Redemption Chapter 32

By Janet Monstwillo

Now it's time for me to say goodbye
It's time for me to wave to my mother's hand and sigh
I'm still alive I cannot die
This empty tomb I will not hide
From you to me–don't die
–Fuel, "Alive and Dying"


This is just stupid.

In a couple of days, I'll be done with this whole mess and tearing up this letter and getting on with my life. In more ways than one. The last thing I should be doing here is sitting and writing a letter to someone I love...when the best thing for us both would be if I left her with the better man.

We both know I'm too fucking selfish for that, though, don't we Ray? If I go down, I'll do it with your name on my lips. I'll have your taste on my tongue and my ears will be ringing with the sound of your laugh.

I doubt you're laughing at the moment though. I'm on a chopper right now, being hauled off to Edinborough by Shelding's lackeys. Luckily, these boys are old school. They gave me pen and paper and unshackled my right hand so I could do the Shinra tradition proud.

I don't know what to say though. I never put a letter in my capsule before.

I hope the labor isn't being too hard for you though...I was on my way out the door when Elena came in with...with the news about Junon being in trouble. When the little bastard comes out, tell him he should've been a couple hours earlier and then I could already be teaching him my dirty jokes.

I'd make a suck-ass dad, I guess.

Reeve's passed out...I think the guys that nabbed him were instructed to be a little extra rough. That's bullshit, ain't it, we're partners, and I thought I was twice as annoying. Funny how life works.

I never thought I'd be sitting here writing a letter that was never going to be read, to someone that would mean as much as you.

I wonder if they'll interrogate us. I wonder even more if these guys know half the techniques we Turks used. On one hand, a normal person'd be screwed by that sorta treatment. But I did it to people myself...I think I can get through it.'s not time yet for this annoying little street urchin to curl up and die. I want one more time...with you.

Your life wouldn't be complete without me tearing it up, right, Ray?

Okay, that one made me grin a bit. I can just see you telling me that it's not true and it's all your fault. Somehow though, I can't completely put this thing with us away.

You save me when you smile at me.

If for some...stupid reason or end up reading this, remember. Whatever you do in the future, don't lose that smile. I couldn't lose that.

Dunno what I'm supposed to write next though. Love, truly, sincerely? All of the above? God, I never liked writing.

Jesus, how'd I manage to get to the bottom of the page? Surprised, I bet. ya, babe. I'll be thinking of your kisses (and other things...heh).

–Jack Reno

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Intoxicated from the deep sleep
Deep sleep
Do you wonder what it's like
Living in a permanent imagination
Sleeping to escape reality
But you like it like that
–Orgy, "Fiction (Dreams in Digital)"

It was tinted red, the air in there. The smoke hanging around in the air probably didn't help any. All I know is that it was a bar. Not just any bar, no, this was especially for Shinra students and employees. The bouncer outside only let in hotshots. Soldiers and students who seemed to be Turk and executive material. It's funny though, I never saw anyone who managed to make it higher up in the ranks ever frequent this place.

It's a lure to burn out the brightest prospects, probably. But anyone who could burn bright in a place like Midgar, even before it was finished, had a few screws loose. In more ways than one.

The dank evening air had surrounded me as I walked from my little studio dive into this smoke-filled hole in the wall. Of course, the first thing I do is light up a cigarette of my own. Cancer sticks, I know, but it's not like the life I lead isn't slowly killing me, anyway.

You know, it's funny, but I can't seem to remember when and where I picked up this smoking habit. I'm pretty sure it was Lavana's doing...I remember not smoking, at some point in my forgotten past, but now it just feels like I was born with one in my hand.

I watch the blue smoke waft up from my fingertips, swirling a bit on its ascent to the beams of the ceiling. This building is bare wood, but that's due to lazy finishing, not any degree of newness. Random "Guy + Girl" within hearts have been carved several times in most of these booths. The dates range from last Thursday to nearly ten years ago. This bar must've gone up with the plate.

Apparently, it takes booze to survive being employed by the Shinra. Would explain quite a bit of the behavior I've seen in my visits to the Headquarters.

The music is hard, pounding. Techno. One wouldn't expect such an uplifting sort of beat in a place like this, but I suppose anything sleepier than this and the customers would be ODing left and right. I glance nervously at the door.

It was almost time for my escape.

Of course, escape didn't arrive for about twenty more minutes. Jack was always late, disheveled. It was amazing that he could keep track of anything. Apparently though, he had "command potential" if he'd just learn to clean himself up a little bit more.

He slides onto the bench across from me, hair looking more like a chocobo's nest than anything that could possibly be considered of human origin. "You sure you wanna do this? Geez, man, you're clean cut boy. And you know the penalties if someone like you gets caught with what I've got."

"Do I joke about things like this, Reno?" I glance into my beer mug, swirling it gently, watching the head as it twists and contorts into various shapes, blending and separating from the amber liquid.

"Got a lot going for you though, man. I'm a slum kid, Reeve. You've always been middle class. Pot, booze...Shinra'll turn the other cheek. But...this shit is not misdemeanor brush off. And if you get tossed on your ass here, forget finding another job anywhere on this continent, let alone Midgar."

"I want to see it."

He hunches over the table, raising the arm nearest the edge, shielding the object he's about to display from the rest of the bar. A small vial filled with a glowing liquid. I can't tell if it's green or blue exactly, only that it contained a great deal of luminescence.

" pure." Reno's eyes lit up a bit. "I got an insider friend at the science lab now. This is the exact shit that they do all the Soldier treatments with now. I did some last night...oh man, it was a rush." He hastily stuffed it back inside his inner jacket pocket. "But I'd be a goner this morning, shooting up pure Mako, except for the fact that I've got the glowy eyes already." He pointed up at his bright aquamarine orbs, as if I hadn't known the fact from the first time I saw him.

"I have dark eyes," I protest. "My mother was half Wutaian."

He examines my face, almost looking for any signs of weakness, stepping back. He really doesn't seem to be eager to make this deal. Not to me, anyway. Reaching back into his pocket, he slides a small paper bag across the table.

Picking it up, I feel the weight, the shape, and I know it's a vial like the one he showed me. "How much–"

He interrupts me before I can even finish the word. "I'll cover it."

Needless to say, I'm very puzzled by this. Reno was only in the dealing for the money, he'd told me this a thousand times. "You jerking me around?"

"No, man." He blinks a few times. "Not at all. Look, shit, I can't even begin to pretend that I know why you feel like you need an escape. But you look like you need this so bad you'd die if it didn't happen. And you're my boy, y'know? So I'm gonna take care of you."

I open my mouth to give him thanks, but the words continue before I get the chance.

"Once." Reno looks at me with the most serious, no-bullshit expression I have ever seen. "You're not gonna be an addict. And I'll kick your ass from here to Kalm if you even think about going elsewhere to get a fix, got it?"

I nod slowly before the gravity of his words kicks in. "Is it that addictive?"

"No." He sets his mouth. "It's an easy high, rush starts as soon as you get the shit in your veins, and a little part of you will never ever come down. That's how people get Mako poisoning. Too much...and they never come the fuck down."

The chattering of the other patrons of the bar comes to my ears as the two of us sit there silently.

"You got potential, Jordan, you've just got something deep down inside screwing around with ya. I understand that...but I ain't gonna help you destroy yourself. Just the pain." Reno stands up and prepares to leave. "Wish you'd stay out of here too. Electrical engineers with a chance to make it to the Shinra board of directors don't drink this booze."

I glance up at him. "You come in here."

"Climbing up slowly. It's better than a brothel."

He strides out of the place, as sure of himself as the moment he walked in. A few women tried to catch his eye on the way in and out, but he'd been too full of a purpose. Reno could really be some kinda guy when he felt like it.

Maybe things in my life would have been different if this one encounter hadn't happened.

I probably should have thrown the vial away then, but I was just some stupid, scared kid looking for an escape from the harsh reality that I lived in. Besides, there are things I didn't know then. Things I still don't know for sure now.

But I'm fairly certain that Reno's contact in the Science dept. had been tricked into dispensing tainted Mako to various drug circuits around Midgar. After all, that's a minimalist act compared to some of the other things Hojo did, right?

I remember the things Ray said in her book...about...the behavior of those who'd received injections of Hojo's special hybrid Jenova cells...

They fit me as well.

My eyes don't glow, and for awhile that comforted me. Recently though, I realized something. Ishmael's eyes don't glow either. Seems my confidence about not being caught was warranted.

However, passing the instance off as a one-time getaway was a mistake that I've only now realized. I just hope that it's not too late.

Chapter 33

Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic