choose style
Note: this story is set at the conclusion of Yuffie's Wutai/Materia stealing subplot, as the party sleeps in Wutai before heading off. Assuming dear reader had Vincent by then. I know I did. ^_^

by Cassiel Kelner

Vincent watched the others settling into their evening routine; calm and back in order now that Yuffie had been saved and had returned their materia to them. He didn't trust the girl, not yet, but she was young. She might learn. And in the meantime, he'd keep a close watch over his materia.

He wasn't in the mood for this, though. Too much had happened that day, and he didn't feel comfortable even settling into his standard role of sitting silently and playing ignorant of his surroundings. Right now he did want to be ignorant of his surroundings. He rose to his feet and headed for the door, breaking away from the cloying mood threatening to descend.

"Vincent..?" Aeris' voice drifted after him, quiet and concerned. He glanced back; they were all watching him now. If not for her speaking, they probably wouldn't have even noticed him leaving.

"I need some fresh air," he replied, shrugging his shoulders and sliding the door open. He stepped outside and pulled it shut behind him before any of them could reply, walking away briskly towards Wutai's only bar. He wanted some distraction from his melancholy, some kind of escape from his thoughts, however temporary. He'd never really liked drowning his woes in alcohol, but his pain had a keen edge tonight, and perhaps one or two drinks might soften it. Just this once.

He almost walked out of the bar again when he saw it's only other occupants. The Turks. Reno, Rude and Ellena, slouched around one table, looking half drunk themselves. But they'd been different today. They'd done him and his friends - yes, he thought of them as his friends, even if they might wonder why he was still with them - a favour that day, and given them a reprieve on being hunted, just for one night. So, after a momentary pause, he walked into the room and moved to a table at the back, where he could slouch in solitude. The Turks quietened as he passed, but their conversation resumed again within seconds. He prefered it that way. He wasn't interested in anything from them, especially not now.

A waitress came to take his order, and after a moment of thought, he asked for a bottle of cognac. He had a little money on him, and if he was going to drink, he might as well enjoy it. She returned promptly with the bottle and a single glass, and he poured his first drink of many, his mood sliding into sullen depression.

Lucrecia. From the moment he'd known her, all he'd ever wanted was to be with her. And then all he'd wanted was for her to be happy, even if it wasn't with him. She'd chosen Hojo over him, and he could deal with that, even if it hurt, because it was what she wanted. But then there were the experiments, and the altering of the child she carried, and then the birth of Sephiroth. The damned Jenova child. The child that had destroyed Lucrecia. And destroyed him, too.

All he'd done was watch. He'd stood by, and he'd let it all happen. He'd let them do that to Lucrecia, let Lucrecia do it to herself, damnit, and he'd never even raised a hand to stop them. Oh, he could tell himself that he'd tried to talk them out of it, but.. he hadn't tried hard enough. That was his sin. And now, this cursed body, this wretched clawlike arm, and the demon beast that shared his soul, that howled for release every time he did battle. His punishment.

Now, with Lucrecia gone, all he wanted to do was find Hojo, and return the favour; give him some measure of the agony he'd given Lucrecia. And perhaps somewhere in there, stop Sephiroth from whatever the hell he was doing. And then maybe his sins would be atoned for. Maybe he could be free from whatever had cursed him, or perhaps be free from this life itself. Either way, he didn't care. He just wanted it all to be over.

Vincent tapped his claw absently against the bottle as he poured himself another drink.. how many was it now? He was losing count. He was also getting slowly drunk, but it wasn't helping. It was making it worse.

"Hey, could ya give me a hand?" A brazen baritone intruded his downward spiral of thoughts, and he glared upwards at the offender. A Turk. Reno, if he remembered rightly; that shock of deep pinkish hair was memorable, as well as the twin scars that slashed under each eye. He slouched further in his seat, frowning.

"With what?" he questioned. Reno grinned quickly, then waved a thumb over his shoulder, in the direction of his table.

"Rude's asleep. Always happens when he drinks too much. He's big an' I can't carry him upstairs by myself. Ellena's already gone to bed, so I figured you might wanna give a guy a hand.." Reno shrugged his shoulders, his easy grin flashing again. Vincent sighed. He didn't want company, he didn't want to have to associate with anyone right now.. but sitting here drinking was just depressing him even more. At least this was a temporary distraction. He pushed his almost empty bottle across the table to Reno, who caught it before it slid off, cocking one eyebrow at him.

"Alright. Where are we taking him? And drink that, I don't want the damn stuff anymore." Vincent got to his feet, flicking stray hairs back impatiently. Reno didn't have to ask twice, and quickly skulled the remainder of the bottle's contents, then thumped it down on the tabletop.

"Just upstairs. We've got rooms here." Reno walked back over to where Rude was slumped against the table, snoring quietly. Vincent followed, noting the sloppy manner of Reno's suit; the untucked shirt, the rumpled jacket, the straggling shoelaces. This man was a Turk? He doubted anyone would've gotten away with such disregard when he was a Turk. It said something about the way the ShinRa Corporation was going these days, he supposed.

"Here, you take this arm.." Reno gestured to Rude's left side, and grabbed for Rude's right arm himself. Between them, they pulled the bald man to his feet and looped his arms about their shoulders, beginning the laborious task of half-walking, half-dragging him to the staircase and up each stair.

"That should do it," Reno gasped as they finally hefted Rude into the narrow bed and let go of him. He promptly rolled over to face the wall and started snoring again. Reno began to chuckle. "Good old Rude, never lets a thing phase him." Vincent stared at the already sleeping man, and he couldn't help but grin slightly. It was amusing, if you looked at it the right way.

"Hey, you're smiling! I don't think I've ever seen you smile. Even Cloud smiles more than you." Reno winked at him, and he raised an eyebrow in return. If Reno knew as much about him, and the rest of Cloud's party, as he would've known about anyone he was tracking when he was a Turk.. it bothered him, to think that this cocky, disheveled man probably knew his past as well as he did.

"C'mon, tell ya what, I'll buy ya a drink in return for helping me lug baldie here up the stairs. What'dya say?" Reno was watching him intently, despite that easy grin and relaxed stance. He wondered what the man was thinking. "I'm on vacation till tomorrow, remember? No tricks. Just a drink between a Turk and a former Turk."

Vincent wasn't sure he wanted to be thought of as a former Turk. He wasn't sure he wanted to be thought of at all.

"How about a drink between a Turk and a nobody?" he suggested dryly. Reno laughed and nodded his head.

"Sure, if that's what feels right to ya. Follow me." And with that he was headed out the door and traipsing lightly down the stairs again. Vincent wondered what he was doing, even as he followed after.

They sat at Vincent's corner table. Reno bought him a shot of cognac. "Better not to mix drinks this late in the night, right?" The Turk himself was drinking straight scotch. "Good for my constitution." They sat across from each other, and once the drinks had arrived, both fell silent. Reno stared into his glass for a long time, then abruptly downed it in one long gulp. Vincent smirked over his own glass, half raised to his lips, and Reno's return grin was broad.

"So, why are you here tonight, anyway? Thought you'd all be sleeping off Corneo's little stunt."

"The others probably are by now." Vincent shrugged. Corneo's interference was an annoyance, to say the least, but it hadn't upset him as much as the others. He hadn't known Corneo, and didn't care for what he saw of the fat, stupid, giggling man and his cheap tricks. All the better that Reno had dropped the man off the cliff face when he had. Rid the world of one more moron.

"And you?" Reno leaned back in his chair, getting comfortable, and no doubt rumpling his jacket even more. The tie was long gone, Vincent noticed, and the top two buttons on his shirt had come undone as well. Was it that he had no pride in himself as a Turk, or was it that he didn't think his uniform mattered for doing his job well?

"I needed to be alone."

"Ahhh." Reno nodded sagely, as if he understood entirely. Then he leaned forward again. "Why? I saw you sitting there, drinking and getting depressed. All you were doing is wallowing even worse in your misery. It wasn't doing you any good. Don't you think your friends would want to help you with that?"

Vincent raised his eyes from his glass, meeting Reno's with a cold stare.

"They don't need it from me. They have enough to deal with."

"Isn't that what friends are for? A shoulder to lean on, every now and again when you need it?" Reno's gaze was sharp again. What had made him think this Turk was lazy, indifferent?

"Not.. for me." He shook his head. "It doesn't matter anyway." He raised his claw above the table, tapping against the half empty glass in front of him. Reno eyed him coolly for a moment, then finally shrugged, leaning back in his seat again.

"Alright, if you say so. We're just drinking buddies anyway, right? Not supposed to get all deep and meaningful." Reno grinned. "Hey, wanna buy a bottle between us and go for a walk or something? This place is getting to me. I'd rather get shitfaced outside in the night air."

Vincent took in Reno's idea thoughtfully. There was no intensity behind the Turk's gaze now, only half lidded eyes that looked drunk. He wondered if that was all it was.. Reno wanting to drink the night away. He sighed; it was probably the alcohol in him that told him it was a good idea, but what the hell. Everyone needed to drink themselves into oblivion once in awhile.

"Okay. But I thought we weren't going to mix drinks."

"Ahh, what's a little mixed alcohol between pals?" Reno chuckled. "But we'll get some of what you're drinking, just to be on the safe side for ya. My body can handle anything." He patted his stomach proudly, then got up and walked a reasonably straight line to the bar. Vincent downed the rest of his drink, and let Reno do the buying as he headed for the door, seeking the fresh air again. Maybe it'd clear his brain and he'd be able to figure out why he was getting drunk with the opposition.

They walked haphazardly, aimlessly, talking in random sentences as they passed the bottle back and forth between them. It clinked each time Vincent wrapped his claw around it, but for once, he didn't mind the constant reminder of the metal part of his body.

"Tell me about your claw?" Reno questioned abruptly in the semi-darkness. Vincent almost dropped the bottle, and he spluttered as the mouthful he was swallowing went down his windpipe. Reno thumped him on the back a few times, and he recovered, wiping the alcohol from his lips. "Sorry, didn't mean to be the death of you there," Reno's voice was half apologetic, half amused. Vincent handed the bottle to the red-haired Turk.

"Guess I don't talk about it much."

"You got it from Hojo, right?" Reno glanced at him, then raised the bottle to his lips. He sighed. Hojo. A name that he cursed everytime he heard it.

"Yeah. When I.. when Lucrecia.." He winced as he spoke Lucrecia's name. It still hurt. Even 30 years of sleep didn't help. What possibly could, then? "Well, I ran down to see Hojo and abused him, and he shot me." He couldn't help but reach up to rub the spot on his chest where the bullet had hit. Sometimes it still ached, a memory of the pain. "When I came to, I was.. what I am now. Hojo experimented on me while I was unconcious. I read the files he left behind." He hefted his claw, flexing the long fingers experimentally, then took the bottle Reno offered him. "This is part of my punishment." He drank a little longer from the bottle this time. When he lowered his head again, Reno's gaze was still on him, intense and alert. He saw the Turk opening his mouth to speak, but he didn't want to talk about it anymore. So he jumped in with his own curious question. "How did you get those scars under your eyes?"

Reno paused, then reached up one hand to touch his scars, even as the other took the bottle from Vincent.

"My scars. Heh. Not much of a story, really."

"Tell me."

"Alright." Reno shrugged his shoulders. "They're.. well, when you face someone in battle but you're not worthy to fight 'em -- too young, too weak, whatever -- they slash you with a blade, one stroke under each eye. It's a reminder of who you have to face once you're worthy to do so." He took a swig from the bottle in his hand, and passed it to Vincent, who took it silently. "So, I got mine. I was weak, mostly, as well as a bit young. It's why I became a Turk. To be worthy."

Vincent stared at the bottle in his hand. "Who gave them to you?"

"No-one important. Doesn't even matter much, anymore." Reno was silent a moment, then grinned suddenly. "You finished with that bottle yet? C'mon, I feel like walking some more." He headed on further down the road, his step slightly uneven. Vincent took a quick drink from the bottle and hurried to catch up.

Finally, as the bottle ran empty, Reno declared himself tired of walking and sat down on the spot; never mind that they were right in the middle of one of the highly arched bridges that crossed the many rivers running through Wutai. Vincent shrugged and sat down next to him. He had to admit it was much more comfortable to be sitting, leaning against the wooden railings, than to be standing up, trying to keep his balance. Reno pitched the empty bottle high over the opposite railing, and chuckled as he watched it bobbing away in the current. Vincent found himself grinning widely. What the hell, it was amusing, and he was actually having fun. The irony of getting comfortably drunk with a man who'd just as soon kill him tomorrow was too funny for even him to miss.

Reno turned surprised eyes on him, and he grinned to see that as well.

"I'll be damned." Reno breathed, leaning in closer to stare at him. "You do have a sense of humour in there somewhere."

Vincent almost laughed aloud at that. But instead he raised both eyebrows at Reno.

"I'm full of suprises."

"Oh yeah? Well, how's this for a surprise?" Reno closed the gap between them completely, pressing his lips up against Vincent's. Vincent let out a startled noise that was consumed by Reno's mouth; a tender kiss that barely touched him and yet dragged him in all at the same time. He relaxed for a moment, his eyelashes fluttering close against his cheeks as he let himself be drawn in, and then he remembered who he was kissing. He made a halfhearted effort to pull back, and Reno let him go.

"Wait.." he managed to say, a bolt of emotions threatening to snap inside him. Reno was the enemy, a Turk, for God's sakes. And a disheveled one at that. Reno was hunting them down, with orders to do away with them as soon as look at them.. except when he was on vacation, that was. But the Reno he'd seen tonight - both the cocky, self assured Reno, and the serious, intense Reno - was someone he liked. Someone he wished to know better, had the circumstances not been so unfortunate. And yes, even someone he'd found himself lusting for as the night progressed. But that didn't mean they could just..

"What, I'm not your type? Heh, don't worry, I'm hardly anyone's type." Reno winked at him, then turned his attention back to the water. Vincent stared at him, and saw the disappointment behind that brash front. And he'd done that. Hurt him, however small the pain might be. He didn't want to hurt Reno; already, he was too fond of him. Who was to say they couldn't do this, just once? He sighed, then smiled ever so slightly. Let him regret in the morning all he wanted. He'd already wasted half a lifetime on regret, what difference would a little more make? And the night was still young. He reached out and took Reno by the shoulders, moving forward and planting a determined kiss upon his startled lips.

Reno tasted of cognac, not surprisingly, with a salty overtone; sweetness soured in a way that gave him shivers as he pressed the upper hand, pushing Reno back against the wooden bridge and sliding his tongue around the edge of his lips, ever so gently. Stunned at first, the Turk began to return the kiss in kind, his own tongue meeting Vincent's halfway and twining with it as his hands reached up, sliding around Vincent's waist and clinging to him tightly. They stayed that way for a long moment, locked in desire, before Reno finally broke the kiss and took a deep breath.

"Woah. You really know how to cheer a fella up." Reno's smile was genuine, and his hands gave up their clinging and instead rested gently on Vincent's back, feathering against him through his clothes.

"Reno.." Vincent's shoulders twitched involuntarily; it had been a long, long time since anyone had ever touched him, even such a soft touch as this. It sparked a ghost of longing through his body. "I want.." What? Freedom from pain? Freedom from loneliness? A friend? A lover? None of these things he had any right to ask from Reno. "," he finished, finally. It was all he could ask of the man, and perhaps one of the few things Reno would be happy to give.

"Me?" Reno's eyes were half-lidded again, but not with drunkenness this time. He smirked, almost wickedly. "Well, that depends on if you're man enough to take me." And then he was pressing himself against Vincent, pushing him back until he was sprawled on the bridge, Reno on top of him; two expert hands were holding him down, pinning him helpless against the wood; lips were devouring his and drowning him all at once, barely able to breath. Lust ignited inside him, just as Reno let go and sat up again, brushing back his wild hair.

"We really should do this somewhere else." He commented, grinning down at Vincent. "How about my room?"

Vincent responded by reaching up and pulling Reno towards him, then flipping the man over so he was sitting on top this time. He stared down at him, memorising the sight of his narrow face bathed in moonlight, his aqua eyes sparkling with amusement and desire, his quirking mouth, his thin scars.. and then he leaned forward and tasted those sweetly bitter lips again, pulling the lower lip into his mouth with his teeth, sucking on it and caressing it with his tongue. Reno wriggled under him, sighing into his mouth, and then the Turk was rolling them over, on top again. The momentum tipped them this time, though, and they rolled down the huge curving bridge, finally coming to a halt against the roadway.. with Reno still on top.

"That's if we ever get there," he managed to say, with a laugh, before he kissed Vincent again.

They made it to Reno's room in one piece, and fully clothed as well, if a little worse for wear. The cramped room had but one small bed, barely large enough to hold the both of them, but it was more than enough. Clothing slowly vanished under expert hands; Reno's painfully thin body and Vincent's pale, scarred body bared in the dim glow from the bedside lamp. Reno traced Vincent's scars with his tongue as Vincent caressed Reno's protuding ribs with his fingers - one set flesh, one set metal. Two long, narrow bodies twined together in a sweat of passion, relentless, never ending; each one rode the other to orgasm, and then again, Vincent's soft sighs mixing with Reno's guttural moans.

Worn out and covered in sweat that warmed their bodies, they curled around each other in the tiny bed, finding a comfortable position to tangle themselves in. Heads pressed against each other, they both stared up at the ceiling. Reno yawned first, and Vincent echoed him a moment later.

"Whatcha gonna do tomorrow?" Reno's voice was quiet in the darkness.

"Tomorrow?" Vincent followed the patterns of lamplight on the ceiling with his eyes and wondered about that. "Tomorrow I guess we.. keep hunting down Sephiroth." And Hojo, he added silently. "Cloud needs.. the planet needs.. to be rid of him." He sighed. If only for different circumstances.. "What about you?"

"Me? Oh, I guess we'll be hunting you guys down." Reno tried to sound offhand, and failed. "Vincent?"


"Do me a favour and make an effort to stay ahead of us. I don't want to have to.." he trailed off, not even wanting to finish the sentence.

"Alright." Vincent didn't want to think about it either. To have to face Reno in battle, after this.. no. They'd stay ahead. They'd get rid of Hojo, and Sephiroth too, and then none of this would matter anymore. Maybe then..

"If you guys get rid of Sephiroth or something, it'd be over and we wouldn't have to hunt you anymore, y'know. No point stopping you from getting to Sephiroth if he's dead." Reno turned his head slightly towards Vincent. "Then they wouldn't care what you did. You could even become a Turk or something, hell, ShinRa had you once before, and they're only really chasing Cloud." He trailed off, reaching up to rub at his eyes. "Or, hey, I wouldn't need to be a Turk then either.. it's just a job, and it doesn't matter much anymore."

Vincent turned his own head, matching Reno's gaze, wondering at the pain that surfaced in those pale eyes. "Why not?" He whispered. Reno closed his eyes, turning his head away again.

"He's dead, y'know. No point being worthy anymore. I only stick around because Rude needs me. But.. if you do what you need to, and you survive.." He shrugged and opened his eyes, offering a grin. "Whatever. Who the hell am I kidding. Get some sleep, you drunk. You're gonna need it to deal with your regrets in the morning." He kissed Vincent, a hard, desperate kiss, and then rolled over, pulling the blanket over him.

Vincent stared at the back of Reno's head for a long moment, his own head awhirl with thoughts, confusion, pain, despair.. and maybe a little inkling of hope. He reached out, wrapping his arms around Reno's gaunt body, and pulled him close, nestling against him under the warm blanket, and pressing his lips against Reno's ear.

"I'm not drunk, and I think I'd like that. Being nobodies together. Maybe one day yet."

Reno was silent, feigning sleep, but after a second strong fingers grasped Vincent's, twining tightly with his as if they'd never let go. Vincent smiled, a real smile, and closed his eyes, falling into sleep.