Shattered Dreams & Sleeping Pills Chapter 22
The Awful Truth
They made their way through the crowds and along the cracked concrete streets of the Sector Four slums. Silence continued its reign over them, killing any hope for conversation. As they neared her apartment building, he laid a hand on her shoulder and spoke quietly to her.
"What was wrong with before?"
"Before wasn't now." She went to say something, but he cut her off, glancing behind him nervously. "Look, it's about the shooting."
A thousand retorts rose and died on her lips. She wanted to say no, to tell him that she wasn't all that interested in the shooting anymore and that if he couldn't be bothered to talk on the train, she couldn't be bothered now. But she knew there was no point. Even if the topic wasn't the shooting, she would talk to him, if only to not be alone for a little while longer. The urgency in his voice led her to believe that he needed company as well.
"Okay, come on up."
He nodded and followed her inside, casting one last glance over his shoulder. Behind them, on a nearby bench, Tseng stood up, stuck his hands in his pockets, and followed them in.
Jerking the stubborn door open, Tifa led him inside, turning on the three lights that hung from the ceiling. Walking over to the small kitchen area, she took out two glasses and filled one of them with water.
"You want something?"
"Sure, what d'you have?" he asked, his calm, regular voice returning.
"I might have a little iced tea left."
She shook her head. "I don't drink."
Walking over, he took a seat at the table. Tifa pulled out the iced tea and poured what remained into the other glass. Sitting down across from him, she put the two drinks down on the table, and motioned for him to take one. He reached for the water and took a drink.
"You wanted to talk?"
"'Bout the shooting?"
Sitting back, Rude took a deep breath and sip of water. Pushing up his sunglasses, he set his drink down and prepared to talk.
"After my dad was killed, I was... well, it was just like you said. I didn't know what to think about him all of a sudden. I wanted to do something, but I didn't really know what I could do." He stopped, and took another drink. Scratching the back of his bald head, he started up again. "I decided to work for Shinra."
She raised her eyebrows and took a sip of iced tea. Rude waited for her to say something, but when she didn't, he continued.
"I was looking to be a Turk, and they let me try out. They made me do some tests, you know, see how good I am with a gun, stuff like that. When I passed, they gave me an assignment, to break me in sort of. They told me who and where, then gave me some money for my trouble and sent me back down to the slums."
"The where was the bar."
"Yeah. I went there, shot, and missed." He stopped. "Do you know who was sitting across from us on the train?"
She shook her head. "He walked into the bar before you came but left like, five seconds later."
"It was Tseng, the leader of the Turks. He wants to make sure I get it done."
"I thought you said it was over."
He shrugged. "I wanted to drop the subject, he was sitting right there." After finishing off his water, he added, "He followed us off the train too. He was sitting on a bench when we came in."
"Does he know that-"
"You're a rebel? No. Shinra only has suspicions about Barret."
"They tried to arrest Biggs, Jess 'n Wedge once."
"I didn't hear about that."
"Were you shooting at them?" she asked, having another drink.
He didn't answer, but chose instead to stare at his empty glass. "I don't want to do it anymore," he mumbled.
"Why not? What changed?"
"I'm just not so sure it's worth it."
"Alright, let me get this straight. You want to be a Turk. They say 'okay, go kill these three people and we'll make you one'. You go, but miss your first shot, so the Turk leader decides to follow you around. Only now, you don't want to do it anymore? Sorry, that just doesn't make sense."
"That's because there's only one target."
"You're only supposed to kill one of them?"
He nodded, his mouth suddenly dry.
She took a moment to digest this new information, then shook her head. "It still doesn't make sense. Who is it?"
He said nothing, choosing to tap his fingers on the table for lack of a drink. She didn't ask again; just took a sip of her iced tea, and waited for him to say something else.
Finally, he bit his lip and answered. "You gotta believe me Tifa, I don't want to do it. I don't want to do it but I don't have a choice! He's probably outside right now. I don't do it, and I'm toast!"
She leaned back in her chair, startled by the sudden urgency in his voice. "Rude?"
He stood up, almost knocking the chair over as he did so. "I-- I gotta go. I gotta-" backing away from her, he moved towards the door.
"Rude, wait, don't do it. Don't let them turn you into another murderer for them. Come on, there's gotta be a way out of it. I can have Jess make you a fake ID or something," she stood as well, moving towards him with uncertain steps.
Finally, he bumped into the counter, having gone crooked in his backward retreat. "You don't understand. You don't know! You--"
Tifa moved quickly to prevent him from leaving. At his side in seconds, she placed a gentle, yet firm hand on his shoulder. "Who is it?" she whispered up into his ear.
Rude dug into his pockets and removed a small crumpled piece of paper. He stuffed it into her hand, folded her fingers over it and backed away from her until his left hand rested on the doorknob.
Slowly, she unfolded the paper and smoothed it out with her thumb. It was a copy of an old bus pass photo. On it, a cheerful young girl smiled up at her. She looked at him fearfully for a moment as two words escaped her lips.
"Yeah, I know." Reaching once again into his deep pockets, he pulled out his gun, and adjusted his aim.
Fun fun fun. Tifa's just come to realize that she's been blinded all along by her need for someone that understands her. Tough luck for her, good story for me.
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