Fandom/Pairing: FFVII; Yuffie, Elena
Rating: ESRB Rating of T for Teen < language, themes >
Summary: Two captives. A mountain. A long, hot day. Don Corneo should go to hell.
Notes: For jeannette. You wanted it? Here it is.
Oh good, Elena thinks. The kid's finally stopped screaming.
The sun beats down on them, harsh and hot. The ropes that bind her hands are sticky with her sweat, are burning their ways into her flesh. Elena tries not to think about the gun in its holster, the gun she no longer has.
Beneath them, the stupid, straw-floored, paper-walled city stretches and doesn't care. Nobody notices the two women tied and hanging from the hot, hot statue. It's ridiculous. Do none of these people look UP?
"Hey," says the other, the younger one. Her voice is almost toneless.
"Hey," she replies.
"You got friends coming?"
She thinks for a moment. "Once they get their heads out of their asses. You?"
At length, the girl replies, "Probably not."
More silence. Talking is tiring.
"You're a Turk, aren't you?"
"Yeah." Not a very good one, she thinks, and hear's Tseng's voice correct her. "You're...?"
"I was in AVALANCHE."
They dangle however many frightening feet off the ground. A dry wind blows. It's like a gust from a furnace.
Elena kicks her legs. "Just let me say, on behalf of my colleagues, fuck you."
"Fuck YOU," the girl replies.
Fucking Wutai noon. The sun is a hammer, the statue an anvil. And those goddamn ropes don't make anything better. They're like flexible knives, like tinder to the atmosphere's flint.
"How old are you, anyway," she calls out to the kid.
She's stopped sweating. There just isn't enough water in her system to sweat anymore.
She'd kill a kitten for a cool drink.
Imagining Tseng's face is now painful.
"Sixteen," the kid replies. Her voice is tired, unemotional.
Elena understands why. It's just too damn HOT to care about anything. The heat is why she isn't pissed that AVALANCHE is hauling a sixteen-year-old around with them. Why she isn't pissed about Corneo's grabbing them up--though she was pissed about that, screamed her lungs out just like the kid when she had the breath and energy.
Anger is a dull, sulking ache in her chest.
Her mouth is dry. Tastes of sand. It's a struggle to speak but she tries anyway.
"Young," she offers.
Elena begins trying to identify the buildings in the city by what she can see of their roofs. But all the roofs look alike; red-painted wood, green tile. The tile glints in the light, hurts her eyes. She stops.
Even when she closes her eyes, the sunlight forces its way in through her eyelids. No escape. Not from sun, not from heat, not from Corneo.
She thinks about the fall and hopes the ropes will hold. She thinks about Corneo and hopes they don't, then thinks about Corneo and a bullet to his fat, ugly head and again hopes they'll support her.
"What's your name?" The kid asks.
"Elena," she says, tripping over her own damn name. Her words are thick and painful. "What's yours?"
Yuffie, she thinks. Sixteen years old, tied to a mountain right above her hometown.
Hi, Yuffie, she wants to say. I'm Elena, I'm a Turk but kind of shitty next to Tseng and Rude and Reno. I never wanted to be here.
They've got time. They could exchange life stories down to the last pointless detail.
They won't, though. That's not how they are. Or maybe it's just not how she is. She was never the kind to make excuses. She's a Turk; it's one of her prouder accomplishments. Why should she defend herself to this kid? And why should she care about the kid's defense for why she's in AVALANCHE?
Where did it all go wrong? Why are they there? Are whatever gods there are punishing her for some great cosmic fault, bigger than wanting to get her damn job done and have a cheap cocktail without her conscience bitching at her?
"We're totally going to kick his ass, right?"
"Right," Elena says, not really expecting her agreement to matter.
"Yeah. We're gonna kick his ass. And then we're gonna shove him off the statue."
"Tie him up first."
"Yeah, kick his ass, tie him up, and then shove him off!"
"Splat," she syas, taking grim, hard satisfaction in the thought.
Yuffie laughs. It isn't a pretty sound; her voice is too dry and cracked for that. But the sound of her laugh IS welcome. It's a change, a relief.
If they can laugh, they can live.
More sunlight. More heat. More silence.
To break it, she asks, "What do we do after we get down?"
Yuffie gives that harsh bark of laughter. "Before or after we kill Corneo?"
They're not just the long, scary arm of the law and an AVALANCHE member anymore. Will Yuffie go back to AVALANCHE? Will Elena continue trying to bring AVALANCHE in?
These are hard questions and she hates them.
"I don't know," Yuffie says.
What will they do if they face each other in a fight?
"I don't either," she confesses.
"I don't think I could fight you if I saw you again."
"So, we get down, we kill Corneo, we never see each other again?"
"Sounds like a plan to me." There is a hitch in Yuffie's manically cheerful voice.
It doesn't sound like a plan to Elena. It doesn't sound like anything she want spart of. Going her merry way and leaving this kid to her own devices, to whatever other crimes she commits. No. Not acceptable.
"Yeah," she says with a hoarse voice and she's lying and they both know it, "sounds like a plan."
Her neck has long gone from "starting to itch," until it itched like crazy. She still feels it, dimly, no matter how much she wants to be numb.
She's trying to scratch her neck without using her hands when she hears the most beautiful voice she's ever heard.
"All right, that's it!"
It's not Reno's voice, but it is familiar. Cloud, she thinks.
Her orders won't matter once she's free, she knows. She'll forget about AVALANCHE for a day or two.
Beyond that... well, who can say?
She tells Yuffie this, as quietly as she can and be heard, and Yuffie laughs to herself with that harsh, broken rasp.
"We'll be sure to be gone."
It's all over. Yuffie has been carefully untied and Reno and Cloud are doing the Awkward Leader Shuffle, happy to ignore each other but unhappy while the members of their group are staring at each other. Vincent Valentine--THE Vincent Valentine--is staring at her with an intense, hooded expression on his face.
Elena looks at Yuffie.
"Nice to meet you," she says.
Yuffie replies, "The circumstances sucked."
They both laugh with dried up voices.
Stickily, sweatily, they exchange a hug. It's a tight embrace. Elena closes her eyes and blocks out the sun. It stays out, for once.
And then AVALANCHE leaves.
To break the silence of the other Turks, she looks to Rude. "May I borrow a pair of sunglasses?"
His reply is wordless. He tilts his head to one side and offers her his spare pair.
She accepts it and privately exults in how dim the world looks.