Catching Glimpses Chapter 9
The Humor of the Situation
"The bitch is back."-Reno Lynley
Dinah came to slowly, her eyes staying closed for several long seconds while
she tried to assess where she was. She was lying on something long and soft,
and could hear engines rumbling in the distance. Dinah opened her eyes to
find that she was spread out on a couch, and seemed to be in the cargo bay
of a plane. Airplane parts, furniture, and other unrecognizable items were
set out in a broad tableau.
Dinah sat up swiftly, then winced, placing a hand to the back of her head
and resisting the urge to lie back down again. Instead, she stood up and
nearly ended up on the cold metal floor. She held still and blinked for several
seconds, and the dizzy feeling passed.
She padded forward quietly, but still somewhat unsteadily. Ahead she could
see the door to the cockpit. Dinah peered through the door to the cockpit,
and recognized a familiar tousled red head. Reno was seated in the co
pilots seat, with a headset over his ears and appeared to be laughing
and joking with the pilot.
Her eyes narrowed and she flung the door open with a slam. Reno didnt
even bother to turn around.
"The bitch is back," he said wryly.
"Shove it, Reno! Why the hell did you ditch me back there?! For once
I could have used your help!"
Reno turned and found himself face to face with an irate Dinah.
"Whoa, whoa. Behave there, kids," drawled the other person in the cockpit.
Dinahs attention swung to the man in the pilots seat. He was
facing forward out the window, watching his instruments and the rapidly moving
sky, but he turned for several seconds and Dinah got a good view of him.
He was tall and thin, with a craggy, expressive face and leathery skin. He
had a wild shock of chocolate brown hair sticking out in all directions from
beneath his headset, and liquid brown eyes. Dinah guessed he was probably
in his late 20s to early 30s. He was chewing on an unlit cigar,
and was handsome in a rugged sort of way.
"Who the hell are you?" Dinah asked bluntly.
He laughed jovially. "I like her, Reno. The names Azrael Maiden, little
lady. And you are?"
"Dinah Selby. Howd you get roped into this whole mess?" Dinah offered
her hand to shake, but Azrael took it and kissed the back of it gently.
Dinah smiled at the old fashioned and courtly gesture, but also at something
else. Something about this man was just so familiar
"I got roped into this, as you so quaintly put it, when Reno
showed up at my hotel room door early this morning to ask if he and a friend
could bum a ride with me. Me and Reno go way back. I just couldnt say
no." He grinned at Dinah, who smiled back. "And now I am most certainly glad
Reno snorted and rolled his eyes, which brought Dinah back to the original
conversation they had been having.
"I still cannot believe you just left me there to fight her alone, you bastard!"
she said angrily.
"Yknow, if youd freakin shut up for three tenths of a second,
I could explain what happened, bitch!" Reno replied heatedly.
"QUIET!" Azrael roared. They both closed their mouths and turned to look
at the pilot.
"Thats better. Jesus. You two are worse than my little niece and nephew.
First of all, Reno, thats no way to treat a lady, damn it! And as for
you, Miss Selby, Reno saved your ass! If it hadnt been for him, old
Whitey back there would still have ya!"
"And how did he save my ass?" she asked dryly, crossing her arms over her
"He came running up to me yelling, Take off, take off! Very agitated,
was our Reno. Much arm wavin and pointin and yelling and the
like was going on. So he finally managed to convey his plan to me and we
moved down the runway toward you. By the time we got there, ole Whitey had
knocked you out and was carrying you off." He paused for a moment to grin.
"You shouldve seen Reno. It was the neatest trick Ive seen in
a while. He just hung out the back hatch of the plane and plucked you right
out of Whiteys arms, and we took off. So Reno did the right thing."
Reno grinned with the unexpected praise.
Azrael swiftly brought him back to reality with a bump. "Of course, hes
still a bastard."
Dinah laughed as Reno held an outraged look on his face. "Hey!" he
"You are my kinda guy, Mr. Maiden," Dinah chuckled.
"Please, just Azrael," he corrected her.
She nodded. "Azrael."
"Az, you are still the ladies man," Reno said, shaking his head with a rueful
"If Azraels the ladies man, then what are you?" Dinah asked.
"The whores man?" Azrael suggested.
Dinah burst out laughing.
Reno didnt take it as an insult at all. "Yeah, thatd be me."
Dinah asked, "Now that weve got that settled, where are we?" Azrael
consulted his instruments, then glanced out the window. "Youve been
out cold for quite a long time. Almost five hours. We were starting to get
worried. Anyway, were almost there. Rocket Town is just over these
mountains." He pointed down, and Dinah caught a glimpse of snow capped
"You mean we went from the eastern continent to the western continent and
then right back to the eastern again?" Dinah asked in dismay.
Reno nodded. "That about sums it up.
"By the way, how is your head?" Azrael asked with concern.
Dinah smiled at him. "Im feeling much better, thank you."
"How come youre never that nice to me?" Reno muttered.
Dinah had sharp ears. "Because you are never that nice to
Plus youre a bastard," she added.
"Will you ever get past the fact that I am a bastard?!"
"No," Azrael and Dinah answered simultaneously.
Reno threw his hands up in defeat. "Thats it! Double teaming!
I give up, damn it!" He threw down his headset and stormed out.
Dinah glanced nervously at Azrael. "I am seriously hoping that you dont
need his help to fly this thing."
Azrael chortled. "Reno? No matter what he may have told you, the man
doesnt know a propeller from a clutch!"
Dinah gave a small smile, sitting in the seat that Reno had just vacated
and placing his headset over her ears. She curled her legs up under herself
and watched the snow covered fields roll by for several minutes. Finally,
in the distance, she saw something silver and shiny sticking straight up
into the sky.
"Whats that?" she asked, pointing.
"Thats the rocket that the towns building. I think the launch
dates in two months; sometime in March. Most of the supplies in the
back are for it."
"Oh." Dinah nodded, then returned to watching the small town grow closer
and closer. After a few moments, the silence in the cockpit grew oppressive,
and she stood, removing her headset. "Im gonna go find Reno," she
announced, and beat a hasty retreat.
Walking back into the cargo hold, Dinah found Reno sitting on the sofa that
she had woken up on. He was staring into space and appeared to be lost in
thought. Dinah dropped down beside him.
"Mind telling me what were doing in Rocket Town?" she asked.
Reno jumped. "What the-Oh. Its just you."
"Need I ask again?"
Reno shook his head. "Naw. Ill tell you. Az actually lives here, even
though he isnt home very often, so I was gonna see if we could stay
at his place for a bit while I figured out where to go from there. But now
Whitey back there knows that we came to Rocket Town, or she can just find
out by checking with the planes flight path, so thisll just hafta
be a stopover. One thing that works for and against us is that planes come
here only once every two weeks, so itll delay the guys thatre
after you from getting here quickly. But if they do somehow manage to get
here fast, then the first place theyll look is Azraels house-"
He abruptly stopped. "Thats it! I know where theyd never look
for us!" Reno sprang up and dashed to the cockpit, where Dinah could hear
him excitedly conversing with Azrael.
Dinah shrugged and stretched out, figuring that shed find out their
destination soon enough. She felt the engines shudder and slow as they began
their descent into Rocket Town.
Reno blinked at the sudden onslaught of sunlight as he disembarked from the
small cargo plane. Dinah and Azrael hopped out behind him. A crowd of townspeople
was already gathering, and Reno heard Azrael giving out instructions for
the unloading of the plane.
Dinah appeared beside Reno, hopping up and down to stay warm in the frigid
air. "Brr! You gonna tell me where were going?"
Reno grinned. "Itll be a surprise."
Dinah eyed him warily. "I dont like that look on your face
Azrael joined them. "We ready to get goin, then?"
The other two nodded.
"Right then. This way." Azrael lead them away from the crude, shoveled runway
and into the snow covered town. The small village looked like scenes from
an old fashioned Christmas card, with smoky tendrils climbing from the chimneys
and snow everywhere. A light snow was falling as they made their way through
"You do understand, Reno, that Im doin this against my better
judgement," Azrael said gravely.
Reno waved him off. "Yeah, yeah."
"So youd better stay quiet and polite in the background and let me
do the talkin. Were old friends."
Reno nodded. "Will do."
"Cause you know theyre not gonna be happy to see you."
They turned in at the gate of a comfortably sized nondescript home at the
center of the village. Azrael marched up and rang the doorbell, Reno and
A womans voice was heard from inside. "Katania! Could you get that
The pitter patter of small running feet could be heard. The front door was
flung open, and a little girl stood there. She looked to be about five or
six, and wore a pink shirt with a stained pair of overalls. He long black
ponytail was tied with a pink bow. She looked up at them with her almond
shaped, Wutaiin eyes for a moment, but then her slightly chubby face creased
into a smile. "Mista Az!"
"Why, if it isnt Miss Katania!" Azrael said, laughing and scooping
her up. He spun her around and around, the little girl shrieking with
"Kat? Who is it?" The woman appeared on the doorway with a baby on her hip.
She was short, with long brown hair and wide brown eyes. She wore a pair
of cats-eye glasses and a long white lab coat. She smiled when she caught
she caught sight of Azrael, who was setting Katania back on the ground.
"Azrael Maiden! Where have you been?"
Azrael hugged her gently, being careful of the little one. "You know me,
Shera. Ive been here, there, and everywhere."
Shera began to say something when she realized that Azrael wasnt alone.
She began to smile at Dinah, but then she noticed Reno. The smile faded from
her face, and she took a step back. "Azrael? What is this?"
"I must admit, Shera, that this isnt just a social call. May I present
Dinah Selby and Reno Lynley. Reno, Miss Selby; Shera Highwind."
Dinah smiled and murmured, "Hello," while Reno nodded to the rocket
"What is he doing here?" Shera asked, making it clear who she was talking
Another voice called out from inside the house. "Hey Sheer! Did I hear someone
at the door?" A man appeared behind Shera. He was of medium height, with
blonde hair held back by a pair of flight goggles and icy blue eyes. He wore
a navy blue flight jacket, and a pair of forest green pants with dark brown
hiking boots. His eyes lit up at the sight of Azrael.
"Youve been gone for a while, Az! Howve ya been?"
"Ive been good, Cid. And you?"
"Weve-" Cid abruptly stopped. "What the f-" Sheras hand went
over his mouth as she nodded to the wide-eyed Kat. Shera took her hand away,
and Cid grinned sheepishly for a second. "Whoops."
"Kat, why dont you go inside and play with your brother?" Shera
"Okay, Mommy!" The little girl ran into the house happily. The adults all
stared at each other for several long seconds.
"Az, what the hell is this?" Cid finally asked.
"Cid, this is Dinah Selby and Reno Lynley. Miss Selby, Reno; Cid Highwind."
"Maam," Cid said distractedly, tipping his head slightly to Dinah.
Then he turned back to Azrael. "Why is there a Turk on my doorstep, Az?"
His voice was calm and level. Azrael winced, knowing well the signs of his
friends dangerous temper.
I knew you werent going to make this easy for me, Cid
"Renos here because he and Miss Selby need your help."
"No way in hell Im helping a Turk, Az!" Cid exploded. "He killed so
many innocent people! How did you get involved with him anyway?"
"Were old friends, Cid, from the days that we worked for Shinra. Would
you please, for my sake, give these two a ride to Midgar on the
Highwind? Id do it myself, but Id lose my job and subsequently
my house if I did."
Dinah started. Midgar, huh? And he told me that was the one place we
wouldnt be going
Cid smiled grimly. "Fraid youre outta luck. The
Highwinds under repairs at the moment."
"How long will it take?" Azrael asked in desperation.
Cid studied him closely. "Youre really serious about this, arent
Azrael nodded, meeting Cids gaze. "Hes my friend, Cid."
Cid sighed. "The repairs wont be finished for about three days. I guess
I could give em a right to Midgar once theyre done." He shook
his head slowly. "I wouldnt do his for anyone but you, Az."
Three days stuck in this dinky little place?! Reno thought in dismay.
Im gonna go crazy before this is over
"Thanks, Cid," Azrael said in obvious relief. "You can just get them at the
hotel when youre ready, right?" He looked to Dinah and Reno, who
"The inns being renovated and is closed for six months," Shera said
That stopped Azrael. He turned for a moment to speak to Reno and Dinah.
"Id say that you could stay at my place, but thatd be the first
place that Whitey and the others would look for you
" he mused.
"I guess we could stay in tents outside of town," Dinah said hesitantly.
When Reno opened his mouth to speak, she fixed his with a glare. "Note the
emphasis on tents. As in plural."
Shera broke in, shaking her head. "Not for three days, and certainly not
in this weather. You can stay here."
"But Sher-" Cid started to protest, but Shera cut him off.
"They can stay here, Cid," she repeated firmly.
Cid sighed, then nodded. "Alright. But Ill be watching you, Turk."
He stomped back into the house.
"Thank you so much, Mrs. Highwind," Dinah said earnestly.
Shera waved it off. "Its no trouble at all. And please, just Shera."
"Thanks Shera," Azrael said. Then he glanced back down toward the crude runway.
"Ive really gotta get goin."
"Thanks for everything, man," Reno said in response.
Azrael grinned at him. "No problem, Reno, though you owe me one big time.
Behave yourself now. Ill see you later."
"Thank you, Azrael." Dinah smiled at him.
He kissed the back of her hand. "Youre very welcome. I hope to see
you again soon, Miss Selby." Cool blue-gray eyes met warm brown for a moment,
and Dinah was again struck by the familiarity of that gaze.
Then he turned away to look to Shera, who smiled at him sadly. "Are you sure
you have to go now?" she asked.
Azrael nodded. "Ive got a shipment to Wutai that just cant
"Bye Azrael," she said.
"Tell Cid, Kat, and Josh that I said bye." Azrael replied. He hugged her
again, and patted the child in her arms on the head. "Bye Sheer." He strode
down the snow-dusted path and was lost to sight.
Shera watched after him for a moment, then held the door open. "Wont
you come in?" Reno and Dinah went inside, shaking the snow from their boots.
Dinah hung her jacket on the coat rack, then took a moment to look around.
The house was good-sized, and they were apparently in the living room. The
walls were a pale green color, with white trim, and there were several
overstuffed armchairs and a couch around the room. Cid sat on the couch,
reading a newspaper. There was a fire roaring in the fireplace, and Kat sat
in front of it, playing with a boy that could only be her twin. Childrens
toys were scattered on the floor, and a playpen was set up in a corner of
the room. A large cabinet that Dinah figured hid the TV and stereo was directly
across from the couch. Dinah could see the kitchen, the dining room, and
a hallway that lead to a set of stairs from where she stood.
Reno caught a glimpse of Cid glaring at him before his newspaper hid his
face. This is going to be an interesting three days
Shera walked over and set the baby down in the playpen. She and Dinah apparently
hit it off quickly, because they sat down almost immediately and began talking.
Reno sank down in a chair, and Kat and her twin brother, who Reno assumed
was the Josh that Azrael had mentioned, were immediately all over him; asking
questions and pulling his hair.
"Whats your name?"
"Whys your head on fire?"
"Why wasnt Daddy happy to see you?"
"Why do you have sungasses on your head?"
With Cid watching closely, all Reno could do was groan inwardly and start to answer their questions. I hate small children, I hate small children, I hate small children
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