Wasted Chapter 8

Capital Punishment

By Lila

After the incident with Lynn, things seemed to calm down a little around Death Row. Rude’s face healed, although, as he’d predicted, he wasn’t able to see well out of his right eye. It didn’t bother him too much, though, except when it came to target practice with guns. He had grown accustomed to looking through the sight with his right eye, and he had to learn to shoot all over again using the other.

Eventually Lynn also healed a bit, and before long she was being forced to train again. Rude knew she hadn’t recovered emotionally –and that she probably never would. Her scars were more than skin-deep.

Reno had suggested using a Restore materia on her, but Kaiser had responded with a derisive laugh, saying Turks didn’t need materia.

Although it was now clear that Kaiser was the one in charge, Wat regained his status as Supreme Asshole quickly enough. Whatever lesson he’d learned that night with Lynn, he seemed to have forgotten. Yet he stayed away from her, instead spent most of his time either torturing Reno or locking himself in one of the upper levels of Death Row.

Almost like what had happened with Tseng, everything seemed to return to normal. Yet, Rude knew better than to believe nothing had changed. He could sense the tension in the air, humming below the exterior surface. Like a storm on the horizon, it was there, waiting for just the right moment to strike.

It didn’t have to wait long.

One day, shortly after the alarm rang, Kaiser came downstairs to let them out. He slunk up to Rude’s cell with a smile. Immediately Rude knew this was not good. Kaiser didn’t smile often- indeed, the expression seemed almost painful on his face- but when he did, it usually meant he’d thought of a new way to torture them. After Reno had returned to the basement to help Rude that time, Kaiser had hung the redhead by the manacles in his cell and left him there. At that time, Rude and Lynn weren’t allowed in the basement, instead kept in the Training Center. At first, Reno had tried to make light of it ("Hey, at least I don’t have to train!"), but long hours -days- by himself, with the minimal weight of his own body causing the manacles to dig into his wrists, had taken an effect. When Kaiser had arrived to cut him down, Reno had been delusional, crying and talking to voices that weren’t there. At the sight, Kaiser had smiled, just the way he smiled now.

"Good news," the Turk said as he unlocked Rude’s door. "Your last test is today."

"To become a Turk?" Reno came up to the bars of his cell and peered at Kaiser accusingly. "Why him? Hasn’t Lynn been here longer than him?"

Kaiser’s smile broadened. "Well…you could say it’s Lynn’s last test, too. In a way."

Rude definitely knew this was not good. Frowning with apprehension, he waited while Kaiser unlocked the other doors and followed the others upstairs. He tried to catch Lynn’s eye, but she avoided his gaze. She had hardly spoken to anyone since that night, and Rude feared he was losing her. To what, he didn’t know, but she was slipping out of his grasp. Every day she retreated further inward. He didn’t know how far was too far, but he didn’t want to find out.

As they trudged up the stairs, Reno bent close to Rude and whispered. "The hell’s going on?" Rude merely shrugged, but he was wondering the same thing.

Kaiser led them past the washroom, through the Training Center, and directly outside. Besides the concrete helipad, the land surrounding Death Row was completely barren. The high wire fence was far enough away to still allow a rare sense of freedom to wash over Rude. He shivered involuntarily. It was raining, although not very hard. Rude put out a hand and watched the little droplets of water form a small puddle. He watched, mesmerized. It hadn’t occurred to him that the world outside was changing, too, just as his own world had been.

Wat, who apparently had been waiting outside, joined them as Kaiser came to a halt some distance from the building. The blond-haired Turk didn’t look nearly as gleeful as Kaiser did. A fresh bruise marred the pale skin of his face. Rude wondered what he’d done this time, and if it had to do with what was happening now.

Kaiser turned to face Wat, looking expectant. Wat slowly pulled a small handgun from his jacket holster, a different gun than the one they usually used for target practice. Rude recognized the style and somewhere from his scattered knowledge about firearms the name popped up: The Death Penalty.

Kaiser nodded to the gun in Wat’s hand. "You will use that," he informed Rude.

"For what?" Rude assumed they wanted him to perform some kind of difficult shot. Even so, the heavy feeling of dread in his chest wouldn’t go away.

Kaiser suddenly reached out and clamped a hand around Lynn’s arm. She cried out in surprise and tried to pull away, but he yanked her to him, pressing her close to his body, as though in some absurd mockery of a lovers’ embrace. Again he gave that sickening smile. "Lynn and I will be standing 100 yards away. You are to take that gun and shoot."


Kaiser’s expression sent chills running down Rude’s spine. "Shoot me, and you’ve passed. You’re a Turk. If you miss-" Here he tightened his grip on Lynn. "-or if you hit her, then you’ve failed. It’s that simple."

"Bullshit!" Reno, quiet until now, glared at Kaiser angrily. "You sick bastard! Where does Lynn come into this?"

Although he was looking at Reno, Rude knew Kaiser was speaking to him. "When you’ve let your enemy see your weakness, you’re already as good as defeated."

Reno sputtered a few choice words, but Kaiser ignored him. Still gripping Lynn, he turned and began to walk away. Lynn went with him, but turned her head back slightly, just so that her eyes met Rude’s for a moment. For the first time in weeks, he saw something in them, something real. Anger…blame…sympathy…regret…maybe all of them at once. And there –right before she looked away –he thought he saw…relief. Rude couldn’t tell; she looked away too quickly. The moment was broken, and he knew it wouldn’t come again. Whatever happened to Lynn this day, the person inside her was dead, gone for good.

The realization struck Rude to the core. He simply stood there as Lynn was led away, feeling as though his legs had turned to lead. Only when Wat silently pressed the gun in his hand did he realize it was time.

He saw Lynn and Kaiser, a good 100 yards away, just as the Turk had promised. He couldn’t tell at this distance, but in his mind he saw Lynn’s empty eyes looking at him, watching, waiting, hoping…

He brought the gun up to his good left eye. Although he was still unused to the awkward new position he’d been forced to take up, his hands were steady. That was good.

Reno suddenly flipped, grabbing Wat by his suit jacket and yanking him close. "You’re just going to stand there?!" he yelled. "Why don’t you do something? Why don’t you stop him?"

Wat seemed unusually calm, but long hours of torture had taught Rude exactly when someone was near breaking point. Wat was near it now. "Turks don’t go against orders," he said, biting the words off one at a time. "Turks don’t interfere."

Reno shoved him back so hard Wat nearly fell. "You bastard," he whispered vehemently. "You’re afraid of him, aren’t you." It wasn’t a question.

"Shut up, Reno," Wat hissed.

"You’re afraid of him because he trained you!" Rude wasn’t sure whether Reno was angry or incredulous. "Kaiser trained you, didn’t he?"

Wat glared at him for a moment, then abruptly turned away. "What are you waiting for!" he shouted at Rude. "Shoot!"

Rude coolly flicked back the safety, aware of Reno suddenly by his side, but hardly hearing his words.

"Rude, you can do this. You’re good, you’re better than me at shooting. If you kill Kaiser, we’re out of here. You, me, and Lynn. We can leave Wat here to rot." Reno was speaking fast, too fast, stumbling over his words. "We’ll go to that bar. We’ll get good and drunk, and we’ll laugh about this day. Because you can do this. You know you can."

Later Rude would wonder why he was so perfectly calm, so controlled. Later he would start trembling and never stop. But at that moment, all he was thinking of was the target. He felt his lips moving, but no sound emitted from them. He was suddenly very aware of how fast his heart was pounding, as though it was trying to match his panting breaths. Why was he panting? He wasn’t hot or exerted. As a matter of fact he was cold; he was deathly cold-

He pulled the trigger.

Almost the instant the shot rang out both Reno and Wat ran for Kaiser and Lynn. Rude followed more slowly. He didn’t think he’d ever covered 100 yards in such a long time. It wasn’t because he was afraid of what he might see; he already knew what had happened. Maybe it was because of what he might feel…

Kaiser stood with his arms folded, looking down at the fallen body of Lynn. The bullet had pierced her through the center of her chest, a few inches below the breastbone. She was still alive, somehow. As he approached she looked up at him with those empty eyes, her mouth working as though she was trying to speak, until all at once her last breath left, and her face went slack. Lifeless. It was odd, what a difference death made in her. Lynn usually had looked lifeless, those past few months, uncaring, unfeeling, no emotion whatsoever. But now…it was different. As though her soul- until then merely frozen over- had dried up or taken flight or something. At any rate it was gone. And it would never return.

Wat, kneeling at her side, at last reached breaking point. At first his eyes opened wide, and he looked to be in deep shock, until he suddenly threw back his head and let out the most horrible sound Rude had ever heard. More bestial than human, the awful wail rang through them all, shattering the grim silence after the gunshot. It went on and on, painful to bear, yet nobody made a move to stop it. As he watched, transfixed, Rude realized that in his own twisted way, Wat had actually cared for Lynn. This man, so warped and distorted by pain and hatred, had somehow found something in the flayed remnants of his mind. And now it was gone. Like Lynn.

Snarling, Kaiser backhanded Wat across the face. The younger Turk fell backward in the mud, getting muck all over his immaculate blue suit. Wat sat there a moment, no longer howling. For a moment he seemed to pull himself together, and he slowly got to his feet. Then he lost it again, broke and ran for the only solace he had: Death Row.

It was raining harder now. Rude felt the droplets of water slide down his face. They seemed oddly like tears. He slowly reached up and touched one with his finger. Cool, wet, calm tears from the sky. Wat had cried over her, Reno’s eyes were suspiciously bright, and even the sky was shedding tears for Lynn. Why didn’t he have any of his own to give her? Didn’t she deserve that much?

Maybe it had something to do with the way she looked. Lying there in the mud, eyes staring straight up, pale skin splashed with blood from her wound…no, that wasn’t Lynn. Lynn was all sarcasm, all confident words and rolling eyes. Toward the end, Lynn was all coldness, sunken in despair. But here, like this? It just seemed…wrong.

That wasn’t it. It suddenly came to him in a flash of clarity. Of course he couldn’t cry for Lynn. What was he holding in his hand that very instant? The gun that had killed her. He had killed Lynn, just as the assassin sniped off his prey. The assassin never cried for his victims. Why would Rude?

Reno was talking to him. "C’mon, man, it wasn’t your fault," he said quietly. "Nobody could’ve made that shot. They were too close. You know that, don’t you? It wasn’t your fault."

The gun slipped from his limp grasp to land in the mud. Suddenly Rude didn’t want to be there anymore. The assassin never hung around after he’d made his shot. What was he thinking? He would get caught this way. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

It was time to leave.

"Reno," he whispered through dry, cracked lips. "Go."

Reno looked surprised. "What are you-"

"It ends now. Remember, Reno? It ends today."

Reno swallowed hard. He looked so young, right then, with his bright red hair plastered to his face. Unless you looked him in the eye, you’d have thought he was a kid. A tall, lanky kid. But his eyes…they weren’t the eyes of a kid. They were the eyes of a man committed to revenge. To murder.

"Yeah," he said decisively. "Okay. I’ll go find Wat. You…take care of yourself, alright, Rude?"

Rude didn’t bother answering. Reno was already jogging back to the building.


Reno followed Wat after leaving Rude. He wasn’t worried about leaving Rude alone with Kaiser. After all, they both knew it was a fight to the death this time. He’d steadfastly insisted on being the one to go after Wat, though. He’d wanted the pleasure of killing that man all for himself.

There were only two directions to go from the main entrance of Death Row: up and down. And since Reno was pretty sure Wat wouldn’t go down to the cells, he headed up, to the main office. He’d actually only visited the office once, when he’d first been brought to Death Row with Wat, but he knew the way. You didn’t easily forget the walk that changed your life…and that walk to the main office had done just that to Reno.

There wasn’t a shred of doubt in Reno’s mind as to what he would do to Wat. Oh, like Rude, he’d made that connection, that Wat was only another poor bastard trained to kill. However, Reno had made a vow to kill Wat. And he sure as hell wasn’t about to break it, no matter how pathetic the guy seemed. Wat had done much that forced Reno to despise him. Sure, he hated Kaiser as well; that guy was a complete bastard. But Wat…Reno loathed Wat. Reno was going to make sure the Turk would regret everything he’d done.

Somehow, the idea of him losing this final battle never crossed his mind. Reno was far too wrapped up in thoughts of revenge to entertain the idea of defeat. Or maybe he just didn’t care at that point. He had nothing to lose.

Reno slammed open the door to the office. Wat was sitting mildly at the desk with his hands folded in front of him. Oddly enough, he appeared perfectly calm, without the slightest trace of surprise on his face. Almost like the inmate who’d made peace with himself before being put to death.

"Reno," he said matter-of-factly, as though he’d been expecting him. "You’ve come to kill me."

Reno nodded. "That’s the idea."

The barest flicker of amusement flashed across Wat’s face. "With what? Your bare hands?"

"If I have to."

"Just assumed you’d barge up here and figure it out then, hm?" Wat shook his head slowly. "You never learned discipline. That’s my one regret."

"That’s your one regret?" Reno said in disbelief. "Buddy, you’ll regret a lot more by the time I’m through with you."

Wat slowly got up from the chair, his eyes on Reno the whole time. "I doubt it. You’ll kill me quick."

"Is that what you think?" Reno snorted. "Guess again."

Wat folded his arms, raising an eyebrow in mock surprise. "Why Reno, I thought you said you’d never turn out like me. ‘A sick, twisted bastard’ I think was what you called me. Have you changed your mind?"

Caught off-guard, Reno paused a moment, then glared. "Don’t give me that. I don’t really care what happens to me anymore. All I care about is making you suffer."

Wat took out his nightstick, flipped it in his hand, and looked at it for a moment. "I do believe I’ve made a Turk," he declared, as though speaking to it. His eyes flickered to Reno. "We’ll see who suffers more before this ends!" He lowered the nightstick and charged.

Reno had been ready for this and threw himself to the side. He stumbled but managed to catch himself, whirling around just in time to meet Wat’s wild swing with the weapon. The nightstick caught him across the face, searing the skin. Reno cried out in pain and dropped to his knees, hurled himself blindly at Wat’s legs. There was a heavy thump as the older man fell. Reno scrambled to his feet and backed away a bit, hitting the desk. Taking his eyes off Wat for just a moment, he groped along the desk for some kind of weapon. Files…paper...nothing.

His attention stupidly diverted, Reno suddenly realized Wat wasn’t on the floor anymore. As soon as that thought hit him he felt a presence immediately behind him. Before he could dodge, the nightstick slammed down on his skull. Reno lurched away, his vision blurring. The blows came again, faster now, too fast for him to form any kind of counterattack. Just when he thought he’d collapse, the weapon jabbed him in the gut and stayed there, sending waves of pain humming through his body. Not able to take anymore, Reno hunched over the nightstick, exhausted, oblivious to his own hoarse shouts, oblivious to anything but the pain. He waited for unconsciousness to take him, but it wouldn’t come.

"Do you know how satisfying it would be to kill you right now, Reno?" Wat growled, increasing the pressure until Reno thought he would break into a million pieces. "I’ve always enjoyed myself when torturing you…after all, a ‘twisted bastard’ like me would have to enjoy it…but I really do think this is a high point in the time we’ve spent together. You know how good it feels to be on this end of the nightstick, don’t you?" He leaned closer. "You know…you enjoy it, too. When you trained Tseng…the sight hurt to watch, it was so beautiful. You handle this thing masterfully, because you know how to cause the most pain. You didn’t hold back then-"

"-And I won’t hold back now!" Reno gasped, fighting to get the words out. Gritting his teeth against the intensity of the pain, he placed both hands on the vibrating weapon and gave a sharp jerk, pulling it away from Wat. Despite his blistering hands, he grinned at the shaken look on the other’s face.

"Time for payback," he hissed, flipping the nightstick so he could hold it by the "good end".

Reno did thorough job. It was exactly like it had been with Tseng, but this time Rude wasn’t there to stop him. This time he went all-out. When it was finally over, Wat was on the floor, covered with blood.

"I really must…congratulate you," Wat said, speaking in sharp gasps. "No one’s been able to make me scream like that…since Kaiser…"

Reno squatted down and looked at him coldly. "I think maybe I’ll kill you now."

"Please do."

"What’s that?" Reno cupped a hand to his ear, his tone turning scornful. "Did I just hear you beg for death?"

A thin stream of blood dribbled from the corner of Wat’s mouth as he let out a wracking laugh. "Reno, I’ve been hoping for death for a good long time before I met you."

Gripped by anger, Reno grabbed Wat by his bloodstained collar and hauled him up with inhuman strength. "Then why didn’t you kill yourself and do the whole fucking world a favor?" he spat. "Maybe I would’ve had some semblance of a life if you hadn’t come along!"

Wat gave a sad sort of smile. "You know, I don’t really know why I never considered suicide…" He paused for a moment, as though thinking. "I guess…I guess I was just hoping for a day when it would stop…hurting…"

Enraged, Reno shoved the end of his nightstick in Wat’s mouth. "Does it hurt worse now?!" he screamed. "Does it? Maybe it’ll stop hurting when I take this thing away! Did you ever think of that?! You goddamned son of a bitch! Did you think it would stop hurting when you pulled me off the streets and made me turn out like you? Or how about when you were fucking Lynn? Did it stop hurting then?!"

Reno ranted for some time, and he would never reveal what he had shouted, although he later told Rude most of what transpired in the little office of Death Row. Toward the end, Wat twitched uncontrollably, drooling and mumbling, and Reno laughed at the sight in between tirades. His laugh was mirthless, cold, and malicious.

When at last he was through raving, Reno threw Wat to the floor, then pressed his shaking hands to his head, trying to regain control of himself. It was just like with Tseng- he’d lost it then, too. He wasn’t sure what was real and what wasn’t anymore. Losing himself in that fit of violence…it was awful.

At last composed, he looked down at the still body of Wat. Reno wasn’t sure how long he stood there, just staring. Wat was dead.

They say when a man kills another, he’s lost a part of himself that can never be replaced. Not so with Reno. Whatever that part of him was, he’d lost it already. He knew it hadn’t been when he’d killed his father. That guy hadn’t been a real human anyway. And afterwards, he’d felt his share of remorse and guilt…not like this horrible emptiness he felt now. Maybe it had happened when he’d tortured Tseng…maybe when he’d made that conscious decision to kill Wat. Maybe it had been when he’d slit the throat of Mrs. Swaney’s goddamned cat…

Reno stared a moment more, then used his thumb to switch off the nightstick. He held it in his hands a moment, unsure of what to do with it. It would make sense to leave it with Wat, wouldn’t it?

But Reno knew he couldn’t do that. The thing was a part of him, now, as much as his skin or his red hair. He couldn’t leave the weapon behind.

Without a last look, he turned his back on Wat and left the room. And, despite his innermost fears and own horror at what he’d done, it took him a long time to get the sadistic grin off of his face.


Meanwhile, Rude stared at Kaiser, trying to forget the still form of Lynn at his feet. The rain pounded incessantly, thankfully washing the blood off her. Rude didn’t know why, but for some reason to think of her lying in the mud like that…part of his mind couldn’t comprehend it. It was the part that kept comparing him to an assassin…a killer. He wanted to leave, go far away so he wouldn’t have to look at Lynn’s body anymore.

However, his mission wasn’t completed yet. He still had to deal with Kaiser, who was looking at Rude as though he was the lowest piece of scum on the Planet.

"You’ve failed." Kaiser’s voice was flat. "I had high hopes for you, Rude."

Rude’s hands clenched into fists. "What are you going to do now?"

Kaiser smiled abruptly, and suddenly Rude was quite afraid of him. As Reno had said, the guy was frickin’ nuts. Unlike Wat, who sometimes seemed human, there was no reasoning with Kaiser. There was no alternative to death.

When he spoke, Rude abandoned all hope that the man was sane. "You failed. I have no choice but to execute you."

The way he spoke didn’t make it sound like a boast, or a threat, or anything else like that. Kaiser stated it like simple fact.

As he stood there, frozen with fear, Kaiser unexpectedly closed the distance between them. The Turk’s hand shot out, grabbed Rude by the collar, and yanked him close.

"This is going to be a pleasure," he whispered, flipping a knife in his other hand.

It occurred to Rude that he was about to die. Maybe he deserved it, after what he’d done to Lynn. But…to die like this? By letting Kaiser win? Lynn wouldn’t want that, she’d want him to fight. Even though she’d given up herself. Now that he thought about it, that made her kind of a hypocrite.

But Reno would be very pissed off if he came out of the building and found Rude dead. Rude could already imagine his reaction.

You moron, Rude! Why didn’t you fight back?

If he was going to fight, now was the time.

As Kaiser brought the knife close, Rude jerked, as though he was about to kick him, then knocked his arm into Kaiser’s. The knife actually made a slashing cut on the its holder’s own chin. Twisting furiously, Rude managed to drop out of Kaiser’s grip, landing in the mud beside Lynn. Rather than waste time getting to his feet, he threw a handful of sludge into Kaiser’s eyes, than ducked out of the way. Kaiser took a step, but slipped in the muck and fell, the knife dropping from his hand.

Enraged, Kaiser kicked at Rude, hitting him in the side of the head. Rude fell back. He tried to get up, tried to regain his scattered senses, but Kaiser was suddenly there. Rude gave a weak swing that Kaiser evaded easily. The Turk grabbed his arms and forced down in the mud, pinning him.

"It’s hard to believe that Tseng was the only successful Turk out of the four of you," Kaiser said softly. "You had potential, Rude, you really did."

Struggling madly, Rude’s fingers encountered something hard amidst all the mud. Was it…?

"After all, I picked you out myself. Four…maybe five years ago, wasn’t it?"

That was it? It had seemed like a lifetime ago. Four or five years…he’d practically been a kid then. He’d never really had a father, or if he did, he couldn’t remember. When he came to live at Death Row, he’d started to model himself after Tseng, who from the beginning was always calm and collected.

Kaiser hadn’t stolen four or five years from him. He’d stolen something else, something infinitely more precious.

His fingers curled around the object in the mud with resolve. The kid he’d been, the Rude of five years ago…he was gone. Another Rude, Rude the Turk, had risen up to take his place.

Bringing the gun up quickly, Rude fired. He shot five bullets…one for each year of life Kaiser had taken away. There was no hope for the Turk, not at that range. Kaiser jerked madly at first, like a fish on dry land…twisting and writhing for air. Repulsed, Rude leaned back, averting his eyes from the sight. When Kaiser finally stopped moving, Rude shoved him off and slowly got to his feet.

Kaiser lay on his back, close to Lynn’s body. His face was a gruesome mask of filth and blood. It was strange. Rude could still see Lynn alive, despite the bullet hole in her chest. But Kaiser…he was dead. Rude wouldn’t ever remember him as anything but the way he was now, beaten and bloody on the ground at his feet.

Rude lifted the Death Penalty and looked at it. Somehow, it seemed fitting that he’d killed Kaiser with the same weapon he’d killed Lynn. Ironically fitting.

Rude heard the mud squelch as someone walked up behind him, but didn’t turn. He knew it was Reno.

"We’re free." Reno nudged Kaiser’s body with the toe of his boot. He smiled dryly. "Hope he likes Hell."

Rude didn’t take his eyes off the Death Penalty. For some reason, the weapon seemed grimly fascinating. "Wat?"

"He’s finished," Reno said grimly. His eyes strayed to Lynn, and he put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. "I’m sorry, man."

Rude didn’t answer, still fingering the gun in his hand.

A loud ringing sound suddenly filled the air. Reno nearly shouted, he was so startled. "The hell is that?"

"It’s coming from him." Rude tilted his head toward Kaiser’s body.

Cursing, Reno bent and searched the dead Turk, finally locating a PHS in the jacket pocket. The ringing didn’t stop. Reno hesitated a moment, considering, then put the receiver to his ear.

"Who is this?"

"Reno?" The reception was fuzzy, but a man’s voice came through clearly. "Reno, is that you?"

Reno looked at Rude, who shrugged. The redhead spoke into the mouthpiece again. "Yeah, it’s me. Who’re you?"

"It’s Tseng."

Looking surprised, Reno covered the mouthpiece and looked at Rude again. "What’s he calling Kaiser for?"

Rude wiped a hand over his face. The rain was finally starting to slow up. "He’s a Turk. Of course he’d keep in contact with the other Turks."

"Reno?" Tseng sounded annoyed. "Put Kaiser on the line."

Reno eyed Kaiser’s body. "Uh…that’s kind of…impossible."

"Reno, what’s going on over there?"

"Tseng…he’s dead."

There was a long pause. "Could you repeat that?"

"Kaiser’s dead. Wat, too."

Tseng said a word neither Reno nor Rude had ever been able to picture Tseng saying. "When did this happen?"

"After Rude…after Lynn died."

There was another pause. "Rude’s there, too?"


"I’ll come over with a chopper to pick you two up. You guys can explain then."

"Hang on a minute, alright?" Reno said, covering the receiver again. He let out a breath, then turned to Rude. "Shit, man. We’re finally getting out of here."

Rude said nothing. Now that the day had arrived, it wasn’t anything like he’d thought it would be. He wasn’t sure what he’d expected to feel, but it hadn’t been this. He wasn’t happy, or relieved, or anything like that. He was empty inside, frozen. Maybe a part of him had died with Kaiser…or Lynn.

Reno was talking to Tseng again. "Okay, hurry up. We’ll be waiting." He seemed about to hang up, then added, almost as an afterthought, "Oh, and Tseng?"


"Bring the kerosene."


Rude ground his last cigarette into the mud with his heel, wishing he could grind away the memories the same way. He checked his watch with a sigh. It really was getting late. Maybe he should go get Reno before he fell asleep on the bar counter…

He turned and stepped into the bar again, hoping to keep his mind on the present, this time. He slid onto the bar stool beside his friend and opened his mouth to tell him they had to leave. Instead, something else came out, addressing the barkeep.

"Give me another shot."

The memories still refused to let him go…


Rude stood on flat runners of the chopper, clutching the side with one arm as he watched the destruction of Death Row. Flickering flames licked the sky…almost like the flailing hands of a drowning victim. Ignoring the building’s pleas for mercy, the helicopter took flight, leaving it behind.

After hanging up on Tseng, Reno and Rude had taken Lynn’s body and laid her on the small pallet in her cell. Somehow, leaving her there in the mud hadn’t seemed right. Unlike Wat and Kaiser, Lynn deserved respect. Even if she couldn’t have a real funeral, they would lay her to rest in their own way.

Rude watched the flames until the chopper left them behind, and even the smoke lay beyond his view. "Goodbye," he whispered.

Reno climbed out to stand beside him. "C’mon, man," he urged, yelling over the roar of the wind. "It’s gone. We’re through with that life. Just forget it."

Rude pulled the Death Penalty from where he’d tucked it in his belt and looked at it for a moment, running his fingers over the cold metal surface. He knew he would never fire it again. The weapon was tainted now. He didn’t want to remember that it had even existed. That Lynn had even existed.

And besides…he really didn’t need a momento to remember Death Row. He already had one.

His right hand, the one clutching the gun, was enclosed in a black, armor-backed glove. It hadn’t looked right, dead Kaiser wearing the accessory. After all, it was a very nice glove. And Rude had always preferred fighting with his fists over using a gun.

Suddenly deciding something, he whipped his arm back and threw the Death Penalty as far as he could. It seemed to hang in the air for a moment, as though to let him have a last look, then plummeted down to splash in a small lake below. Rude watched the lake until it regained its crystal serenity, then ducked back inside the helicopter. Reno followed.

Tseng, sitting in the front seat next to the pilot, turned to look at them. "I still can’t believe you guys did it."

Reno had told him the whole story. Tseng had made no comment throughout the narrative, seemingly deep in thought. Now he appeared to have reached a decision. The two escapees waited silently.

"Alright," Tseng said at last. "I think I know what to do. I’ll pull a few strings, put in a good word for you two. I really don’t think this has ever happened before, but the Company will still accept you."

"’Accept us’?" Reno echoed, looking suspicious. "What are you talking about?"

Tseng shrugged. "You want to be Turks or not?"

Turks? Rude and Reno stared at each other. Neither had really thought beyond their escape, certainly not to the point of what they’d do about occupation. Neither really wanted to go back to a life on the streets. It wasn’t their environment anymore. Rude wasn’t quite sure where he or Reno belonged anymore.

Reno ran a hand through his hair, giving Tseng a sideways glance. "How’s the pay?"

Tseng smiled. "Let’s just say you’ll retire early."

Rude shrugged when Reno looked his way. "Why not?"

Reno suddenly laughed. "What the hell! Sign us up!"

Tseng gave a nod. "Good." Then he gave them each a look of disgust. "But you two are in desperate need of new uniforms."

He was right. Rude knew he was filthy with mud and blood, although Reno was a good sight worse. You’d have thought he’d taken a bath in red. When Tseng had first seen him, he’d asked where Reno was hurt. The redhead had then coolly stated that the blood was Wat’s, not his own.

"Say, Tseng," Reno said amiably. "Did you ever find that chick you like?"

Tseng gave a visible jolt of shock, but that was all. Rude had never seen the man lose composure, and he didn’t now. Tseng stared straight ahead, looking at something none of the others could see.

"I don’t know what you’re talking about, Reno." His voice was soft. "Don’t waste my time with stupid questions."

Surprised, Reno shrugged, then leaned back in his seat. No one said anything else until they arrived at the Shinra building. The pilot turned to Tseng. "We’re here, Sir."

Tseng seemed to rouse himself out of a kind of trance. He swung open the door and leapt onto the cement surface of the Shinra building’s roof. Reno and Rude followed.

Tseng waved the pilot off, then turned to them. "Well. I guess this is it." He smiled, but the expression seemed forced. "You’re Turks."


Rude stared at the untouched glass in front of him, then looked up at Reno, only to find the other man staring at him. And then, just for a second, he could have sworn that he saw the moment in Reno’s eyes as well.

Chapter 9

Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic