lithic_rune: (Living legacy)
[personal profile] lithic_rune
Title: Slipstream
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Rating: PG13
Summary: A world where Zack survived. Memories that say he didn't. Zack has no idea who or what he can trust when a slipstream becomes a riptide.

Chapter One
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Chapter Three


Steel. Pipes and plating, conduits and wires, so small and distant he could barely make out the details even with mako-enhanced sight. But it was steel above him, not rain or sky, and dry, packed ground beneath him, a street not yet paved. Zack gasped for air, more because he needed to know his lungs worked than because he needed the breath.

I'm alive.

Somehow he'd ended up on his back. He didn't remember how. He didn't care.

I'm alive. That wasn't real.

Healing magic washed over him before he could register anything else, cool and soothing to his frayed and tense nerves - and yet not all that much else. No flesh knit together, no bleeding stopped. There was nothing that felt like it healed.

Because I wasn't hurt. He dragged in another breath. Another. Telling himself and convincing his body that he wasn't about to stop breathing were two entirely different things.

"Zack. Zack!" Kunsel snapped his fingers in front of Zack's eyes, breaking the train of his thoughts. When Zack blinked and focused on him, he held two fingers up. "I need you to tell me how many fingers you see."

Fingers? What?

He's checking for a concussion. The realization brought Zack up short. Disorientation, headaches, affected vision, trouble with memory. He could almost, almost make the symptoms fit - except that he'd had a concussion before and that hadn't felt the same at all. He shook his head. "I see two," he said, bracing himself to sit up. Every movement seemed to help ground him, and the dirt digging into his elbows and arms seemed to help reinforce that this was real.

For a moment, Kunsel looked like he wanted to stop Zack from moving, but must have changed his mind because instead all he did was offer his hand for Zack to grip. Zack took it, grunting as he pulled himself upright. Neither of them made any move to stand. Zack wasn't entirely sure he could trust himself just yet.

Crouched at his side, Kunsel was busy assessing his condition. Intent, mako-blue eyes swept over him, hunting, searching. His hand, still gripping Zack's, tightened its hold. "Zack, what just happened?" Very real strain frayed the edges his voice, and his other hand, still clenched around a green materia, was ready to cast again at a moment's notice.

Zack's hand gripped his chest where the bullets had hit. Unbroken cloth covered unbroken skin, but he could still feel the pain like a fading memory. "I don't know," he said. He met Kunsel's eyes, shaken by the admission. "I don't know. One minute, I was fine. Then..."

"Are you hurt?" Kunsel pressed.

Zack opened his mouth - then shut it. The question wasn't as simple as it looked at first sight. Was he hurt? If he wasn't, then what could explain all but passing out on the ground? Seeing and hearing things that hadn't happened, weren't there? Feeling phantom pain from injuries he just plain didn't have? Kunsel has used Cure on him twice now since the blast, but Cure didn't fix everything. If that door had hit his head hard enough to affect him like this...

He stopped on that thought, turning it over with a frown. Something about it bothered him, but it remained elusively out of reach even when he tried to pin it down. Zack shook his head, giving up on it for now, then reached up to release the catch on his helmet so he could pull the thing off his head and set it down off to the side. Gingerly, he ran his gloved hands through his hair, probing, pressing, for any hint of something tender, anything Kunsel's Cure spells might have been inadequate to heal.

Nothing. His head felt fine. His whole body felt right as rain. Zack dropped his hands to the ground, more disturbed than he'd ever been in his life that he wasn't hurt anywhere. Am I going crazy?

A tremor ran through him. He never had found out what triggered the madness in Sephiroth. The Jenova Project, S-cells, mysterious experiments. Any one of those could have been a factor. Maybe all of them.

And every one of them applied to him, too. Four years with Hojo-

No.

He ruthlessly cut that line of thought off. Jaw clenching, he pushed himself up off the ground. I'm not the same as Sephiroth, or Genesis, or Angeal. I won't let myself be. I'm Zack Fair, SOLDIER First Class, and I won't give up my honor, or my dreams.

"I don't feel hurt," he said out loud, brushing the dirt from his clothes. Then he picked up his sword from where it had fallen and swung it into the harness on his back. "And honestly, there's not a whole lot I could do if I was. Decent doctors that don't work for ShinRa are a little hard to find in the slums."

Kunsel stood back up with him, reaching out to grab his arm. "Zack, you collapsed! You can't just ignore that!"

"Can't I?" Zack challenged wryly. "That's what SOLDIERs do, Kunsel. We push on when we don't have a choice. Look." He shook his head. "I have a place I can hole up and get some rest. Between that and the spells you cast, I should be fine." And he meant that. His own body's ability to heal, accelerated by the mako pumping through him, should be more than enough to deal with whatever might be left of any injury, especially if he got some sleep.

"What if it's not something that can be fixed that easily?" Worry and frustration etched Kunsel's voice. "What if you need help? Do you have any kind of backup plan at all? Anyone you can go to if it gets bad?"

"Well, AVALANCHE-"

"-is a poorly funded group of terrorists," Kunsel cut in. "It's barely been reformed after internal collapse, if it's even the same group at all. You can't honestly expect me to believe there's anyone in it at this point with real medical experience."

"Hey, you never know," Zack responded, defensive. In truth, though, he knew that Kunsel had a point. He'd seen how AVALANCHE deal with injuries before, when one of their informants had come in with a bullet in their arm. Jessie had taken him to the back to patch him up. No sanitary clinic, no supplies beyond a basic first aid kit, no materia. Even if she did know more than how to wrap a bandage (and he wasn't even sure about that), she was hardly ideal.

Still, Zack wasn't about to strike her off his list. With limited options, something was better than nothing at all.

The irony didn't escape him that the best medic AVALANCHE had was also their best at blowing things up.

Kunsel muttered something under his breath that Zack deliberately chose not to hear. He seemed to realize he wasn't going to get anywhere with this, though, because he finally let Zack's arm go. "Do you at least have a PHS? Some way you can call for help?"

Some way that Kunsel could get in touch with him, Zack wryly tacked onto that. Regretfully, he shook his head and started walking again. "I ditched it outside of Midgar. Wasn't sure how the army found us, and I didn't want to take a chance. If they found a way to track my PHS..." He trailed off, cocking an eyebrow at his friend. If anyone might know about advances in tracking technology, it would be him.

Kunsel shook his head, pausing only to scoop his helmet up before following after Zack. "If they have, I haven't heard about it. If you'd called a line that was bugged, they could listen in, of course." He suddenly shot a look at Zack. "You haven't called Aerith, have you? Even with someone else's PHS?"

Zack grimaced at the question. "No, I haven't."

"Good. Because I'm pretty sure the Turks are watching her. Even if they don't have her PHS bugged, they might have something planted in that church, or her house." Kunsel's footsteps crunched through a patch of dying grass that had been torn up by construction equipment. The most likely culprit, a bulldozer abandoned off to the side, had more of the scorch marks they'd seen all across the door and around one of the front wheel wells. The scent of burned rubber made both their noses wrinkle. The smell of decay was worse, too. Kunsel slowed as he approached the wreck, eying the ground for tracks. "It's strange about Aerith. Why would they be keeping tabs on her like that? It seems a little excessive for just trying to track you."

Zack scratched the back of his neck before crouching down next to the bulldozer's burnt tire, looking for any kind of clues it might have. He knew why the Turks were watching Aerith. Well, sort of. Cissnei had said it was because she was an Ancient, but what did that even mean? The only other time he'd heard the word used like that had been when Sephiroth had been poring through that research in the mansion, talking about Jenova. Aerith couldn't be the same as that thing, could she? No, there was just no way.

"I don't know," he said. It didn't feel like it was his place to say what little he knew about it. It was Aerith's secret to tell, not his, and she hadn't even told him yet. "Who knows why the Turks do anything?" He reached a hand under the wheel well and pulled a piece of torn and burned greenery out. It was thick, ropey, and covered with long spikes that made him glad for his gloves. "Hey, take a look at this. You ever seen anything like this in Midgar?"

Kunsel abandoned his examination of the ground to get a closer look at the vine in Zack's hand. Shifting his helmet into a one-handed hold, tucked against his side, he reached out to pinch the end of the thing, rubbing it between his fingers. "Huh. No, I haven't. In fact, that almost looks like-"

A rustle of leaves was the only warning they had before the ground sparked-

"Shit-!"

Both SOLDIERs sprang back, dropping everything as lightning fast reflexes kicked in. Simultaneous clicks of their harness releases sounded out-

The ground exploded-

"Kunsel!"

"On it!"

Zack already had his blade in position to shield him before the shower of dirt and rocks hit. Kunsel didn't have the luxury of a sword as broad as the Buster, but he'd found cover by jumping behind the bulldozer's blade. Grit rained down, biting into their skin, even as the heat of the blast rushed past. Zack almost gagged on the sudden, overpowering stench of rotting plants. Damn! Worst time for a SOLDIER's sense of smell!

Electricity crackled a bare second before lightning split the air, crashing down into the bulldozer right as Kunsel threw himself back. Something beneath the machinery screamed.

"What, no fire?" Zack tossed the dry question at Kunsel with a grin as he straightened up, pulling his sword up into a ready position. He tensed when he saw movement, just a flicker of green and brown.

"Don't have any on me." Kunsel's response was only half-apologetic. The rest was simply matter of fact. They were SOLDIER. They didn't waste time regretting what they did or didn't have. They worked with what they had and made it work. "Careful," he cautioned. "I'm going to try to flush it out. Unless you have any Fire materia?"

Zack shook his head. "Just Thunder."

Kunsel nodded and raised his broadsword, the materia slotted in it flashing as it charged. Lightning blazed through the air for a second time, and danced across the bulldozer in arcs in the seconds following its crash.

"Sure hope the construction company doesn't mind losing a bulldozer," Zack quipped, because there was no way Kunsel hadn't fried every electronic component in the thing.

"This thing's been setting off explosions," Kunsel shot back. "I think they're resigned to collateral damage. Heads up, Zack!"

Zack saw it at the same time he did. Gnarled and thorny vines snaked out from underneath the machine, the same kind of ropey vegetation that he'd pulled out from the bulldozer's wheel well before. A thick, twisted woody lump followed, with two more thorny appendages that apparently served as legs. The thing's whole body looked distinctly singed, its few leaves wilting from lightning damage. It hadn't finished turning toward them.

It never got the chance.

In a split second, Zack was on it, Buster sword smashing into its face. He'd struck with the blunt edge (wear, tear, and rust!) but with so much force that the monster literally cracked in half like an old and rotten log. For good measure, he hacked the two arm-vines off. The pieces fell, twitching, then finally stilled. Zack eyed the fallen monster warily, then backed up, scanning the area. He recognized that monster. It wasn't common to find them alone.

Then again...

"A capparwire? In Midgar?" Surprise colored Kunsel's voice as he approached, broadsword still in hand and ready. He clearly knew the creature's pack tendencies, too. "You usually find these things around Junon. That's a long way for one of them to walk."

"Escaped specimen, maybe?" Zack hazarded a guess. "Or someone's private monster collection?" Such things weren't unheard of, especially with the criminal syndicates in the slums and people who ran blood sports.

"Maybe," Kunsel agreed, noncommittal. "Though I think there must have been two of them. You notice this one wasn't missing an arm." He toed one vine, looking for signs of regrowth.

That was a good point, one that had Zack frowning as he mulled the matter over in his head. "If there was another capparwire, it should have attacked by now. Those things are vicious when one of their own gets hurt." He turned a suspicious eye on the ruined bulldozer. There were buildings around them, piles of rubble and building materials that would make convenient places to hide, but capparwires liked to stay close to each other. "Maybe the lightning killed it."

"Or maybe it was already dead." Kunsel crouched next to the wheel where Zack had found that first vine, peering as far as he could into the dark crevice. "Something obviously already hurt it. They could have hidden under this bulldozer, not realizing the workers would be using it. A worker turns it on, starts driving, crushes one capparwire's body or arm-"

"-and the other goes ballistic and starts blowing things up." It was easy to paint the end to that picture, though exact details would always be a vague guess at best. Not that it really mattered. Zack swung his sword back into its harness. "So, that's it? Mission accomplished?"

Kunsel nodded and stood up, clipping his sword to his back as well. "Probably. I want to finish circling the site, just to be sure, and I'll need to talk to the workers and let them know what to look out for just in case there's capparwire sprouts, but yeah, I think we're done here. Mostly." He turned a serious look on Zack, mako eyes glowing in the dim under-Plate light. His empty hand slid into the pocket of his fatigues, then emerged with his PHS. "Zack, I want you to take this. If things get bad, you need a way to call for help - and a way to keep in touch, too." His mouth quirked up. "Seriously. Don't leave me hanging for another five years. I want to know what's up when it's up, not when it hits the ground."

Zack stared at him, then at the device, then back at Kunsel again. From anyone else, the offer would have been simple, a small inconvenience at most. But it wasn't. This was Kunsel. This was Kunsel's PHS. His connection to his network of information, his ability to contact informants, his files, his e-mails, his- hell, Zack couldn't even begin to guess everything Kunsel used his PHS for. All of that, just to give Zack a way to talk? Zack opened his mouth and closed it, words lost as something squeezed his chest. Not the phantom pain of bullets or a blade, but something different, something deeper, that meant more than words could say.

He protested weakly, "Kunsel, I can't take that!"

Kunsel's smile turned into a broader grin. "What, you think I don't keep a spare?" Not giving Zack a chance to argue, he stepped forward and pressed the PHS into his hand. "Look, don't argue with me. If it makes you feel better, think of this as my way of getting my hands on more information. You're obviously up to your neck in all sorts of things. The more we talk, the more I'll find out. It's a win-win situation for me."

He couldn't help himself. Zack laughed at the argument. He didn't believe for a second that that was Kunsel's main reasoning, but it was just so... so Kunsel. "Oh, I see how it is. I'm just another informant for you!" His fingers curled around the PHS, though. There was no denying what it really meant.

"Yeah, you got that right." Kunsel's hand clasped his arm, giving it a squeeze, before he let go and stepped back from his friend. The corners of his eyes were still tight with concern that even the lighthearted banter couldn't mask, but his voice was warm when he added, "So keep me informed! My number's in the contact menu. No excuses!"

No excuses. Just like that. Zack still had no idea what was going on with him, but just like that, just with one friend, everything felt just a little bit lighter. "Alright," he promised. "I'll give you a call." He slid the PHS into his pocket. "So, how about we finish this up?"

Satisfied with the promise, Kunsel nodded and backtracked to scoop his helmet up. He then tossed it to Zack with a grin, who caught it easily with just one hand. "Sure. Put that back on, though, before you find a way to give yourself more brain damage."

"Thanks, I-" Zack stopped in the middle of pulling the helmet back on. "Hey! What are you trying to say!"

Kunsel just laughed, completely unrepentant. "Figure it out for yourself!"

---


Subject: Checking up on her
From: Kunsel

Hey, I bet you've had some problems keeping in touch with your friend in the church. If you want, I could pay her a visit. I've found a few excuses in the past to stop by, so the priests shouldn't think anything of it if I drop in. Might be worth it to see if anyone's been listening to her prayers.

P.S. Try to keep things vague if you need to send me mail, at least for now. Your PHS is fine, but I haven't finished setting up all the firewalls on mine. Let me just make sure that everything's secure before we really talk.

---


Zack snapped the PHS shut with a bubble of rising excitement. Kunsel's analogy was absurd - Turks? Priests? Really, Kunsel? Really? - but the offer between the lines more than made up for it. The possibility that Aerith's PHS had been bugged was the whole reason he hadn't just borrowed someone else's PHS to give her a call himself. If Kunsel checked it out, made sure no one was listening in, Zack wouldn't have any trouble with calling Aerith now. They'd be able to talk - really talk. He'd be able to hear her voice. The thought alone made him grin like a loon, and he honestly didn't care who saw.

Soon, Aerith. Soon. I have eighty-two letters I still need to make up. I'll make them up to you soon!

Buoyed by the promise, he slipped easily through the crowds in the slums on the way back to the Sector Seven bar. It hadn't taken long to wrap the mission up with Kunsel and then say their goodbyes, but it had apparently been long enough since the reactor had blown up for news of the attack to spread. People parted in front of him with nervous glances at his sword, an amount of attention he would have preferred to avoid, but so long as they only saw a helmeted SOLDIER passing through, he doubted they'd make any more note of it than that. These weren't the kind of people who'd have any clue that there might be a SOLDIER fugitive. That was the kind of information ShinRa tried to suppress, not spread.

No, if there was a threat, it would be in the form of the Turks.

They'll be on the lookout for anyone suspicious. He schooled the expression off his face and kept his stride easy and purposeful, just another SOLDIER on the move. They've probably already done their initial sweep, though. Just as well I was off with Kunsel. The problem now was that the Turks would have had time to access the surveillance footage from the reactor. Zack wasn't so optimistic as to expect that it had been damaged by the explosion they'd set off. They'd know who to look for. They'd know he was alive. He'd known that going in and had gambled on being able to get out faster than they could act. He'd have to be careful now. His disguise wouldn't hold up under anything more than a casual glance.

Maybe if he didn't have the Buster sword, but no way was he giving that up.

Luck was with him, though, and it wasn't long at all before he passed from one sector into the next and the feel of the slums began to change, going from poor to dilapidated. Some sections of the slums were better than others, and Sector Seven was among the worst. There were no construction sites, only piles of garbage and buildings cobbled from scrap. The attitude of people around him changed, too, some more furtive, some more hostile, some more slumped. Zack's eyes lingered on a man huddled in the shelter of an old and rusted pipe.

-That guy in the pipe's a weird one. No matter what you ask him, he only answers 'uuh' or 'aahh'.-

A fragment of a memory floated up, then faded away before he could match a name or a face to the voice. He doubted it was important, so he just shrugged it off. Probably just something from some long-forgotten mission that he'd taken below the Plate.

The vagrant caught him looking and scowled. "Mind yer own business, ShinRa scum!"

Zack blinked. Well. Nice to know his disguise worked on someone.

A few years ago, the insult would have stung. A few years ago, he would have protested, defending ShinRa's honor up and down. A few years ago, before Banora, before Hojo, before the cliff...

He turned, letting the insult slide. He still didn't like it, but for a different reason now. It shouldn't be like this. It shouldn't.

But it was. He lifted his chin, reaffirming his resolve to do something about it himself.

First things first, though.

No one else confronted him as he made his way through the slums, and luck stayed with him as he approached Seventh Heaven. Just the same as all the other times before, no one stopped him or did more than anything than watch. Probably no one wanted to draw attention to themselves or deal with whatever brought a SOLDIER to the slums. That was fine with him. He'd take whatever luck he could get.

His boots thudded dully on the old wooden steps that led up to the porch in front of the bar. The building stood out from the rest of those around it for being made of more wood than metal, but it was still in pretty shabby condition. The boards were warped and loose in places, and he doubted the roof was completely whole. The picture painted above the sickly neon sign was so faded he could barely make out what the designs were supposed to be. The windows probably weren't even real glass, but a thick plastic that was less likely to break. A sign hung in the one next to the door, declaring the bar was closed.

Zack ignored it and pushed the door open without bothering to knock. "Hey," he called out. "I'm back from- Whoa!" He yelped, barely dodging the barrel of a rifle swinging at his face. "Hey! Knock it off!" The gun came again and he ducked.

"Wedge! Stop!"

Zack's hand snapped up, grabbing the barrel of the gun in mid-swing. It might as well have hit a brick wall.

Wedge paled. "But Tifa, he's a SOLDIER! ShinRa tracked us down!" He struggled to free the gun, fighting Zack's iron grasp. The man threw all his weight into it, but still it didn't budge.

"Wedge, that's Zack!" A brown-haired woman pushed herself between the two men, scowling balefully as she shoved them apart. There was a surprising amount of strength in her arms for someone as slender as she was. "Zack, let go of the gun and take that helmet off. You nearly gave us all a heart attack!"

"You nearly had a heart attack?" Zack protested. "I'm the one who almost got my brains bashed in! Don't I get any sympathy for that?" He made an extra effort to sound mock pathetic. He even went so far as to give Tifa puppy eyes, but for some reason she looked thoroughly unimpressed.

Oh, right. Helmet. Damn.

Even so, the banter did the trick. Wedge's eyes widened before he sheepishly relaxed his grip. "Zack?"

Zack grinned. "In the flesh." Reassured that the other man wasn't going to try to hit him again, he finally let go of the gun. "Damn, remind me not to get on your bad side. You almost clocked me something good."

Tifa snorted at the exaggeration, stepping back and crossing her arms under her impressive chest. Um, yeah, not focusing there. "Your head's thick enough even without the helmet that I doubt it would have done much damage."

"Ow, that's so harsh." He pressed a hand to his chest as he complained. "Can't a guy come back from a mission without being insulted by his friends?"

Tifa's mouth twitched, her eyes crinkling with amusement. "Well, maybe if you'd come back with the others, but anyone who's this late deserves what they get."

"What happened?" Wedge cut in. "We thought you were dead. No one saw you get out before the reactor blew, and you didn't show up on the train." He lowered the rifle, though he didn't put it down, eyes still darting nervously to the door behind Zack. Zack took the hint and nudged it shut with his foot.

Pulling his helmet off, he offered the two a shrug. "I got caught in the edge of the blast, but it mostly just slowed me down. I've told you guys before, SOLDIERs are pretty tough." Which was true, even if he was downplaying what had really happened back there. Hey, getting knocked out by a flying door hadn't exactly been a shining moment for him. "I would have joined back up with you guys sooner, but I ran into a SOLDIER. Couldn't come back until I'd dealt with him." And okay, that was misleading almost to the point of a lie, but AVALANCHE didn't need to know about Kunsel. Kunsel was in enough jeapordy already without having AVALANCHE aware of him.

"Whoa, you fought another SOLDIER?" The thickset man couldn't have looked more impressed if he'd said he'd wrestled a dragon barehanded. "You don't even look like you have a scratch!"

"Uh, yeah..." It was all Zack could do not to look away to avoid Wedge's hero-worshiping gaze. He shifted uncomfortably. There was a world of difference letting people assume things and being praised for things he didn't actually do. He fumbled for something he could say in response. He didn't like outright lying to people.

Tifa ended up saving him from that. "Wedge..." She caught Wedge's eye and shook her head. When she looked at Zack, her expression pinched with something he couldn't read.

Huh. What was that about?

"Oh, right." Wedge shuffled his feet. Clearly he understood what Tifa meant. He stood there awkwardly for a moment before the young woman took pity on him.

"Maybe you should let the others know that Zack is here," she suggested, nodding toward the back of the bar.

Wedge's whole posture filled with relief, and he shot her a grateful look. "Yeah, they'll definitely want to know. I'll go do that! You guys come join us when you're ready, alright?" He flashed a thumbs up and a grin before heading to the elevator hidden by the pinball machine.

Zack watched him briefly as he sank out of view before turning to Tifa, curious. That had been about as clear a dismissal as you could get while still being polite about it.

"Sorry about that," Tifa apologized. "I think he forgets sometimes that those people used to be friends of yours. Are you... okay?"

Oh.

Zack winced, not so much because she was right this time, but because she was right in general. He hadn't had to fight Kunsel, but what if it had been someone else? Luxiere, maybe, or one of the SOLDIERs he'd teamed up with for missions, or any of a dozen or so other people he'd been on friendly terms with? Once again he wondered if he could really bring himself to fight them if they weren't willing to listen to him.

Once again, he thought of Angeal. Yes. I could. It was a painful thought.

Knowing what Tifa was getting at now, he looked away, not willing to meet her eyes. She thought he had fought a friend, that he was struggling right now with the effects that would have on him. What could he tell her that wasn't a lie?

"I'm... fine," he offered, halfhearted.

She searched his face. "Are you sure?" It was more concern than she'd ever shown for him since she'd found out he'd failed to save Cloud.

-Cloud, are you feeling alright?-

Ugh, not now. He held back a grimace and started forward, picking his way around the battered tables and chairs. "I could use a drink," he said, and at least that was one thing he could be honest about. Dammit, why was he hearing Tifa call him Cloud? None of this made any sense! Sinking into a chair at the counter, he set his helmet aside and raked a hand through his hair. "It's just... been a long day. I'm tired."

"Well, drinks happen to be my specialty," Tifa said brightly, clearly trying to lighten the mood. "Let me mix you something up. I'd tell you to go ahead and crash in the back room, but I know the others will want to talk to you." She walked around to the other side of the counter and started pulling things out. Mixing a drink was the work of only a few moments for her deft and practiced hands.

"Yeah, I know," Zack said as he accepted the glass she held out. "Plans for our next move, updates on intelligence." His voice turned wry. "I know the drill." He grinned at her, making his own attempt to lighten things up. "Not to mention, Barret still owes me money. Mercenaries don't work for free!"

As if on cue, Barret's voice growled up from the elevator shaft, which had opened without any rider. "They also don't get paid if they don't show up, so get yo' skinny ass down here!"

Oh well, duty called. So much for a leisurely drink. With a shrug, he smiled and lifted his glass. "Thanks, Tifa. I appreciate this."

Maybe a drink would be just the thing he needed to settle the memories in his head.

-End Chapter Three-
Next chapter.

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