Catching Glimpses Chapter 11

To Each His Own, Part 1

By Kiyara

"Figures. Wherever Reno goes, you find trouble."-Rude Texiera

I have just realized that I have made no necessary disclaimer in this story, so here seems to be as good of a place as any to include it. I do not own Reno (though Gawd do I wish I did! J ), materia, Cid and Shera Highwind, Palmer, Rude, Elena, Reeve, (etc.) Shinra Inc., Junon, or any of the places documented in this fic. On the other hand, I do own Dinah Selby/Kiyara Shinra, Azrael Maiden, Joshua Highwind, Katania Highwind, Raven Highwind, and Faye Texiera, (pronounced Ta-share-a) so stay away from them! Hee hee hee… Well, if you have my permission to use them (like Diego does) then it's okay, but otherwise…no. Anyway, the lucky folks at Squaresoft own all of the aforementioned people, places, and things, and I got no profit whatsoever from this story besides the profit of my own (and others') enjoyment.


Two days before the events of chapter 10…

Faye fell into step beside Rude as he came out of the bar.

"What'd you find out?" she asked, shedding her jacket in the Costa del Sol heat and throwing it over one shoulder nonchalantly.

Rude jumped. "What the-Oh. It's you." He grinned sheepishly, then returned to her question. "Reno was here, all right. He was thrown out of the bar around 10:00 on Saturday night for nearly breaking a guy's skull."

Faye grinned. "Typical Reno. What else?"

"There is nothing else. The last person to see him was the bouncer who threw him out."

"No one else saw him?" Faye asked incredulously.

"No one in there, anyway," Rude replied, jerking a thumb behind him to point to the bar. "I was wishing that Reeve was here, though. He's a lot more…diplomatic than me. I nearly got thrown out myself."

Faye hid a small smile at that. "I wish he could have come too. But he's the president of a large company, and practically the mayor of Midgar. He can't just leave it on a whim, like we can." Then she frowned. "But to get back to the original topic, I asked around in the different shops. No one there had seen Reno either."

A cry came from behind them. "Wait up!" They halted and turned as Elena came dashing up. She pushed her hair out of her eyes with one hand. "Whew! You guys walk fast," she panted. Elena was not very tall, with short blonde hair and innocent, trusting blue eyes. She was dressed casually, as were her companions, and always took great pains with her appearance.

"Did you find anything?" Rude asked, patiently waiting for her to gain her composure.

Elena saw the way they were looking at her expectantly. "Aw damn. You guys didn't find anything?"

Rude shook his head as Faye answered, "All we found out was that Reno got kicked out of the bar around ten on Saturday night. You?"

Elena nodded. "Well, yeah, I did, but I don't know where to go with it."

"You were at the hotel, right?" Faye asked.

"Yeah. The manager had Reno in the records, and he told a wild story about being awakened in the middle of the night with gun shots coming from the room next to Reno's, belonging to a guy named Dan Selby."

"Figures," Rude muttered. "Where ever Reno goes, you find trouble."

"Apparently," Elena went on, ignoring the interruption, "When the manager knocked on the door, Reno called out something like 'Everything's fine. Just go away!' Then about ten minutes later, a motorcycle roared to life outside. When the manager went to the window, he saw Reno and Dan Selby riding off together. Then several big men, in all black clothes that looked like thugs ran out and tried to start the remaining motorcycles."

Elena paused to grin. "The manager said that their cursing could be heard throughout the town. The thugs came back in and asked for a room, the terrified manager gave it to them, and they left two days later."

"When did this happen?" Faye asked.

"Saturday night," Elena replied. "But there's more. When I asked our friend the manager if anything else odd had happened, he said yes. He had heard gunshots on Sunday night, around 10:15 P.M, and they sounded like they were coming from the dock."

"Junon!" Rude and Faye said in unison.

"Exactly my thought," Elena answered, looking slightly smug.

"We can't be sure those shots were Reno," Rude cautioned.

"Maybe someone was out and could tell us?" Faye suggested.

Rude just looked at her.

"All right, maybe it's not so likely at ten o'clock at night in a small town like this, but it is possible," Faye defended herself.

"The ferry's at Junon right now, so we can't ask the crew," Elena broke in. "But we might as well ask around."

Rude nodded. "Let's do it."

* * * * * *

Two hours later, the threesome met up at the dock.

Faye was already sitting on the boards, with her feet dangling over the edge, watching the sun fade from a bright light to a series of molten reds and electric yellows as it set.

"Anything?" Elena asked as she approached, stepping around a filthy beggar with distaste.

"Not a thing," Faye replied. As Elena sat down beside her, Rude's figure appeared at the end of the dock.

The two women turned to him, the question evident on both faces.

Rude shook his head as he strode up, his boots making the dock echo with a thudding noise. "Not a trace. I think we've hit a dead end, ladies." The sun was suddenly gone, casting dark shadows over everything.

"You'd think that Reno, with his flaming red hair would be pretty easy to spot," Elena mused.

"And by all accounts, this guy, Dan Selby that he was traveling with would be pretty tough to forget as well."

A cackle rang out from behind them. "Hee hee hee! I saw a man with bright red hair, oh yes I did!" called out a high pitched, cracked voice, giving the impression of an old man. The three spun, Elena and Faye sitting while Rude still stood, to find the dirty beggar grinning at them. The three shared a quick glance at each other before turning back to look at the man.

"And when was this?" Elena asked cautiously.

The man laughed again, his face hidden by his blue windbreaker and the dark caresses of the night. "You think I'm going to tell you this for free? You're stupider than you look!" Rude studied him carefully. Something about him sounded and looked very familiar…

Elena bristled as Faye stepped in. "How much do you want for it?" she asked soothingly.

The man thought about it for a moment, then replied, "500."

Elena looked at him, dismayed, as Rude steadfastedly said, "No."

"350?" the man suggested.

Rude was struck again by the familiarity of the voice. The hood of the windbreaker had a strange shape to it…

"No," Faye said firmly.

The man began to sound desperate. "100?"

Rude shook his head. "50 gil."

The man hesitated, then nodded. "Oh, all right." He reached out a hand for the money, but no one moved.

"Info first, money later," Elena said coldly.

The man sighed, exasperated. "Fine. Here's what happened. Around 10:15 on Saturday night, I was sitting here, as usual. Right in the dark corners that are caused by the shadows of this ship." He reached up a hand and patted the boat that was moored behind him. "That's why I figure they didn't see me."

"Who didn't see you?" Elena asked impatiently.

The man fixed her with a glare that she couldn't see through the hood. "Ahem!"

"Sorry," Elena said.

"As I was saying, suddenly, these two come into view. One had flaming red hair pulled back in a ponytail, and I could see several concealed weapons on him. The other was a very beautiful woman with long blonde hair. They-"

Rude stopped him for a moment. "Hang on a minute. Where'd the woman come from? What happened to Dan Selby?"

The proverbial lightbulb went on over Faye's head. "Dan Selby had long blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, right Elena?" When the blonde woman nodded, she continued. "This 'beautiful woman' has long blonde hair…"

Elena understood what Faye was getting at, and directed her questions to the beggar. "Was she tall and thin? Did she have long legs? Was she wearing a pair of baggy, olive green pants and high black boots, with a gray tank top and a dark brown jacket? Did she have gray-blue eyes?"

The beggar nodded in response to each of her questions except for the last. "It was too dark and she was facing the wrong direction for me to see her eyes."

Rude suddenly got it. "Dan Selby and this mysterious beautiful woman are the same person!"

"Exactly!" Faye and Elena replied in unison.

"A-HEM!" their informant broke in huffily.

"Oh, right. Go on," Elena said.

"So they came dashing down the dock together, and it was obvious they were headed for the ferry, which was beginning to leave. They kinda stopped for a minute when they saw the boat moving, then your friend grabbed the woman's hand and dragged her along with him. She jerked her hand out of his, and really started pumping. Just from the way she pulled her hand away from his, I could tell that she probably doesn't think much of your buddy. Suddenly, this big guy appeared behind them-"

"What kind of big guy?" Rude interrupted.

The man fixed him with a glare before answering. "Just that, a big guy that was full of muscles. He looked like a hired thug, or one of those old fashioned gangsters. His clothes were old fashioned and really weird, and I couldn't see his face. Now may I continue?"

Rude, Faye, and Elena nodded.

"It looked like they were running from Big Bad Caveman," the beggar went on. "He whipped out a gun, and fired off several shots at them, one of which seemed to hit your friend the redhead in the arm. The boat was already detached from the dock, and was moving away. The woman pulled ahead and leaped onto the boat, slamming into the side and pulling herself up. Ren-the redheaded man-"

Rude frowned at the slip of the tongue, but allowed the man to continue.

"-Followed her a half a second later and after a moment of conversing, she yanked him up and over the rail onto the boat. And they were outta there! Their Neanderthal pal threw down his gun angrily, then whipped out a nifty little cell phone and held a quick conversation. Then he left. Can I have my money now?" A grimy hand positioned itself in front of Rude's face.

Rude looked him over carefully for a moment, then asked, "Who the hell are you?"

"Huh?" the beggar said, sounding as if he was trying to feign surprise.

"You know Reno well enough to refer to him by his first name. Don't deny it," Rude said, as the man opened his mouth to speak. "You started to say Reno, then you corrected yourself and called him the redheaded man."

"So what if I do know him?" The man planted his feet defiantly. Inside the hood, his gaze flickered from Rude to Faye to Elena and back to Rude again. Suddenly, with amazing speed, he made a dash for the town.

Faye's foot shot out, tripping him, and the "beggar" crashed to the dock with a thud. Elena was immediately there, grabbing him by the collar of his windbreaker and hauling him to his feet.

Rude hid a smile. The two women he was travelling were definitely not as defenseless as they looked.

He strode forward and pulled the hood off of the beggar's head to reveal Cloud Strife's blue eyes glaring balefully at him; caught tightly in Elena's firm grasp.

Elena gasped, "Strife?!" as Faye stared at the Mako eyes.

Rude nodded. "I thought it was you. You did an admirable job of concealing your voice and mannerisms, but I was trained to see through disguises. Why would you give us false information?"

Cloud bristled. "So you think just because we are former enemies, that that information I gave you was fake? Dream on, my friend. It was 100% true; all of it."

"Well then why are you here, dressed like that?" Rude asked, looking confused.

Cloud shook his golden head stubbornly. "I don't have to answer any of your questions." He glared at Rude.

Cloud was fairly tall, with what had once been a warrior's trim and muscular build. Now he was extremely thin, probably as a result of time spent on the streets. He would have been completely unremarkable except for two things. One was his platinum blonde hair that was tufted into long spikes and shot off into all directions. The other was his Mako blue eyes that were so bright they glowed in the dark. And there was something else about the eyes, that had changed in the two years since Rude had seen their owner. Cloud's eyes had lost the determined and naïve look they used to hold. Now they were sad, angry, and very dead, although anger was the strongest emotion at the moment.

"What happened to you?" Rude muttered.

Apparently, Cloud had sharp ears. "Aeris, that's what happened to me," Cloud replied bitterly. His mouth shut, and he refused to say anything more, despite all of their efforts to entice him.

Then Faye stepped forward, brown eyes full of kindness. "Please, tell me what happened. You look like it would be good for you to get it out of your system, plus I'd be curious to see what brought the savior of the Planet down to this level."

Maybe it was the unexpected kindness in her voice, or the blatant honesty, or perhaps even the fact that she wasn't a former mortal enemy that made Cloud look up, smile slightly, and say, "All right."

Rude and Elena were taken aback. Elena opened her mouth to say something, and without turning around, Faye waved a hand frantically in the blonde woman's face to get her to be quiet. Elena's mouth closed.

A small fire of defiance burned in Cloud's expressive eyes for a moment. "I'll explain everything if we go to the inn for me to talk, if you tell me why you're so frantic over Reno, if you tell me who you are-" He looked at Faye when he said this. "-and if you put me up at the inn for the night."

Faye turned and looked to Rude and Elena. Elena nodded, while Rude shrugged, the look on his face clearly saying, 'Whatever.' She spun back to Cloud.

"Your terms are acceptable," the small woman said jovially, grinning.

Cloud gave a small smile at that. Then he looked over his shoulder to Elena. "I can't walk if you're still pinning me."

Blushing slightly, Elena let go and jumped back.

Cloud walked the three steps to where Faye was standing and just stood in front of her for a moment; looming over her short frame menacingly and looking down on her, searching her face for signs of intimidation.

Rude started forward, but Elena put a hand on his arm. "Don't," she murmured. "It could be his form of a test." Rude stopped and watched with anxiety.

Faye met the cold and vacant gaze unflinchingly. After a moment of brown eyes clashing on blue, Cloud spoke. "Who are you?" he asked.

"Faye Texiera," Faye replied, stepping back so their arms wouldn't entangle and offering him her hand.

After a split second, Cloud grasped her small hand in his gloved one and shook it gently, completely encompassing it.

"Cloud Strife," he said as way of introduction. He glanced back at Rude and Elena for a moment. "How'd you get mixed up with them?"

Faye hoped that the next revelation wouldn't make her lose his newly gained trust. "Rude is my husband."

Cloud blinked, but that was the only outward sign of his surprise. "Oh."

"Are you ready to go to the inn now?" Faye asked, hoping that she hadn't lost him. This man had really piqued her interest.

Cloud offered her a rare smile. "Let's go."

Faye breathed an inner sigh of relief. The two walked off together, with Rude and Elena bringing up the rear.

"Remind me again why we're listening to the tale of how our mortal enemy ended up on the streets while our best friend is in trouble with some trigger happy wrestlers?" Rude said unhappily, his gaze following the retreating figures of Cloud and Faye.

Elena studied him for a moment, then a slow grin crept its way across her features as the wind ruffled her blonde hair. "You're jealous!"

The time was when Rude would have just looked down on her, his face expressionless. But after Faye came into his life, that had changed. "What?! No, I'm not!" Rude defended hotly.

Elena's smile grew wider. "Yes, you are. I can tell."

Rude's hands waved as he denied it. He was so vehement in denying it that he nearly fell off the bridge into the town below. "I am not! What would I have to be jealous of?!"

"All of the attention Faye is paying to Cloud?" Elena suggested.

"Elena, I'm a grown man. Faye is just being compassionate and nice. There's nothing to be jealous about."

Elena gave him what he and Reno had dubbed 'The Look.'

"All right, all right. Maybe I am a little jealous," Rude admitted sullenly.

Faye smiled, looking like the proverbial cat who swallowed the canary. "I knew it."

"But why are we doing this? Helping Strife, that is," Rude asked.

Elena pondered that for a moment. "Because A, he's not our mortal enemy any more, and B, he needs help. We just happened to be the ones who were here to give it to him."

"So you approve?"

Elena nodded. "Absolutely."

Rude shrugged as he said, "To each his own."

Elena punched him playfully as they followed Cloud and Faye into the inn. "You mean to each her own," Elena corrected, laughing and walked past him into the hotel.

Rude stopped for a moment as he rubbed absentmindedly at his shoulder where Elena had hit him. "We really need another guy to join us…" he muttered.


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