Written by Anikka

VERSION 1.0 : Initium

"So what I'm hearing is that you're not going to help me."

Reno blinked at the quasi-question response, and nodded emphatically. "Sorry Reeve, you're going to have to find someone else to volunteer."

Reeve grimaced at the red haired Turk, and looked hopefully to his partners. Elena, sensing impending doom, shook her head wildly and made up some excuse about having a date. When questioned about the new mystery man her cheeks flushed a deep crimson, and, fearing she had been caught in the lie, made up an elaborate story about a man from Wutai who was in town for one night only. Reeve was impressed by her ability to make something up on the spot that was so detailed, and decided to move on to his final option.

Fortunately for him, Rude had not seemed to be paying attention.

The bald man had been flipping through an old issue of Highlights for Children and attempting to find the hidden images in a picture. When he heard his name, Rude looked up from his magazine, slightly startled, and fixed his shaded glare on Reeve.


"You aren't doing anything tonight, right?"

"...no," he said hesitantly, unsure of what he was getting himself into. The disapproving sounds from Reno and Elena made him want to rethink his answer.

"Good, then you can help me move."

If he had not been wearing his ever present sunglasses the others would have seen the horror stricken way his eyes widened. His fellow Turks laughed, well aware of the response they could not see, which earned them an invisible glare. The very thought of hauling around furniture and heavy boxes - and not to mention the inevitable heart attack that was sure to follow - made him wish he had been paying more attention to their conversation.

"Gee, I'd kinda love to wanna help you out Reeve, but I've got a lot of work to do around the bar ..."

"Come on," the executive nagged at the Turk, "You can spare one night of drinking to help me for an hour. After all, I was the one who went to Cloud to give you three a second chance."

Rude made a defeated whistling sound through his teeth. He had to admit that Reeve was right, and he supposed they owed him something. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to help the guy for one night. Besides, if he gave himself a hernia lifting furniture he could always have the medical expenses pounded out of him.

"Fine," he conceded and returned to his magazine, "I'll help you."

Reeve almost seemed to puff up at the small victory, happy to have at least one of them to act as pack mule for a while. "Thanks Rude, I appreciate your sacrifice."

"Meh," the Turk grunted, not looking up.

"We all appreciate your sacrifice," Reno added mirthfully as he clapped his friend on the shoulder, "Don't we Elena."

"Lazy bums," Rude grumbled under his breath, sparing a hard glare for both of them. Sometimes he wondered how he got suckered into these things while Reno always got off scott free.

"Just looking out for number one."

Elena swatted Reno on the arm, but said nothing; she felt bad now that she had weaseled her way out of it while Rude had reluctantly accepted. Not that she wanted to spend her evening dragging stuff up and down flights of stairs, but still, she felt a little guilty.

"And what keeps you away this time Reno," Elena decided it was time to shift the focus away from her and onto the red head.

Reno smiled at her smugly and flipped an errant hair from his eyes. "That ... is a secret."

"That," Reeve echoed him mockingly, "Is lame. What kind of excuse have you got his time Reno?"

He waved a finger at the executive and clucked his tongue. "Now, now, a man has to have some secrets Reeve. I apologize profusely to you for being unable to attend, but I'm afraid I have more urgent business elsewhere."

"Chocobo races again?" Rude guessed in a dull monotone, "They'll kick you out for good if you try to cheat again Reno."

The red haired Turk made a face. "I was not cheating Rude, I merely happened to be passing by the stables while delivering powerful sedatives to medical facilities. Those Gold Saucer cops blew everything way out of proportion."

"Then why did all of those birds pass out halfway into the race?"

"That's NOT the point," Reno argued defensively, "The point is that I have a previous engagement, that's not gambling at the track, and besides I don't want to help you move anyway! There, I said it. A-fucking-men."

The Turk stalked away in a huff, slamming the lounge door behind him. The three left behind exchanged brief looks and then dismissed Reno's outburst; if he wanted to act like an idiot, there was no one willing to stop him. They had learned a long time ago that it was easier just to let him have his little tirades. Reeve reached for his jacket and prepared to leave, though a little less dramatically then Reno.

"Meet me at six o'clock at my old building, okay?" he paused in the doorway, watching the Turk expectantly.

"Meh," Reeve took the absent hand wave as acceptance and closed the door quietly behind him as he left. He sort of felt bad for roping him into something he obviously didn't want to do, but the thought of having to lug around couches by himself was absolutely terrifying. Anyways, it wasn't like they'd be doing all the heavy lifting themselves.

Elena sighed dismally and plunked herself in the chair opposite of her fellow Turk. Rude did not even bat and eyelash in acknowledgement, but that didn't bother her. They were all long accustomed to his anti-social behaviour. Propping her chin thoughtfully in her palms, Elena studied him carefully. Those damned sunglasses always kept people at a distance; at times they seemed to be as effective as a mastered barrier spell.



"Can I ask you something?"


She frowned. "Why did you say you'd help Reeve? You could have easily come up with an excuse to get out of it, or just been an ass like Reno."


"Come on," narrowed eyes bore at him curiously, but Rude did not flinch, "Why are you being so nice to Reeve all of a sudden? I mean sure, he did get us our jobs back and he convinced AVALANCHE not to kill us, but I know you a little better than that. What's in it for you?"

Finally, the bald Turk showed some signs of life. He carefully set the magazine down and did something Elena had never seen him do during her short career as a Turk; he took off his sunglasses. Finding a set of hard jaded eyes glaring back at her, she shrunk back in her seat. Though defiantly green, Elena could see the Mako taint gleaming just beneath the surface, as if forced back by the original stubborn colour. Skimming her memory she couldn't think of a single instance in which she had ever seen his eyes before. Hell, she didn't even know they were green.

"You have really nice eyes," she blurted out, feeling herself suddenly intimidated, "How come you never take off those damned shades?"

"Because," he practically spat at her, "I like them."

She had been expecting some kind of different response. A battle tactic to throw people off, or something to that nature. It had never occurred to her that he might be really, really, really attached to the stupid things.

"Oh ... well, that still doesn't answer my question. Why are you helping Reeve move?"

There was a meditative silence as the Turk pondered his colleague's request. His brow wrinkled in momentary thought, but he said nothing. Truth was, he didn't know. Why should he help Reeve? Maybe it was because he felt some sort of obligation to him for getting their jobs back. Whatever it was, he chose to simply not care either way. So Rude did what he did best when he was in a corner. He checked his watch, and shrugged.


Elena flung her arms up in the air out of frustration, muttered hostily under her breath about men being impossible, and stormed out of the room in an over-dramatic, Reno-esque fashion. For the first time in a long time, Rude found himself completely surrounded by silence. No Reno ranting on and on about how he scored with some hot date, no Elena nagging at them, and no Vice Presidents prodding around looking for favors. Yes, how he adored the sound of silence. He slipped his glasses back into their familiar place over his eyes and went back to his magazine.

"... nice and quiet."

He allowed himself a rare smile as he finally discovered the bunny hiding in the tree.


Dismal gray rain patterned harmlessly on broken cobblestone, cracked and worn from years of precipitation and neglect. Tiny puddles had begun to pool in the deeper crevices, overflowing into rivers that drained across a downward slope. It had been drizzling all day, and by the somber looking sky, it was obvious that it would continue well into the night.

Rude took a long drag from his cigarette and practically snorted the smoke back out in short, quick bursts. He had lost track of exactly how long he'd been waiting, and the twinging cold did nothing for his demeanor. For now he was safely dry in an alcove, but all it would take was a slight change in the wind's direction to make it all come blowing in at him. There should have been snow by this time of year, but an unusually sharp increase of temperature in the last few days had produced a vile haze in Midgar and unrelenting rain. The air was always thick like someone had turned on a giant humidifier. The moisture was really starting to affect his sinuses, but Rude never went back on his word. So he would wait.

Reeve had met him promptly at his old apartment building at six, and to his great relief most of the heavy stuff had already been taken away by moving vans. All that was left was mostly just boxes, some identified as being fragile, and few other odds and ends; lamps, a small book case, et cetera, and a rented U-Haul. They had crammed the thing practically to the point of bursting, and then departed towards his new building, on the other side of sector two. It was farther away from the Shinra building, but the apartment was, apparently, "to die for", according to Elena, who had helped him pick it out.

It was not an impressive building from the outside, quite normal and rather bland by some standards, and seemed no more enticing than the building Reeve had left. Fading reddish brown brick seemed to blend seamlessly into the fog, making the dimensions of the structure difficult to determine. Rude had guessed it was no more that twenty stories. Long fingers of decaying ivy reached desperately along the left wall, trying to find some foot hole in the brick to prolong its rapidly departing life. It was an extremely ordinary building, if somewhat ugly.

Tossing the cigarette butt to the ground, he snorted again before snuffing it with his boot.

Now he was truly bored, and out of smokes. He should probably quit, but it wasn't an easy habit to give up, especially after fifteen years. His first cigarette had been smoked at the age of twelve, and though he had almost coughed up a lung that first time, the lulling spell of nicotine had claimed him. Patches were useless, the gum tasted like sewer and had the consistency of sand paper, and there was no way in Hell you would catch him in one of those Anonymous meetings or buying hypnosis tapes. Long ago Rude had decided that giving up smoking for him was like giving up on breathing, only this was more toxic.

Gone for nearly twenty minutes now, the Turk thought as he checked his watch. Shortly after they had arrived - and had found that the furniture was already up in the apartment, god bless moving men - Reeve had told him to wait there for him while he went to get something to make it quicker to move the remaining stuff into the building. He said he would be five minutes.

*I'll kill him*, the Turk reasoned logically to himself, *I can make it look like an accident, like he fell onto that lamp ... repeatedly.*

Naturally he would never really kill Reeve, but the stoic man was awfully tempted. He would never get away with it though. Reeve was too important a person these days anyhow, and everything would fall apart without him. Vice President to the newly reformed Shinra Corporation, outranked only by Cloud Strife, Rude had always thought that he was really the one that ran everything. Whoever thought that giving Cloud a company was a good idea must have been even dumber that the President himself. Sure, Cloud was a great fighter, a fairly good strategist, even a decent guy, but Rude thought that it took more than that to be in charge of the biggest corporation on the Planet. Reeve, he assumed, would have been a more logical choice, but in the end he supposed that the former Urban Developer did most of the work any ways. But everything seemed to be running pretty smoothly these days, so whatever they were doing must have been working.

Of course Rude did have some bias against Cloud, considering the fact that he had a massive crush on the President's girlfriend.

AVALANCHE had taken over the Shinra regime after they defeated Sephiroth and were declared heros by the entire world. Someone had to step in to take over where Rufus and his father had once ruled, and the people trusted no one more than they trusted Strife and his motley crew. They had planned on renaming the company - no one really wanted to follow Rufus' name - but the cost reports of changing all of those stupid logos was astronomical. They decided to concentrate on more important matters, and hoped that one day they would have the budget to do so.

Cloud and Reeve had stepped up to take the command, and with their combined efforts had turned a toppled empire and a chaotic ruined Midgar into a place worth living in again. Sure, the city was still being repaired, and it would take some time before everything was rebuilt, but that was the price they had to pay for hurting the Planet so badly.

Mako had been outlawed, as it should have been years ago, but the old reactor sites still provided a living for monster hunters. They were now searching for more reliable, clean sources of energy, but that wasn't going very well. The cities were being powered by electrical plants for now, but that wasn't much cleaner than Mako. Hydro-Electric plants were currently being developed, as well as ideas for solar and wind generators, but nothing had been finalized. But still, the people had confidence in their heros.

They had never failed them.

God only knows why they had agreed to take the Turks back, even with Reeve's powers of persuasion. Most of the others had been adamantly against it at first, especially Barret Wallace, the new head of Urban Development, and Cid Highwind, head of the Engineering and Aeronautical programs. They were the ones who destroyed Sector Seven. They were killers. They didn't deserve their sympathy. Less than Human. Their arguments had been quite true, and even Rude wondered why anyone in their right mind would give them a second chance.

Their salvation had come unexpectedly from Vincent Valentine, a former Turk. He didn't know what the vampire-like man had said to them, but whatever it was, Cloud had offered them jobs the next day. Reno had gone to him and asked him if he wanted to rejoin them, but Vincent politely declined, claiming his Turk days were over. No one really knew where he was these days, but he had the habit of showing up occassionally without warning; his last visit had been weeks ago.

The best part of their job, Rude had to admit, was their new boss. Tseng had been a great leader, and he had loved the man like a father. Hell, he practically was his father. After his death Rude had thought that he would never want to follow anyone ever again. The Shinra had controlled them all before, and the very thought of someone replacing Tseng was ... well, he didn't even want to think about that. But the first day he showed up when they were rehired he nearly had a heart attack when he found out who was in charge of Turks assignments.

Distinctly he could remember walking into the old lounge with Reno and Elena, and coming face to face with Tifa Lockheart herself. What he didn't know at the time was that she and the ninja girl Yuffie were joint heads of Shinra Security. Yuffie rarely ever came to Midgar though, and was responsible for Shinra affairs in Wutai and the Western Continent. It made sense though, when he thought about it; they were both very good at what they did, despite the fact that they got some heat for being women. Of course none of that mattered at all to him; Rude had gone down on his knees that night and thanked whatever God had let this happen. Not only did he get to work very closely with his obsession, but it seemed that over the course of the year, she had forgiven the past.

Not that he ever had a snowball's chance in Hell with her or anything, but it was better than nothing just to have her as a friend. It was more than he deserved. Rude had resigned himself to his Fate though, knowing that Cloud Strife would always be the one in Tifa's heart.

"Where the Hell is he?" he cursed to himself out loud, trying to keep his mind away from the AVALANCHE woman, "The rain's getting worse."

What had begun as a light drizzle was slowly becoming a downpour. The boxed goods had been covered with a tarp, but he was more worried about the damage that could be done to his suit. Rainwater and Armani didn't exactly mix well, but he supposed that Reeve could settle his dry cleaning bill. Why he hadn't thought to bring an umbrella was the one thing running repeatedly through his mind, when all of a sudden --


The bald Turk blinked when he saw the owner of the suspiciously high pitched voice.

Barely standing two feet off the ground was a smug looking black and white cat with a crown on its head and a red cape around its neck. In it's left hand was a comically oversized blue umbrella, tactlessly covered with Pokemon. Rude recognized it immediately. The Cait Sith robot that Reeve had used to spy on AVALANCHE. Behind Cait, his trusty moogle companion was hefting a box into it's massive arms.

"Uhhh ..."

"What's the matter Rude, aren't you happy to see me?"

"I thought you scrapped this thing Reeve."

"Thing?" Cait made a face at the bewildered Turk. "I am not a thing! And Reeve can't hear you idiot, he's all the way upstairs."

This only confused Rude further. He didn't really remember much about the stupid robot that Reeve used to play with back in the day when Rufus' father was in control, but as he recalled, Cait Sith was supposed to have been controlled by him, not acting independently.

"I make my own decisions now," Cait's familiar obnoxious grin settled back into place, "And Reeve would never scrap me anyways, I'm too important to him."

Rude could only blink as Cait stuck his tounge out at him and twirled the umbrella absently. "Come on then Turk, let's get a move on! The sooner we get all of Reeve's crap inside the sooner you can go get drunk."

Rude observed silently as Cait produced his trademarked megaphone from behind his cape and started shouting orders to his mechanical friend, who also seemed independent from outside control, other than the cat of course. He scrabbled across the wet pavement and hopped up onto his trusty mount, tilting the umbrella to cover the box. The Turk stood there blinking for a moment, unsure of what had just happened. Sometimes, he thought, Reeve was to brilliant for his damned good.

Shrugging to himself he dashed out into the rain, abandoning the safety of his alcove, and reached under the tarp for the closest box. Wanting to make as few trips as possible, he stacked three boxes on top of themselves and ran after the disappearing form of Cait Sith.


Rude shoved the apartment door open with his foot, nearly blinded by the mass of cardboard in front of his face. He wasn't one hundred percent sure that this was the right one, but he thought he had seen that annoying robot go through this door. Setting the load down, he was only slightly relieved to see that he did have the right apartment.

Cait Sith was there, ordering his moogle to set the boxes down and go back to get more. The cat remained behind this time, obviously not anxious to go back into the rain. He hadn't realized robots had such a great capacity for irritating idle chatter, though he was given a lesson on that on the elevator ride up. Rude glanced at him dismissively as he took in his new surroundings.

Compared to the drab and uninspiring exterior of the building, the inside was a completely different scenario. The entrance opened into a huge living room, currently filled with varying articles of furniture and boxes. He could see a fair sized kitchen to his left, a bathroom, a smaller study-like room, and a hallway that undoubtedly branched into the bedroom. A massive bay window occupied most of the rear wall. A smaller sliding door with glass work from Wutai let out to a patio that lay beyond the windows. It seems Elena had been right after all. It was pretty impressive.

Then he remembered how pissed off he was about being left in the rain.

"Oh Reeve," he called in the calmest voice he could muster.

*Must not kill, must not kill, must not kill .....*


A voice drifted at him from somewhere in the back of his mind, but he shook his angered conscience away. Reeve appeared from the rear hallway, carrying a small box in his hands. When he saw the expression on Rude's face, even with the sunglasses, he nearly dropped it. An look of horrified realization slowly crossed the vice president's face, the kind of look one got when they suddenly remembered that bears don't like it when you jab at them with sticks.

"Oh shit, I'm so sorry Rude, I kind of lost track of the time. See, when I came up here to activate Cait, the landlord cornered me and started into some big rant about the moving guys getting mud everywhere and ... oh, it's a long story. But I finally got in here and then I found out that some of Cait's circuits were damaged during the move and ..."

"Five seconds Reeve."

"... I'll take you drinking tonight. Completely on me."

Rude considered this generous offer, and humbly accepted. Sure, he was a little miffed that he had been forgotten, but free alcohol always made things better. The moogle returned just then, dropped off two more boxes and disappeared again. Cait Sith had stretched himself out on one of Reeve's fine leather couches, observing the pair quietly.

"You gonna explain this?" the Turk jerked a thumb at the robot, who sat up when the conversation was aimed at him.

A strange look of pride passed over the Vice President's face before he explained to Rude. "Awesome, isn't he? After the whole Sephiroth fiasco I ddn't really have time to play around with Cait anymore, and I had to deactivate him for a while. The months went by and I was so busy with the company that I hadn't really thought about him for a long time. A couple of weeks ago I was talking to Cid and Shera, and she asked me whatever happened to the stuffed cat and moogle."

"Abandoned," Cait wailed over dramatically, "Oh the tragedy."

Reeve shot the robot a look and then continued. "I reactivated him one night, but I knew I wouldn't really be able to do anything with him like I used to. I could travel all over the world without leaving the Shinra building, but I don't have time for that anymore. So I started thinking, and I wondered if it would be possible to animate Cait so he could operate all on his own. It would be a shame if the technology were abandoned just because I don't have time to use it, you know? So I've been working on him every night when I had the opportunity, and it seems that all my efforts have paid off."


"Cait Sith is the first ever fully functional android. He has artificial intellegence, the ability to learn, to reason, everything .... pretty cool, huh?"

"And did you program him to be an annoying jerk?"

Reeve frowned. "... no, he learned that all on his own."

"You're damned right I did," the cat leaped up onto the top of the couch, "I'm a technological marvel, wouldn't you agree Turk?"


"Not much of a conversationalist, are you?"


Cait leaned over the edge of his perch as far as he could, until he was nearly face to face with Rude. The two seemed to be engaged in a staring contest. The Sith grinned. "Yo momma."

" ... what?"

"Ha!" the robot pronounced triumphantly, "Made you talk."

Once again the moogle reappeared and disappeared. Rude turned to Reeve, patience hanging by a tiny little thread, and gave him an almost pleading look. "Reeve, make him stop ... or I'm gonna have a new artificially intelligent paper weight."

The robot laughed as if it were the most hilarious thing he'd ever heard and fell backwards with an elaborate amount of overacting. Rude did not think anything was very funny, but all Reeve could do was shake his head.

"Cait, behave yourself."

He made a snorting noise, but waved a gloved hand dismissively. "Sure, sure. Whatever you want Reeve. Me and the Turk will play nice from now on, won't we buddy?"

"I am not your buddy," Rude stressed every word as if it were infinitely important, "And since you have a robot to carry your boxes around you don't need me here anymore. I'm leaving."

He would have just left at that, turned around and walked right out of the door without a second glance, but when Reeve called for him to wait, a nagging feeling of obligation made him pause. Reeve suggested that they leave the work to Cait Sith and his Moogle and go out for those drinks he had promised. Rude considered the offer for about a microsecond and then agreed; there was nothing he wanted more at that moment then a good drink.

"..." He nodded.

"Excellent," Reeve crowed, having long been used to the Turk's limited capacity for response, "Let's get the Hell out of here. This mess can wait until later. Cait, make sure Moogle brings all the boxes up and then lock the door. I have a key. And please, don't do anything stupid while I'm gone. I still want to be living here when I get back, all right?"

"Will do," Cait gave them a mock salute as the two men left the apartment, the door still open for Moogle.

Now he was alone. He flopped backwards into a pillow as an air of boredom settled around him. Moogle worked tirelessly bringing boxes up from the street, never showing signs of fatigue. of course it was silly to think a robot could get fatigued, but that was the kind of idle thought that his boredom produced. Nearly half an hour went by silently, each minute spent wondering why he had agreed to babysit all of Reeve's stuff.

Cait was hanging backwards off of the couch, watching his tail twitch back and forth, when Moogle came in with a particularly heavy looking box. He set it to the floor with a gently thud, and the cat assumed he would disappear again within moments. However Moogle just stood there, watching Cait expectantly. Confused, the Sith flipped backwards onto his feet.

"Aren't there anymore boxes to bring up?" he asked incredulously.

The moogle shook it's big head, almost sadly, and blinked back at him, waiting for a new task. Moogle loved to help people, especially Cait Sith. Cait, on the other hand, had a mischievous smirk growing on his face. Now that his job was done, Reeve hadn't specifically said that he couldn't go out and have a little fun of his own. If he hurried, he could probably track down Reeve and Rude.

There was the little problem of what to do with his friend. He didn't want to bring his trusty Moogle, but then again, he didn't want to leave him just standing here for hours. Scratching his furred chin thoughtfully an idea finally struck him. Cait would certainly get into trouble for this little expedition, but Reeve couldn't get that angry if he came home to a perfectly organized apartment. He turned to Moogle.

"Okay buddy, here's what we're gonna do," Moogle perked up at Cait's enthusiasm, "I'm going to go out for a little while, but you have an important job to do. Do you remember the way Reeve had the other place decorated? Good. I need you to take all of the furniture and his stuff and reproduce the other apartment as best you can. If I come back before Reeve does, I'll knock five times and that's your signal to unlock the door for me. Otherwise, don't answer it. Is that okay?"

Moogle nodded vigorously, pleased that he could be of such a great help to his friend Cait. That, in turn, made Cait very happy. He hadn't really ever had a chance to go out on his own before; he had always been controlled by Reeve, gone where the executive told him to go. He would have his first taste of real freedom tonight. The memory chips of the first Cait Sith had been programmed into him, so he remembered the entire Sephiroth incident, but more importantly, the location of every bar in Midgar. Finding those two would be easy.

Chuckling to himself, Cait wished the Moogle luck and closed the door behind him. He had the feeling that tonight would definitely be a night to remember.

To Be Continued

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