[Fic] The Things You Never Knew About People [7/14] - Serious

Title: Serious
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Rating: R for bad language and violence (it's the Turks, yo)
Notes: Yeah, so, don't expect the next chapter to be out this quick--vacation is over and I'm back in school full-time, plus working, plus looking for a job before my visa expires. Yay! *death* I'm not going to have time to write seriously until the end of March, if I'm lucky, but I promise I'll keep plugging away bit by bit when I have any free time at all. But, um, yeah. Things go back to a trickle for a bit. Yeah. ^^;; Sorry!
Status: 7/14 - Halfway done!
Summary: You could tell, the exact moment when Reno got serious.

Chapter 7 - Serious


One thing that in some ways never failed to bring a faint, amused smile to Rude's face was watching Reno studying. Reno was still quite bad at studying, but he was trying, and making floundering advancements.

But truthfully, what was funny was the fact that Tseng had, in fact, sent Reno all new textbooks...all geared towards Wutai children learning to read. Rude, to this day, still wasn't sure if it really was all Tseng had been able to find, or just Tseng's idea of a joke. Regardless, it was more than the slightest bit amusing to see Reno with his nose buried in a busily brightly-colored book or workbook full of oddly perky cartoon characters. More than one person had seen Reno with one of those books and, not realizing what it was, would begin to tease Reno about finding books appropriate to his level or some such.

...Those usually ended badly, either with the person taking the book and offering to read it to Reno as a bedtime story, then having their eyes bug out when they actually saw what it was and Reno telling them smugly to go ahead and read it for us, or with Reno attempting with various degrees of success to make good on the threat he would issue of inserting the book into a rather unpleasant orifice for the hapless person stupid enough to try to give crap to a Turk.

Reno had, thankfully, taken the time to learn the romanization, even though he hadn't really wanted to have to learn more than he had to. But Rude had insisted, saying that the bopomofo made no sense to him and it was Reno's choice to either put romanization on things or study by himself. Reno had managed to go paler than normal at that and said hell, no; he needed his pay, and buckled down. Thanks to a simple input training program Tseng provided for him where the bopomofo character would appear and one had to type in the romanization, Reno got romanization down quickly enough (although there had been much cursing and yelling about how many drugs, bad ones, whoever had designed the romanization must have been doing when they came up with that when he first started out), and he explained to Rude how it was all pronounced. Rude got enough of a handle on that to roughly know if Reno was saying the right or wrong word if Reno said it slowly enough when Rude quizzed him with the flashcards, and that seemed best, since Reno usually burst out laughing if Rude tried to actually say something in Wutai. The most memorable had been when Rude attempted to say the word for "dog" and apparently said something very, very different; Reno had cracked up laughing so hard he put his head on the desktop.

Rude still had to more or less hold Reno's hand as the man tried to study: neither Reno's patience nor his confidence in his study skills nor some other reticence on Reno's part that Rude hadn't figured out yet really gave Rude much of an option. But Rude found himself not minding all that much, rather enjoying watching Reno discover he was good at something that did not involve beating, killing, or blowing things up, and that he was, in fact, able to do something that completely flummoxed anyone else looking at it--it was as if Rude's complete inability to grasp the bopomofo at all gave Reno some confidence with himself in regards to learning something. And Reno, for all he seemed to exude confidence, especially about his job, tended to...really be far less confident than he should have been about his own intelligence. There had been something almost painful about watching Reno fall apart trying to figure out how learn things.

So if Rude found himself good-naturedly laughed at more than once, it was worth it.

--

"Good timing, partner," Rude said, looking up just as Reno walked in.

"Eh?" Reno said, blinking slightly in wary surprise. "That ain't what you usually say when I show up twenty minutes late and hung-over."

Rude hung up the phone. "Usually, you don't luck out this much. That was Tseng. We're supposed to report to his office in ten minutes."

Reno grinned. "You're right, I do got good timing. Got just enough time to choke down some coffee."

Rude frowned. "I don't think..." he began, when Reno grinned and held up a finger.

"C'mon, man. If I showed up on time, they would know I musta only just got here and we booked it."

Rude let out a choked snort of laughter. "You have a point. Drink your coffee."

--

Rude was mildly surprised by the people that were in the room--Tseng, he was expecting, but seeing Elena, the young trainee who had gotten on Reno's bad side already and who, the rumors went, was in "trainee hell" and goinng to stay there until she proved herself or quit, was. The even bigger shock, however, was Rufus Shinra.

That was when he knew, whatever, this was, it was big.

"Glad you could join us," Tseng said only somewhat dryly, as if he had been expecting Rude and Reno--well, Reno at any rate--to be late. "Have a seat."

The two men sat down, and Tseng gestured towards them with his chin to Elena. She immediately jumped up and handed them each a plain brown folder.

Reno's folder was easily twice as thick, if not three times, and Reno made a face that, to Rude's eyes, clearly said, "What the fuck, yo?"

"Your newest assignment," Tseng said. At almost the same time, both Rude and Reno opened the folders, Rude carefully and businesslike, Reno in a motion like a knife flick.

Rude had only the barest amount of time to begin perusing the materials when Reno said "Materia smuggling?" in surprise and raised an eyebrow.

Tseng nodded. "Materia and drugs. We're mainly trying to control the materia side of things. But it looks like the same routes are being used for both."

Rufus spoke next. "Basically, the same group is smuggling materia out and potent in."

"Potent?" Reno said, sitting up. "Someone is importing that shit?" he said, frowning. "That shit jacks people up but good."

"More worrisome for us, however, is the materia smuggling into Wutai," Rufus said. "Since the war ended, materia has been prohibited from being sent to Wutai. The last thing we need is Wutai getting materia again. So how exactly is this happening?"

"From what our sources say, it looks like a triangle trade of sorts. Money out of Wutai into Mideel, where the plant potent is made from, potala, is grown, and that's smuggled into Midgar, and from Midgar materia is smuggled out into Wutai," Tseng said. "We've just assigned people to handle the Mideel angle, but for now, we need to track down the people handling the materia shipping out of Midgar and who they're dealing with in Wutai. Which is where you come in," Tseng ended, and looked at Reno. "We suspect it's one of the northern mafia clans and not the Yamatan yakuza, since while they're more powerful and organized, they're also a lot more loyal to Kisaragi than the northern groups.

"Time to put that Wutai of yours to use."

Reno stared at him for a minute, and Rude had a hard time figuring out what his expression was before Reno slipped back into professional-mode. "Gotcha. Sir."

"For experience, Elena will be working with you two on this as well."

Both Rude and Reno nodded, and Elena gave them a faint smile. "Looking forward to it," she said.

Tseng began handing them more files. "More detailed information is in here. You are to report to me on the status of the investigation every week, more often if something major occurs. If you need any assistance," he said, staring at Reno for a long moment with slightly narrowed eyes, "let me know."

It was unspoken, but what Tseng meant past that was obvious. And what that was was "But don't need my assistance."

And judging by the look on Reno's face, he had read that loud and clear.

--

Tseng dismissed them not long after that, but Rude, Reno, and Elena stayed in the conference room to discuss the assignment by what seemed a wordless agreement.

Reno waved his folder in the air.

"All right, why the fuck is mine so thick when...oh, hell," Reno moaned, breaking off his whine when he saw some of the paperwork. "Aww, c'mon!" He buried his face in his hands. "Rude, partner, I gotta favor to ask ya."

Rude raised an eyebrow slightly. "And that is...?"

"SHOOT ME."

Rude ignored the request and reached over and picked up the file and flipped it open, wondering what had set Reno off.

Ahh. That was it then.

All of the extra paperwork in Reno's files was in Wutai. Pages upon pages of Wutai.

"I can't kill you, since no one can read any of this but you, but is a flesh wound acceptable?" Rude finally said, smiling faintly.

"Naww, that won't do jack. They'd just throw a potion at me," Reno moaned, making another of his expressive faces, this one an expression of a woebegone puppy that had been kicked a few times, before he buried his face in his hands.

It sometimes disturbed Rude, the images he got when trying to figure out Reno's faces, but it did serve to make things more interesting at times.

--

"Wow, potent smuggling, eh?" Elena said, finally looking up from her folder.

"Not our problem, yo" Reno said, shrugging. "Our job's the materia smuggling."

"But the potent..."

"Will be taken care of along with the materia aspect. If this is really being run by Wutai, what they're after is the materia, not the money from potent, so that aspect will dry up as well," Rude said calmly. "There will always be drugs in the slums and people using, and cleaning it up is not our problem."

"I can't even imagine why someone would start," Elena said, and Rude was very aware of just how young the girl really was. "Everyone knows how dangerous and addictive it is! I mean, is the buzz really that good?"

"Must be," Reno said shrugging, something about him curiously blank in a way Rude couldn't quite put his finger on--there was a faint tension in him that hadn't been there before; not enough to really alarm Rude, but enough to be make him notice. He doubted anyone else would even notice it at all; it was simply that he and Reno had been partnered together long enough that he knew Reno's reactions.

"Must be? You mean you don't know?" Elena said, sounding confused.

Reno gave Elena a look of disgusted confusion. "How in Shiva's name would I know?"

Elena's eyes widened, like she was surprised. "But you were in the slums, right? I mean, surely you tried...or knew someone who did, right? They had to at least tell you about it, right? So what's it like?"

"Elena, I think you wanna shut up," Reno said flatly.

"But--" she started. "I'm just curious!"

Reno's eye started the eye-twitching thing that usually indicated that he was about to start beating something with his baton, and Rude briefly considered getting involved to stop this before it went any further, when he decided this was surely just as important an aspect of Elena's training as anything else. She needed to learn how to read people, and Reno was one of the easiest people on the planet to read. "Elena, you're young an' stupid, so I'll say it one more time, an' slower this time. Shuuuuuuuuut uuuuuuuuuuup."

Elena frowned angrily, narrowing her eyes and putting her hands on her hips. "I am not a child, in case you missed it. I'm here for a reason!"

"So stop actin' like one," Reno snapped.

Elena's eyes narrowed, and Rude suddenly had a very bad feeling.

"I just asked what potent is like. And I can hardly be blamed for asking you, since you kind of have the reputation you do. Word is you've had more substances running through your veins than have Hojo's experiments. There's got to be a reason, after all, why you're on this case and not Tseng. For all I know, you could have been put on this because you've got every pusher and drug lord in the city on speed dial," Elena said, hands on her hips.

Rude noticed with something almost akin to horror that he could see the moment when Reno actually snapped...and snapped in a way that Rude had never seen before, and he realized he had made a major tactical error in allowing this to have happened.

Whatever happened next, this was not going to be pretty.

Before Rude could open his mouth to intervene, Reno narrowed his eyes. "Well, I did know a potent junkie. Knew one real well," he said, his voice disturbingly calm and cold, words like a Blizzard, ice cold and with deadly aim. "And the main thing is 'knew.'"

What was coming next was bad, of that Rude had no doubt--Reno's eyes had gone cold and flat, and there was nothing good in the smile like a switchblade across his face. He knew what came next was going to be bad, and yet there was no way to stop it.

"Nothin'," Reno said, words were deliberate and suddenly disturbingly sweet and conversational and, like all Reno's weapons, aimed for a weak spot, "makes it glamorous an' makes ya wanna run right out and get a hit as comin' home and finding your ma face down dead in her own vomit when you're fifteen."

Almost instantly, Elena's jaw dropped and she looked horrified.

"We done now?" Reno said coolly, his voice dangerous.

"I--I mean...I didn't...I'm sorry," Elena stammered, eyes huge.

"Whatever," Reno said, and turned on his heel, walking out of the room. "I have work to do."

"Reno--!" Elena began, starting to head for the door, when Rude's hand dropped on her shoulder.

"Just drop it, Elena," Rude said softly, shaking his head. There was no reproach in his voice, and Elena wilted slightly.

"I always say too much," she said sadly. "I didn't mean any...I didn't know," she said, looking more and more distressed.

"I know."

"Tell him I'm sorry?" she said, sounding more like a plea than a request.

"I will," Rude said, letting his hand drop from Elena's shoulder.

"I'm so stupid," she muttered under her breath. "Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid!" She closed her eyes and sighed. "I just didn't...I should have just...I kept on talking even after last time, and I should have just...I mean, I didn't..." she said, biting her lip and looking upset.

"Elena," Rude said softly, stopping her words. "You didn't know. I didn't even know," Rude said, frowning slightly, as he was struck again by how close-mouthed Reno was about his past. It wasn't like any of them went around sharing their life stories or anything, but...well, with as talkative and open--sometimes far too open--as Reno was, never once had he willingly said a single word about anything before he joined the Turks, and on some level it shocked Rude that he hadn't even noticed something like that. Reno had talked so much about everything else that his family never came up--and certainly, Rude wasn't going to breach such a topic, not with his home life having been what it was. It was something Rude himself had never wanted to talk about, and on some level, he assumed that since he never wanted to talk about it and never brought such a thing up, then Reno must have been the same way.

But still, there was something...something odd about the way Reno got, whenever the past came up--he got the same way, in some way, defensive and angry, and...withdrawn. It was as if all his natural exuberance just reversed itself, and everything was pulled in with as much force as it was normally exuded out.

Rude blinked, pulling his thoughts back to the situation at hand. "I should find him before he does something gratuitous. If you'll excuse me." He gave her a faint smile and left, going after Reno.

"One of these days," Rude heard Elena say to herself as he left, "My big mouth is going to get me into trouble."

--

"You all right?" Rude said after a very long silence. He had left Elena and gone to his and Reno's office, suspecting that there were two places where Reno was likely to go, their office or the workout rooms, and had he chosen a workout room, he probably would have grabbed Rude so he would have an actual person he could fight, and more importantly, one who could keep up.

"Peachy," Reno said flatly, not looking up from his paperwork. "I'm readin' through the shit Tseng's got us on now. Mostly looks like it's a black trade network runnin' from Wutai and Midgar, with Mideel in the middle for the potala plant, like they said. We got some intelligence what's come in that hasn't been translated yet outta Wutai, and ain't I lucky, looks like I get to do it.

"I tell ya, I dunno what Tseng is thinking, ya know? My Wutai readin' ain't this good yet, yo," he said, making a face. "He oughta be doin' this bit."


"But orders are orders," Rude said, his face showing nothing but thinking that something like this might be good for Reno, a chance to show how much he had accomplished in an incredibly short time and was capable of, as well as help Reno improve. Sitting around taking tests was one thing, but practical application was something else.

"...Yeah. Orders," Reno said, and made stabbing motions at the paperwork. "It said on one of those stupid little sheets that I needed to get all this shit translated in a fuckin' week, can ya believe that shit, so yeah. I get the feeling I'm not gonna be seein' the outside of this fuckin' office for the week it's gonna take," Reno said irritably. "And they had to give us this on a Friday. My weekend is officially cancelled, ain't it."

There was still something jittery and jumpy about Reno, but Rude decided that this was not the time--the time would be later, and preferably with a place that had either matting to soften his falls or lots of alcohol. So for now he'd let Reno distract himself with his work, but later would be something else.

"That bad?" Rude said mildly.

"By the time I figure out how to read this shit, there'll be enough materia floatin' around Wutai that you'd think a mako reactor exploded all over the place," Reno said sourly. "This suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks!" he whined, dropping the paper and slouching in his chair.

Rude just stared at him, saying nothing, and after awhile Reno's shoulders slumped more and he let out an annoyed sound. "I take that back; you suck," he said, and made a face as his picked up the page and squinted at it again.

"Wish I could help," Rude said. "But since I can't do much with the Wutai, I can go over everything we have in Standard with Elena in the conference room while you work, and make you some coffee before I go."

"That'd be great, man," Reno said, some of the tension going out of his shoulders, probably, Rude guessed, from Rude both getting Elena out of his hair for a while and for not trying to pursue any of what had come out earlier, and Rude decided that as soon as everything was translated, or at least far enough along that there wouldn't be a problem, he was taking Reno out for a lot of alcohol. "You know you're the best partner ever, right?"

Rude smiled faintly and got Reno a coffee. Later he'd gently poke the man until he talked. For now, all he could offer was a cup of coffee and a little bit of peace.

--

As Reno had glumly predicted, he did indeed spend most of the next several days in the office. Every day Rude left sooner than Reno, something that had never happened before, and three days over the next week, Rude had come in to find Reno asleep either at his desk in the same suit as the night before, or curled up on the sofa with his jacket thrown over him as a makeshift blanket, an empty box of take-out in the trash and empty cans of soda and coffee littering the floor. Rude suspected, however, based on how Reno was there when Rude came in in the mornings and still there when he left, that Reno had probably stayed there most of the week, taking advantage of having an extra suit in his locker, a cleaner's nearby, and there being showers in the building.

While Reno holed himself up in their office looking ready to eviscerate any who might dare come near and disturb him, Rude took the time to work more closely with Elena, choosing one of the conference rooms rather than his and Reno's office, figuring that it would be best for Reno to be left in peace as he translated and to ensure Elena didn't say anything to set the man off while he was already frazzled and stressed out. Elena quickly noticed Reno wasn't coming to any of their meetings, deflating each time when only Rude showed up, and Rude finally told her that it would just be them for this week.

"Is he that mad at me?" Elena said meekly, staring at her hands.

"That has nothing to do with it," Rude said, pushing his sunglasses up. "It's more that he has a week to translate quite a bit of Wutai, and his knowledge of written Wutai is along the lines of an elementary school student's. He's barely left the office to go home to sleep."

Elena's eyes were large. "I...I never would have imagined Reno of all people would be pulling overtime deskwork."

Rude let out a soft sigh. "And that's one of your problems," he said, not unkindly. "It's something that will hurt you as a Turk. You make assumptions based on the surface," he said, steepling his fingers. "Things are very rarely as they seem, and thinking they are will only slow you down."

Elena colored and opened her mouth, but then decided against it and didn't speak.

"Part of my job," Rude said after a long silence, "in training you is to teach you how not to do that."

"Yes sir," Elena said softly.

"But for now," Rude said, opening a file of freshly translated intelligence, "Let's simply work on what's in these files, and what might be here beyond what's surface."

"Yes sir," Elena said again, and Rude thought there might be some potential in the girl yet, something that was reaffirmed over the week as they worked together. Elena's biggest problems were her youth and her assumptions, as well as a tendency to speak too much, he noticed. But she was bright with a quick mind and a fair amount of attitude; Rude was sure that once she got a bit older and had more experience under her belt, she might turn out all right.

Provided, of course, that she didn't say something stupid and get her fool self killed. Judging by her track record with Reno, Rude figured if she made it through this assignment alive, she'd stand in pretty good odds.

"His mom was a potent junkie, eh?" Elena said to herself one day. "Maybe that's why the guy is so spastic. It'd explain a lot since potent is supposed to cause attention problems and learning disabilities in children..."

....And maybe, Rude thought, feeling pain begin to pound behind his temples, her mouth not getting her killed would take a miracle.

--

By the time the week was over Reno had somehow managed to translate all of documents and filed them, Rude took one look at him and scrapped his plans to take Reno out for a beer or ten and instead suggested mildly that perhaps Reno should go home and get some sleep, and it was very telling that Reno wearily agreed, despite the fact that it was Friday night.

It was about a week after that, however, that things began to happen, mainly thanks to them actually getting out into the field.

And Elena had, oddly enough, been right about one thing--it turned out that Reno did indeed have a connection with one of the more notorious pushers in Midgar, but from the looks of things when Reno saw the name in the intelligence data--Reno had made a face, threw his hands in the air, and let out a rather long string of obscenities--Rude was guessing it wasn't the most friendly of connections.

"Let me handle this fuckstick," Reno had said outside of a pool house that was fairly obviously a place where it was wise to keep a firm grip on one's wallet and not to let Elena out of their sight until she had more training. "I know this guy goin' way back. He was a fuckstick back then and is a fuckstick now."

'Fuckstick' seemed to be Reno's epithet of choice for the pusher, one S. Ellesporte. It had taken Reno a good while to finally settle on one, but over the last day and a half, 'fuckstick' had finally won out over 'shit stain,' 'tonberry scrotum-licker,' and 'Odin's buttplug.'

At some point, Rude figured, Elena would stop looking so scandalized by Reno's gift for metaphor.

"Right, partner," Rude said, and Elena nodded, looking as if she was a bit nervous but trying not to show it.

And with that Reno walked right in, and had a few words with the person in front, words mainly, however said with Reno reaching back and letting his baton be clearly visible, and their suited appearance sink in. From there, the man let out a terrified little "eek!" and pointed to the back, telling them to go on in. Reno said thank you with a gracious smile that made the man back up shaking, and off into the pool hall they went. When they got to the back, Reno scanned the area, smiled a snarling little smile, and beelined for a man of about the same age as him at one of the pool tables in the back.

He reached the man, and in a movement full of false casualness, draped his arm around Ellesporte's shoulders. "Heya there, Sanith," Reno said. "Long time no see," he added, and smiled.

--

"So. I hear you're running potent now. Way to reach for them stars, eh?" Reno said, smirking. "And I'd've figured you to be in jail."

"And I'd've figured you to take after your mama and be a strung-out rentboy," Ellesporte said, sneering.

"Aww, still hopin' for a chance at my ass?" Reno said, fluttering his eyelids and mock-pouting. "I'm so flattered."

Ellesporte raised a fist and looked ready to swing when Reno, quick as a switchblade, pulled out his baton and had it at Ellesporte's neck, his finger lightly playing over the power. "Go ahead, gimme an excuse," Reno said, his voice toying and seductive, like he was inviting the man to his bed.

"What the fuck do you want, you little freak?" Ellesporte said, almost sounding brave, but betrayed by the widening of his eyes and they way they flickered around, looking for an escape.

"A little info," Reno said, still using that sinuous, feline voice as he put his baton away.

"And why would I want to help you out?"

Rude stepped forward slightly. "Don't consider it helping out Reno, then," he said, voice low so it wouldn't carry. "Consider it helping us," he said, looking at the man over his glasses and quite certain that the inherent threat of who and what they were carried through.

Apparently, it didn't. "Hunh," Sanith said, eyeing Rude, a smirk on his face. "Your taste always did run to the exotic, eh, Reno? First that little wonk ya usedta run with, now..."

"Now ya shut your face before I shut it for ya," Reno said conversationally.

"So whatever happened to that wonk, eh? The two of you were practically attached to each other's dicks when we were kids."

Reno turned slightly to Elena. "Now this point here, kid," Reno said, "Is where we start beatin' people with sticks until information we can use comes out. Let's go for a little walk, Sanith."

And then Reno smiled a predatory little smile, and Rude didn't blame Sanith at all for going pale.

--

It didn't take long, really, before they had a name. The Li Clan.

--

"Now we hit the Wutai area," Reno said when they got back to the car, absentmindedly wiping a bit of blood off his face. "I ain't got many contacts down there no more, but it shouldn't be too hard to shake people down. An' where the fuck did I put the keys?" he said suddenly, patting himself down.

Rude frowned slightly at Reno saying he had no contacts in the Wutai areas, but decided, based on everything he had picked up up until now, that asking why would not be a very good idea.

Elena opened her mouth, and before she could say something, Rude moved over and covered her mouth with his hand, then shook his head "no." Elena frowned but nodded and he let go, grateful that Reno had been too involved in searching for the keys, letting out a stream of curses as he did so.

"Fuck me, did I drop 'em?! They must've fallen out of my pocket when I was punching Sanith's face in. Hold up, I'm gonna backtrack," Reno said, looking pissed. Rude nodded.

"We can always hotwire the car if you can't find them," Rude said.

"Yeah, but Tseng'll pitch a fit. Gimme five," he said, and headed back the way they had come.

As soon as he was gone, Elena whirled on him. "Why did you do that?!"

He regarded her slowly then spoke. "I assumed you were going to ask Reno why he has no contacts in the Wutai sections."

"...yeah," she said, sounding surprised.

"That was why I stopped you."

"But...why?" she said, looking confused.

Rude let out a small sigh. "I don't know what happened with Reno and his Wutai friend. But I do know it's better not to ask him. There's no reason to upset him, not about this. Whatever it is," he said carefully.

Elena wilted slightly, as if she was remembering her own gaffes. "I...yeah. Yes. OK," she said, nodding. "I'll leave it alone."

Rude nodded slightly. "Thank y--"

"I got the fuckers!" Reno's voice yelled out. Rude looked up to see Reno coming over, holding the keys aloft like a prize and looking pleased with himself. "So let's blow this pop stand. More heads to bust elsewhere, yo," he said, and jumped into the driver's seat.

"Lead the way," Rude said, settling into the seat next to him, as Elena climbed quietly into the back.

"And hey, we get there quick enough, we might be able to still get in lunch at some of the places where you don't order in Wutai, you don't eat," Reno said with a grin that didn't quite reach his eyes, and gunned it.

--

True to his word, Reno dragged them to an empty restaurant, practically a literal hole in a wall, that look liked like a non-Wutai had never seen the inside of it. Someone who looked like she was running the place barked, "No Visgradian menu!" at them irritably, not seeming to care one bit that they were obviously Turks.

That was when Reno raised an eyebrow and let out a string of Wutai, and the next thing you knew, she was suddenly all smiles and they had a menu with Wutai all over it. Elena looked at the menu as if she wasn't quite sure which side was up, and Rude glanced at it before deciding to leave everything to Reno. Which was good, because one thing he'd say for Reno, the man had the best taste for Wutai food. Rude had no idea what it was that Reno ordered, but he did know he hoped he'd have it again at some point in the future. He and Elena ate quietly, not quite sure what else to do with themselves, as Reno joked around with the now non-irritable woman running the place. Whatever he was saying, he was certainly winning points with the woman, seeming to be completely charming her. By the end of the meal, they were laughing like old friends, something which seemed to complete amaze Elena, judging by her wide-eyed stare and jaw hanging open. And, he noticed, seemed on some level to piss her off, because she had been getting more and more tense the longer and longer Reno spent chatting with the older woman, from time to time pointedly looking at her watch.

Something the older woman seemed to notice, because she said something and gestured over at Elena, and Reno said something back, and suddenly the older woman was throwing her head back and laughing, and whatever Reno had said stuck, because the woman would occasionally look over at Elena and start snickering. Which improved Elena's rapidly escalating bad mood not at all.

Finally, they got up to leave, and Reno shooed them out, saying he wanted to say good-bye to "Auntie Hong" and get a map so he could find his way back. Elena made a disgusted noise and all but stomped out...which resulted in "Auntie Hong" cracking up laughing and Reno snickering. Rude held a sigh in but just barely, knowing he was going to have to deal with Elena once he went outside, and headed out.

"What the HELL is his problem?!" Elena exploded. "He has to be the most idiotic, unfocused, unprofessional asshole I've ever met!"

"Yes, he is," Rude said, agreeing amicably. "Most of those, at least. He is very much unfocused and unprofessional and an undeniable asshole. But one thing he is not," he said, focusing on Elena coolly, "is an idiot. Despite appearances."

He fell silent, ignoring Elena as she fumed. And when Reno finally came out twenty minutes later, she exploded again.

"Was that necessary, Reno? We have a job to do! Your fucking stomach and your getting your kicks laughing at me and you taking your sweet time getting some stupid map back here, none of that could have waited for you being on your own time?" she said, winding up for what looked like a hailstorm of abuse.

"Yeah, it coulda," Reno said, oddly gleeful. "But if I had, we wouldn't've gotten any information about the Li clan," he said, and grinned. "It pays to be nice to people who make food, yo," he said. "They tend to know a whole lot more than you think."

Elena's mouth dropped open and stayed that way for a good several minutes, and Reno just looked smug.

--

On the drive out, Reno starting filling him on everything he had learned from the woman he had started calling Auntie Hong.

"Turns out," he said, weaving easily through traffic, "that lately, there's been a big uprush of Wutai mafia movin' in. Looks like ol' Sanith was right; it's the Li clan. They was always kinda weak in Wutai--Fuck you, grandma, this is the fast lane! MOVE IT!--but it looks like they're trying to build some power up or somethin', and getting a foothold here in Midgar, 'since Wutai ain't where nothin' is anymore, thanks to ShinRa--And hey, fucker, cut me off again and I shove your tailpipe up YOUR tailpipe!--so here's the place to be."

"Are you sure you can trust her?"

Reno grinned. "Looks like she's old school, yo. Been here forever and remembers what it was like living here during the war an' doesn't like the shit hittin' the fan again--figures it's best for everybody to keep their head down and don't cause no trouble, since she knows what ShinRa troops did to Wutai, and doesn't want them comin' back, and fuckers coming in and causin' trouble is nothin' but trouble. So yeah, I'm pretty sure it's good, and even if it ain't--Suck my dick, asshole!--it still will get us to the Li clan eventually."

Rude nodded, but Elena in the back frowned. "How does she know anything?" she said.

Reno chuckled. "Good question, kid. It's cause she runs a little restaurant in the middle of nowhere what looks like nobody ever goes to. People who don't wanna be seen go to places like that, and they do like everyone does. Forget the people workin' there have ears and can hear--No, motherfucker, you did NOT just cut me off!--just fine."

Elena looked like she was impressed despite herself, and nodded.

"I gotta do some canvassing down there, though," Reno said, thoughtfully. "Look for some people, start making contacts, do some follow up with a couple names Tseng gave me, but that ain't gonna take too long."

"What about the woman, Hong, was it?" Rude asked, and continued when Reno nodded. "If people find out she talked to us..."

"I told her not to tell nobody nothin' about us being here--and if someone asked, we were a bunch of Turks and didn't none of us speak no Wutai, and she fed us because we're Turks and she knew it. It'll fly," he said, narrowing his eyes. "An' nobody's gonna think any of the lot of us can speak Wutai," he said, grinning slightly. "Plus? Whose gonna think some snappish lady at a restaurant knows anything about how the mob is rollin'?" he finished with a grin, pulling into the ShinRa Tower parking lot smoothly. "I did good, yeah?" Reno said, preening as they got out of the car.

"You did good," Rude said, and, as much as it looked like it killed her to admit, Elena added a grudging, "Yeah, yeah you did," and Reno looked so smug it looked like it was taking all of Elena's willpower not to hit him.

--

The next few weeks were slow at first, but things began bit by bit to pick up--there were more late nights, he and Reno slipping out into the Wutai areas, with Reno slinking around meeting nervous-looking Wutai and Rude doing as Reno asked, namely to "just stand there and look like a badass, aiight? And anybody comes around, break their face."

Gradually, things started to seem to come together, with Reno finding people to pass information to him, and the information from his contacts and the names Tseng passed on to him was getting actually starting to be worth things.

The big break, however, came when they were leaving ShinRa Tower, and some slip of a Wutai boy, not more than thirteen or fourteen, slipped out of the shadows and passed Reno a note before vanishing.

"I see why it took us ten years to beat Wutai," Rude said, more than a little impressed at the kid having gotten to them so easily.

Reno laughed. "I always knew why, man. They're all a bunch of crazy fuckers, yo."

"So what'd he give you?"

"Yeah, 'cause I have SOLDIER eyes what can see through folded up origami," Reno said, sticking out his tongue. But he began unfolding the note, cursing the Yamatan Wutai for coming up with paper-folding.

When he finally got it open, he glanced over it, frowned, and did a double take. Then, let out a soft, "Odin's balls, man," and looked up at Rude. "Something big is goin' down, man. It looks like one of the big Li guys is rollin' in and soon."

Rude immediately put his car keys back in his pocket. "Back to the office?"

"Back to the office," Reno said, and turned on his heel. "Call Elena, yo, and tell her to get her perky ass back here."

As soon as they got back into the office, Reno said down with the note and Rude picked up the phone and called Elena's PHS, leaving a message for her to come back as soon as she got it.

"So what's going down?"

Reno peered at the paper. "OK. It says...there's gonna be a big meeting at five tomorrow at wuzi I can't read, more shit I can't read, somewhere. Yeah, that was useful. Where the fuck is Tseng? Make him read this shit," Reno said in irritation.

"Where Tseng is is very easy to answer. He's not here," Rude said, shrugging slightly. "He's out on another mission that seems to be extremely important, judging by all the SOLDIERS running around and by the fact that Tseng personally is involved. Since Tseng is gone, I'm afraid that only leaves you."

"Swell," Reno said dryly, then sighed and sat up straight, a tell-tale sign that he had buckled down. As he settled into his task, Reno started reading the paper aloud, mumbling incoherently in Wutai as he tried to figure out the characters he didn't completely know, finally giving up and pulling out a Wutai character learner's dictionary, continuing to mumble to himself in irritated sounding Wutai as he looked up the word.

Rude thought to himself that it would never cease to be a little bit strange, to hear Wutai coming out of Reno's mouth. It wasn't that it was odd that Reno could speak another language--Rude fully believed that Reno was far smarter than he gave himself credit for, he had just never had any reason to make anything beyond a rudimentary attempt at utilizing it--but that it was just odd, to hear Wutai that was so native from someone who so obviously wasn't. Wutai was a harsh language on the surface, rising and falling abruptly, each word clipped and short, but for some reason...it fit Reno. Perhaps that was the oddness to it, that something so foreign should match so well.

...And Rude still had no idea how it was that Reno could make heads or tails of the dictionary at all. How to use it completely flummoxed Rude, but Reno was pretty good with it, occasionally frowning and drawing a Wutai character in the air with his finger and counting in Wutai as he did so.

Reno's cell phone rang suddenly and he reached for it. He glanced at the number it was displaying and his demeanor seemed to change. When he answered the phone, he did so in Wutai, saying something that sounded like "Way?" to Rude's ears. He nodded to it a few times, then impatiently gestured at Rude like he was writing, asking for pen and paper.

Rude had begun to pick up a bit of the occasional Wutai, enough to know Reno was agreeing with whatever the other person was saying. Then Reno started talking so fast Rude couldn't follow it at all. And when he began writing, he got that same, perfect posture, pen in a strange position thing happening, and wrote quickly in hurried mix of Wutai characters and bopomofo letters.

"Jackpot," Reno said, smiling a predatory little smile when he hung up the phone. "There's definitely gonna be a meeting tomorrow, and I just got it confirmed who's gonna be there and where. We go right after, we should be able to pick up one of the 'attendees' and have a little chat with 'em."

Reno pulled out a clean sheet of paper and his back went ramrod straight as he started writing something in Wutai, and curiosity finally got the best of Rude.

"Something I've noticed," Rude said, not sure how to broach the subject, but decided to just go the direct route, "is that your posture changes when you write Wutai. Your back goes as straight as a trooper on guard duty. Any reason?"

Reno's left eyebrow quirked up. "Eh, that?" Reno grinned lopsidedly. "Can't help it. The person who taught me some wuzi used to be a real freak about posture. And she hit hard."

"Someone tried to teach you before?"

Reno scratched the back of his neck and grinned an embarrassed smile. "Well, I dunno if 'tried to teach' is the right way to put it, especially since trying to teach me nothin' don't work too well. More like, once I got too big to get the back of my head smacked when I fucked up, my punishment was copying restaurant menus in Wutai, with a brush, and if I messed up a single one, I had to start all over again. There's a reason why I didn't never have no problems with any of the wuzi what had to do with food."

Rude recognized a chance when he saw it, and took it. "Did you ever learn anything else? Characters, I mean."

Reno got a faint smile on his face. "Yeah. Auntie Qian taught me how to write my name. She always threatened to sit me down and teach me how to read and write proper, but, well, never quite got to happen," he finished, trailing off slightly. He abruptly shook his head, shaking off whatever nostalgic mood had hit him and making a face. "Shit, man, how the fuck do you do that?! I mean, what the fuck, when did I grow boobs and turn into Elena?! Look at me man, do I got boobs? Am I blond? No. So why the fuck am I babbling like her? ARGH!" Reno said, finally throwing his hands in the air and making a frustrated noise before going back to writing his note.

Rude also realized when he had gotten all the information he was going to, and so he nodded and let Reno bury himself back into making arrangements, all the while processing a little bit more of what he had learned.

---

When Elena got in, they worked out a rough game plan--grab the head honcho coming in after the meeting and get every bit of information out of him they could using whatever means necessary--because even if the Lis reacted badly--the mafia clans tended to like retaliation, after all, it worked well for ShinRa because it would give them an excuse to end things the quickest way possible: killing them all. The next day, they were up and ready to go well before the meeting was to be held, and headed to a nearby building to wait.

Reno was all but thrumming with energy, watching the building through binoculars and listening to what was going on through a headphone--they had had the entire building secretly wired the night before and would go through all the intelligence there at a later date.

Meaning the whole thing with taking Shi wasn't out of necessity. Rude knew it for what it was--it was a challenge to the Li clan, making it clear ShinRa knew what was going on and there were involved, and putting the ball in their court.

It would all end the same, though.

"They're wrapping up," Reno said suddenly, slipping the binoculars back into his pocket and taking off his headphone. "And I just got Shi's route out--he's switchin' guards with the homegrown here as a decoy and goin' out last."

"So how do you want to handle the guards?" Rude asked calmly. This whole case was Reno's show, and he wanted to make sure Elena knew it--she tended to look to him for verification and guidance, even though Reno was clearly the one who knew the most what was going on. She still had a lot to learn, about far more than what their job entailed on paper, and he suspected that was why she had been assigned to them on this case, where even Rude half of the time felt like he had no idea what was going on.

"Get in our way, we cap 'em," Reno said, shrugging. "And they probably will. A pre-emptive capping might work best," he said eyes narrowing as he thought. "No witnesses, neither."

Rude nodded.

"You take out the guards, I'll get Shi. I'll distract 'em."

"How?"

Reno smiled, then opened his mouth. And what came out was a short string of Wutai, something with far too many sh's and r's and a random "how" for good measure, and Rude just smiled faintly with a look of "OK, then," and nodded his head, figuring Reno at least knew what he was talking about.

Hopefully.

Watching Reno on the hunt was something almost hard to believe. He slipped off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves to look less Turk-like, tugging at his pants so they slung lower around his hips, and unbuttoning the lower buttons on his shirt so it was held on just barely by two buttons around the center, showing a slight, pale sliver of belly which amazed Rude slightly with its sheer paleness--even though it stood to reason the man would be that pale all over, it never quite seemed to really stick that Reno would actually be that white all over. Reno ran his fingers through his hair, doing something to his hair that made it hang wild and shaggy around his face, similar and yet somehow completely different from normal. Reno put his goggles and baton on top of his jacket, then shoved them at Elena. "Lose those and I deck you good, yo," he said, letting go once he saw Elena had a hold of them, and running his fingers through his hair again. "That damn jacket cost way fuckin' more than something not made from Odin's fuzzy magical butt hair should have."

He grinned, looking more like a punk out for a night on the town than a Turk, save for the gleam in his light eyes. "Well, off to make a distraction. Rude, shoot the guards from the roof, ai'ight? Elena, call ShinRa Tower and have them come get all this shit here like NOW, and go get the car an' bring it around to the other side of that alleyway. Be there ten minutes after I make contact with them or else I get you fired if I live through it, got it?"

Elena nodded, eyes wide.

"Good girl," Reno said, and laughed. Elena headed out, pulling out her PHS as she did, and Reno down looked at himself ruefully. "Been a while since I pulled this one, yo."

"This what?" Rude said, taking a moment to pause in his reach for his sniper gear.

"This con," Reno said, touching his tongue against the corner of his lip. "Me and Jie had it down good, y'know? Money was tight for both of us, with my mom being a junkie and his mom working her fingers to the bone. And lots of fuckers out there like kids in ways they shouldn't, yo. So we figured out how to get what we wanted without giving the perverts what they wanted. While some pedo chatted up to one of us, the other lifted their wallet.

"Then, kick the guy in the balls and run, yo." Reno laughed. "Never failed, neither. Figured the pervs deserved it. Man, we were such stupid little shits.

"And now, time for me to make my entrance," he said, and grinned, eyes almost glittering in excitement. "Make sure you get all the bodyguards and quick, before they make me a messy smear on the pavement, yeah? I ain't got no gun or nothin' right now, and I'm gonna be in too close of quarters to cast nothin'."

Rude nodded.

"Good. And make sure after you cap 'em all, you get down here fast as you can so you can help me get Shi into the car."

"Gotcha, partner," Rude said, nodding and giving Reno a stiff thumbs up. Reno laughed and slapped Rude on the shoulder, then headed to the fire escape and climbed down quickly, half swinging with a smooth, cat-like grace in places as he went down. Rude took a moment to admire Reno's sheer agility--Rude didn't think he'd ever been that agile, even when he had been Reno's size years and years ago--before grabbing his sniper rifle and heading to the roof. Once on the roof, he unpacked his sniper rifle quickly and settled into position, watching Reno on the hunt through his sniper focus.

Reno got to the alleyway he had indicated to Elena ahead of Shi and his entourage, leaning against a building with one foot resting against it, looking for all the world like a rentboy trolling for a customer, all of the even vague semblance he had to a Turk completely gone. As Shi and the others approached, he came out slightly, hips swinging, and Rude could uncomfortably imagine what look Reno must have had on his face.

As well as uncomfortably imagine how Reno must have learned to play the part that convincingly--trolling for pedophiles to rob.

"Stupid little shits" indeed.

It looked, at first, like Shi was going to walk past, but suddenly he stopped and whirled, staring at Reno after Reno called something out to him, and Shi let something out quickly. Reno laughed, throwing his head back, then nodded, and Rude had an idea what had happened--Reno had probably switched to Wutai, and that was always enough to give anyone pause. He sidled slightly closer to Shi, pink tongue flashing out to lick his lips, and ran one hand up Shi's arm. Then all of a sudden he seemed to falter slightly--Rude couldn't tell what it was, but even from here, he could tell something had happened, and Reno and Shi both went stock-still looking at each other. He didn't know what had happened or bother to take the time to let it play out--it was something unexpected, and "unexpected" in situations like this was bad, so when one of the bodyguards started to make a move towards Reno a second later, Rude aimed and fired.

It was a good shot.

Things happened very quickly after that. In the sudden confusion, Reno whirled and delivered a quick, tidy blow to the back of Shi's head, and kicked the bodyguard closest to him in the stomach. Rude quickly shot the other bodyguards, taking them out before they could register what was happening. As soon as they were down and staying down, Rude dismantled the gun and grabbed it and the other supplies they had bought, and started down the escape as quickly as he could. He was about halfway down when Elena got there, and he shoveled the unconscious Shi into the back. He could hear Reno hiss something at Elena and the back of the trunk popped open. When he got down, Reno was quickly trying to heft the dead bodyguards in as Elena tied up Shi in the car.

"I got that, partner," Rude said, patting Reno on the shoulder. Reno looked...well, he looked something was a little off, like he was coming off of a Confuse.

"Yeah, you better. You're twice my size. I'm delicate," Reno said, shaking whatever it had been off quickly and making a mock-haughty face, but still looking pale despite the fighting they had just finished. "Besides, you made the mess."

Rude just rolled his eyes and quickly fit two of the bodies in, deciding he would try to find out later, preferably when Elena wasn't around because if Elena was around Reno probably wouldn't tell Rude anything of substance, what had happened. "That third one's not gonna work."

"Oh, fuck me," Reno groaned, putting his hands on his hips and scowling. "Lessee. Shi ain't gonna be unconscious long. Car only seats four. It's you, me, Elena, and Shi. Eh, well, OK, Elena's small but Shi ain't. Elena, me, and the stiff can fit in the back," Reno said, and grinned, looking thankfully back to normal. "It'll be good for her. Trainin', yeah?"

--

Even from the front seat, Rude could tell that Reno was more keyed-up than was to be expected. Elena didn't seem to notice--but then, she was a delicate shade of green thanks to the corpse sandwiched in the seat between her and Reno, and she seemed more concerned with keeping the bloody areas of the corpse off of her clothing than with Reno.

Shi, thankfully, was still blessedly unconscious. And with the way Reno was keeping a sharp eye on Shi and gripping his baton as if he was itching to use it, it was probably a good thing for Shi as well that he had not yet rejoined the land of the living.

Rude drove carefully, keeping the speed limit, even though he wanted to get to ShinRa headquarters as quickly as possible--there was a tension in the air far beyond what he was expecting, coming from Reno humming like a live wire.

One thing Rude knew very, very well were explosives, and if Reno was a bomb, Rude would be running for cover right now or praying he had time to defuse it.

Defusing Reno was doable, he knew, but just as dangerous as trying to defuse a bomb, if not more so--there was no guide for defusing Reno, but there were a lot of traps in the trying. Tonight, he was guessing, was a night that was going to call for violence of some sort, focused if they were lucky; unfocused if they were not.

He found himself almost hoping that Shi would be difficult.

--

From the get-go, it was not a normal interrogation. Reno's normal interrogation technique tended to be similar to what he had used on Ellesporte--sarcastic and baiting--or of a more insinuating kind, full of charms and smiles and an underlying "And after this, the beating starts" that tended to work wonders.

This, however, was something different; something Rude had never seen before.

And he didn't understand a word of it.

Once they got back to the ShinRa Tower and to an interrogation room, Reno had tied Shi down, hit him with a Restore, and, as soon as the man was conscious, Reno started in Wutai, and Rude and Elena just sat back and watched.

Something had definitely happened when Reno and Shi had first run into each other; it was obvious from the look on Shi's face when he came to completely. His lip had curled up and he had snarled something in Wutai that resulted in Reno bringing force into the proceedings a lot sooner than was necessary, striking the man hard in the face and snapping at him in harsh, guttural Wutai.

At one point, Reno seemed to be actually getting information from the man...but by that point, the man had seen the business end of Reno's electrified baton.

But it wasn't long before things got odd, with Reno breathing hard and all but snarling; the very image of tension and barely-contained rage which occasionally bubbled over into Shi being hit or shocked.

And then things went more into the unexpected--the man said something else, something in a disturbingly mocking tone, and Reno got a strange look on his face, one Rude had never seen before--something between shocked and feral, with a healthy touch of "about to pass out" thrown in.

Shi got a look on his face that was, in Rude's opinion, far too smug for someone in his position. "We're back now," he sneered, switching to Standard. "You think you Turks could keep the Wu clan out?"

Rude blinked slightly. The Wu clan? Up until now, everything in their intelligence had indicated a different group, the Li clan.

He snapped his attention back to Shi, who was still talking. "We're back, and we're going to finish everything we started here." Then the man switched to Wutai and said something with a mocking smile that Rude couldn't even begin to fathom--and what it might have been really wasn't that important just then.

"Hey, partner, you all right?" Rude let out suddenly--Reno's face had gone an almost bloodless pale, whiter than Rude had ever seen or even thought possible, and he looked like he was about to pass out. Then something harsh and ugly crossed Reno's frighteningly pale face, the expression sharp and quick as a whip crack.

"No," Reno said flatly, and shot Shi in the head.

--

Chapter 8: Get A Job | TTYKNAP master list

Comments

Ack! Oh, it's got something to do with Jie, doesn't it? *wibbles* That was an evil, evil cliff-hanger! Congratulations.

Also, I completely sympathize about graphological systems made by people on drugs. Even just working on little bits of romaji for Japanese makes me tear my hair. Nihon may be more precise than Hepburn, but it's a lot less intuitive!

*grins* And Reno drives just like I do. *laughing*
tee hee, it was evil, but the most evil part is that what exactly happened with all that and what happens next aren't coming until chapter 9, since chapter 8 is a backstory chapter. And even then, what's up with Shi won't come out until chapter 10. So, yeah. >XD

tee hee, tee hee!

And oh GOD, Nihonshiki. I hate, hate, HATE Nihonshiki. I'm sorry, but in no universe is "Huzi" map onto "Fuji." NONE. And the "sy-" just looks like ass. *stabs Nihonshiki*

*ahem* Sorry about that. But I worked for a couple years at a Japanese junior high school, where we had to UNteach Nihonshiki, because they used that system in elementary school, but Hepburn in junior high because Japan is STUPID at times.

And hee, pinyin vs bopomofo--they really don't line up well at all, so I fully understand Reno going, "Whoever came up with this was on the BAD drugs, yo!"
Oooh, suspense. :D I am very, very Curious.
Finally, seven chapters in, the actual plot starts to show up. XD It took its sweet time, but at last. Yay, plot!

(Anonymous)

kusuri comments

Wow. I found you through fictunes and I'm blown away by your he TYNKAP verse. You write Reno really well and your Rude is just amazing. Reno's bittersweet past and Elena's naivety really make this fic believable and relatable(?). I sympathize with Reno and him having to learn how to read characters. I can hardly read a 2nd grade level sentence when it is written entirely with characters :D I love how you use Mandarin in place for the Wutian language. For the other dialects, did you use other dialects of Chinese? What are they called? I only learned Mandarin in school. Also, can xiang be used in the context of "he looks like a horse." ? I'm just curious because I took a one semester course on Mandarin and we only ever used xiang to describe something we enjoyed such as food.I've read the rest of your ff7 fics and drabbles and I love them.Keep up the good work!
- Kusuri
kusuri.deviantart.com

Re: kusuri comments

First, the language bits!

"Xiang" can indeed be used with "looks like." I think your confusion might be coming from the fact that, well, there are a lot of xiangs. The character for "xiang" in the "like" usage is 「象」or 「像」(both are OK), xiang4. Stealing an example from two of my favorite songs ever, "Qi li xiang" and "Long juan feng":

Qi li xiang:
我的愛溢出就像雨水
wo de ai yi chu jiu xiang yu shui
My love overflows just like the rain

Long juan feng:
愛像一陣風吹完它就走
ai xiang yi zhen feng chui wan ta jiu zou
Love, like a gust of wind, blows through, then is gone

愛情來的太快就像龍捲風
ai qing lai de tai kuai jiu xiang long juan feng
Love comes in too fast just like a tornado

愛情走的太快就像龍捲風
ai qing zou de tai kuai jiu xiang long juan feng
Love goes out too fast just like a tornado

...yeah, so, most of my knowledge of Chinese grammar has come from songs, since I haven't studied Chinese in a good while. >XD

As for the other "dialects," I used Mandarin for the main bits of Wutai, then used Cantonese for one dialect since I found a webpage that had some Cantonese phrases and one matched, and Japanese for the other since I speak Japanese. I've actually got a huge, long, language geektastic post I'm going to make when I finish writing this, explaining out all the language stuff as well as the name characters for Jie and his mom, with a touch of "why shit in Midgar has Chinese characters written in places." ...Really, I've put far too much thought into this. >XD

Now, the feedback bits!

Thank you! I'm really enjoying writing this, especially the character interactions. Trying to take the characters from the game and extrapolate back to see what made them the way they are is fun in the same way translating is, in a way--you have to piece everything together and see how the guts of it work in order to get the end result. So yeah--it's FUN. :D

And yeah, poor Reno, man. My eyes still glaze over when I try to read Chinese lyrics for the first time. Even Japanese webpages make me go, "Waaaugh!" at times because it's a bit overwhelming.

Re: kusuri comments

LOL, and realizing there are a lot of "xiang"s...the "xiang" in "Qi li xiang"「七里香」is 「香」, xiang1, which means "fragrance."

...I'll stop, um, being a dork now. Or make the pathetic attempt.