Black and White Chapter 7
Zack shut his eyes and ran a tired hand through his thick hair, alone in his assigned room, leaning back against a plain un-painted wall as he sat atop a cold generic bed. Slowly, a mask of dry wit and good cheer gave way to the far more honest face of an intelligent man, thoughtful in his contemplation and critical analyzation of the seemingly bleak existence of a hopeful warrior. He would train, he would improve, he would be great, only for one day to be struck down as one of a thousand pawns in a useless war for Shin-Ra's extended supremacy. So goes the honourable life of a SOLDIER.
Only solitude could force the true Zack out into the open, and only the true Zack could feel this emotional strain. Friends and alcohol always helped to hide the brilliant creature, but they always faded away when the time for sleep came. It was then that he would always be left alone in the silence without distraction, and then the careful thoughts of melancholy would seep out from his absurd conscience, making him think of mundane things he wished weren't there.
He rarely slept anymore. He only stared at the ceiling, cursing his broad mind and praying needlessly for simplicity, but nothing ever changed. He still saw past the superficial exterior of an entire world, and too often he found nothing but hollowness under the icing when he dared to look too far down. He wondered why he always had to see the deeper layers. Life would be so much more enjoyable if the surface was all that was there.
He lay down in his bed, and watched the spinning propellers of an electric fan spinning overhead. Tomorrow, he would get up, wash, and then work at the impossible goal of being the best, before finally going out with Reno and then trying to drown himself in the shallow waters of alcoholism. But, at the end of the day, he knew he would find himself back exactly where he sat right now. The next day, the circle would make another repetition, exactly as it would once more the morning after, never ceasing. He hoped something beautiful would save him from this mediocre eternity one obscure morning, as unlikely as it seemed.
Junon's second district was a home away from home for industrialism. Second only to Midgar in capitol, it was considered Shin-Ra's side project. Yet to suffer the poison of poverty, the residents were happy and prosperous, and it seemed a fully functional community. One might be proud of the beautiful, healthy city, if not for the monstrosity of a cannon that cast heavy shadows on everything around it. It stood as a constant reminder that the splendor would not last, for one day the weapon would be used on fellow man. The city would then be plunged into the darkness of murder and war, and then they would be drained of all their comfort, only for it to be replaced by a sense of collective guilt. So the people walked anxiously through the streets, ever-mindful of the destruction their happy city would one day spill upon the earth
Zack stared up at the ludicrous contraption, going over random statistics in his head. A calculation or two later, and he figured the cannon could generate enough force to punch a hole straight through a mountain. He couldn't figure out, though, why such a large capacity for devastation would ever be necessary.
With a condescending shake of the head, he went back on his way, wandering in no particular direction as he kept an open ear for any gossip among the banter of the city's people. He learned long ago to be attentive of every word spoken, regardless of who's mouth it came from. Important information could often be found in even the most casual of conversations.
He walked into the first inn he could find. It was a ratty, dank sort of place, and judging by a couple of woman staring at him seductively, it was supported by a secondary business.
"I need a room." He quietly told a very indifferent looking clerk.
"Were completely booked." She answered him without looking up from her magazine, extinguishing her cigarette in a nearby ash tray.
Zack looked around at the musky, ugly place, and wondered how every room could possibly be full. "Seriously," He began anew, thinking the woman a liar "I need a room."
"Listen, bub." She said, closing her magazine and looking up past his hood and into his eyes, not the slightest bit intimidated. "You can't just show up here in the middle of the holiday weekend and expect to get a room. That's just stupid." And with that she went back to her magazine.
"Holiday weekend?" He pondered aloud, never remembering such an occasion on this date before.
With a frustrated sigh, she turned back to him and gave him a look as though he were the most dull-witted person in the world. "What? You haven't heard? Have you been living in a cave the past few weeks?" The older woman asked rather obnoxiously "Tomorrow is the celebration of Pr. Rufus' inheritance of the Shin-Ra empire. His old man finally croaked."
"How?" Zack pried, surprised that Pr.Shin-Ra was indeed mortal.
To keep from exploding in irritation, the lady abruptly shoved an old newspaper into his arms, which he thanked her dubiously for. He then walked out, reading the story with a great hunger for knowledge that could rarely be subdued, easily ignoring the cat calls of the desperate women of the street corners. He had no place to sleep either.
Reno and Zack wandered the streets of Sector Seven, stumbling into each other's arms as they sang loudly, horribly inarticulate in their drunken haze. Despite being underage, they always managed to find their way to booze. Giggling for no apparent reason, they belted out the words to their favourite drinking song.
"You'll have to excuse me,
I'm not at my best
I've been gone for a month
I've been drunk since I left...."
As the two shouted out the lyrics, they both tripped and fell into the mud, which only served to make them laugh even harder.
"Dude..." Reno snickered as he made his way to his feet after some significant effort. "I think we had a bit too much..."
"Fool!" Zack sarcastically scolded his ignorant comrade with a huge booming voice, waving a finger at him, which Reno smacked away playfully "Don't you know by now that too much is never enough?!"
The two burst into more idiotic laughter at the bizarre line, and finished with the rest of the chorus
"And these so-called vacations
Will soon be my death
I'm so sick from the drink
I need home for a rest
Take me home...."
Delighted by their own awful singing, the two danced a clumsy, drunken jig in each other's arms, twirling and spinning about without a care for who saw. Until, of course, Zack actually saw who was watching.
"Flower Girl!" Zack yelped enthusiastically as he saw the pretty young thing staring at him, a strange look of deep-rooted disappointment on her face that he seemed oblivious to. He opened his arms wide and gave her a big hug, and she cringed when she smelt the alcohol on his breath "How ya doin'?"
"Z-Zack...?" She sputtered, uncertain of what she saw in front of her.
"Ooh, HOTTY!" Reno gasped as he made to grab the girl by something inappropriate, but Zack (somewhat swiftly, given his condition) grabbed him around the waist and half-heartedly tossed him aside.
"That's Reno." Zack swung his arm in the very vague direction of his fellow buffoon. "Don't mind him. He's just a dick. Hey," He noticed her wipe wet eyes as she bowed her head in front of him "What's a matta'?"
Without another word, she stormed off, leaving Zack with the weighty feeling that he may have just done something very wrong, and spoiled something very meaningful.
It turned out that Pr.Shin-Ra had been assassinated, which should have been a shock to no one, considering the damage the man and his company had done to the general public. The blame had been placed on a terrorist group by the name of Avalanche, lead by a very gruff looking man by the name of Barret Wallace, who didn't look like he had half the brains necessary to plan a dinner party, let alone an assassination.
The only other member mentioned was one Tifa Lockheart. A picture had not been supplied, but as usual, his memory served him well. He remembered her as being a pretty girl, with long dark hair and big brown eyes, accompanied by a happy, if not forced, smile. Hard to believe that such a sweet girl could wind up in so much trouble. But something as horrible as that night five years ago would have certainly changed everything.
Zack shuddered just a bit, quietly remembering the bright fire in the night sky of Nibelheim that had utterly wrecked so many lives, including his own. As he finished the long article, he felt a great deal of pity swell up inside him for the poor innocent girl named Tifa that had lost everything. He would do his best to make it up to her, along with the others he had not been strong enough to protect. He promised himself that one day he would fix it all, and those that had suffered injustly because of his mistakes would be saved, and shown the beautiful world they had been cheated of.
Solemnly, he pulled the newspaper over his shoulders, trying to find a comfortable position in the cold garbage of the dumpster he called a bed before finally giving up and going to sleep.
Disclaimer: The song Reno and Zack sing is called 'Home for a Rest' by Spirit of the West. IT DOES NOT BELONG TO ME. I wish it did, though, 'cause it's catchy as hell. .
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic