Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy, or anything else in this piece of work. I think I mention other things that I do not own, and I am too lazy to cite each one, so I will say that every product, trademark, quote, etc. mentioned/used belong to their respective companies.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I've revised/reformatted all the older chapters since they were showing up odd on my new web browser... hopefully I won't need to do this again. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter 1

A light drizzle had left everything dark and shiny, and the streetlights gave off trickles of light, like golden paint, that spilled out into the streets and swirled down the vents. And overhead the stars twinkled and the seashore can be heard from the distance. And standing off to the side stood a tall and lanky figure, almost completely obscured by the darkness. The city light had cast shadows over his eyes and the crooked smile on his face was barely discernible in the dark. He reached down and tried to smooth out his (atrociously) wrinkled shirt, though it did little to make it any better. But it didn't seem to bother him. Rather jovially, he inhaled the thick city air.

Ah, Junon. The city that never sleeps.

At least...not for the lowlifes, anyway.

He stepped out of the darkness, and Reno (as the figure turned out to be), with a spring in his step, headed toward -- you guessed it -- the bar. Well, there really wasn't much else for him to do nowadays. About a year ago, Shinra had miserably collapsed, and soon after that Midgar also went down, taking his job along with it. There'd be no more missions, no new assignments for him or the other Turks, whom he hadn't talked to in quite a while. Unfortunately for our misguided friend, all his "missions" nowadays involve getting tanked.

He set foot in the pub. The place had a laid-back atmosphere, which was what he liked so much about it. It was lit with blue lights and black ceiling fans overhead rotated lazily on low. A few people were scattered here and there; it wasn't too busy. He briefly remembered the people he used to come here with, then pushed the memory from his mind, determined not to let it ruin his mood. He was successful.

Reno took a seat at the bar and ordered a beer, feeling mighty fine. After taking a swig, he leaned back and idly looked around the place. In one area there were people playing darts, whom he didn't know but recognized, for they frequented this bar as he did. He noticed some drunk people at the tables, then his gaze fell upon the far corner, where he saw...

...oh, no.

Reno quickly turned back around, tried to look as if he hadn't seen or noticed them, tried to look busy drinking, tried to carry on a conversation with the guy sitting a couple of stools away from him...then immediately noticed the man was passed out cold, sprawled over the counter. He doubted this one-sided conversation with an unconscious guy charade would work, but he hoped it would. He also hoped that they didn't recognize him, maybe mistook him for someone they didn't know. But he didn't look much different than he did the last time they saw him; he was still Reno, the same old redheaded, unkempt Reno. And he knew that he'd seen them and they'd seen him. He was starting to feel very anxious.

He could feel their approach, and -- soon enough -- a surprisingly firm grip on his shoulder, then a pull to spin his stool around until he faced them.

He did not want to face these people, he did not want to deal with them. Reno glanced one more time at the unconscious lowlife next to him and desperately wished he would wake up and scream incoherently about being bayoneted to death by one-legged midgets (like he had done once before), causing a diversion so Reno could sneak past them and out the bar to safety.

But, of course, the stupid bum didn't. Reno would have to bite the bullet and deal with these people whom he wanted nothing to do with anymore.

Having lost it completely, he salvaged his usual mellow composure. "You know," he said coolly as possible. "it's really unnecessary to wear sunglasses inside at night." He kept his aquamarine gaze on Rude, who was standing in front of him next to Elena.

With his sunglasses on, Rude's visage was difficult to read, but with the expression his eyebrows made, it was clear that he was peeved. But Elena, whose eyes shone with a certain indignation Reno had forgotten, gave him no chance to counter(that is, if Rude would have said anything at all).

"We knew you'd be here!" she snapped. "Reno, what is WRONG with you? Just look at yourself! You're a mess, you're probably unemployed, and you haven't bothered contacting us in almost nine months! And here you are in a bar, getting trashed on a SUNDAY NIGHT! Have you no conscience?!"

Now at this Reno looked at Elena, then at Rude, then himself, his drink, and, having just realized it, the fact that it indeed was Sunday. "Apparently... NO!" he concluded.

Though the dry sarcasm and irony in his voice was easily detectable, Elena gave him a look as if she really believed him and felt sorry for him. He didn't like that look. She gave him that same poor-Reno expression that one time when they were off duty in Wutai when he got really hammered, and in his drunken stupor, fell asleep on his nightstick and shocked himself. She looked at him like that, but of course, after she found out he was alive (and... not really WELL, but at least alive), she laughed at him. This was that same look, except she wasn't about to burst out laughing, although he sort of wished she would. He wished she weren't so seriously sympathetic because it made him feel like there really WAS something wrong with him. He hated it.

A damper had been put in his mood, considering that right in front of him stood two people whom he would rather not associate with, he felt horrible about it, and to top things off, he wasn't even close to buzzing.

He sighed and distressfully rubbed his face. "Look, what do you people want?" he muttered.

"We need to talk," Elena replied simply, and paid the bartender for Reno's unfinished drink whilst Rude grabbed Reno, who cursed and struggled but to no avail, and dragged him out of the bar. She followed after them.

Ignoring Reno's protest, Rude wordlessly led him outside and shoved him into a nearby alley, where he released his grasp on him. It was times like these that Reno really wished he had his handy-dandy nightstick on him, but for reasons relating to the Wutai incident, he'd long since stopped carrying his weapon to wherever he would be drinking.

Elena stood next to Rude again, blocking Reno's way out of the alley. He rubbed the bruise on his arm from Rude's rough handling, and expectantly glared at Elena, looking tired and thoroughly annoyed.

"Reno," she began. "Don't you ever think about being a Turk anymore?"

He eyed her suspiciously, not sure where she was going with this.

"I mean, don't you miss the good times we had, the three -- er, four of us?"

Reno still wasn't sure what she was getting at, but he was certain that they didn't come find him just to reminisce about their so-called "good times", at 2 in the morning... and in an alley, at that.

"No, I don't," he replied, keeping his voice level and generally calm. "I don't miss those days. I didn't like Tseng because I always had to do what he told me to do, and whenever he was around I had to tuck in my shirt and button my jacket. And up until he got bumped off, all you did all the time was try to impress him! And you, my friend," he said a little louder, pointing at Rude. "Speak in ellipses most of the time!"

Rude looked hurt. "..." he said innocently.

"Oh, shut up!" Reno yelled, losing his cool.

Elena and Rude exchanged sideways glances, both of them smirking.

Having failed to affront either of them, Reno was dissatisfied. He considered telling Rude that he looked like Mr. Clean without his sunglasses on, then scratched the idea, because he was beginning to recognize a pattern. It had always seemed that he could say just the right thing to tick someone off, and he would usually end up getting jacked in the face. He wasn't sure if it was a hidden talent of his, or just coincidence, and he didn't feel like testing it out on Rude, who turned out to be alot stronger than he remembered. Rubbing his arm again, he decided not to say anything more.

"Reno, we just want you back with us." Elena said gently.

Now Reno was just plain confused. With a perplexed look on his face, he narrowed his eyes and blinked, taking in what she just said. "Why...?" he asked, sotto voce.

She just gave him that compassionate stare.

Reno's voice went up a decibel or two. "Do I look that desperate to you people?!" From the expression on both of their faces, he realized that he shouldn't have asked.

Elena bit her lip. "Um... have you looked at yourself in a while? You're using some old twine to hold your pants up."

Reno didn't need to look at himself, he was already well aware of that, and didn't seem to appear very ashamed of it. "So? I had to sell my belt."

They glared at him.

"What, you would rather I mugged somebody?"

They continued to glare at him.

Giving in, Reno sighed. "Okay, okay... maybe I'm in a tight spot... financially. But say I did get back with you. I suppose we'd be the Turks again, but what would we do then? We can't just run around in our business suits -- by the way, I lost mine -- doing what we did like back in the 'good old days', and still expect pay. We aren't even under contract with anyone--"

"Yes we are," Elena cut in.

Reno looked at her in mock compassion, as if she were a mutinous five-year old. "Elena, I don't know if you remember it or not, but about a year ago when Meteor -- you know, that huge freakin' rock that threatened to destroy the planet -- hit Midgar, it went BOOM, and so did the Shinra building and all the legal documents. I'm not sure if you realize it, but a huge pile of scrap metal can't order us around, let alone, offer us much of a salary."

After dealing with Reno for the few years she'd worked with him, Elena had become immune to his sarcastic insults, and neglected to make a big deal out of what he'd just said. "We have a potential employer at the head of the new energy corporation..." she said instead. "Haven't you heard of it?"

Reno, who must not have read the paper or watched the news in a very long time, slowly shook his head, barely believing his ears. He could feel the blood rush from his face, and he was glad that it was too dark for them to see that he had gone pale. This news was unsettling to him for some odd reason, and he didn't allow himself to wonder why.

But he was adamant to keep whatever was left of his dignity. The whole time he was a Turk, he'd been nonchalant about his job, laid back; so self-contained. Well, that was partially due to the emotional training they'd all received. But as a Turk, dignity was almost as important as all of that. Elena and Rude had never seen him sink so low, and he never wanted them to see him like this. And what really bothered him was that they didn't look surprised. So he tried to show them that he was the same collected, composed Reno he'd always been (although he wasn't necessarily succeeding at it).

"So...we'd work for them?" he asked slowly. Elena nodded.

Reno didn't say anything; he stood there with a look of skepticism on his face, with maybe a trace of uncertainty.

Elena noticed, and questioned him. "What's the matter, Reno? Not up for it these days?" Rude inquiringly raised an eyebrow, amused. Both of them knew that Reno couldn't say no, whether it was true or not; he had to protect his reputation, damaged as it may have been at that time, but he wouldn't admit that, either.

He laughed rather dryly. "Of course I am," he replied, and the corner of his mouth, which had stretched into somewhat of a wry grin, faded slowly, and he returned to his initial skepticism. "What about money?" He asked incredulously, maintaining his cool. If it was anything that motivated someone to be a Turk other than to just be a somebody, it was that whole money factor. Perhaps it didn't need to be pointed out, but the Turks were paid very, very well. Working a risky job like that, it's only expected that you receive alot of gil.

"They showed us some figures," Elena told him. She nodded at Rude, and he took out a slip of paper and held it out for Reno. "They're pretty impressive."

He gave her one more cynical glance, then took the slip. Immediately his eyes widened in shock. This was more than he got annually working for Shinra! He began to feel lightheaded (and kind of giddy) at the thought of obtaining that much gil, which had many zeros on it, even for a little piece of paper.

He even let out a little squeak, which... might not have been the coolest thing to do, on his part.

But he didn't seem to notice.


Author's Note: Author's Note: Okay kids, that's the first chapter (of my first fic)! I suppose a plotline like this one would be pretty easy for anyone to think up, but I plan on taking a slightly different route....you'll see. I started writing it a few weeks ago during spring break, when I was bored outta my mind...it gave me something to do, anyway, and I'm having fun with it.

Anyhow...it won't center completely around Reno, as AVALANCHE will eventually come into the picture....but in the meantime i could use some encouragement. Reviews, people, reviews. Tell me what you think. Thanks !