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FIC: Two Ends of Time

Title: Two Ends of Time
Fandom: Final Fantasy 7
Characters/Pairings: Tseng, kid!Reno
Date Written: 2001
Summary: Tseng meets Reno. Old, rejected origin story.
Rating/Warnings: PG-13, violent themes.
Notes: This is the absolute earliest of my FF7 fics, done back before I was playing Reno, before I'd devised a more sensible past for him and a more believeable story for how he got into the Turks. It was a random thought as far as just how young they might pick these folks, and while it was certainly interesting to write, it's not very realistically feasible. I've since revised for the version I RP. Mightily. It's also not quite as, er, refined an image of Tseng as most people portray, but I once again plead ignorance and age, and have kept this intact for historical reasons. I still like it, even if it is dated.



It was a Tuesday.

I remember that for some reason. It was a Tuesday in November, and I was nineteen, still a child really. I didn't feel like a child. The gun dangling in my bare fingers didn't feel like a child's toy and the blood on my hands didn't feel like the burden a child would carry. My dreams weren't those of a child.

The night before I'd dreamed of Wutai. I used to have pleasant dreams about the place-- reunion dreams, mostly. In this dream, a tidal wave of blood had washed over the city, and I sat on top of Da-Chao, sharing the vision with no one. I was alone. I was alone in the late nights washing blood from my hands under a bare lightbulb, when the floor tiles seemed dirtier than ever and the face that looked out of the mirror wasn't one I could recognize. I was alone in the moments when I could feel the ice crackling around in my head, locking off junctions, killing compassion. I was alone in this vision of death.

Standing in some dingy little house in the slums. It was cold outside and in, and I could swear I saw steam rising from the bodies on the floor. I didn't remember how I'd gotten here-- auto-pilot, I guess.

.......Why are you doing this?

I remember getting the order, and boarding the train. The train was crowded and the electricity flickered a few times. The order was for the whole family.

.......Because... it's my job.

The whole family. No big deal. I would've shot the dog, strangled the granny in her wheelchair, shattered the fishtank and dumped out the goddamn houseplants. But all I had to worry about was the husband and wife...

...and this boy.

The night before I'd dreamed of Wutai, of a tidal wave of death. I'd been alone on Da-Chao and the death called to me. I'd looked and seen it rising up... it was quiet, and my mind was quiet, and I almost jumped just to let it have what it had come for. But then there was this boy. Shapeless, like mist, but he made a wordless offer- he'd share this blood with me. Take some of the burden.

There was this boy.

And he was sitting by the window, and he didn't have eyes for me or for the bodies on the floor, didn't have ears for his parents' screams or for the sharp acid-sting report of the bullets that had ended their lives. And he was formless for a moment, formless through the steam that was still rising from death. I was on auto-pilot again, clearing the steam and the mental haze and covering the room in three quick steps that I didn't count and wasn't aware of. The next thing I realized, the end of my gun was pressed against the base of his skull, buried in his sloppy red hair.

He was maybe ten years old. It didn't matter. He knew the gun was there and he knew what it was. He knew what was coming. The muzzle wasn't cold, like a showpiece gun that had never been fired-- this one had taken too many souls to ever carry that chill. There was the gun, there was the trigger, there was the life I'd been ordered to take. There was my finger inching along. But I didn't fire.

Who knows why. Looking back, it's a good thing I didn't, here he is now taunting the rookie about something or other and shouting at whoever drank the last beer, but that was all distant future at the time. Something just stopped my finger from moving that last milimeter on the trigger.

Turning, looking, looking off of Da-Chao into the distance and everywhere I looked, his eyes were there.

Ice.

Except that ice doesn't burn, and these did. Little chips of crystal, reflecting, refracting, blue fire. Smoldering, angry ice. They looked at me from the windowpane, glinting through the dirt and grime.

A beggar stumbled past the house, panhandling the masses in hopes of a kindly gil or two dropped his way. It would immediately be spent on a cheap high. A stray dog whimpered at a pedestrian's feet and was kicked away fiercely, sprawling into the crusted grey snow with an internal injury it would never recover from. A little boy rode down the street on a bicycle he most likely put together from random pieces of scrap. He was the only person in the sector who was enjoying himself at the moment, and within the week he would have been splattered all over the concrete when he hit a pothole and his jury-rigged brakes failed.

And all he was watching was me. Watching me watching him, silently dueling reflections in the dirty glass as the rest of the world limped by outside. And something clicked into place.

I was death to these people. I was Death in a blue suit. I wasn't just a Turk, it wasn't just a job. It was an identity and a purpose, a purpose so palpable it made people step aside and decline to meet my eyes for fear that they might catch my disease.

And here was this boy.

These eyes that stared steadily back at mine, unafraid, from the the mist around Da-Chao and from the depths of grime-covered glass. They were his eyes, they were my eyes. They were the eyes of everyone who'd ever slaved for Death. The gun fell from suddenly nerveless fingers and I shivered despite myself. I'd seen it every time I looked in a mirror, every time I searched myself and didn't like what I found, but I'd never seen it in a child.

The gun hit the floor. It didn't go off.

The night before, I'd dreamed of Wutai, and Da-Chao. There was this boy, and he offered to share this death with me, this burden, if only I'd take him with me, take him off the mountain. He was lonely. It's hard being invisible to everyone around you, but I saw him there-- saw what he could be.

We were on a train. I was a child and he was a child, the blind leading the blind into damnation. His hair hung in his face and he was staring at nothing. My hair was pushed out of my face, impeccable as always, and I was staring at nothing. The train spiraled skyward and I could see the blood rising up towards us... but we were too fast this time. It crested just below us, marking its passage with a crimson scar on the underside of Midgar. I asked him what his name was. He asked if it mattered. I said that it did not.

We stared at nothing.

"Why are you doing this?" He asked.

.......Because you have potential?

.......Because you seem like a nice kid and I don't feel like killing you?

.......Because I'm a goddamn lunatic that sees things in dreams and takes them seriously?

.......

.......Because I'm lonely too?

......."Because... it's my job."

*

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