Shards Chapter 5

The Turks

By Frank Verderosa

Tifa sat down wearily on a covered bus stop bench. She wasn’t sure how long she had been wandering the streets now, but it seemed like hours. She had combed the area over and over again, but the plaza she and Drake had come up in was no where to be found. She felt like crying. Maybe if she did, someone would take pity on her.

Then again, maybe they’d throw her in jail. She had passed many people on the street. Dozens of times she had been tempted to stop and ask them how to get down to the slums, but she just couldn’t bring herself to do it. She was afraid to take the risk.

No, she wasn’t going to cry. That wasn’t going to help. She’d find a way out of this. Somehow.

She looked helplessly down the street. She had come back to this one particular road many times. She was sure they had passed by here, somewhere along the line. If she could only remember!

She looked up to see the Shinra building towering over her just down the street. This close to it she had to look almost straight up to see the top. It must have been a great view from up there. You could probably see the entire city.

She wondered if Garren was home by now. It didn’t seem likely. When he went out with Esella, it almost always meant a late night. But she couldn’ be sure. What would he do if he came home and found her gone? Maybe it would be a good thing. She was sure he’d come looking for her. At this point she was willing to take whatever punishment he thought justified, as long as she could just get home.

But that was stupid. There was no way Garren could find her, even if he did come looking for her. She hadn’t told anyone where she was going. He might comb the slums but he’d never think to look up here, up on the plate. It wouldn’t even occur to him.

Unless, she was grasping at straws, and she knew it. He wouldn’t say anything, not after what had happened. No, if she was going to get out of this, she was going to have to do it on her own. No one was going to come to rescue her.

She took a deep breath and stood up again. The way they had come up had to be around here somewhere. Panic wasn’t going to do her any good. She just had to be methodical about this. It didn’t matter anymore how late she was. That was unimportant now. She just had to find her way back, even if it took all night.

She looked up again, up at the top of the Shinra building, then higher still. It had been somehow comforting to see the stars above her head again after all this time. But she was no longer up on top of the botanical garden building, the lights around her were no longer concealed by the trees, but glowed starkly all around her. She couldn’t see the stars.

Her gaze dropped. The street sloped down a hill in front of her, giving her a view of the city farther below. She still couldn’t get over how large it was. The buildings went on and on, far off into the distance. Yet even this city did have it’s limits. Far off, just barely to be made out, she could distinguish the greenish glow of light being given off by one of the Mako reactors that ringed the city.

She remembered the raw mako they had come across when she had been leading Sephiroth up the Nibelheim reactor. She had never seen it before. They wouldn’t have even come across it if the bridge hadn’t given out. Hard to believe that something so beautiful would also be so useful, would be such a powerful energy source, able to be used in the reactors, it’s power even now lighting the whole city around her. And in even more concentrated form turned into materia, which could be harnessed to unleash the power of the earth itself.

She had seen materia orbs a few times in her life. It had always fascinated her. She had never used one herself. It was extremely valuable, and not many people in her town could afford it. There were a few people in the town that did have it, although even then they didn’t show it off much, only using it in time of need. But when she was younger she remembered a particularly nasty group of monsters had wandered into town. She remembered watching from her bedroom window as some of the townspeople used fire and lightening to fight them off. It had been a bit scary, but exciting as well. She always wondered what it would be like to handle the stuff.

Not that it ever seemed likely that would happen.

She stood there for a moment looking off into the distance. Looking carefully she could see the faint Mako glow in all directions. She remembered there were eight reactors, all built around the edge of the city. All that power...

She looked back up at the Shinra building. The reactors ran the city, but Shinra ran the reactors. That was where the real power lay. What had they done to get that power, and what would they do to hold on to it?

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of conversation. Two men in business suits passed by her, not even glancing her way. She wondered if they worked for Shinra. She wondered if they knew what the company was doing. To everyone here it was just an electric company. Just another business, albeit a powerful one. But most of them were probably grateful to it for supplying them with all this power, with all their needs. They didn’t know what was going on. They didn’t know that something was wrong with the whole thing.

Tifa had never found out exactly what had happened at the reactor at Nibelheim. When they had first gone there she had not been allowed in. But she had seen the look on Sephiroth’s face when he had emerged. Something had shaken him, shaken him badly. She would never have believed it if she hadn’t seen it herself. And when she had gone in after Sephiroth, she hadn’t really looked around. Her mind had only been focused on one thing then, to take Sephiroth down.

She bowed her head and felt her hand come up to touch her chest.

She hadn’t succeeded. But that wasn’t important at the moment. Something had gone horribly wrong at the reactor at Nibelheim, something that happened before Sephiroth had even gotten there. They had been told he was sent to solve the problem. What a joke that had been. But the problem had been real. She didn’t really know much about it, but her father had told her to stay out of the woods the week before Sephiroth had come. She had heard rumors of people being attacked. Mostly in the forest, but some right on the roads leading out of town, in broad daylight. The talk had been that somehow the reactor was spawning monsters. It was obviously something Shinra hadn’t expected. And if it could happen there...

Her gaze lingered once more on the glow on the horizon.

Nibelheim was a small town. The reactor had been isolated, up in the mountains. Here it was right in the city, and there were eight of them. Who could say that what happened in Nibelheim wouldn’t happen here? And if it did, it would be a hundred times as bad.

She looked once more at the two men walking down the street. They were far down the block now, almost out of sight. They probably saw those reactors every day, didn’t think anything of them. They had no idea that they could be slowly ticking time bombs.

She shook her head. This was no time to think about that. The reactors had been here a long time, and nothing had happened. Maybe what had occurred at Nibelheim was just a fluke, and would never happen here. Either way, it didn’t matter right now. She had more pressing problems to be worried about.

She started down the road once more, but stopped almost immediately. Three men came around the corner down the street from her. In the light of the streetlamps she could see that they all wore uniforms.

She looked around nervously. These were the first uniformed men she had seen. She didn’t know whether they were police or military or what, but she didn’t really want to know. It was quite possible they would take no notice of her, thinking her just another citizen of the upper plate. But she didn’t know that for sure. She didn’t know how tight security was up here. All she knew was that she’d rather avoid finding out.

She looked around, ready to turn around back the way she came. But then she noticed a narrow alley between two buildings on her right. The streetlights didn’t shine in there. She couldn’t see where it led. She hesitated a moment. Glancing back at the uniformed men she saw that they were still approaching, not far away now at all. She saw one look up.

Making up her mind she turned and walked into the alley. There were no lights in here, the buildings around her cutting it off. Still some light filtered in, enough for her to see dimly. Down in the slums below she wouldn’t have walked into a dark alley like this for anything. But the streets were safer up here. She didn’t think she’d run into any trouble. At least, she hoped she wouldn’t.

The alley didn’t extend very far. It turned a corner, then ended in a concrete wall after about thirty yards. Tifa stopped just at the corner. She peered back down toward the street. A few seconds later the men walked by. She ducked back around the corner.

She looked around. She couldn’t see much in the dim light. She seemed to be in some kind of loading area. There were huge doors in the building surrounding her. All of them closed now. A row of dumpsters stood along the wall beside her.

She waited a few moments, then peeked around the corner again. There was no sign of the men. She was about to start back when a sound behind her made her whirl around, heart suddenly racing. She saw movement on top of one of the dumpsters, and a moment later a rat lifted itself over the edge of it to peer at her. It was only a few feet away. Even in the dark she could see the dirty white of it’s teeth as it’s mouth seemed to curl up into a snarl. She had seen rats before, but never had she seen one even close to as huge as the one in front of her. It was as big as a dog!

Stifling the impulse to shriek, she took a step back, afraid the creature would leap out at her. But, apparently satisfied that she was no threat, it slipped back down into the dumpster and disappeared.

She stood there for a few minutes until her heart slowed down to a normal rate again. She would have expected to run across something like this down below, but not here. The place seemed so clean. But it looked like rats could get anywhere.

Eyeing the dumpster warily she started back down the alley. But she stopped when she heard yet another noise. This was the sound of voices, and it was coming from around the corner, back toward the street.

She felt her heart begin to pound once again. Had those men seen something and come back?

She peeked around the corner. Only for a moment. But it was enough to let her see at least two people coming down the alley in the darkness.

She hesitated a moment, looking around. There as no way out. She didn’t have time to check the doors in the bays of the building They were probably locked anyway. The only place to hide was behind the dumpsters.

She didn’t have time to think about it. She could hear the voices plainly now. They were just about to come around the corner. She was right out in the open. If she stood here they couldn’t help but see her. She didn’t know who they were or what they were doing here, but she had a feeling she didn’t want them to see her.

Swallowing hard she slipped the closest dumpster. They were close to the wall. There was not much room behind them, but she could squeeze in. Still, she wasn’t at all happy with the situation. She looked around warily, but saw no sign of the rat. If it came anywhere near her, she was going to run, no matter what the consequences.

"Would you slow down a little."

No one replied. The voices sounded like they were right nearby. This close, she could hear the soft tread of their footsteps. Tifa remained motionless, afraid to move. She couldn’t see either of them, and she wanted it to stay that way.

"I said slow down," the voice repeated. "Man, you’d think you had someplace important to go to."

"We were supposed to be here almost an hour ago," the second man stated. "Remember?"

"Yeah well, what of it? It’s not like anybody’s going to know."

"As long as the drop is still here."

"Of course it’ll be here. Why wouldn’t it be? Nobody is going to come wandering around in this alley."

The second man paused for a minute.

"Maybe," he replied.

"Rude, you worry too much."

The footsteps had stopped. They must have been just on the others side of the dumpsters now. Tifa didn’t dare breathe.

"And you don’t worry enough, Reno," Rude replied. "I should have know better than to let you talk me into going into that bar. You said we’d only be a minute."

"So I lost track of time," Reno replied. "Besides, we couldn’t just walk out. I think that waitress liked me."

"You think every girl likes you," Rude muttered.

"You mean they don’t?" Reno replied after a moments hesitation.

"Let’s just get on with this, shall we?"

She heard the scrapping of a shoe and then footsteps again. They sounded as if they were right next to her. She looked up, expecting at any moment to see one of them step around in front of her.

"What are you doing?" Reno asked.

"What does it look like I’m doing? I’m taking a look around," Rude replied somewhat irritably.

"Don’t bother with that," Reno said dismissively. "Just let’s get the drop and get out of here."

"You know Turk policy," Rude replied. "We have to secure the area. Who knows who might be snooping around."

"There’s no one snooping around," Reno stated. "And even if there was, someone would have to be insane to mess with the drop. You think anyone wants to have the Turks breathing down their back?"

For a moment there was silence.

"You never know," Rude said stubbornly. "Besides, there’s always a chance someone might stumble on it accidently."

"Like someone’s going to come back here and dig through all this shit just for the hell of it," Reno spat out. "Not likely."

"Still," Rude replied hesitantly. "It’s policy. And it might be better if you paid a little more attention to it, before you get us both in trouble. You know, for someone who professes to joining the Turks being a life long dream of his, you think you’d take it a little more seriously. At the rate you’re going you’re going to get us both thrown out before we’ve been with them a month."

"I’m just expressing my personal style," Reno retorted. "It’s not just about obeying orders. Turks have to show initiative too. They don’t just want us to be robots."

"And they don’t want us to be shoddy either," Rude pointed out.

"I’m not being shoddy," Reno shot back. "You and I both know this is drudge work. I treat each assignment with the attention it deserves, and this does not deserve much attention."

"If we don’t show them you take even the little assignments seriously, they’re never going to give us an important one," Rude stated.

There was a moments pause.

"Damn you’re being contrary today," Reno blurted out. "What’s gotten into you?"

"I don’t know," Rude replied. "Maybe...what the hell?"

Tifa jumped involuntarily at the exclamation, thinking somehow she had been seen, although no one had come around behind the dumpster.

She heard another sound, the crackling and rustling of garbage, then a high chittering.

"Shit!" she heard Reno cry out. "That’s a big one!"

She heard a scuffling sound, as if the two men were scrambling backwards.

"No," she heard Rude call out. "Don’t shoot it. You want to have the whole neighborhood in here?"

"What do you want me to do, shake hands with it?" Reno replied tartly.

"Hold on a sec," Rude said.

There was a momentary silence, then something slammed against the dumpster, making the metal ring loudly, and nearly making Tifa jump out of her skin.

There was more scuffling.

"Watch it!" Reno yelled. "There it goes!"

She heard what sounded like a piece of wood smashing against the ground.

A moment later. "Did you get it?" Rude asked.

"No," Reno snapped, "it went under that other one."

They were silent for a moment.

"Oh well, the hell with it," Rude said. "We’re not here to hunt rats."

"Like I said," Reno replied. "Let’s just get the drop and get out of here."

Rude just grunted in reply. The footsteps came closer once more. Tifa heard some scraping sounds.

"Seems like a stupid way to collect information," she heard Reno comment. "I don’t see why we just don’t walk up to the guy and have him hand it to us."

"You know they can’t do that," Rude replied. "These guys are working for other companies. They might be under observation. They can’t be seen meeting with people from Shinra. It would be a dead give away that they’re selling company secrets."

"Yeah, I know all the bullshit," Reno replied. "It just seems too much like spy stuff to me. You would think this kinda stuff only went on with the government."

"Spying is exactly what it is," Rude replied. "It’s no different from spying on another country, really. Countries, companies, it’s all the same. They all have secrets that the other guy wants. The ways of stealing them from either one are exactly the same."

"I guess," Reno replied. "Still seems a little too paranoid for me. And why do they call it a dead drop anyway? Somehow I don’t like that name. It’s too much like drop dead."

"Not sure," Rude replied. "What would you rather they called it?"

"I don’t know," Reno replied. "Drop off. Live drop. Who cares. Just something different."

The scraping sounds ceased. Tifa heard Rude pat off his pants.

"You’re a strange guy Reno," he said. "Anybody ever tell you that?"

"Many times," Reno replied. "Was it all there?"

"There were papers in there," Rude replied. "Whether they have any value is not for us to judge."

"Be pretty funny if we left all that gil and the information turned out to be bullshit," Reno commented.

"I’m sure it’s happened before," Rude replied. "But of course, then they’d have to answer to the Turks."

"Yeah. Maybe they’d give us that job," Reno stated. "It would certainly be more interesting than this."

"I suppose," Rude responded. "But I don’t think it’ll happen in this case. This guy’s supposed to be pretty reliable."

"Whatever," Reno replied. "Okay, let’s get out of here. I want to get back to the bar. I’m sure that girl was about to give me her phone number."

"I’m sure," Rude said wryly.

"Can we just go?"

"Alright, alright," Rude said gruffly.

Tifa had remained motionless the entire time since the Turks had arrived. Her ankle was pressed against the side of the dumpster and was beginning to ache. She shifted it slightly and her toe scraped against the ground. The sound wasn’t loud, but apparently Rude had very good hearing.

"What was that?" he questioned.

"What was what?"

"I thought I heard something," Rude said slowly.

There was a momentary pause.

"All I hear is traffic," Reno stated.

"No, it was by the dumpster," Rude said.

"So?" Reno replied. "It’s probably just another rat. Stop being so paranoid."

"I’m not paranoid, just cautious," Rude replied testily.

"Yeah," Reno returned. "C’mon, we did our job here. Now let’s go. It was probably just another rat. And if it’s as big as the last one, I don’t want to get into a scuffle with it."

They were silent for what seemed like a long time. Tifa felt a drop of sweat sliding down her forehead.

"C’mon," Reno said. "I think one of those girls at the bar liked you too."

"Yeah right," Rude muttered. Then a moment later; "Which one?"

"The one that was sitting at the end of the bar, right by the jukebox. White dress, long red hair. You must have noticed her. I think she was making eyes at you."

"Gimme a break," Rude muttered.

"I swear!" Reno protested.

Tifa heard Rude sigh.

"Alright," he said. "Let’s get out of here."

"Now you’re talking," Reno stated.

A moment later Tifa heard their footsteps walking rapidly away. She let out a sigh of relief. She waited until long after the sound of footsteps had disa ppeared before she dared to stand up. Her leg cramped when she did. She looked around and saw that the alley was empty.

After her leg recovered she walked back out from behind the dumpster, still feeling giddy. Things seemed to be going from bad to worse. First she had to fight off Drake’s advances, then she gets lost, and now she nearly gets caught by the Turks at some secret drop off place. She wasn’t sure what they would have done if they had found her, but she was sure it wouldn’t be pleasent. She wasn’t anybody important. They probably would have killed her just as a warning to others. She thought about the girl Drake had told her Dulane had killed and shuddered.

But fortunately they hadn’t spotted her. Maybe her luck wasn’t all bad after all. She looked over at the dumpster, then back down the alley. She really should get out of here. It didn’t seem likely they’d come back, but you never know. Still, she was kind of curious.

She looked around once more. Then, making up her mind, she knelt down beside the dumpster and looked underneath. She could barely make out in the dim light a small metal box wedged underneath.

She stood up again. She wasn’t going to press her luck by messing with it. She didn’t want the Turks hunting for her. She had enough problems. The best thing to do now was to get as far away from here as she could as fast as she could.

She walked away. A car horn blared off in the distance. She had gotten out of this one, but it didn’t get her any closer to home. She still had to find her way back down.

She walked around the bend in the alley and nearly ran right into the man standing in the darkness. She shrieked in surprise as the hand reached out and grabbed hold of her wrist, locking on so tightly it hurt. Reflexively she pulled away, but the man’s grip was like iron. She looked up to see a tall man staring down at her. She couldn’t make out his features in the darkness.

"Who are..." he began. Then he stopped. They stood there for a moment, just looking at one another. He bent down, closer to her, staring at her face. He was bald, or his head was shaved, she couldn’t tell which in the darkness. She looked at his face, but she couldn’t read what he was thinking. Slowly she felt the grip on her arm loosen.

"Come with me," he said abruptly.

He turned and walked down the alley, still holding onto her arm. Though his grip had loosened it was still tight enough that she had no choice but to obey. She went along with him, her heart in her throat. It seemed she hadn’t been as lucky as she thought.

They reached the street once more. The glare of the streetlights almost blinded her after all that time in the dark alley. The man turned and looked at her again.

"You’re just a kid," he muttered.

"I’m not a kid!" Tifa protested, without thinking that perhaps in this case it might be better to agree. She could see him better now too. He towered over her, and she could see now that his head was in fact shaven. In the light she could see that he couldn’t have been all that much older than she was.

"What were you doing in that alley?" he demanded.

Tifa hesitated, not sure how to answer. It probably wasn’t a good idea to tell him she had overheard them. But there was only the one way out. It was obvious she must have been in there for their conversation. It wasn’t going to do any good to lie. On the other hand, she didn’t want him to know that she was from the slums either. The Turks worked for Shinra. She wasn’t sure how he would react to that.

"There were some men coming down the street that I didn’t like the look of," she said slowly. "So I ducked into the alley to avoid them."

He peered at her even more closely, his gaze making her extremely nervous, and she could tell she wasn’t hiding it very well. She hoped he assumed it was because he had found her in the alley.

"Some men huh?" he said slowly. "You’re not from around here, are you?"

Tifa felt her breath catch in her throat. She knew this was going to happen.

", I’m not," she finally said.

He looked at her silently for a moment. She could feel herself withering under his gaze.

"You’re from the slums," he divined. It wasn’t a question.

Tifa hesitated, then nodded. She knew she wouldn’t be able to lie.

"How did you get up here?" he questioned. Her answer had not seemed to bother him very much.

"I climbed up some pipes," she replied.


"I...I’m not sure," she answered.

She did see a hint of surprise in his eyes at that answer.

"You’re not sure?" he repeated.

"I can’t find my way back," she said hopelessly. "I’m lost."

"You’re lost?" he said

Did he have to repeat everything she said?

"Yes, I’m lost," she confirmed, with just a touch of impatience. "I came up with someone else. I just followed him, but we got separated. I don’t know how to get back down."

The man did not reply for some time. But she was surprised to see a smirk suddenly appear on his face.

"It’s not funny," she muttered.

At first she had been scared to death. She knew it couldn’t be good to have been found where he had found her. But he didn’t seem to be angry with her now. Of course, he could just be hiding his emotions. She didn’t know what he was going to do with her. She didn’t know just how bad her transgression had been.

"What did it look like?" he asked.

"What did what look like?" she questioned.

"The place where you came up."

"It was a small square plaza," she replied, slightly puzzled. Why would he want to know that? "It was paved with white flagstones and there were trees planted in it. Quite a few of them."

The man thought for a moment.

"Hmm, I’m not familiar with it," he said.

As if it mattered, she thought.

"You realize the seriousness of what you overheard?" he asked.

Tifa nodded but did not reply.

"And you realize what could happen if you told anyone about this place, or repeated what you heard?"

Tifa nodded again. What was this, twenty questions?

"Yes," she replied.

He stood there looking at her, as if trying to size her up. But there was something else in his gaze too. The way it lingered on her face. But she couldn’t make out what he was thinking.

"C’mon," he said finally.

"Where are we going?" she questioned.

"I should take you back to headquarters," he replied. "I should leave it up to my superiors what to do with you."

She felt a chill at that.

"But?" she said, hoping for more.

"But that involves a lot of paperwork," he replied. "And I hate paperwork. At first I assumed you were some kind of spy, maybe for another company. But I don’t believe that now. If you’re lying, you’re very good at it. I think you just ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time."

She followed along behind him, his long legs eating up the sidewalk, and making it difficult for her to keep up.

"So you’re not going to kill me?" she said hopefully.

He turned to look at her.

"We’re not in the habit of terrorizing young women," he replied. "Unless we get paid, of course. No, I’m not going to kill you. I believe your story, and I think you’re intelligent enough to know that it’s in your best interest to keep what happened here to yourself. If I find out that you’ve told anyone, or that you’re not what you seem, I’ll come find you. And believe me, I will find you. And when I do...well, it won’t be pleasant for you."

"I believe you," she said. And she did.

They were walking down the street now, back toward the Shinra building.

"Where are we going?" she asked again.

"What’s your name?"

She hadn’t been expecting that question. She hesitated.

"What’s your name?" he repeated, glaring at her in a way that made it obvious he was expecting the truth.

"Tifa," she replied after a moment.

"Tifa what?"

She hesitated yet again. He’d never know if she made something up.

"Lockheart," she said. "Tifa Lockheart."

His gaze lingered on her a moment longer, and again she saw that odd look on his face.

"My name’s Rude," he said.

Tifa nodded.

"What happened to your friend?" she questioned.

"Reno? He went down to the bar."

Tifa didn’t reply for a moment.

"I thought you were going with him," she said finally.

"I was," he said. "But that noise bothered me. I just had to come back at check it out. I told him I’d meet him later. If he had know what I was going to find, he might not have been so anxious to leave."

She wondered what he meant by that.

"Where are we going?" she asked yet again.

"You’ll see," he replied. "It’s not far."

She wasn’t too pleased with that response, but she decided not to press her luck. He didn’t seem to mean her any harm.

"You seem awfully young to be a Turk," she commented.

"I’m old enough," he replied. She wasn’t sure, but she thought there was a hint of irritation in that reply. Maybe she wasn’t the only one sensitive about her age. "Reno and I only got hired a couple of weeks ago," he replied more conversationally."

"What made you decide to become one?" she asked.

Rude shrugged.

"I grew up in the slums," he said. "My father was an alcoholic, he wasn’t home much and we were better off that way. I got into a lot of trouble. I was in a gang by the time I was twelve. There really weren’t many role models for us. The Turks were one of them."

"I don’t really know a lot about the Turks," Tifa said. "I was just told to stay away from them. I almost had a heart attack when you caught me. I thought you’d be more...ruthless."

"We can be," he replied matter of factly. "But only if necessary."

"You still haven’t told me where we’re going, or what you’re going to do with me," she tried again.

"I’m not going to do anything with you," he replied. "And as to where we’re going, well, you don’t have to ask anymore because we’ve arrived.'

He turned and let her up a shallow flight of steps. Ahead of them was a well lit building that seemed to be some sort of transportation center. In the front were two sets of revolving doors. But he led her to the side, toward another doorway. This one was metal, and a guard stood in front of it.

She felt her nervousness return.

"What are we doing here?" she asked.

He did not reply, just walked toward the guard. She followed reluctantly. She had no choice but to trust him now.

The guard saw them coming and stepped forward, but then stopped when he saw Rude’s blue suit. He stepped back and nodded deferentially.

Rude opened the door and motioned for Tifa to walk in. She did so and looked around. There was some machinery on the far wall. Just to her left she saw a metal staircase leading down. The door slammed shut behind her, causing her to spin around. Rude looked at her for a moment, then motioned toward the staircase.

"That leads back to the lower level," he said. "Might be a bit easier than climbing on pipes."

For a moment she didn’t answer.

"You’re letting me go?"

"I told you I wasn’t going to do anything to you," he replied. "I told you, I used to live in the slums too. I have to admit I snuck up here a few times myself, though I didn’t know there was a way up in this area."

Tifa didn’t know what to say. She could hardly believe he was doing this.

"Thank you," she said softly.

"Don’t worry about it," he said with a shrug. "Just remember what I told you. What happened back there didn’t happen."

"I won’t forget," she said.

He nodded.

"How did that guard know you were a Turk?" she asked. "Anybody can wear a blue suit.'

Rude’s lip curled upward.

"There’s a lot more to it than wearing a blue suit," he said cryptically. "Alright then. You better get going. If I’m not back soon, Reno’s going to start wondering what happened to me."

Tifa didn’t reply. She still couldn’t believe he was doing this. All those bad things she had heard about the Turks, and here was one of them, the first person she had met here to do a decent thing for her.

Rude turned and opened the door again. He looked back at her. He seemed to want to say something more. She tilted her head, trying to draw it out, but he suddenly turned and walked out, the door closing behind him. She stood there for a moment, still not ready to believe she had actually gotten out of this. Then she too turned and left, hurrying down he stairs.

She didn’t know how late it was, but there might still be time to get back before Garren arrived. She had thought to herself it didn’t matter, she didn’t care if she got back before him anymore, but that was when just getting back at all had been a questionable objective. Now that she was on her way, the consequences of being found out were starting to haunt her again.

She practically flew down the steps. She quickly reached the bottom. The room was almost identical to the one above. She opened the door and walked out into the street.

Gleefully she realized she knew where she was. She was back in Sector seven, only a few blocks from Garren’s apartment. She would be home in just a few minutes.

She ran down the block. Her troubles weren’t over. She knew it was dangerous to be out in the slums at night. Hopefully she would be past anyone before they took notice of her.

There were a few people on the streets, some of them turning to look as she ran by, but no one bothered her. Her speed increased as she reached the block that held Garren’s apartment. She felt her nervousness increase, but she wasn’t going to let it slow her down. She would be safer inside, no matter what punishment she might have to face.

She reached the apartment building and slipped through the door. The hallway was deserted. She walked quickly up the stairs, pulling out the key Garren had given her a few days ago. She stopped at the door to listen for a moment, but no sound issued from the apartment. She pushed the key into the lock, trying to be as quiet as possible. If he had come home, maybe Esella had kept him too busy to notice she was gone.

She hesitated a moment, feeling more nervous than she had told herself she would let herself get. She took a deep breath, then pushed open the door.

The apartment was dark and silent. She breathed a sigh of relief. It certainly looked as if no one was here. She closed the door behind her, then walked over by the couch and turned on the light. She glanced at the clock. Almost midnight. She looked around, but it was obvious that true to form, Garren was not back yet.

Without further ado she walked into her room. Stripping off her clothes she changed into one of Garren’s shirts. She found them very comfortable and had appropriated a few for her exclusive use. Garren didn’t seem to mind. She hopped into bed, slipping under the covers. She laid there for a moment, going over in her head all that had happened. It looked like luck had been on her side after all. She hadn’t know what was going to happen. She had thought she might end up spending the night on the street, or in some cold cell somewhere. She had to admit the bed had never felt so comfortable. She curled up comfortably, feeling herself already beginning to slip off to sleep. But before she did she made a promise to herself that she would never, ever, ever do anything like that again.

Chapter 6

Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic