Written by Anikka

VERSION 2.0 : Drinking

"Outta the way!"

A perfectly innocent looking U-Haul trailer plowed through the slick streets of Sector Three. Classically known as the entertainment district of Midgar - at least before most of the theaters had been destroyed by Meteor - it seemed as good a place as any for the Vice President to go joy riding. A few road construction pylons went flying, and some pedestrians narrowly avoided joining them.

*Dear God I'm going to die*

Rude gripped the side of his arm rest like a vice wound to tightly, knuckles white from the sheer amount of force. He tried not to show fear, his training as a Turk forbade it, but Shinra training could never have even remotely prepared him for Reeve's driving abilities.

"What's the matter Rude?" the Turk could have sworn there was an air of smugness in the other man's voice, "Too fast?"

If anyone had ever told him that Reeve had a decidedly twisted side he was hiding from everyone else he would have shot them right then and there. But this was a bizarre new side of his that, quite frankly, horrified Rude to the bone. Who would have guessed that such a mild mannered person had a penchant for joy riding? He supposed that long days and nights working in the office created a lot of stress, but if this was the way that they all released their frustrations ...

"Usually there aren't so many people out this time of night," a small frown played across Reeve's face briefly before it was replaced by a mad grin, "But it just makes it more entertaining!"

Despite the fact that he was keeping an eye on Reeve the entire time, Rude had noticed there was a fair amount of people out in the streets. It wasn't late, only eight thirty or so, but one did not usually see so many well dressed bodies out at once. unless, of course, there was something going on. Then, almost stupidly, he reminded himself he was in the theater district.

"Must be an opening night," he murmured, half to himself.

"Yeah," Reeve agreed, noticing for himself just how many people were ducking to avoid the path of the swerving U-Haul.

He scratched at his goatee thoughtfully. There was a big crowd gathering outside tonight. Vaguely he remembered Cloud - or maybe it was Tifa - going on very excitedly about the re launch of Loveless, one of the old Midgar Theater's most successful plays in its long running history. Tragically the theater had been destroyed by Meteor, but the show, as they said, always went on. Opening night was at one of the few surviving theaters, the Paradiso, in the heart of Sector Three. Not very far from where they were now, judging by the steady stream of people. He had forgotten all about it; he hoped he had not made any hasty promises to make an appearence.

He probably would have remembered if he promised Tifa and Cloud something that important, Reeve reasoned to himself. Loveless. How many years had it been since he'd seen that play? Too many. Reeve remembered seeing it for the first time; when he was fifteen, he and some friends had gotten into Midgar Theater with fake ID's. It was the first R-rated play in the city's history, and Reeve's first look at the female form. A small smile twinged at the corners of his lips when he recalled the experience. The security guards had caught on to them when they wolf whistled the lead actress and applauded during an attempted rape scene. Thinking back it was the kind of stupid, immature thing that branded most teenagers and was the reason they didn't let them into R-Rated entertainment. But that was thirteen years ago, practically a life time.

So much had changed in thirteen years. He wondered what that impressionistic fifteen year old - the one who had thought the whole world would stand still for him - would think of the man he was today. Vice President of Shinra Incorporated would have made him laugh. Hell, Urban Development would have had him in hysterics. Reeve had never had any aspirations of corporate ladder climbing when he was a kid, not that any kid ever did, but he was starting to remember a boy who hated it when his parents made him wear a suit to church and who struggled through business in high school. It was funny how everything could change when you weren't paying attention.



Reeve snapped back to attention when he heard Rude's triumphant discovery. They had been searching for a bar for about twenty minutes now, and it seemed their efforts were to be rewarded. Unfortunately, as Reeve hadn't really been paying attention to where he was going, he passed by the bar and could only watch as the sign faded into the backdrop. Determined, both men scanned the vicinity for a place to park their U-haul, but the opening of Loveless left no curb clear.

"I think I saw a space back that way," Reeve commented casually as the tires screeched on the pavement in a fantastically illegal U-turn.


The Turk let loose a streak of profanities at the sudden traffic violation, gripping his arm rests with renewed vigor. A sheet of rain water sprayed behind them, and the U-haul fish tailed on the slick roadway. There were angry shouts of protest rising from the crowds in the streets, as well as honking horns and obscene gestures. Rude could feel all his vital organs melting into puddles as Reeve careened into the one available parking spot, ten blocks away from the bar, narrowly avoiding side swiping a Lexus.

Reeve neatly turned the key and pulled it from the ignition in one fluid motion; he placed it into his breast pocket. Rude however, still maintaining his death grip, sucked in deep breaths as if he had been submerged in water for a long period of time. When he finally felt himself regaining control he turned to Reeve, and glared at him angrily.

"Where in the name of fucking Jesus did you learn to drive?"

The Vice President looked slightly offended but chuckled anyways. "Who says I ever learned?"

"... could have killed us."

He quickly pulled out a newly purchased pack of cigarettes. There was nothing quite like a shot of nicotine to calm one's nerves. When they stepped out of the U-Haul and into the streets both men were surprised by the stark drop in temperature. It had cooled significantly since they began their expedition, causing rain to become soft wisps of translucent snow. The dull roar of a growing crowd echoed through Sector Three as opening night was patiently awaited.

"Come on Rude," Reeve called to him, already starting in the direction of the bar, "It's freezing out here."

The Turk easily caught up to him and they walked in silence towards their destination. The bar they had seen was called the Silver Siren, very up class and expensive looking, but since Reeve was paying it didn't matter. Alcohol was alcohol after all. They covered the distance quickly, cold being a great motivator, and were only within a block of the bar.

"What brain damaged instructor gave you a license?"

Reeve blinked. "I don't drive like that ALL of the time Rude."


Apparently the Turk had run out of things to say. He simply tossed his cigarette to the curb and lit up another; Reeve was going to make a comment about second hand smoke, but decided against it. After all, he'd shocked him so much it would probably take a year off of his life. They continued on in silence, but Reeve didn't mind. Rude was a man of very few words, and he had said more that day than in the last month; he wouldn't be surprised if no one ever heard him speak again for days.

"Damn it's cold," the Vice President muttered.


"Don't you think it's cold?"


"Well, you're just about as exciting as -- OOF"

Once again, Reeve had not been paying to where he was going, and ran straight into something. Stumbling backwards he was saved an embarrassing fall on his ass when he ran into a lamp post, but that just brought on a whole new problem. He hissed through his teeth as he rubbed the back of his skull gingerly. Scowling, Reeve glanced around to see just what he had so carelessly run into.

He nearly squeaked in surprise.

A very angry looking woman was staring him down like a Tonberry ready to go in for the kill. Icy blue eyes narrowed dangerously at him in a death glare so concentrated it almost pained him to look directly at her. Short ash coloured hair - a shade obviously not found in nature - framed perfectly tanned skin, giving him the impression that she had spent a lot of time Costa De Sol or Mideel recently. Around her neck was a thin choker of black, fashioned with a small silver cross; a navy blue duffle bag was slung about her shoulders with great care.

All Reeve could do was stare with his mouth hanging open like an idiot.

"Watch where you're going, stupid oaf," she huffed angrily, pushing past the Vice President and deliberately elbowing him out of her path. The two of them watched her stalk in the opposite direction, randomly shoving people out of her way. Rude cocked an eyebrow, but showed no other reaction.


Reeve cast a sidelong glance blandly at the Turk, and nodded in agreement. "Truer words were never spoken."

"... whatever. Let's go."

They maneuvered through the crowds as the lulling florescent lights called them towards their destination. Rude curbed the urge to snicker to himself as Reeve cursed under his breath, rubbing the lump that was forming at the base of his neck.

"Good evening gentlemen."

A wary voice caught Rude's attention, and he was slightly surprised to see a doorman standing ready at the entrance - actually, blocking the entrance was a more accurate description. What kind of a bar had a doorman? A long wooly coat of red stood out in the well dressed crowd like beacon, and looked warm enough to have the man sweating in this cold. He eyed them suspiciously, obviously not recognizing the Vice President or the Turk; it was almost as if he were deciding whether or not to let them in at all.

Reeve, sensing that their path to alcohol may be interrupted, gave the doorman an unimpressed scowl.

"Good evening," he returned the untrustful sentiment, "Would you mind standing over there so we can drink?"

"I'm sorry sir, but there is a dress code in effect at this establishment, and you two are not -"

With an errant sigh Reeve fished in his jacket pocket and retrieved two items; a laminated ID card and 200 gil. The doorman looked back and froth from Reeve to the ID, and a sour expression crossed his face and he stepped aside.

"Please forgive my rudeness Sir. Enjoy yourself this evening."

It was not a pleasant tone, but one of sudden tolerance, and perhaps resentment. Reeve never really felt comfortable using his status to manipulate people, but sometimes it just had to be done. Besides, he thought to himself as he strode through the door, what was the harm in sitting down for a drink?

"Slick," was all Rude had to say about the turn of events. He didn't really care one way or another what Reeve did with his power, as long as there weren't any flaming hunks of space rock hurtling towards them. He felt a little put off by the fact that the Doorman hadn't recognized him, in his Turk suit no less, but he supposed that was the price they paid for going on the straight and narrow with the public. They weren't as feared as they used to be; the price of change was steep.


He suddenly thought himself very under dressed; maybe that glorified body guard had been right. A bar, as his definition stated, was a place where you could go to escape the world. No one wanted to drink in a place that oozed quiet morality - or wealth, for that matter. It was not a very big place, but size was more than made up for in elegance. Everything played to patterns of oaky browns and beiges, furnishings and floors matching in a sort of bland unison. Finely crafted wooden tables and chairs were thrown about the room sparsely, most patrons preferring to stand and mingle or sit at the glass topped bar. A sparkling chandelier watched everything from above, glimmering softly from the surrounding incandescent lights.

Reno would have hated it. Then again, Reno hated any place that wouldn't let him jump up on the table and sing 'It's Raining Men' when he was drunk out of his mind. Rude wasn't feeling quite so comfortable here either, shifting his weight from foot to foot.

"Uhh ... can we go somewhere else?"

Reeve blinked at him. He hadn't thought that Turks were picky about where they got their alcohol. Then again, he himself was feeling a little out of place, surrounded by formal wear and expensive champagne. They weren't exactly fashionable eye sores, but suits didn't quite stand up to tuxedos. He was also becoming aware of a few stray looks from some of the occupants, sipping on their fifty gil martinis and making hushed comments.

Making a face, he came to a resolution. He was the Vice President. He had a Turk with him. They could drink wherever the Hell they wanted to. Why should they let a few high brows decide where they were not welcome?

"Come on Rude," he said as he waded towards the bar, nudging people out of his way, "I owe you a drink."


The bald man only stared, wondering when Reeve had suddenly acquired his balls. This was not like the Vice President he thought he knew. Reeve was reserved, compliant, and did not like confrontation. At least, he thought he didn't. The crowd was becoming a little more vocal with their displeasure of their presence, but Reeve ignored it all. He asked Rude what kind of liquor he liked, doubting that a place like this would have beer or the dirt cheap stuff in the old slums. Rude couldn't answer, because the dirt cheap stuff was his favourite.

So Reeve did what Reeve was least likely to do in such a situation.

"Bring us two bottles of your most alcoholic liquid in the house my good man," he grinned at the surprised man behind the bar, who was decked to the nines in velvet and silk, "And charge it to Cloud Strife."

He tossed a credit card on the table sporting a Shinra logo and the President's name. Rude did a double take, and could not suppress a small grin. So that's why the door guy had changed his tune so easily.

"Uh ... yes sir," he complied in a nasal tone that betrayed his obvious distaste of them.

Reeve plopped himself onto one of the bar stools and began drumming his fingers against the glass counter top. What this place needed, he thought, was a giant drunken rabble. But since Reno was MIA that night, he'd have to settle for a loud disturbance. He couldn't really put his finger on it, but tonight he was feeling the need to be rowdy and disruptive.


He looked up when he heard the Turk speak up. "Yeah?"

Rude looked like he was thinking about his choice of words, scratching his chin thoughtfully.

"Have you ... gone insane?"

The Vice President crooked an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"

"It's just ... you've been acting ... not the way you usually do ... very ... non-Reeve."

Reeve laughed, a slightly amused chuckle that lingered in his throat. The man behind the counter returned with two of the hugest liquor bottles either of them had ever seen in their lives and a pair of shot glasses. He asked no questions and made no comments, but continued watching them out of the corner of his eye as he moved onto new customers. Rude sat on the stool beside Reeve and nabbed one of the bottles.

"Shit," he muttered as he popped the reluctant cork, "Smells like fucking turpentine."

"Has that ever stopped you before?"

"Point taken." The Turk poured a generous amount of the suspicious liquid into his glass. He drained it with a quick, fluid movement before pouring himself another. He looked on with piqued interest as Reeve did the same.

"Damn," Reeve muttered as he prepared himself for another shot, "That's fucking strong. What do you think Rude, or am I just a liquor pussy?"

Rude nearly choked on his shot when those words left the other's mouth, and was barely able to keep the burning alcohol in his throat instead of spitting it everywhere. Now, he was sure, something was not quite right with Reeve. He had never heard him swear consecutively - and so bluntly - before, and the alcohol could not have been setting in so early.

"What the Hell is up with you?" Rude questioned him, "I may not be the most sociable person but ... shit, you're personality is flipping a one eighty."

"How very observant of you. Now I guess I know why we pay you Turks so much fucking money. You're good at what you do."

Rude rethought his earlier assessment; maybe the liquor was kicking in already.

"The joy riding ... the sudden attitude ... Cloud's credit card - which is beautiful by the way -it doesn't make sense. It's not you."

Reeve took another shot, but the look in his eyes showed Rude that he was completely sober and of sound mind. There was an almost haunted emptiness there, a look of someone who was fed up with everything. "Can I ask you something Rude? Do you ever get tired of being yourself?"

"... what?"

"Do you ever wish you could just tell the world to fuck off and leave you alone?"

He nodded. "All the time."

"Sometimes ... sometimes I wish was a different person. I wonder what would have happened if everything had turned out differently. Would we be sitting here now, or would we be alive at all? Maybe I'm just being a philosophical idiot or something, but it bothers me sometimes. What would it be like if things turned out the way I thought they would? You understand what I mean, don't you?"

"Yes, I think I do."

"Don't get me wrong or anything, I like my job and helping to rebuild Midgar will always be a priority, but ..."

" ... it's not what you wanted."

Reeve studied the other man carefully, as if seeing him for the first time. "Exactly. You know Rude, you're not such a bad guy after all. Not the most stimulating conversationalist maybe, but ..."

The Turk looked at him strangely, and he laughed half heartedly. "Everyone says you're a rock wall. But I don't think that's true."

There was a sudden silence that stretched between them, each thinking about what was just said. Soft laughter was intermittent between shots, mostly coming from Rude. The alcohol was definitely starting to settle in now, creating a warm, comfortable feeling in the pit of his stomach. It was funny how liquor always loosened his inhibitions, but it didn't concern him. He turned to Reeve, watching as he swilled another drink.

"What makes you think that? How do you know I'm not a rock?"

"Because," the Vice President reasoned, "You're not. If you were half the emotionless sack the office says you are then you wouldn't have helped me move."

"Emotionless sack?" he repeated, not really sure how to take that label.

"Emotionless sack," Reeve reiterated the rumor, "They say you wouldn't know a human emotion is it bit you in the ass. Reno and Elena always defend you of course, but no one can stop office gossip. But if it makes you feel any better, I don't think you're an emotionless sack. Quite the opposite, really. I think you're more complex than you let on."

A rock wall, huh? Rude traced a pattern on his shot glass with the tip of his index finger, musing over this new information. He knew that people had an opinion of him - Hell, these days everyone had an opinion on everyone else - but he hadn't thought it was quite that bad. Just because he didn't say much or because of the fact that he'd been suppressing things for so long he wasn't even sure what they felt like any more, it didn't mean that he was an emotionless sack. He was well aware of his emotions biting him in the ass every day. Idly he wondered if Tifa thought he was an unfeeling weirdo.

Then he turned to Reeve.

"And what do they say about you?"

"You know what they say about me," he answered with a wry grin, "They say what they've always said. 'Good old reliable Reeve. He'll do what we ask him and he won't complain. He'll sit there like an idiot while the whole fucking world passes him by.' That's about right, isn't it?"

"More or less ..."

"What does that mean?"

"It means," the Turk paused, considering his answer, "That people really .. I don't know, expect a lot from you. Not because your a door mat - which you act like sometimes - but because they respect you or something. Fuck, I don't know."

"I'm a door mat, am I?"

Rude shook his head. "No, not really. I think you just put up the front of being a door mat because its easier than facing the truth. Like second nature or something, you know? You aren't the person I thought you were."

Reeve laughed again, this time with genuine mirth. "Well, I can say the same about you. Fuck both of us man, the door mat and the emotionless sack!"

Shot glasses clinked together as they both downed another round

"Who's an emotionless sack?"

Both men jumped slightly when a third, more sober voice surprised them from behind; distinctly feminine, yet with an odd trace of cynicism. They were very much relieved, a little surprised, to see Tifa Lockheart standing behind them; the mind creates strange scenarios when its been hazed.

"That would be me," the Turk raised a hand solemnly, "I am a sack."

Rude, grateful for the shielding of his shades, could not help but stare at the woman. She was wearing a long bronze coloured masterpiece of silk, which trained slightly behind her despite added height of identically coloured heels. A thin string of diamonds hung around her neck, seeming to accent the ludicrous amount of cleavage the upper half of the dress displayed. Over the dress she wore a long black coat, trimmed with faux fur along the collar and cuff, as well as a small black hand bag. Her long, coffee coloured hair was gathered loosely at the nape of her neck, held in place by a thin black ribbon. A flush was creeping into his cheeks, despite his best efforts to quell it; she looked so beautiful that even his fantasies would be hard pressed to top it.

The one thing that stuck out screaming from her appearence was a wretched expression; an unhappy frown that marred her face like a scar. An air of palpable disappointment had followed her in, and it was as sobering as a blast of cold wind. Rude watched her with growing worry, even though she laughed at his comment.

"Oh, hi Tifa," Reeve greeted her amiably, and then looked suddenly concerned, "What are you doing here?"

She made a dejected huffing sound and sat on the stool next to Rude. They watched with mild amusement as she snatched his shot glass and poured herself a drink.

"You guys mind if I wallow in self pity with you?"

"Wallow away," Reeve replied with a cautious smile, "Though I must advise you there is a strict wallowing dress code and I don't think you meet it."

"Funny," she muttered to neither of them and downed her drink. She signaled to the man behind the bar, who came running at the sight of a well dressed, attractive woman, and gladly brought her a shot glass; she handed the other one back to Rude.

"What brings you here?" The Turk asked casually, not wanting to sound to infactuated, but secretly overjoyed that she was sitting next to him.

"Yeah, I thought you and President Cloud were off to the Theater tonight; the Loveless show you kept talking about, right?"

Her frown deepened slightly as she removed her coat, folding it carefully and holding it in her lap.

"Cloud is being an ass."

"What's new?"

"A bigger ass than usual," she stressed, "We were supposed to go and see the Loveless reopening tonight. I've always wanted to see that stupid play, and I finally got tickets ... so he calls me an hour and a half before the show starts and says that something came up at the office and he can't make it."

"Ouch," Rude muttered into his drink before swilling it.

"He says its too important to wait," she made a face while trying a Cloud impersonation, "'You know I love you baby, but the company this, the company that.' Fuck the mother fucking company."

"My God," Reeve feigned offense, covering his ears with his hands, "Such language."

"... shut up Reeve."

The Vice President gave her a half hearted smile, though the cogs in his head were starting to turn. If there was something important going on in the office, shouldn't Cloud have tried to get a hold of him? Usually he was the one who handled most of the important, late night shit, simply because he didn't have much of a social life of his own. Maybe he was making something out of nothing, but still, it bothered him.

"Don't be too hard on him Teef," he said placidly in an attempt to reassure her, "You know how much effort Cloud puts in to make that company work. Don't get me wrong though, he's a jerk for skipping out on you tonight. Maybe we should hire him an assistant or something."

"I know he works hard ... but he's always got an excuse for everything. It wouldn't bother me so much if he'd just leave the damned work at the office once and a while. Remember last week when he didn't show at Marlene's birthday? The poor kid was asking about her Uncle Cloud and I had to lie for him."

"Yeah, I remember."

"It's just so frustrating. He knows how much I want to see that play tonight. Now I can't go"

"Why not?" the Tuurk asked blandly, "Go anyway."

"I don't want to go by myself."

Reeve grinned. "We'll go with you Tifa. It'll be a night on the town for the sad and pathetic."

Tifa smiled sadly as she reached into the small handbag and pulled the tickets. "But I only have two."

"Oh ... then Rude will go with you."

The Turk's face blanked at the suggestion, and he stared at Reeve like he was going to murder him. "He will?"

"Sure he will!" Reeve, a tad under the influence, clapped the Turk on the shoulder, "Come on man, you wouldn't let a pretty girl go to the Theater all alone and depressed, would you?"

It was at the moment that Tifa looked at him that Rude realized he would have done just about anything they asked him to. He was powerless against those sad burgundy eyes.

"N-no," he stuttered slightly at the question, "I mean ... are you sure you wouldn't want to go Reeve?"

"I've already seen it," he said with a dismissive wave, "Besides, I'm not exactly in the right frame of mind to enjoy it right now. You're more sober than I am Turk, and I doubt Tifa would want my drunken commentary through the entire play."

"Uh ... well, I guess I'll go ... if you don't mind Tifa. Apparently I'm not the most entertaining company, what with being an emotionless sack and all."

He felt his insides melt when she laughed. It wasn't the liquor, he was sure, because they always seemed to do that when Tifa was around. She rose hurriedly and put her coat back on. "Don't be silly, of course I don't mind having your company. We're friends, aren't we? Besides, I'm sure you'll be more interesting that Cloud usually is after work. Oh, and consequently, one word about the office and I will have to decapitate you."


All he could do was nod stupidly as she grabbed him by the arm and pulled him to his feet. "Come on, it'll start soon and of we hurry we'll make it with a few seconds to spare. Thanks Rude, I owe you one. I'm sure you'd rather drink then spend an evening with a frustrated executive."

*You couldn't be more wrong* he almost laughed to himself, but instead replied, "You don't owe me anything."

"Thank you too Reeve," she smiled at the Vice President, "For trying to cheer me up and for letting me steal your date."

Rude made a face at that analogy, but Reeve chuckled sarcastically. "All the good men are so hard to find. You guys have fun, I'll keep wallowing."

He watched with a small grin as Tifa anxiously dragged the bewildered Turk away from the bar and into the streets, now alone with only his bottle for company. He would have liked to see Loveless again, but somehow he just wasn't in the mood for it. Besides, he suspected Rude would have a better time than he would have; it was no big secret to him that he had an enormous crush on her. Maybe it really wasn't all that helpful giving him an evening with a woman he had absolutely no chance with - possibly even a little cruel - but it was better than sitting at a bar all night.

Suddenly, he didn't feel like being there anymore. He wanted to be somewhere, anywhere but in that bar, with these people. Snatching the bottles in both hands he left a skimpy tip for the bar tender - who didn't deserve anything for being such a crotch, and rose to leave.

"Maybe I should go home and make sure Cait hasn't gotten me evicted yet," he mused to himself as some patrons stared at him strangely for talking to himself. He was tempted to give them all the one digit salute, but curbed the urge as he stepped into the chilled evening air. There was nothing he wanted less right at that moment than an audience.

Drinking was definitely not as fun without someone to act like an idiot with you.

To Be Continued

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