Engineering her first high-tech bomb and infiltrating Shinra security to plant it at one of their prized Midgar reactors had been two of the biggest challenges in Jessie's life. But now, running away from the bomb before it blew was looking to be the one that ended it.
She hadn't even thought this could possibly be a problem. The bomb had been timed for ten minutes, a sufficient window of opportunity to get out from the heart of the reactor, and she hadn't gone in that far-Barret and the new guy, Cloud, had been the ones to go all the way and plant the device. Shinra's human security had wisely cleared out as soon as the bomb warning went off, just as they'd anticipated, and she knew how to handle the mechanical ones with her own finesse. They weren't the ones eating away what could be the final 600 seconds of her life. No, it was the completely non-threatening walkway and the inconspicuous hole she'd jammed her foot into. Now there was pain lancing all the way through to her lower thigh from the stumble; she'd somehow managed to entrap her leg completely, just by pounding a little too hard on her feet while running. If she wasn't going to be blown to smithereens in the next 437 seconds, she might have laughed: how could she have not expected this? It was just her disastrous mix of bad luck and occasional klutziness.
Since she might be smithereens in the next 425 seconds, there was only a thin thread of near-hysterical laughter between grunts as she yanked at her lower leg. She was praying Barret would be back on his own way out soon and help her out, but as each second ticked by with no improvement on her jammed leg she became more and more fearful that if she made anyone stop to help her, she'd just be dooming both of them. Damn. Damn! She couldn't help but think of the action movie cliché-"You go on ahead of me! I'll be right behind you", which was almost always proven a lie and the characters knew it would be, but they managed to say it so coolly on screen despite whatever plight they'd been doomed by. Jessie was pretty sure she couldn't stay that cool. She already had tears in her eyes, and her nose was going to start running if those tears kept coming. Best she could hope for was not to beg and blubber, and she bit her lip as the clomping of two set of boots came into earshot. To say something? Make them stop? ...Would they stop? Barret bellowed at her to get her ass in gear as he stormed past, obviously not seeing the problem she was having with that. Tifa's little friend glanced at her with his blue eyes cold as ice, and she ducked her head, pulling at her leg again, shaking her bangs out of her eyes. She needed to scream, get someone to help her-no, she needed to let them go-and even as much as she wanted to scream all that came out of her throat was a feeble croak. God, she was going to be remembered as an idiot.
She didn't know if that sad sound was what grabbed his attention, or if he'd just spotted what Barret had missed, but suddenly the mercenary had doubled back and was kneeling in front of her. "You all right?" His tone was casual. So was the way he simply closed his fingers around the metal mesh neighboring the hole she was stuck in and steadily pulled, tearing through years of rust to widen the hole.
So that's what a SOLDIER could do. Damn, but she was glad Tifa had talked Barret into hiring this guy.
"My leg got caught." The words sounded silly when the limb now slid out easy as pie, and she quickly jumped up to show she was okay-with a wince. The heavy cloth of her pants had mostly protected her leg from the jagged edges of steel, but her ankle felt like she'd twisted it. A minor detail, considering her chances of surviving the night had just shot through the roof. "Thanks!"
...Her gratitude had been much too casual. The thought didn't occur to her just then: she was pretty preoccupied still with running the hell away from her own bomb, and everyone was still on an adrenaline high as they hid in a tunnel from the explosion. But then they split up to get on the train, and when the train pulled away from the station, Cloud wasn't there. And it wasn't safe for even an ex-SOLDIER to be staying top-Plate with how high security was right now. 'Thanks' seemed pretty pathetic if she couldn't help him when he was in trouble, and Jessie stared down at the floor, hoping he hadn't gotten into the worst kind of predicament. A pounding on the roof only got her to look up somewhat distractedly before lowering her eyes again. Cloud forcing the train door open and doing a fancy flip in-how could he even manage that kind of grace with the train moving so fast?-sure got her attention. Bigg's, Wedge's, and Barret's too; Barret, in fact, wasn't long to start hollering at Cloud for making everyone worry. The mercenary just shrugged it off, looking slightly like a rebellious teenager. His blond, spiky hair probably played a part in that.
Jessie couldn't find the first reason to be mad at Cloud. He was alive, that was the important thing. She still had the chance to pay him back, even if at the moment she could only think of little things, like closing the heavy door still rattling open behind him, and cleaning the soot of the tunnel off his pretty face.
...Yeah... he was attractive, especially when he seemed just slightly surprised by the touch. She thought of those action movies and wondered if maybe they weren't all unrealistic: Cloud was awfully like an action hero himself, with a dramatic flair and a cool front, but he really did care, didn't he? He was helping their fight. He'd saved her.
Heh... maybe she'd just caught herself in something unexpected again. That was her luck.