File THIS! File 1


By Tiger


“Reno...” Elena warned, holding her arms out as a kind of makeshift blockade. Yeah, this was exactly what she needed right now. A drunk Turk knocking over all of her assorted files (for a moment, the sweet, trusting, optimist pre-Turk girl inside of her asked how she knew Reno was drunk. The other side, which she liked to call the smart side, said that it was Reno. Case Closed. Duh.) She’d figured this would happen when she had first been assigned the job of gathering all the vital information the Turks had gathered together into one place, but after a while had just assumed Reno had fallen off a bar stool after some bender and forgotten about the week she had spent following him around like some kind of lovesick girl, writing things down in a notebook like some kind of a... what had he called it? Some dumbfuck cub reporter who had stumbled across a celebrity car crash. Right. After all, in a world of Mako .45s, Thundermare Shotguns, and Electro-Rods, who would have thought Reno would even make his stumbly way to the filing room?

Who would have thought that he would even remember that they had a special room added onto the building, even though at the time he hadn’t been able to shut up about the extra cost. This from a guy who had helped buy an entire bar just so he had less distance to walk in the morning for a pick-me-up shot of whiskey.

Apparently, God thought that he would. Or most likely Satan, because for some reason Elena thought that God had stopped even thinking about the dark little red ink stain in Junon a long time before he had even joined up with the Turks.

“Elena,” Reno snarled, “Tseng is holding me back from a mission in Wutai. He said it was because of something in my file. Up until now, I didn’t even know I had a file.” Well that was bullshit, Elena thought, remembering the aforementioned comment about cub reporters. Of course, Reno had a lot worse things than memory losses happen to him when he’d been drinking for a long time. Like going out with huge wads of gil , and coming back broke the next morning. Or even worse, when he had gone out broke, and showed up the next morning in a limo with a huge amount of cash stuffed in his back pocket, and lip gloss smeared across his cheek. He’d looked even paler than usual then, and absolutely refused to discuss a word of what had happened.

“So?” Elena asked, trying to stall for a little time until someone decided to show up and help her. Tseng, maybe. Or Rude. Or an armored tank of some sort. The new Warthog model would be good... or the entire coalition of the Shinra army, pre-Meteor. Who knows, if you combined a Revive materia with a lighthouse or something... she's just saying it's feasible, is all.

But Reno was not to be swayed. He calmly grabbed the new recruit- newest recruit, Elena reminded herself while in midair. She had, in fact, worked there for over three years- by her waist and lifted her into the air, turning easily to one side and plopping her down to the floor despite her short squawk of indignation. “So,” he said, an inch away from her face, “I’m going to go read it.”

The doors weren’t locked- what would be the need? A Turk could go through any kind of lock short of a galvanized steel combo, and if anyone was trying to break in and had made it this far was probably armed with more than enough to blow the door off its hinges. Reno threw them open and marched into the musty room, making a bee line for a towering file cabinet marked ‘R’, and began studying it. He turned to face Elena in disbelief. “I have my own drawer!?” he asked incredulously.

“Uh...” Elena stammered, “yes. But so do I. We all do.”

Reno fled over to another cabinet, the ‘E’ marked one. “No you don’t!” he yelled at her.

Elena blinked. “Oh yeah,” she said, “then it's just you.”

“Jesus,” Reno growled, and returned to the drawer, yanking it open, “this is just like my permanent record in high school.” He began vigorously shuffling through the papers, reading off the occasional folder header. Elena, for her part, began to take short, shuffling steps backwards, towards the still open doors. “What’s this?” Reno cried suddenly, holding up a file. “Ro-” he paused, reading half the name, and then turned to Elena. “Why do you have a file on my sister?” he asked shortly.

“Well...” Elena said timidly, not exactly sure how much the obvious answer was going to piss Reno off, but she guessed a lot. “Because she’s your sister?”

“Righto.” Reno said deadpan, and tossed the file across the room. “She’s dead now. You don’t need that.” Elena winced as the various papers scattered across the wooden floor. Reno began reading again. “Brianna, Yvetter, Zell, Tip...” He looked back at Elena again, arching a single eyebrow so high it nearly disappeared between his disheveled hairline. “And these?”

“Well...” Elena repeated, in the exact same tone she had used before, “because they’re your hookers?”

Reno squeezed his eyes shut and gritted his teeth. “I know that...” he said very slowly, “and you don’t need these either.” He flung the entire folder, hard, to join the pages on his sister. “This is *exactly* like my high school permanent record.....”

Elena, sick of seeing her hard work being scattered all over the ground, decided to sink in a barb or two of her own. She walked across the floor and scooped up a handful of photos from his recent hurling episode and looked them over, even though she already had the images memorized to the pixel- after all, it was her job, and it wasn’t like they were all that different from one another. “Brown eyes,” she said slowly, deliberately, “short, brown hair... Wutain girls, right? All of them?”

Reno looked back up from the drawer in exasperation. “So this is why I’m not allowed to scout out the new materia store in Wutai? Tseng’s worried I’m going to come back with an expense account that has a 50 grand whore charge on it? None of them even live on that continent!”

Scooping up yet another page, Elena smirked. They could say what they wanted to about her experience, but they had to give it to her that she was thorough. “I know.” She said. “Briana and Zell live together in an apartment down the street from your house. The penthouse suite, I believe. Yvette actually rents the room about that bar you and Rude own. Well, ‘rents’ is a misleading word, since neither of you put out ads looking for tenants and she’s never actually paid either of you a dime.”

Reno stared at her, looking speechless.

“Tip- and what the hell kind of name is that?- actually moved into this here city from Wutai.” Elena added helpfully.

“Uh...” Reno stammered, “yeah. She has a sick father who lives here and she wanted to be close to him.”

“Maybe,” Elena smiled, leafing through the tablet and then tossing it away, “but I think she just wanted to be near the man who single handedly made her yearly salary higher than mine. Of course, that’s just my opinion. Did that cover everything?”

“Kinda... maybe... sorta.” Reno took a deep breath. “Shut up.” With narrowed eyes, he returned to the drawer, which was getting emptier by the second, as he simply dropped files he’d passed onto the floor behind him.

Elena gave him a look as patronizing as she could manage and spoke to him in her best ‘talking to an infant’ voice. It could be worse. All the girls could be short, skinny, and have red hair. Then you’d be really messed up.” Reno glared daggers at her, and she ventured on. “If it makes you feel any better,” she cooed, “those... uh, ‘ladies’ aren’t the reason you aren’t allowed to set foot in Wutai.”

“Whoopty fucking doo...” Reno snarled, and quickly returned to the file. Just as quickly, he looked back up at her, a question in his eyes. “Why is there nothing in here about my parents?” he asked.

Elena took a walk down memory lane for a minute. “Because you got drunk, came in here, and threw it across the floor like some kind of autistic three year old?” she guessed.

“Mhm,” Reno muttered, a frown curling across his face. “I can’t believe I stooped that low. Finally!” he popped like a cap, yanking an extra thick file from the drawer, “I found it. Something that’s actually about me in my drawer.”

Realizing that she had stepped cleanly into hitting distance, Elena excused her self momentarily to get some coffee. When she returned, Reno was muttering incessantly to himself, and Elena could just imagine the joys of the hangover he’d have the next morning. It would involve broken glass. Ohhhh yes, it would involve some broken glass.

“Green eyes,” he said distractedly, “red hair, 6’0 tall, 180 pounds... blah blah... shit...” Elena’s eyes shot open, and she stared at him for a moment, then decided just to let him go. Maybe some coffee would sober him up so she could go home. She walked up and held out one of her two cups, but he absently smacked it out of her hand. “Hey!” he said, and Reno brandished a page of the file at her like an electro rod. “Why in god’s name do you have my underwear type written down?”

Rolling her eyes, Elena shrugged, and kicked the Styrofoam coffee cup away as it rolled towards her foot. “What do you care?” she asked, “You already told us all you don’t wear any at the last Christmas party. Six or seven times!”

The seemed to sedate Reno for a moment, an he yanked the second cup of coffee from her hands and took a long sip of the hot liquid as he turned to the next page. Suddenly the brown drink was sprayed all over the front of Elena’s blue suit as Reno choked and spit it out, staring at her with eyes as wide as saucers. “You have a picture!” he exploded, and suddenly the big saucers looked a lot more like big, bleary, bloodshot saucers.

Elena opened her mouth to explain, tasting a bit off the coffee sprayed across her cheeks, but no sound came out. Why *did* she have a picture of it? Was it from the Christmas party the year before this one? No... that was the one where he punched out that gang boss and framed Rude for it when the guys friends came over. That had been real bloody... for the friends. And almost for Reno, as Rude chased him out the bar and off the local pier with a baseball bat, where he stopped chasing. Rude could stare into pistol barrels without blinking, but for some reason he was chronically afraid of water. And pixie sticks. But mainly water.

She was brought back to reality by the sound of Reno calmly ripping the photo into many tiny pieces, and then he looked further into the report. “Destroys valuable information,” he muttered darkly, reading out loud, and then ripped the entire bottom half of the report off, crumpled it into a ball, and then tossed it away. “That is such bullshit.”

Elena smirked. “Right,” she said, and looked down at the floor as she ran her fingers through her hair and heaved a sigh. This was going to take forever.

There was a clatter of paper on the floor, and Elena looked up, but Reno hadn’t thrown anything this time. The folder had slipped out from between his fingers, and he had stood clenching a single picture in his hand. “How...” he paused, taking a deep breath, “who took this?” He asked, and Elena was amazed at how sober he suddenly sounded. She offered a weak smile.

“So you found it.”

“Who took it?” Reno asked again, sounding a little angrier with each word.

Elena shrugged at him. “The same one who does all of our surveillance. Tseng.”

“Oh,” Reno said calmly, shredding the picture and letting it rain down to the ground in two pieces. Without another word, he stepped for the door.

“What’re you going to-”

“Talk to him,” Reno said simply, “just talk to him.” But the door slamming indicated a good deal more than talking. Elena sighed and looked down at the scattered remains of the drawer, prodding them with her toe like some sort of a dead animal. She bent over and deftly scooped up the two pieces of the picture, lining them up as she raised them. Intentionally or not, Reno had torn a line directly between the two people who were the targets of the picture. Putting the puzzle together, Elena joined the lips of the couple featured, and sighed. “I wonder what he sees in that bitch,” she questioned the empty room, dropping the two pieces back to the floor. Once again, Reno and Yuffie were separated in the Polaroid, lying absently on the floor. “At least now I know who is running the new materia store.”

Silently she went to the closet, opened it, and started fishing around inside. With a heave she extruded a stack of files from underneath a shelf and lugged them over to the file cabinet, dumping them in the now barren drawer.

“So,” she said thoughtfully, “that’s why Tseng had me make copies of everything.”

Tiger's Fanfiction