Reno turned his head and looked down the hallway to see if anyone else was even there. After the meteor and the incident with Kadaj, the Turks and President Shinra had relocated to a new building hidden in the mountains. He leaned wearily against the doorway and momentarily let his mask fall. Some days he felt as old as the earth itself. He looked down at his hands and sighed. He was used to the image of blood that covered his pale hands by now. When it had first started happening he had been nervous but when he realized that no one else saw it he decided to move on.

It was one of the rare nights that Reno was there longer than Tseng was. Usually the Wutai man stayed in the office from dusk until dawn, trying to sort out the new and old Turk recruits and the plethora of paper work and mission reports. Despite the company's new… focus the president determined that the Turks were still a necessary part of the business. They ensured safety and helped to navigate the intricate maze that was modern business. It also helped that they could be used as agents for corporate espionage with mako enhancements. Reno raked his hand through his hair and smiled thinly as he remembered how he had gotten Tseng out of the office.

Reno sloppily threw his half-finished report on Tseng's desk and waited for the inevitable reprimand that was going to come. He knew that Tseng would make him redo his report and in doing so condemn him to the office for the night… and that was the point. Reno could see the ever growing bags under the older man's eyes and if Tseng knew the red haired man was going to be in the office for most of the night he would inevitably retire early. Maybe then Tseng would sleep at his own apartment instead of napping at his was the red haired Turk's subtle way of taking care of his boss. Rude raised an eyebrow from underneath his sunglasses at his red haired partner. He knew what Reno's plan was but he wasn't about to rat him out. If Reno's way of showing concern was to pester Tseng with relatively good intentions then Rude's was to let him. However Elena was completely in the dark. She trusted Reno to do his job (he was second in command…) and on some level she even trusted him with her life. However she would never trust his lazy attitude that he had in the office and she had a feeling he was up to no good. Putting her head back down to work Elena bit back a nervous sigh. Whatever happened she would ignore it…

Sighing Reno ran another hand through his hair. Needless to say Tseng hadn't been impressed with his coffee stained, slightly burnt (who knows how) report. He had been ordered to rewrite it and lock up the office for the night. Finally he had finished all the paperwork (albeit messily but good enough for Tseng (or so he hoped) and was ready to go home but something was stopping him. Grabbing a cold bottle of water Reno went and lay on the office couch. He leaned back against the head rest and let memories flow over him.

The boy dashed through the maze of darkened alleys and back doors that were the slums of sector 6. This was where the Johns and Janes came to have some… fun. He had learned that if he wasn't careful he could get caught. And if he was caught he would be forced to do something he didn't want to do. But if he was careful he wasn't caught. And if he wasn't caught he could nick a few gil from the Johns and Janes that came down here. Pushing his dirty mop of red hair out of his face he climbed into a small attic room that looked like it had been abandoned for years. But it was off the streets of the slums and the further away from the streets you were the further away from the rats you were. And the rats were huge. The stories of them dragging small children away were not exaggerated. Too often the boy had seen the left overs of their meals and he shuddered to think it might happen to him or his sister.

Kneeling down the boy offered an even skinnier and more emaciated little girl some food he had purchased with the recently stolen gil. She weakly took it and started to chew. Neither child had a name. It wasn't uncommon for children to go unnamed in the slums of Midgar. Since most kids died before seven, people just didn't name them unless they were one of the survivors… Most didn't start to care until the kids had proved themselves and survived the first few lethal years of life in the slums. So like many of the other children in the slums of Midgar the two were referred to as "boy" or "girl" and when speaking to each other it was only brother and sister.

-a few years later-

The boy was older. Time had passed and the girl whom he had called sister; the one he had tried to drag with him into the small number of those that survived had succumbed to death. She had become yet another casualty of the slums. Pushing his dirty red hair out of his eyes he looked around. He had gotten into the drugs business and right now he was in sector 7 trying to make a few sales. After about an hour of good money being made he decided to leave. It didn't pay to stray far from the stash of drugs that the local gang leader kept hidden from Don. He shivered. He still didn't have a name but little did he know he would have one soon enough.

-time passes-

He leaned against a wall of one of the buildings. The drugs he used to push now had a hold on his mind, body, and soul. The previous gang leader had been found out by Don and all those that had been under his command were told to choose, death or working for Don. Always the survivor Red chose the only option that wasn't death… Don. Red had gotten his name shortly after he had joined Don. It was crucial that all of the "workers" had names… or at least that was what he was told. They said it was so that the Johns and Janes that paid for him would have a name that they could refer when they found a favorite. If he wasn't completely doped up on drugs it would have made him shudder. He hated the name. He knew he had only gotten it due to his most appealing attribute, his red hair. That, due to Don's insistence, was combed and clean. All the workers, except those that serviced the poor people of the slums themselves, were kept clean and polished. Red pushed himself off the wall and sidled up to a John that was making a beeline for him. The hair that he was named for was considered… exotic and made him a favorite with the Johns and Janes that came down to sector six from the upper plate. Red smiled seductively as he led the man to the room that Don serviced for him. Shutting the door behind him Red wondered if he shouldn't have chosen death that fateful day that Don had put his hooks in him. Swallowing the bile that rose up in his throat Red turned to the John…

-time passes-

He had finally gotten away from Don… away from sector six… away from the men and women that "loved' him for an hour or so and then left him with a splintered soul and a wad of cash. Red couldn't take it anymore. Keeping his head down he had slowly rose up in the ranks until they thought they could trust him not to run, and they had left him without bodyguards. Red knew that the drugs they had been feeding him for years, the Fever and Gone that they had pumped into his body had terrible withdraw and could be fatal. He didn't care though… he had to get away. If anything he had to die before he went back.

-time passes-

Reno. That was the new name he had made for himself. It was close enough to Red that he would answer when he was called but it was different enough that hopefully the few of Don's men that left sector six on occasion wouldn't recognize it. It was the name of the best trafficker in the slums. He had almost died from withdraw but somehow he had survived. He had spent weeks curled into a ball in a warehouse hallucinating but he had finally made it out. He had survived and scarred himself on his cheek bones so that he would never forget the ordeal and if Don ever found him, he was damaged goods. It was the crucible that made him into a man. Now he knew how, when, and where to get merchandise and he was the best at it. He was a quick learner and had spent a few years in the underground fight ring to create his own fighting technique. He had learned from his opponents and in a few years he had started to win more matches than he lost. He'd learned that a quick smile and over confident air made opponents underestimate him. They would be so focused on his apparent over confidence that they would fall into the same error. The men that fought in the ring were often sloppy but those that were good were really good. Unnamed rouge ninja from Wutai, fallen mob bosses, and even reject soldiers had all fallen to his skill. However, only an idiot that wanted to get noticed by the wrong people would remain unbeaten. Pushing his hair out of his face again he sighed as he continued to monitor the tail that had been on him for the past few days. He had decided to wait until they made their move first but it was getting old. Rounding a corner he disappeared and waited for the man tailing him to come running into the dark alley. They didn't, they simply walked past and kept going… Reno furrowed his brows. He knew that they had been tailing him but then why didn't they…

Reno turned and swung a light punch when he felt someone's presence behind him. It was the man who had been following him! How did he? Reno's thoughts were cut off when the man blocked his punch and almost hit him with a punch that was sure to have knocked Reno out if it had connected. Reno's first thoughts went to Don but he recognized the fighting style as that of Wutai and Don would never hire a man from there. To say Don was racist would have been a compliment, plus the guy was too good to work for Don. Seeing the blue suit Reno knew he was up against one of the Turks and he silently cursed himself. How had he caught the attention of ShinRa? Reno quickly dodged the accurate punch. He was faster than the Wutai man but only by a hair. However it was enough for Reno to decide he could get away from the man. Why fight someone when it will serve you just as well to run from them. Discretion was the better part of valor, right? Many men saw it as cowardly but Reno saw it as an opportunity. Yeah you had your back to your opponent but if played correctly you could quickly overcome them… and Reno always played things out perfectly.

After catching a hard kick Reno darted off while the other man was still slightly off balance. Reno tore through the sector. During his years here he had made sure to know every nook and cranny of the sector and by now had almost all of the slums etched perfectly into his memory. Most claimed it was an impossible task but Reno had done it. The slums rose and fell with new buildings and demolished buildings every day but the underlying structure stayed the same. The sewers, electrical lines, and overall format of the slums never changed. The only sector that he hadn't scrutinized from top to bottom was sector six and he had had enough of six to last him 10 lifetimes. Sensing the pursuit of his assailant Reno dodged as a bullet went flying past him.

After a few more minutes of flight Reno ducked into a bar and hid in the large crowd of men and women. It was midday but in this sector the bars were always packed. Alcohol helped some people to forget or made others feel brave enough to try and change their horrid fate. The Turk walked in and the crowd parted. No one even came close to the blue suit the man was wearing and soon the bar was emptying out fast. Before Reno could get out with the crowd the man shot toward him dropped him to the ground. Reno had tried to dodge but there were just too many people. Reno felt his face being ingrained into the table as the Turk pulled out a phone and talked for a minute. Soon after the Turk hit him on the back of the head and Reno felt no more…

-Time passes-

It had been a few years since Reno had been recruited. He had been one of the special cases that had caught the Investigative Division of the Department of General Affair's attention. He had made Turk easily. The killing was easy, and most of the time the missions were entertaining. The only thing that Reno didn't like was the suit. He had been forced to wear a few when he worked for Don and it never boded well. Now he was forced to wear one every day. When he had first put it on he determined if he was going to be forced to wear one he would never wear the tie and never tuck in his shirt. It drove the rest of the Turks nuts but it was almost as if somehow Veld and Tseng knew that he could never wear a suit… properly without being shoved back into the memories of Sector Six. He knew he had been hired on partly because of his previous experiences with Don and that the experience would help him indefinitely in the field. It wasn't that he couldn't handle the memories or fail to use them to his advantage, he just didn't want to be forced into the feeling that he had had in sector six. It also helped that when people saw his wrinkled suit they underestimated him even more, which gave him an advantage. They didn't expect the red hair punk in a wrinkled suit (that was being worn sloppily) to be the third in command of the Turks. Mako treatments (which were rare for a Turk) had returned all of his teeth and had pushed his muscle to a density that would have been impossible otherwise. He wouldn't have been able to make the job if he hadn't had them. His body had already started degrading due to his abusive childhood but the Mako had stopped and reversed the whole process. All the damage he had picked from working for Don melted away. His eyes were a strange blue green that deepened with the Mako treatments. The permanent damage that the drugs Fever and Gone had caused him had been removed and he had never felt more at home…

-Time passes-

Reno knew that this was the only place he could belong but what the president had asked of them… it was madness. Tseng had remained stoic during the entire conversation. Veld had died years ago (it was clear Turks never retired or quit) and left Tseng his position. Reno remained uncharacteristically quiet as Tseng finished. "So who are ya gonna send?" He questioned his longtime leader and first friend. Tseng twitched. "I am not sure. I have not yet found a candidate that would be suitable." Reno nodded and smirked. "Well boss, they gotta be quick, smart, and strong enough to hold off the AVALANCHE crew so they don't try and disarm the bomb and blow it before we're ready. We all know even if they're told that the bomb can't be disarmed they won't be able to help themselves from trying and then we all die. However the most important thing is they gotta be disposable and if by some miracle they do survive they gotta be able to live with themselves afterwards." Tseng nodded and closed his eyes. Reno had summed it up perfectly. The only man that came close to fitting the bill was standing in front of him with a bored look on his scarred face and he was certainly not disposable. Reno yawned and sighed. "Well jeeze boss if ya wanted me to do it all ya had to do was ask." Reno smirked and pulled the mission folder off Tseng's desk before the older man could stop him. Tseng stared calmly at the door before the corner of his lips quirked slightly up. "Thank you, Reno." He whispered to his empty office and turned back to the rest of the mission.

-Time passes-

Reno winced in pain. It had been a week since the plate fall and he had gotten enough healing sessions to revive a week old corpse but he was still in pain and unable to walk for more than a few moments. The doctors said he needed to give it time but if nothing else (at least when it came to his health) Reno was impatient. He had made it to the rendezvous point on time but Rude and the others had not and had been forced to pull out while the plate collapsed. Reno had barely survived by some miracle and now he was stuck in the hospital. Rude walked in and saw the frustrated and pained look on his partner's face. They had been partners for what seemed like forever and both could read each other like a children's book. Reno saw Rude and smirked. "Come to see the invalid?" He questioned bitterly. It burned him up that he was still stuck in the hospital while his partner was doing missions without him. "Well I'm not here for the food" Rude said looking at the mush that was left uneaten on Reno's plate. Even though he wouldn't mention it Rude was worried that Reno wasn't eating. If there was one thing he learned while being partnered with Reno was there wasn't anything that Reno wouldn't eat if it was edible. (and sometimes not so edible…) Growing up in the lower sectors Reno had learned that taste was a luxury that he couldn't afford. He'd stopped tasting what he was eating a long time before he joined the Turks. Now what he drank (especially what was in the alcoholic category) he was extremely picky about. Contaminated water was a major source of death in the slums and Reno had learned to be careful about it… food had been too scarce to ever be picky about. Reno saw the guarded worried look in his partner's eyes and smirked. "Neither am I."

Rude stayed stoic while Reno could tell he was frowning, or at least the equivalent of a frown when it came to Rude. That meant that his brow slightly furrowed more than normal and his lips pursed just the most infinitesimal amount. "You need to eat." Reno shrugged it off and his eyes lightened. "How's the office" He asked; his curiosity getting the better of his jealousy. Rude shrugged in response. He knew from experience any stories he could tell would only relieve Reno's boredom for a short time before they started weighing heavily on him. Reno sighed, "So now you're holding out on me." Rude shrugged again. He hadn't expected to fool Reno but he still wasn't going to say anything. "Look I'll eat half the plate of food if you just tell me about your most recent mission." Rude looked at Reno blankly. The red head frowned. "Come on man this stuff is disgusting." Rude snorted. Reno knew that Rude had never seen him turn down food, no matter how unedible it seemed. "Three fourths…" Reno continued to haggle while Rude just kept staring. Finally Rude spoke. "The whole plate… and I tell you about my most recent mission; after I've watched you eat all of it…" "Gahhhhh" Reno groaned. "You drive a hard bargain partner!" Rude just stared; a small quirk of his lips the only indication of his amusement. "Fine." The red head gave in and picked up the fork. With each bite Reno was looking increasingly green. Rude was about to stop his partner when Reno shoveled down the last half of the plate. "Reno…" The red head scowled. "Hurry up before I upchuck all of this." Rude rolled his shoulders and started. "Recent ongoing mission is the apprehension of Avalanche…" Reno's shoulders sagged. "Rude, for once in your life tell me you are joking." Rude shook his head. It was the reason why he had come down in the first place. Tseng thought the news should come from him. Rude didn't know if telling Reno himself or Tseng doing it would make any difference. All he knew was that he hated being the one stuck with the job. He hated to see that all their efforts were for basically nothing. At least, if nothing else, he had conned his partner into finally eating. "Intel states that a few members were killed but from what I understand that was from your mag rod and a very long fall rather than the plate fall. Also their base was taken out completely so they don't have much but they broke into the tower earlier this week and fought Rufus. Apparently they ended up killing Dark Nation. Director thought it was about time we told you."

Reno gripped the hospital sheets, black threatening to take over his vision. Rude saw his partners grip and stiffened. Reno was generally a light hearted person most of the time despite the job he had and the position he held. Some would even go so far as to say he was too laid back and even lazy at certain times. However Rude knew that wasn't true. Reno had learned on the streets that the most underestimated person was the one to survive and win. So he made himself look as incapable as possible. The sloppy wrinkled suit, strange hair, and even stranger eyes made him stand out in a way that screamed unfit for duty… and that was exactly how Reno liked it. However, underneath all the façade was a sharp mind that saw everything. He could keep up with Tseng (which was a feat in itself) and his unconventional tactics almost never failed him. Reno didn't look like much but his fighting skills were almost second to none. Rude could only just beat him and no one could beat Tseng in a hand to hand combat. The only thing that held Reno back was his temper. Many couldn't see it but when the red head got well and truly worked up there was no going back. It took a lot to get Reno to that point but when he broke it was a tidal wave of emotion. At this point most would simply stand back and wait for Reno to utterly destroy the object of his anger but now… Reno could still barely walk even after all of the healing he had gone through so Rude wasn't merely here as a friendly face but a physical barrier to the outlet of Reno's emotions. More importantly the object of his anger was not just absent but untouchable. Rude could see it wasn't Avalanche that incurred his wrath… it was the current president. The older Shinra had made a bad call and everyone knew it. Reno didn't expect any kind of compensation… but when the stakes were so high he expected success; especially when he hadn't made any mistakes with the president's scheme. Yet the older Shinra's mad plan had failed… and Reno was the one who took the hit for it… Reno was the one who have to live with the guilt of killing thousands, almost dying, and failing the very mission he had essentially risked it all for.

As the entirety of the situation hit Reno he desperately grasped for reality. He could not go after the president. It could not happen. "Reno." Rude said as he stared at the faltering second in command. "I'm sorry." Those two words were all it took for Reno to get ahold of himself. He couldn't freak out, not here, not now, not about this. Reno closed his eyes and let his weakened body relax. He nodded at Rude's soft words. "I know." He said tightly. Sighing Reno fully sat up and lowered the bed rails that kept him caged in. "Reno…" Rude trailed off, watching as Reno struggled to remove his IV and stand. As he put his feet down pain immediately shot up his spine and the red head started to sweat. "I can't stay here." Reno said quietly. Rude nodded, understanding Reno's need for movement. The hospital reminded him too much of his situation. Rude grabbed a hospital robe that was on the back of the visitors' chair and handed it to his partner. Reno smiled gratefully and shrugged the robe on. "Awww, man I didn't know ya cared." Rude grunted, "Just didn't want to see your skinny ass hanging out." Reno laughed even as the pain in his body slowly grew worse just from standing. "Plus, I'm not carrying you if you aren't covered up." "Whaaa-" Reno started when Rude picked him up bridal style and carried him outta the hospital room. "You're too slow for us to actually get out of here without getting caught." Rude said as he started sharply making turns to throw off any pursuers in the form of concerned nurses. Reno laughed again madly as Rude simply carried him outta the building and placed him in his car. "Best escape ever." Reno stated jovially. Rude let a slight turn of his lips indicate smile as he drove away from the hospital that was sounding the alarm for an escaped patient. "Tseng gonna give ya trouble?" Reno asked as his eyes started drooping in the car while Rude drove to his apartment. Rude shrugged. Tseng would be annoyed at most. Rude was sure Tseng had expected something like this and that was the reason why the Wutai director hadn't called him yet… Rude looked over as his phone started ringing. Reno look at the PHS, "You gonna get that?" Rude held back a sigh and picked up the phone. "Rude." He answered. "Tseng. You have Reno with you." It was more of a statement than anything else. "Yes." Rude said shortly. "Why." "Would have left without my help anyway." Rude could here Tseng slowly tapping his index finger against his desk. "Where are you two headed?" "Safe house above the plate." Tseng stopped tapping his finger. "Take him to your apartment or I'll technically be required to take him back." Rude nodded, "Yes, sir." "I'll meet you there." Tseng said and hung up.

"What's the verdict," Reno said after a few moments of silence. "We're going to my apartment top side. Tseng will meet us there." Reno nodded, "Make it my place. Tseng will know where we're going." Rude nodded and started heading to his superior's apartment. It wasn't long before Reno had fallen asleep despite his best efforts at staying awake. When Rude pulled into Reno's garage he wasn't surprised to find it almost empty save for a few tools and another car. Each Turk's main residence was at the barracks near headquarters where they could be on call 24/7. However the Turks that lasted the longest didn't totally rely on the company. Rude knew for a fact Reno had at least 5 other private houses scattered across the globe and who knew how many Tseng had. Tseng believed in being ready for anything. It didn't make much of a dent in their salaries anyway. Most Turks had a hearty pay check for the dirty work they took care of but their jobs so consumed their lives it was hard to find time to spend their hard earned pay checks. So in the case of Reno at least his money was spent on his work… buying future possible safe houses, stocking them with weapons, food, medical supplies, basically anything the red head thought he might need. Reno wasn't much for excess. He had learned that those with excess usually had more to lose than those who kept only the essentials. However being prepared was another thing entirely…

Rude got out and went over to the passenger side. Gently he pulled out his still sleeping partner. "Reno," He said gently. "I need the code to get in." Reno wearily opened his eyes, "Biometrics partner. Help me to the scanner," he said, pointing to the door frame. Once there Reno pushed in a small part of the door frame a small chunk of the wall pulled in and a black military looking scanner came out. It read his thumb print and DNA signature. "One guest, Rude." After the machine had read Rude's DNA and fingerprint they both walked in. Unsurprisingly, Tseng awaited them. "Took you longer than I thought it would." Reno grinned, "Traffic boss." Rude, who was still carrying Reno, felt awkward and moved to the family room to set Reno down on the couch. Reno fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow Rude had placed there. Tseng and Rude moved back to the kitchen to continue the conversation. "Report." Tseng said quietly with authority. Rude told him of everything that had occurred in the hospital and waited for Tseng's response. Tseng nodded curtly. "It was a good decision to get him out of there despite his lingering ill health. He's scheduled for a few more heal sessions and then he should be fine but once he's up and running I'm sending you all on leave." Rude looked questioningly at Tseng. "You've all been run to exhaustion except for Elena, who is too new to know any better. Also the president has become unpredictable and his mood toward the Turks at the moment is not conducive to allow us to work properly. Putting you on leave is the best option right now." Rude nodded accepting his superior's orders. "However, I've heard a few rumors of Don Coreno in the region I'll be sending you to so keep a watch out for him." "Ghost job?" Rude asked. "Until further notice it's not. However if he does happen to… get in your way it wouldn't be out of the question to tie up a few loose ends." Rude nodded once more. "I'll fill Reno in, with more details later. He'll let you and Elena know the specifics once you're on the road and I'll leave the object of clean up to him." Tseng was about to leave when he turned. "Stay with him until he's ready." "That's what partners are for." Rude replied. Tseng had an amused look in his eyes when he turned and left…

-later-

Reno looked up while the Meteor fell. "Shit." He said and chuckled. "Rude man we shoulda left while we could." Rude simply looked at him and back at the meteor. "I hear what you're saying man. Everybody's mistakes catch up to them eventually." Rude gave a quick nod and looked over toward Elena. Putting a hand on her shoulder he quietly led the group to the hospital. Reno hung back. He was about the height of Rude but not nearly the size. People parted around the large man like water over a rock. The hospital they were in was frantic. People were running around and trying to leave like they were all about to die… well they were about to die so Reno figured he couldn't give them too much crap for acting like scared sheep. Once they got past the first few floors of the building everything quieted down drastically. Everyone had cleared out long ago and only one room still had its lights on. The Turks trudged in silently and took in the figure laying on the bed. "We're staying with him." Reno said firmly. Rude just stood silently and Elana bit her lip. It was decided… they would either all survive once more or finally die… together…

-present-

Reno woke up and yawned… he had stayed way too late. Getting up and stretching he grabbed his neglected suit jacket and headed toward the door. With one last look at the office Reno smirked and left. No matter what he did in his life or the horrors his mind conjured up for him every day the Turks were home… they were family…