up. "Down, now?" she asked, tired of all the talk her papa and the other people were making. She didn't know what they were making words about, no one was playing with her and she was down right board. Getting no response from her papa, she drew in a breath and huffed it out. "Down now Papa!" she demanded as she started to stand up in his lap. It took a few more demands but her papa finally did as she demanded and put her down.

"Looks like she has you well trained," the redhead snickered as he leaned against the back of one of the empty chairs, keen eyes taking in everything. From the small twitch as Johnny fastened the ring around his neck to the faint slow blinking light that was hidden by his hair and the collar of his jacket. To anyone else they might have never been seen, but Reno wasn't just anyone. "For a mongrel cur, yo."

Johnny ran his fingers though his hair, finger combing it back out of his face then straightened his collar before uncurling his legs and sitting up more properly. "Didn't say I wasn't trainable," twisting around he watched Alara as she explored the large office. "I just require the right handler," he said under his breath.

Alara made her way around the chair then looked around, one tiny hand holding on to the edge of the chair leg. With a sudden giggled laugh accompanied by the golden chimes, the little girl made a headlong mad dash towards a set of black clad legs. Still giggling she pressed her head against the person's leg, arms wrapped about said leg in a tight hug. Looking up, she grinned then tugged before letting go and holding up her arms. "Up! Up!" she demanded.

Reno blinked then looked down at the small mini-human that had latched onto his legs, and then demanded to be picked up. He looked back up, eyebrows raised as he glanced between Rufus and Tseng then to Johnny and back again.

Alara didn't like being ignored like that even if it was something that happened all the time. Once more she took a hand full of material and tugged. "UP!" she held up her arms and demanded once more.

"Once you've acknowledged her by looking down to her, you had best not ignore her for too long else she's going to become quite… demanding and vocal," Johnny said tilting his head back to look at the redhead. "You can either pick her up or kneel down to her. Either way will satisfy her."

Rufus wasn't bothering to hide his grin. "Oh for the love of Shiva, just pick the child up and give her what she wants Reno." Leaning back again he watched how he dealt with the child.

Tseng was having a hard time smothering the laugh that threatened to break his mask of professional indifference at the predicament that Reno had somehow gotten into with the little girl. It was amusing to watch as he tried to ignore the child, shooing her away from him without hurting her then move away only to have her follow him like a chicabo following it's mother to repeat the process.

Johnny sat forward, resting elbows on knees as he threaded his long fingers though dark auburn locks. With a half smile and eyes closed, he listened to his daughter's giggled laughter as she chased the redhead around the room demanding that he pick her up. He found it strangely reassuring that his daughter trusted these men not to mention he felt a tiny bit jealous at the same time. It meant that his daughter felt safe around these people but at the same time this was his daughter and at this time in her life he should be the only one in it besides her mother. With a sigh he sat up straight once more, brushing his hair back out of his face, his mind going to thoughts of what to do. Take the money and run, hoping to stay hidden long enough for his daughter to have a happy life or to hide her away and use the money to help take down the bastard. After all how good a life could they have if he constantly had to watch their backs?

Reno held the wiggling, laughing child at arms length away from him, eyeing the little demonic imp disguised as a miniature human. "OK so now what do I do with it.. Her.. yo," he said. He moved back to the front of Rufus's desk then plopped down into the chair to Johnny's left still holding Alara out in front of him before finally setting her down in his lap, a rare smile ghosting across his face. He evaded the little grasping hands that tried to grab handfuls of fire-bright hair, ducking his head as he did. Instead he found his goggles (and unintentionally, a few strands of hair) being yanked from top his head as the little girl shrieked happily. "Yo! You little thief give those back!" he said looking for the moment, indignant over it though his eyes held a sparkle of mirth.

Neither Rufus nor Tseng missed the glare Johnny sent in Reno's direction for using the word 'thief' in conjunction with his daughter. It was a look that vanished almost as fast as it appeared as the youth let out a deep sigh before standing. Taking a step closer, his long reach allowed him to easily snag the goggles out of his daughter's hands and unceremoniously drop them on Reno's head. "Play nice," he admonished before walking away from the pair, towards one of the windows. He leaned against the window frame with arms crossed over his chest, staring out. "I pray to all the gods that I'm the last thief in this family," he said softly to himself as he focused on the reflections in the glass.

"Elena," Rufus said calmly several minutes later, as if nothing had happened.

"Sir?" replied the bubbly blonde from her place at the corner wet-bar.

"I think some refreshments are in order. A refill Elena if you would be so kind," Rufus said. "Johnnathan, would you care for yourself or your daughter?"

Johnny turned away from the reflections, "Hm? Water will be fine for me, milk or juice for Alara please." Shaking his head a smile creeping into his expression at the sight of his daughter, firmly settled on the black haired TURKs hip with an arm about her to hold her steady. Perched on top of her head was the redhead's goggles and when he glanced at the other man, her fox ears were sticking up through the wild strands of fire bright hair. He shook his head and chuckled softly.

Elena returned a few minutes later carrying a tray with the requested refreshments. Setting it on the corner of the Shin-Ra President's desk, she handed Rufus his drink first then handed Reno his. A grin curled her lips up as she threw the bottle of water at Johnny, if she had been serious she would have nailed him even if he'd been expecting it. The small sipper bottle of milk she'd acquired from an unknown source was left on the tray. The blonde woman held it up for Alara to see it.

"Onegai?" the child asked holding out her hands for the sipper bottle.

Tseng raised an eyebrow in question. "Who's teaching her Wutaian?" he asked looking at Johnny.

Head tipped back as he downed a quarter of the water Johnny shrugged then dropped his head back down. Wiping his mouth on the back of an arm he thought a moment. "More then likely her great-grandmother Ryukye-sama, since her grandmother absolutely refuses to speak it."

When Elena waked around and handed Alara the sipper bottle the little girl grinned happily. "Arigatou!" she chirped.

Tseng looked down at the child, gently running fingers through her dull colored, light brown hair. He'd seen some indications that she was of mixed blood but now that it was confirmed he knew what to look for. "And why is that?"

"Fu….," Johnny caught himself before he uttered the foul word. "Don't know but I'd guess it was cause her grandmother is a uppity yet bitter sow who married Continental for money, prestige or power. From the few times I met her she was constantly putting down Wutai and it's continued self-improvement. The old hag is messed in the head since personally the trips I've taken there have been quite…. an experience."

Rufus tucked away the information for later notation on the youth's file. Sipping his coffee he studied the young man, the way he acted, moved and even spoke. He was excellent TURK material indeed, but the fact that he did have a daughter also meant that when (not IF) he became a TURK his assignments would be restricted until Alara became older since all indications pointed to Johnnathan having sole custody of his daughter. Unless of course her mother challenged him for the child but all indications said there was a slim to none chance she'd do that. But of course that could change if the grandmother in question got the idea that with him being a TURK and thus part of Shin-Ra automatically granted her an increase in prestige even if by association though her granddaughter. His musings were interrupted by a certain tiny child. "Yes?" he asked setting his cup down and focusing his attention on her. From just over the top of the armrest, wide innocent eyes gazed at the blond haired president. A shy smile curling up the corners of tiny lips as she edged around the side of the chair to stand in front of him. "You may join me if you wish," he told her.

Alara could be demanding when she wanted something, eyes wide and innocent as her bottom lip poked out in a pout. Only a couple of months over the age of two and she had the ability to twist some of the world's most strong willed people around her fingers like putty. Proof was the fact she was now snuggled into the lap of one President Rufus Shinra as if she'd done this a million times before and had known him her entire life.

An hour later, when Johnny's guardian was finally shown into the office, the older man paused raising an eyebrow at the scene before him. Johnny was standing against the wall, between two windows and his daughter was curled up in the President's lap sound asleep. Standing next to the President's desk was his right hand man and leader of the TURKS, a blonde woman was sitting at the wet-bar in the corner and sprawled across the couch was the rather infamous redheaded. The pair from outside stationed themselves on either side of the door like well trained guard beasts. A cold frown crossed his face before it smoothed out into a polite business like neutrality. "Mr. President, thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to see me."

"Let's cut to the chase. I have currently have Johnnathan in my custody and you want him back. Correct?"

"Indeed Mr. President."

"Why should I give him back to you? I currently hold his daughter. Blood ties can be powerful incentives to stay," Rufus said, fingers threading through the sleeping child's hair.

"True, but knowing you're the cause of the death of friends makes that blood tie a bitter and resentful one." The man smiled cruelly but never turned his head to look at Johnny as he spoke. "Tell me Kitsune Firefox how long would you be able to look at your daughter knowing that because you chose her people you call friends and colleagues were slaughtered because you refused to return to the Silver Talons?"

Silence meet the question as Johnny battled with himself, weighing his emotions of friends versus his daughter and if he could truthfully stand himself for letting either go without a fight. "I don't know sir," he finally answered.

"Is that your honest answer?" Rufus asked.

"Yes sir, it is," the young man said.

"I see."

Johnny pushed away from the wall, padding across the floor coming to a stop at his guardian's right side. "But I do know that I'd rather be thought of by my daughter as a cold heartless bastard for turning my back on her and abandoning her if it meant she was kept out of Bastions hands and away from his minions as she grows up." He then crossed his arms over his chest and turned to glare at his guardian. "I leashed myself willingly this time bastard, leave Alara the fuck alone."

Bastion raised an eyebrow slightly as he turned, casually clasping his hands behind his back. "And what of your mentor and her partner?"

"I already know those two can take care of them selves. Besides, Nyghtblade would kick my ass from here to Wutai and back if she thought I was sacrificing myself for her. And NightRunner would help her."

Bastion chuckled lightly. "Yes those two are rather… spirited are they not? I'll make you a deal Firefox. You stay with the Silver Talons and I will see to it that your daughter and any associate outside of our organization are off limits in our game of cloak and dagger." There was a pause before he smiled once more. "Now Mr. President, if there is no more business to be dealt with between us, I'd like to take my ward and leave now."

Rufus studied the two before him, the younger willing to sacrifice everything to protect family and friends, the older self-confident of his power over the younger. Like in a game of chess, one had to be willing to sacrifice pieces in order to win the game. "Tseng, see to it these two men are escorted out of the building." He then turned his chair so he was facing a window. Nothing had been said about the child still asleep in his lap.

Johnny bowed "Arigatou," he murmured before turning and following Bastion out of the office.

Once the doors closed behind the two men, Reno got up from his sprawled place on the couch. "So, you just gonna let that bastard walk out of here with the kid while leaving behind the girl, yo?" the redhead asked.

"For the moment, yes. We do not have the resources to start a war with an unknown group that so far to date has caused no problems for the company or me. Johnnathan is neither a TURK nor an employee of Shin-Ra currently." Rufus turned his chair back around. He indicated the girl with one hand as he spoke, "Elena, please see to the child until time for her to leave."

Elena slid off the stool and crossed the office to retrieve the child. "Yes sir, shall I make the arrangements?" she asked as she picked up the child, cradling the limp body gently in her capable arms.

Rufus debated having Tseng do it but changed his mind. "Yes, see to it please." For a moment he missed the warm weight of the sleeping child, a brief thought of having a son or daughter of his own calling him papa flashed through his mind but it passed quickly. He already had a family, so why did he need to have a child he thought to himself as he glanced at Reno, his brother. Besides which, even though he was the uke of the relationship with his lover Tseng, he sure as hell wasn't going to be the 'mommy'!

Downstairs, outside the building's lobby doors Tseng, Rude and Morgan watched as the older man known only as Bastion headed the tall youth named Johnnathan LeFleaur into the waiting limo before getting in himself. No one moved until the limo was out of site.

"So, think we'll see him again anytime soon?" Morgan asked.

"No doubt about it," Rude replied.

Tseng didn't say anything as he nodded once then turned around to return to his duties. He had no doubt either about seeing the young man again, but he didn't think it would be anytime soon.

Elena stood patiently watching the sunset as she for the private jet to land then taxi off the runway. Alara still asleep in her arms thanks to the sedative she had been given earlier on in the day. She didn't have long to wait before the door opened and the stairs were lowered.

From within the jet a tall figure, very pale hair trailing down to his knees, stepped out. The person was dressed in a knee length, many buttoned formal coat of black and red. Once he was on the tarmac he stepped aside for someone else to exit the jet. This time a dark haired woman with alabaster skin descended the steps. The tall male took up position to the side and behind as they crossed the blacktop.

Flashes of Sephiroth passed before Elena as she looked the tall man over but the differences were enough to reassure her that this person wasn't another remnant. He had blood red eyes not cat-slitted Mako green and his hair was pure white not silver, he also had several pale scars running diagonally across his face. The pair stopped several feet outside of arms reach of her then bowed.

"I am Lucretia, this is my bodyguard Kit. Ryukye-sama sent us to retrieve her great-granddaughter, Nixie-chan," the woman said in way of introduction herself and her companion. She offered a small silk scroll to the blonde woman, unrolling it so that the other could read it since her arms were currently occupied.

The right words were said and credentials proven before Elena introduced herself, "I'm Elena," she nodded politely back.

"Please thank your employer for his kindness in allowing Nixie-chan's father to have the chance in contacting her great-grandmother Ryukye-sama. While Ryukye-sama is not pleased with her great-granddaughter's father's choice in occupation and willingness to continue under his current employer she understands that there is little choice in the matter. She is pleased though, that he contacted her instead of Nixie-chan's mother or grandmother," Lucretia said bowing once more before taking the child. "Gaia's blessings be upon you."

Elena bowed in return then handed Kit the envelope containing all the paperwork and information on the trust fund setup for Alara as well as current information on her father. "I will pass those thanks on and thank you for accepting the request to care for the child. Have a safe return trip."

Kit nodded then turned following Lucretia to the refueled jet for the return trip to Wutai.


"Onegai?" = Please?

Arigatou = Thank you

"Nai-ji nai'am mishidi ne mainaigi. Hajime mashite. Dozo youroshiko." =

"Respected person I am unsure of your ranking but find you attractive. This is the first time we're met. Please honor me"

Johnny - blood type = b neg.

.org/wiki/Blood_type

Benzodiazepines "Minor Tranqs"

The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind - Julian James

Lucretia