by on May 16, 2015
Missions: Report VI

Mission 51: Spirited Away

Elena leaned on Tseng and stayed as close as possible while he kept his arm around her shoulders, not that either Turk was scared. They were Turks and they didn't believe Reno's childish ghosts stories, they simply shared a mutual crush.

Finally, the time came to extinguish the camp fire after Reno was done stuffing his face with roasted marshmallows while telling his story, and occasionally being scolded by Tseng, Elena or both, for talking with his mouth full, not that he listened anyway.

They retired to their respective tents to sleep and plot in their dreams. They would plot the demise of the fool who hired them to catch a ghost that appeared in a remote area of the jungle near Mideel. There was no such thing as ghosts, but the contractor insisted so much that the matter reached Rufus and, trying to avoid trouble with the press, the young president ordered the Turks to accept the mission.

While Reno drifted off to sleep, curled into a ball in his sleeping bag, he thought he heard a sound outside. Far from being a ghostly wail, it sounded more like a soothing female voice, but it was different from Elena's voice, and it was calling him.

Reno peeked out of the tent but couldn't see anything in the vast darkness now that the fire had been put out. He grabbed a flashlight and ventured outside, following the voice and disappearing into the darkness.

xoxox xox xoxox

"Where's Reno?" Tseng asked the following morning.

"Gone," Rude replied, simple and to the point.

Tseng shook his head in annoyance. How could Reno bail out on the mission? Further more, the mission was almost over anyway since the Turks were only hired to 'investigate' until morning. Then again, this was Reno and he would leave.

The Turks' history wasn't very good in Mideel, they thought they would be banned from the town forever after a certain incident involving a hammer that ended up with torches and pitchforks, but the Turks would rather not remember that.

However, it seemed that a ghost was even worse than the Turks in the minds of the Mideel citizens. But even so, not even Reno would be stupid enough to visit the new Mideel alone at night. But again, this was Reno and everything was possible.

The Turks returned to Mideel to inform the new mayor that there was no ghost anywhere to be found. But the lack of precense of the forth member of their little group terribly alarmed the mayor and the townspeople who had gathered at the mayor's house to await the report from the Turks. "That red haired one was spirited away and you're trying to hide it!"

"He wasn't spirited away he just had to leave early," Tseng tried to explain. There was no such thing as ghosts, only the uncivilized country bumpkins of Mideel would believe it. Smart and civilized city people knew better than to believe such ridiculous myths.

The mayor's house was filled with murmurs until someone among the crowd yelled, "prove it!" and the others supported the request.

Then the door was opened to reveal an exhausted Reno with a silly grin plastered on his face. "I'm back!"

The people of Mideel had no choice but to shut up and accept the apparent fact that Reno wasn't spirited away after all. The Turks had accomplished their investigation mission, but that would not dispel the ghost stories of Mideel right away. Urban legends were hard to kill, but at least the Turks' job was done.

While flying back to Shinra Headquarters, Tseng disapprovingly asked, "where did you disappear to last night?"

"I was spirited away by a body of thoughts... nice thoughts," Reno replied.

"What does that mean?" Tseng questioned.

"The fan girl! The embodiment of all my fan girls, the being made from their love. Don't you remember her?" That incident should be hard to forget, but after time passed and no solid conclusions were drawn, most of the people who had heard the story had either forgotten about it or stopped believing it.

"You were dreaming," Elena concluded.

"And sleepwalking," Tseng added.

"I don't sleepwalk!" Reno tried to explain it, but no one would believe him. After all, Rude didn't think he could sleepwalk either and recently it was proven that he could, in fact, walk in his sleep and also fight in his sleep, 'sleep-kill' as it was later called.

At that moment Reno wondered if with the passing of time he would forget this incident, be convinced that he was sleepwalking, or simply stop believing it ever happened. It was a likely possibility since even now he couldn't remember exactly what happened while he was spirited away. At least he knew that if the spirit made from the thoughts of his fan girls still existed, he was still loved.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 52: Operation Fruit

"The target has been sighted, proceeding with plan A now..." Reno dully reported into the headset while he flew above Cloud, who was riding on Fenrir. He could have passed for a serious Turk if not for the laugh that he tried, and failed, to hide at the end. Then he rephrased his report to something a little more fitting, "I see Kiwi, proceed with Operation Fruit Salad! What's your status, Grape?"

"Reno, I thought we agreed that we would call Cloud 'target' not by that silly nickname you and Rude gave him to get on his nerves. Just who is Grape?" Elena's voice replied. She was stationed on land, on the other side of the tunnel Cloud had to go through.

"Cloud likes that name, he just won't admit it. Besides, it was totally Rude's idea, he doesn't give himself enough credit. You're Grape and I'm Strawberry, remember?" Reno laughed, and he could clearly imagine Elena rolling her eyes. "Oh hey, there he goes!"

"The barrier is already in place, over and out." Elena heard the screeching of tires and came out of hiding to face the barrier, quickly putting away her PHS. She didn't even bother hiding anymore because she simply had to witness this.

"Plushies?" Cloud got off Fenrir and pulled his goggles over his head then rubbed his eyes. "Plushies..." There was in fact, an adorable row of cute plushies placed across the road, blocking Cloud's path. Elena watched him but said nothing, so Cloud spoke first. "Are these yours?"

Elena shook her head, "I have nothing to do with this. I'm just an innocent by-stander."

This was strange, even for the Turks, and as far as Cloud could tell, Reno was the insane one. Why in the world would Elena put plushies in the middle of the road where they could be run over? She didn't look like a toy torturer; maybe she was an innocent by-stander like she said. Or maybe the plushies had bombs. "Bombs! Those plushies are actually bombs!"

Elena couldn't take it anymore and started laughing while Cloud examined one of the plushies with absolute care, as if fearing it would blow up.

After examining it, Cloud swallowed, took a deep breath and squeezed the plushie. It was soft, just a regular plushie, and he didn't hear any ticking or strange noises. There was nothing strange about that plushie at all, except for its location.

Cloud repeated the action with all the plushies, carefully examining them, listening, and finally squeezing them to make sure there was nothing suspicious inside. It was a dumb thing to do if they really had explosives, but Cloud's curiosity refused to let him go until he found out just what those plushies were.

Finally, the delivery boy went back to Fenrir and picked up a piece of cardboard. He extended the once flat cardboard and folded it to form a box, which he secured with tape. Then he picked up the plushies and placed them all in the box. "These really are yours, right?" He handed the box to Elena.

Unable to contain herself, Elena nodded, while practically laughing her head off.

Cloud sighed and shook his head, "I thought you were the sane one. Reno's insanity must be contagious. I don't know how Rude has managed to stay sane with him as a partner," and though Rude was a rival for Tifa's affections, Cloud couldn't help it but to feel sorry for the other man.

"Wait! There's something I need to tell you!" Elena placed the box down and dug around it. "Hold on, I almost found it, here it is!" She held the plushie up and looked at it and Cloud. It was a chick, a little yellow baby chocobo plushie with its feathers styled very similar to Cloud's hair. "Reno was saying that this plushie looks like you. I think he was actually right for once!"

"Um... okay... Just make sure to keep the plushies out of the road, alright?" Cloud headed back to Fenrir, but once again Elena stopped him.

"Wait! There's something else I need to tell you!" Elena looked at her watch. "It is now exactly three ten in the afternoon..." Then her cell phone rang and she answered it while Cloud tried to sneak off to Fenrir. But Elena noticed and kept standing in his way, moving from side to side at the same time as Cloud, making it look like a weird dance.

"Apple here, Operation Fruit Cocktail has been a success. You may finalize Operation Fruit Salad at any time," Tseng's voice came from Elena's PHS.

"Tseng! Not you too with the fruits..." Maybe Reno's insanity was contagious, and while Elena mused this, Cloud made his escape. But it didn't matter, because Apple, I mean Tseng, had already given the okay to end Operation Fruit Salad, which had the purpose of creating time for Operation Fruit Cocktail.

Codenames aside, the Turks were actually hired to make sure Cloud was delayed enough so that his friends could get a little party ready for him. That delay was Operation Fruit Salad and Operation Fruit Cocktail was the task of helping put up the decorations and getting the food ready at the Seventh Heaven.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 53: Don't Sit Down

"I can't stand it anymore, I just can't stand it!" Yuffie Kisaragi had lost her patience, which she surprisingly had a lot of to begin with concerning this particular matter, but definitely not as much patience as Tifa. The ninja girl from Wutai was always jumpy; she never stayed still and flailed around with little to no provocation. Many were certain that she had some sort of hyper disorder or a very strange tic that prevented her from staying still. She pressed the speed dial on her cell phone for a number she kept just in case.

Ironically, ninjas are supposed to be quiet and sneaky and Yuffie was loud, but she was sneaky enough to make up for it. She did try to wait; she honestly did, but that man was not making it easy. "Why?" The question jumped out of her mouth as soon as the call was answered and before the person on the other side could even say hello.

"Why what?" Reno didn't even bother asking who was calling and he definitely didn't say that silly greeting he was supposed to recite when he answered the company phone.

"You have reached the Turks, you name it, we Turk it," Tseng didn't particularly like the greeting either; it made no sense what so ever in his opinion. "Don't forget to say that." No matter how ridiculous and nonsensical it sounded, it was Rufus' idea and it had to be done.

"I refuse! I'll never say it!" Reno yelled at the top of his lungs, paying no mind to the receiver.

"I knew it!" Yuffie shouted back. "Why are all men like that?"

"Like what?" Reno was totally and completely lost, and Yuffie was too annoyed to properly explain anything.

"You don't understand!" The ninja girl huffed. "Anyway, I have a really important mission for the Turks. I don't care which one of you does this as long as it gets done. You can use any methods you want, except killing because that would defeat the purpose of the mission and make it all kind of useless. Listen because this is important, I'm so fed up with watching it and going no where, you have no idea!"

Reno had no idea, no idea about anything; that much was true. But he didn't stress out about it; after all, this was just another stupid mission, nothing big. It was just one of those lame missions they got every now and then for community service or something, so the redhead simply let the loud mouth mystery girl rant while the phone laid unattended on the desk.

A few minutes passed and Reno returned from the snack machine with some cookies. He picked up the phone again under Tseng's pressuring look; though the leader made no motion to get up from his desk, pick up the phone himself, or even say anything.

"Did you get all that?" Yuffie asked once again.

"Yeah, sure, summary?" Reno didn't know what the mission was about and Yuffie didn't have the patience to start her rant over; nor the ability and desire to summarize it.

Thus the ninja simply said, "don't let Cloud sit this one out. Be honored to take the mission request of the great Yuffie Kisaragi and make it work!" Then she promptly hung up.

Shrugging, Reno finished his cookies, then went off on his mission. He knew who to send the bill to, so even if the job details were a little unclear it didn't really matter.

That was how poor Cloud had one of the worse and most awkward days of his life, in which Reno kept preventing him from sitting down using different methods, such as pulling his chair away, leaving the delivery boy to fall on the floor, or even zapping Cloud with his electrorod.

Needless to say, Reno ended up running for his life and Yuffie ended up frustrated. All the ninja wanted was for Cloud to confess his feelings for Tifa and not 'sit out' another opportunity to do so.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 54: Spirit of Christmas

Zack sighed, who ever said that death was the end of one's difficulties. Oh no, he was neck deep in the troubles of mundane desires, and they were not even his own desires.

Normal girls would have run away screaming if they stumbled upon a ghost in a deserted part of the city, but those two were far from being ordinary girls. "You're a spirit, it's Christmas Eve, therefore you are a Christmas spirit and you need to give us presents!" That was their logic.

Try as he might to explain that he was just a regular spirit, the girls wouldn't listen to Zack and kept demanding presents.

"Don't forget that it's better to give than to receive," not even the presence of a second ghost bothered the girls, when Aerith arrived with her advice.

The two girls grinned, "you heard her!" "Yeah, give us presents!"

Zack sighed and Aerith laughed. "Why don't we show them some kindness, it might work wonders," the cetra suggested.

"Alright, I'll give you each one present," Zack agreed.

"Do you promise?" The light haired girl asked.

"Promise!" Zack gave the girls one of his usual carefree grins.

Then the sisters smiled evilly. "We'll hold you to that promise," the dark haired one spoke.

Zack knew he was doomed, and if not him, somebody was. Thus it began; Zack went to get presents for the two crazy girls he had randomly encountered. Didn't they know they should be sleeping at home at that hour and letting ghosts do their haunting in peace? Plus what they asked for was...

Zack started working on his mission, he snuck into the Turks' office, which was very easy for a ghost, and made his way to Reno's desk, the redhead was his first target. Next came the tricky part, using his standard edition ghost powers, Zack possessed Reno and prepared to leave.

"Where do you think you're going?" Elena pulled Reno's hair, dragging him back into the office. She wanted Reno to leave so she could be alone with Tseng when he came back, but the leader had entrusted her with the task of babysitting the redhead and she didn't want to fail her duty. The only way Reno could be allowed to leave was if he received a mission request and went out to work.

"Ow, ow, ow! Sorry, there's just this place I need to go to, so you'll have to excuse me. Please don't tell anyone I left, okay? Thanks!" It was Zack who spoke but he was in Reno's body, using Reno's voice, while Reno remained temporarily unconscious.

Elena gasped and dashed to Tseng's desk, opening the drawer where she knew he kept an extra gun. "Who are you?"

Zack stared at Elena in surprise through Reno's eyes. "I'm Reno of the Turks. I'm your ally, remember?"

"You said sorry, excuse me, please and thanks. It takes a lot more than hair pulling to get either of those words out of Reno, let alone all of them one after another. You are not Reno." Elena continued aiming the gun at the apparent impostor.

Zack started to worry, he didn't mean for Reno to get killed, though he wasn't exactly taking the redhead towards the safest place. "Don't shoot, I'll tell you the truth," Zack let go of Reno, revealing his ghostly appearance to Elena.

"You're a ghost," Elena calmly observed.

"Aren't you scared?" What was the world coming to if no one was afraid of ghosts anymore?

"I'm a Turk!" Elena declared proudly, then added, "and you seem harmless enough."
"What's going on..." Reno was suffering from a post-possession hangover and wasn't done recovering, but he miraculously became fully alert when he saw the ghostly Zack. "A ghost! Cool! Hey Elena, where's the vacuum cleaner? I saw a ghost be captured inside a vacuum cleaner on TV! I know there's a vacuum around here somewhere, Tseng was using it the other day."

Zack sighed, "is it too much to ask that you give yourself as a gift to a random girl so she may learn the meaning of Christmas and all that stuff, so I can keep my promise and be done with it?"

"Huh?" Reno blinked in confusion.

"I thought so..." Zack was ready to leave and try to teach those girls the meaning of Christmas in some other way. Maybe Aerith could talk them into asking for scarves or candy canes or something else instead of men for their presents.

"Wait, Mr. Ghost!" Elena brought a mission form over. "If you want Reno to do anything, especially go off on a mission, all you need to do is fill out this form."

"What are you up to? Trying to get me more work?" Reno didn't like where this was going.

"Ghosts have no gil anyway," Zack pointed out.

"I'll cover the costs, since it's Christmas Eve and all," Elena offered.

"That's very kind of you, thanks!" Zack accepted the offer.

But Reno wasn't pleased with how things were going, "don't I get a say in this?"

"No!" Elena snapped. This was just what she needed. Rude's mission, which involved dressing up as Rudolf the red nose reindeer, would not end anytime soon; but Tseng's shift as a mall Santa Claus would soon be over, and she had finished being a toy maker elf hours ago so they would have the office to themselves when Tseng returned. They still had to be at Shinra during Christmas Eve, but at least they would spend some time together; hence why Elena wanted Reno to leave, even if it meant forcing him to become a present for some random girl.

Zack grinned victoriously after the paper work was done. "You're a present," he told Reno. "Now let's get you gift wrapped so I can give you to that girl and get on with my life, er... afterlife I mean."

"Wait a minute, that's not fair!" Reno followed Zack out of the office complaining.

"Zack Fair is always fair," the ghost replied.

Reno kept arguing the whole way and asking over and over. "Is she cute? Is she? She better be... She is pretty, right? Or at least sane... isn't she?"

Zack refused to answer, the girl was pretty, but she was scary and there was something off about her. He wondered if she was even human... and he still needed to get a present for the other girl.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 55: Business Consultant

"I'm here to see a business consultant, not you," Cloud explained for the millionth time.

"The official business consultants are busy so I got this mission to take some of their appointments. Rude, Tseng and Elena are doing it too," Reno explained.

Cloud sighed in frustration. The Turks' way of doing business was far from lawful and he really couldn't imagine them as business consultants. Maybe Tseng and Rude could use their experience being at Shinra as a way to gain business knowledge, and Elena had been in the company for less time but she must have picked up a few things by now. Reno however, no wonder how long he stayed with Shinra, Cloud could never imagine him as a semi-decent business consultant.

"So," the redhead took a bunch of papers and aligned them perfectly then looked over them, aligning them on the desk again, and finally setting them down in front of him. "How may I help you?"

If Cloud was feeling lost and annoyed before, and above all ripped off, because the business consultant fee was rather high and paid on advance with no returns, now he really felt like he was about to have a breakdown. The papers Reno had been organizing and looking at were completely empty. The fact was obvious, but apparently missed by Reno. Thus Cloud couldn't help it but to point it out, "Reno, those papers are blank."

"I know; it's just that all the desk job people always organize papers like that and look over them before asking how they can help, so I thought it would help me get into the part." Reno's explanation didn't make Cloud feel any better about entrusting his business to the Turk.

"I would feel better if I had someone else as my business consultant," Cloud pouted and crossed his arms. He should have known coming to Shinra for any reason would turn out to be a bad idea.

"I'm the only one handling this kind of requests," Reno grumbled as if he had just remembered that he was upset about the kind of requests he was assigned to work on.

Cloud had to ask. "What do you mean this kind of requests?"

"Requests marked as UI; that stands for unimportant. It's not fair, why don't they trust me with the important stuff? Even the rookie got better business consultant requests than me!" Now it was Reno's turn to pout in frustration.

"How do you think that makes me feel? They marked my business concerns as unimportant and handed them to you of all people! I have very important questions about expanding the business, with all the deliveries I've been doing lately." Cloud did not mention that those deliveries came due to the publicity generated thanks to a series of Turk-caused public humiliations for Cloud. The delivery boy had blocked out those memories and convinced himself that he was getting more delivery requests because he was doing a good job.

"I'm out of here, forget the mission. I know Tifa runs the Seventh Heaven as a restaurant at this hour, but do you think she'll open the bar early?" Reno asked.

Cloud had the same expression of complete frustration remaining on his face and Reno was most unhelpful. "I don't know, maybe she will if you promise to buy a lot. I need to get back to work, but I'm so frustrated right now..." Cloud reached for his sword, as if decapitating someone would make him feel better.

"Hold on, this isn't my fault. I wasn't the one who classified the appointments and gave your request the unimportant stamp," Reno defended. "Besides, if you really don't feel like working, don't. Maybe I'll head to Costa Del Sol for the afternoon instead, the bars there are open all day anyway. Want a ride on the chopper?"

The invitation was unexpected and Cloud was unsure. "I don't know, I was supposed to get back to work after talking to the business consultant, but that's not happening, so I should get back to work right away." Or maybe he should go hunt down whoever labeled his business as unimportant.

"Hey relax; you shouldn't take life so seriously," it was advice that Reno followed very well. "The beach waits for no one, I'm out of here."

Cloud mused over the situation and finally followed after Reno, "wait up, I'm coming too!" Thus it was proven that Reno can corrupt just about anyone.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 56: Success! Or Maybe Not?

"It worked!" Reno happily cheered.

Yuffie's constant "Yay! Yay! Yay!" filled the air as the ninja hopped around in pure bliss.

"It really worked this time!" Elena wiped away a tear and sighed happily, staying close to Tseng.

The Turk leader wrapped his arms around Elena, "he finally did it."

Yes, it was true, or so it seemed, Cloud had finally done it, he confessed his feelings for Tifa, and the Turks caught it all on video.

Rude, the designated camera man, replayed the video on the digital camera's little screen for everyone to relive the glorious moment. This was not only a victory for Cloud but for the Turks as well, since they had worked so hard to push Cloud into confessing his feelings. If Rude was sad that he had to watch his crush be stolen away while he could only record the event, he hid it very well and remained quiet and composed as he had always been.

In the small high definition screen, the image of a man with spiky blond hair came into view. He was speaking to a woman with long black hair who was facing away from both him and the camera. "I've been meaning to tell you this for a long time..." Cloud didn't even give her the chance to turn around before he finally spilled his heart out, summarizing his longtime bottled up feelings in three little words, "I love you!"

The recording then replayed the sounds of the Turks and ninja cheering. The Wutai girl had stolen plenty of gil to fund the missions she sent the Turks on, which consisted on finding ways to push Cloud into confessing his feelings. In truth, the gil was mostly stolen from Cloud himself, but it was for his own good, so Yuffie told herself that he would understand.

The four Turks and the ninja stood arms in arms, as if the five of them were posing for a victory picture. "Great job, I might not hate Shinra so much anymore, or at least not the Turks." It was saying a lot coming from Yuffie, who had always been, and still was, filled with Wutaian pride.

"We always finish the mission because we're Turks!" Reno assured; it was just the way things worked. No matter what happened, no matter what hardships and difficulties stood in their way, no matter what they had to go through, or put the world through, the Turks always finished their missions one way or another.

However, while the Turks and ninja were busy with their early celebration, the color on Cloud's face was drained completely as he stood wide eyed and open mouthed, jaw almost reaching the floor, staring at the woman before him. She had long black hair, that much he knew for sure, her style of clothing was very similar to Tifa's, those were things one could easily tell by looking, but when she turned around it was revealed that she was not Tifa, rather a very pleased stranger. "Me too, I feel the same way, Mr. Hotness!"

Cloud yelped and dashed up the stairs to hide in his room, while the real Tifa who had witnessed the entire ordeal yelled "Cloud Strife, come back here this instant!" and dashed after him.

The Turks went silent, Rude grinned mischievously for a split second before regaining his ever present neutral expression, and Yuffie pouted. "I don't like the Turks after all," the ninja huffed.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 57: Piano Problem

"Why do I always get stuck working with Strife?" Reno's complaints were a bad way for Cloud to start his delivery and an even worse way for Reno to start his mission. They were both currently in Shinra's main lobby in the first floor.

"I should be the one complaining," Cloud grumbled under his breath, but he knew he had no room to complain. Planet friendly or not, Shinra was still Shinra, and Shinra was a monopoly. Planet Power, right... it was just a name to hide the reputation of the past of Shinra Electric Power. Even so, they supplied oil based electric power and they had plenty of customers to consume it, since the production of coal was decreasing and mako was forbidden.

Regardless of the past that occurred or the future that awaited; the fact still stood that in the present, Tifa Lockhart carried the debt of overdue electrical bills. For that, Cloud Strife felt guilty because he had certainly been consuming electricity, water and food at Tifa's home, but he had not been contributing as much as he should. Tifa had been kind enough not to kick him out, but she did request his help. If Cloud could deliver Rufus' piano to the top floor of the new Shinra headquarters, then the president would forgive Tifa's debt.

"Where are the Turks?" Cloud inquired, hoping with all his might that the other Turks were simply late, and that the harsh task of carrying a piano up the stairs did not end up falling upon just the two of them, because the piano didn't fit in the regular elevator and there was no cargo elevator.

"They can't come, they had to go out on last minute missions," Reno pouted and crossed his arms. "Now I'm stuck helping you with the piano all by myself. You're the delivery boy; you should be doing this on your own!"

Cloud felt his eye twitch and resisted the urge to try out his sword on Reno; after all, he had recently polished the large blade and did not wish to get it dirty. Besides, there was a certain amount of truth to Reno's words. Cloud was the delivery boy and Rufus was paying more than Cloud would normally charge for one of his deliveries even if it wasn't in gil, but in erasing Tifa's debt which was partly his own. Then again, Cloud wouldn't be crazy enough to accept this kind of delivery in a normal situation.

The spiky haired blond shook his head and unsheathed his sword causing the redhead Turk to jump into a defensive position, holding his electrorod in front of him, as if to shield himself from the blow of the giant blade. "Relax, I'm not going to kill you, because then I'll have to carry the piano to the top floor on my own." Cloud glanced over at the receptionist who was curiously watching the scene from the front desk. "I'm going to leave this here for a while, okay?" She nodded, while hiding a giggle and he placed his sword against the wall behind her desk.

"Let's get this over with, I'll go first since I'm probably better at walking backwards," Reno offered, and Cloud agreed without giving it much thought. The Turk was just looking to take the easy way out, since the one at the bottom would have to support most of the weight of the piano while going up the stairs, while the one at the top's main duty would be to navigate.

However, on the inside Reno was grinning victoriously. His mission: to separate Cloud from his sword, was accomplished and he didn't even have to do anything. Where there is Shinra, there is plotting and where there is a Turk, nothing is what it appears to be.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 58: Piano Avalanche

Tifa had some overdue electricity bills, which Cloud was unable to help with even if he consumed part of that electricity. Rufus had promised to take care of her debt in exchange for Strife Delivery Service taking a piano to his office. Cloud was in no position to deny the request, which Tifa had already accepted in his name. Thus the delivery boy found himself carrying a piano up the stairs with Reno, because it didn't fit in the elevator.

The two men carried the piano up the stairs in blissful silence. Cloud felt the full weight of the piano in his arms, but as long as Reno kept his mouth shut, Cloud wouldn't mind carrying all the weight himself.

"So Strife," Reno cruelly murdered the peaceful silence, "how did you get this piano from the Seventh Heaven all the way to the Shinra lobby anyway? I mean, I saw you carry it in, but you couldn't have carried it all the way, right?"

"Fenrir, and be quiet," Cloud replied.

"Fenrir? You mean your motorcycle? Isn't it a bit small for this big piano?" Reno continued speaking, despite Cloud's warning glare.

"I tied it, and be quiet Reno, you're breaking my concentration." Cloud half growled.

"Temper, temper," Reno shook his head, leaning on the piano, oh yes, he was actually leaning on the piano, adding his own weight to the weight of the large instrument which, needless to say, was very uncomfortable for Cloud, despite how strong he was. "It would have been a funny image though, seeing you drive around with a huge piano tied to your motorcycle. I bet people pointed and stared when you were on your way here. I wonder if anyone took any pictures, it's too bad I didn't get to see it."

"Shut up!" The piano slipped out of Cloud's grasp and pushed him back, causing him to fall against the stairs. The pull of gravity made the piano fall on Cloud, harshly pass over him, and continue slipping down the stairs with Reno holding on to it. The Turk climbed on top of the piano, unable to stop its treacherous descent down the stairs, while Cloud desperately called, "Reno, get off the piano and stop it!"

Reno jumped off the piano, landing on Cloud and pushing him on the stairs again. "Thanks for catching me, I owe you one," Reno got to his feet, seemingly unharmed, and down below, the piano reached the end of the stairs with a loud destructive crash.

Cloud's back was killing him, and Tifa would really kill him when she found out that Rufus' piano was destroyed, thus annihilating the deal to erase her electricity bill debt. To top it all up, Cloud would probably have to pay for the ruined piano. "Reno!"

Reno bolted up the stairs at an inhuman speed, with a murderous Cloud dashing after him, ready to rip him apart with his bare hands. The two reached the top floor at record breaking speed, and continued towards Rufus' office. "President!" Reno ran circles around Rufus' desk with an enraged Cloud close behind. "I brought someone who has something to tell you!"

Reno's second mission had been secretly accomplished, to destroy the piano and have Cloud somehow take part in it, even if it was accidental and unwilling. Now Rufus had Cloud right where he wanted him...

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 59: Piano Trickery

Rufus was getting dizzy watching the chase around his desk, consisting of Reno running for his life and Cloud trying to take it away. The president cleared his throat and the world seemed to freeze under his icy glare. Both Reno and Cloud could merely turn their heads towards Rufus from the same places where they stood. "Where is my piano?"

Cloud's stiffness disappeared and his body felt like jelly. Rufus was holding all the cards and Cloud didn't want Tifa, Marlene and Denzel to be left without electricity and who knows what else. "I... he dropped it," Cloud pointed at Reno.

Reno raised his arms in defense, "I did not! You let it go first!"

"Enough!" The two bickering men were silenced by the president again. Rufus sighed and massaged his temples. "If only I had a cargo elevator this wouldn't have happened. No matter how many times I tell the World Restoration Organization that Shinra is reformed, they won't believe me. Reeve keeps saying that we don't need cargo elevators if we're only working with managing data; he thinks we're going to hide weapons up here if we're given the means. I even had to hire the carpenters to come up here and build my desk in the office, just so I could have a decent sized desk to work on." More like a gigantic desk, but at least that solved the mystery about how it got there without a cargo elevator.

"The piano..." Cloud stared at his feet, "and Tifa's electricity bills..."

"It's alright, even if I was the one who proposed this deal, I fully intended on taking care of those bills. In fact, would you give this envelope to Tifa? It has the receipts that certify that her electricity bills have been fully paid up to date." Rufus stepped around his huge desk and handed the envelope to a shocked Cloud. "Don't worry about the piano; I'll have someone take care of it. Oh, if only Reeve had been more reasonable about the cargo elevator..." Rufus dramatized.

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Some time later, at the WRO headquarters, Cloud persuaded Reeve into letting Rufus have a cargo elevator at the new Shinra headquarters. By persuaded I mean he criticized Reeve's cruel mistrust, despite Rufus' acts of kindness which proved that he had changed, while making choking motions that made Reeve feel very threatened and intimidated.

Cloud would have waved his sword around for effect, but the unfortunate delivery boy found that it was missing. The receptionist testified that it was confiscated in a random security visit from the WRO, while Cloud was battling it out with Reno and the piano on the stairs. "I want my sword back too!"

"I assure you, I don't know what you're talking about," Reeve truthfully replied.

Then the door to Reeve's office was opened and two men walked in, carrying a large sword together with great effort. "Mr. Tuesti, where do you want us to put this?"

Cloud glared daggers at Reeve and grabbed his sword. "I thought we were on the same side! I thought you really wanted to help the planet!" He was having a horrible day and finally snapped in an emotional breakdown. "Are you just searching for power?" Cloud yelled.

"No, of course not! I'm sure this is just a misunderstanding! The cargo elevator... consider it done. In fact, we will not only authorize it, but the WRO will also finance its construction as well!" Reeve pleaded.

"Fine, just make sure you don't go back on your word," Cloud stomped out of Reeve's office and left the WRO headquarters.

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Later, Rufus was at his office when he received a call from Cloud. "Is that so? Then you were able to reason with him? Wonderful, I commend you on your skills as a negotiator. No problem; don't worry about that, and thank you." Rufus hung up with a wide grin on his face. "Reno, you can tell the Junon division we will be ready to receive the new shipment as soon as the cargo elevator is complete."

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Meanwhile, at the WRO's headquarters, Reeve had calmed down enough to demand an explanation from the two employees that brought in the sword.

"He said it was an antique decoration for your office, a gift," one of the employees stammered.

"Who said that?" Reeve asked.

"The man who brought the sword, we don't know his name," the other employee replied. "It was a bald man wearing a suit and sunglasses."

Reeve twitched, they had been deceived. "Tricky Shinra..."

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Mission 60: Missing

"He didn't deliver it?" Tifa's statement was full of worry, as if the item to be delivered would decide the fate of the entire world.

"No, and if I don't receive it soon..." Vincent looked at his golden claw; it was already starting to lose its shine and he needed more polish.

"Cloud was happy with how well his delivery business has been doing lately. He wouldn't miss out on a delivery. Do you think something happened to him?" Cloud was strong, as strong as a first class soldier, even if he was never officially ranked as one. But Tifa still worried about him, what if that business consultant Cloud went to see at Shinra said something mean that threw him into another depression? "Poor Cloud..."

"Shall we search for him?" Vincent asked, Cloud had his polish and he couldn't wait for it any longer.

"Yes, I'll close the Seventh Heaven for now and search too." So it was done, Tifa and Vincent searched for Cloud all over Midgar.

While time passed and their search remained fruitless, their worries increased. They also requested the help of their friends but none had seen the delivery boy recently. Finally, Tifa made the choice to hire the Turks for an emergency mission.

"I see..." Tseng paused to give the situation some thought. The emergency request was welcomed, since that would mean he could take a break from working as a business consultant and get back into the action.

"What about my ranch?" The chocobo rancher asked. Truthfully, he didn't understand anything Tseng said anyway. It wasn't that the Turk leader spoke in particularly complex terms, the rancher was simply outdated.

"Just keep doing what you've been doing so far." It was terrible advice and Tseng knew it, but he also knew that the rancher would continue to do so even if he was strongly advised against it.

Once the chocobo rancher was gone, Tseng called the other Turks for an emergency meeting and realized that one of them was missing. "Where's Reno?"

Rude and Elena did not have an answer for that question and Tifa frowned, because if Reno was missing, then that was reason enough to believe he was to blame. When in doubt, blame Reno, because most, if not all the time, you'll be right.

Thanks to the tracking device on Reno's PHS, finding him was easy, and they also found Cloud in Costa del Sol. Both Cloud and Reno were badly sunburned and in pain, but that didn't save Reno from being scolded by Tseng.

Tifa however, was far more forgiving to Cloud, "I'm glad you're alright!"

Tifa gave Cloud a hug which he would have loved if he wasn't so sunburned. "Ow! Don't do that!" Cloud jumped away from Tifa and saw her upset expression when her affection was apparently rejected. "Tifa, I..."

"Fine, be that way you ingrate!" Tifa fumed and stomped away muttering something about ungrateful idiots.

Meanwhile, Vincent stood to the side looking upset and feeling ignored. "What about my polish?"

To be Continued

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Missions: Report VII

Mission 61: Green

He heard about it but he took it literally, it was something Reno would do. Green this, green that, Reno didn't particularly like the color green, he didn't know anyone who did, as even the rich Rufus Shinra preferred gold. Reno liked the bright and cheerful red, like his hair, Elena liked pastel colors such as sky blue and soft yellow, Tseng liked the business-like navy and Rude liked the dark and mysterious black, like his shades. None of them particularly liked green.

Who would like green? Maybe emerald, but to call it that would make it sound elegant. Emerald is not the same as green, emerald is a jewel and green is the color of one's face when one is sick. Green is the color that left the area around Midgar and caused so much trouble because Avalanche wanted it back, green is... Wait, that's it!

Reno jumped from his desk at the Turks' office, causing the other Turks to glance at him with half interest for a brief moment before going back to their respective paperwork. Little did they know that Reno had reached a conclusion in his philosophical musings about the color green and its implications. He concluded that, despite the color not being pleasant at all and Reno's personal least favorite, opposite of red; Avalanche liked the color. Thus he concluded that even if she was not seen wearing it, Tifa liked green as well.

As Reno bolted out of the Turks' office and, too tired of his antics, no one bothered to stop him, the mischievous redhead never thought that maybe, just maybe, the entire thing about green this and green that was a metaphor not to be taken literally. Thus, he continued to take it literally and take matters into his own hands. It was for the best, Reno honestly thought it was.

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Reno entered the Seventh Heaven with a mischievous look that warned Tifa of the coming trouble. "Reno, what are you planning?"

"I'm so cool," Reno grinned ear to ear. "I have a ton of fan girls too!"

Tifa rolled her eyes, "well I'm glad somebody's self-esteem is doing well, too bad I can't say the same for Cloud."

"They like the red hair," Reno stated, and Tifa gave him a blank look, the Turk was being more random than usual. Then Reno elaborated, "the fan girls, they like it."

"That's nice," Tifa wasn't sure where Reno was going with this conversation.

"Hey Tifa, don't you think Cloud and I are like opposites?" This was the moment of truth, the time to confirm his theory.

"Yes, and that's just the way I like it," Tifa replied.

"I thought so, and you like that green stuff the WRO keeps talking about too?" Reno asked.

Tifa nodded, "I think it's a great initiative to help preserve the environment."

"Got it!" Reno dashed up the stairs. "I'm going to help Cloud be the opposite of me!"

Tifa blinked, "the opposite?" But Cloud was already the opposite of Reno, he was currently sad and quiet while Reno was loud and cheerful.

A few minutes passed and Tifa decided it was time to drag Reno back down stairs. Even if he wasn't trying to influence Cloud to be like him this time, this was Reno and he always caused trouble.

Later, after Reno left the Seventh Heaven, everything continued at peace and Tifa thought she had stopped any possible disasters from happening, but she was wrong. In those few minutes that Reno was upstairs unsupervised, he had already set his plan into motion.

The opposite of red was green, and by the power of shampoo, Cloud would really become the opposite of Reno. Then maybe, just maybe, Tifa would like him more and confess her feelings instead of waiting for Cloud to do so. It was all for the best, a good deed well done.

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Mission 62: Competition

Cloud pouted and glared at Rufus, but the pretty president remained unfazed, he was used to the usual glares and stares. Admittedly, it was the loving stares that scared him, since those usually came accompanied by the dark intentions of a fan girl who wanted to kidnap Rufus and do who knows what; he didn't want to find out. Fortunately, there were no fan girl stalkers in the area, but unfortunately there was one very upset Cloud Strife.

"Your evil is rubbing off on Tifa," Cloud observed. Reno was a regular customer at the Seventh Heaven for a number of obvious reasons. He ended up bringing Rude, Tseng and Elena to become regular customers as well.

Later even Rufus became curious, and though at first reluctant, he too started visiting the Seventh Heaven more often, usually in disguise. But even when he wore that onyx wig, there was still a special shine to it that could only be found in the hair of Rufus Shinra, even when it was not his own natural gold. To Cloud's comment, Rufus replied by simply running his fingers through his natural hair, since there was no need to disguise himself given that they were upstairs and away from prying eyes, and smiling confidently as if silently communicating that he always got what he wanted. Sadly, Cloud knew it was true.

Cloud looked horrified all of a sudden. "Stay away from Tifa!" He wailed, "you're trying to steal her away aren't you?"

"What are you talking about? I'm just being friendly," Rufus tried to clarify, but Cloud wasn't buying it.

Then Tseng placed his hand on Cloud's shoulder and shook his head. "With Avalanche fading into memories, Tifa does not currently possess a position that could influence the city and benefit Rufus. Therefore, he has no reason to attempt to use her, and thus will not try to date her."

Cloud looked relived and Rufus pouted. "You're making it sound as if I would only date someone for a benefit, as if I'm some kind of-"

"There are children in the room," Tifa decided it was about time to speak up. There were indeed two kids in the room, Marlene and Denzel. The others who were present included Rufus, Cloud, Tifa, Tseng, Elena, Reno and Rude. It should be noted that Tifa had kindly given Reno a huge piece of bubblegum which was currently keeping him quiet, save for the sound of chewing.

"I'm just saving your life..." Tseng pointed out.

Rufus decided not to dignify the Turk leader with an answer and simply looked away and ran his fingers through his hair again as he always did.

"I really don't think this is evil," Tifa tried to explain. "It's for your own good and Rufus has generously offered to provide the materials. We're only trying to help you, Cloud." Tifa smiled and looked at Cloud's unsure expression, feeling a little guilty, but then she eyed the DDR equipment and decided that she didn't feel guilty anymore. "Playing DDR will help you relax and let out all your tensions," and Rufus so kindly provided the machine, though his intentions were obviously to be amused by watching Cloud jump around. "Shall we begin; Rude has already volunteered to be your first opponent."

Rude and Cloud locked eyes with challenging stares like two skilled samurai ready to fight to the death. With the prize of impressing Tifa, the two men took their positions in the DDR pads and the battle began.

In the end, as the DDR tournament progressed, Cloud defeated one opponent after another, except for Tifa, because no one ever beat Tifa at DDR.

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Mission 63: Marble Distress

Never before had Reno thought he would bring this upon himself. He had actually volunteered to help Cloud with one of his deliveries and he didn't regret it, at least not yet. Cloud had received a delivery request to take a block of marble to Vincent. Obviously such a delivery would be challenging at best, and a joke from Reno at worse. Cloud assumed the latter, told Tifa, which in retrospect did make him look wimpy as Reno foolishly pointed out, and the redhead was cornered in the Seventh Heaven and accused.

However, a lucky call revealed that Vincent did order the block of marble and it wasn't just Reno playing a joke on Cloud in his name. Thus the adventure of Reno and Cloud delivering marble to Vincent began.

"If we put the marble in a helicopter, the delivery will be much faster and easier." Cloud's line of thought was logical and convenient. The marble block was large enough to sculpt a life size statue of a person, and thus it would be uncomfortable to carry it on Fenrir. Cloud had carried large deliveries on his motorcycle before, such as a piano, but it was difficult to keep it balanced and it made people stare.

"No can do," Reno shook his head. "It's too heavy and the chopper won't take off."

"I think it will still be able to take off. I know Shinra helicopters are made to be able to carry heavy artillery, even heavier than this block of marble." Cloud tried to defend his point but deep down, he knew he wasn't getting any real help from Reno.

"Rufus would kill me?" Reno threw out another excuse.

Cloud pouted, "you're not being helpful at all!" In the end he tied the marble to Fenrir and prepared to be on his way.

"I'll follow you from the sky and... navigate... so you don't get lost... yeah." In truth, Reno just wanted a bird's eye view of the fun, because this was Cloud Strife he was watching, and things always went wrong for him. Reno wanted to catch a good video of the action.

"No, you're coming with me," without giving Reno any room to protest, literally, Cloud hopped on Fenrir and pulled Reno on to sit behind him, squished between Cloud's back and the block of marble that was tied to Fenrir. Thankfully, Cloud had removed his sword and placed it on Fenrir's carrying space so that was one uncomfortable danger Reno avoided, but of course, he was still uncomfortable.

Cloud wisely decided to avoid the heavy traffic roads, which led him to take a little known unpaved shortcut through the wastelands with the sand annoyingly blowing in the air and sticking to everything.

"Do you know how long it will take to get this sand off my hair?" Reno complained, he had his goggles over his eyes now, as did Cloud for protection against the sand. "If my hair isn't shiny and cool the fangirls will be disappointed! I can't do that to them."

"If you don't keep quiet they'll be more disappointed because you'll be dead," Cloud warned.

A few minutes passed in silence. Though Reno couldn't see it from his position pressed against Cloud's back and with the marble block pressed against his back, the delivery boy's eyes had started glowing with intense mako. It was one of those times when Cloud's memories surfaced on their own and could not be pushed away. Thunder echoed and the skies turned dark, signaling the coming of rain. Zack Fair had joined the life stream in scenery like this one. All of this combined was too much for Cloud and he lost control of Fenrir, sliding down a hill of loose sand and into a natural sandy pitfall.

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Reno was known to be a troublemaker. Ever since he was little it had been that way. Later, when he was a teenager he found his way to Shinra along side his best friend Rude and through a series of events that Reno would remember as fun, Rude would refer to as disorganized but necessary, and others would simply call chaotic, they ended up joining the Turks.

Reno had been on many dangerous missions with the Turks, everything from infiltration, to sabotage, to kidnapping and even the elimination of certain obstacles. That was what the Turks did, to put it negatively. It was a job that not everyone could handle, but Reno certainly could.

Reno liked to think of himself as fearless and strong, though others would call him rash and cocky. Somehow, the Turks always finished their missions, because they're Turks and that's what they do. One way or another, they make things work.

However, Reno could never foresee what was to occur. He thought he could get a laugh out of accompanying Cloud on his delivery. Reno's mission was to help deliver a block of marble to Vincent for sculpting purposes, or at least that's what his mission officially was. In truth, Reno's real mission was simply to have fun at Cloud's account. But after taking a shortcut riding on Fenrir through the wasteland to avoid the heavy traffic of the highway and the curious stares at the large block of marble tied to the motorcycle, Cloud had become distracted with a sad memory linked to his dear friend Zack Fair, and lost control of Fenrir, trapping both himself and Reno in a natural pitfall.

Reno was trapped, in pain, beaten and bruised. He narrowly escaped being crushed by the block of marble or Fenrir, but currently he faced a fate that was perhaps more frightening than the possibility of being sent to the life stream a few years too early, consoling Cloud Strife.

"Stop that!" Reno pouted and got to his feet, dusting himself off as best as he could. "You big baby..."

Cloud only cried harder, which made Reno wonder how in the world did Tifa maintain her sanity if she had to deal with these episodes.

"Alright, alright, don't cry!" Reno was at a loss for what to do. He mentally told himself to get things together and deal with this. "Don't give up?" Reno attempted to give Cloud some kind words, though they sounded unsure.

Then Cloud miraculously stopped crying and in a split second pushed Fenrir, along with the block of marble out of the pitfall. "Come on!" He extended his hand to help Reno out.

Surprised and unsure, Reno accepted the help and after getting back on the path asked, "how did you do that?"

"I remembered Zack and was sad because I miss him, we were always great friends. But then you told me not to give up and I remembered Zack always used to tell me that so I didn't give up!"

Reno nodded slowly. Cloud just had one of the fastest and most drastic mood swings he had ever seen, and people dared to say Reno was random.

On the bright side, Cloud and Reno did manage to deliver the block of marble to Vincent without too many additional difficulties, though Vincent did wonder why they were covered in sand.

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Mission 64: Dancing Pains

"Tell me again how this will make the world a better place?" Rufus requested.

With a deep sigh and practiced patience, Tseng repeated his monologue, "Shinra has promised to give people what they want and help them to reach a better future in happiness and prosperity. This means that if they want this, admittedly ridiculous form of fan service, they must get it. Besides, I honestly don't think it's so bad, just absurd." Tseng spoke these words with a perfectly composed expression, while Rufus nodded like a bobble head.

"Yes, yes, I see. Just a moment then, there is some very important business I need to attend to." With that announcement, and the silent promise of some extra difficulties for the Turks, Rufus walked into the conference room at the Shinra Headquarters. The room held the members of the press who would follow the selected contestants to the Gold Saucer where a Dance Dance Revolution contest would take place, to be broadcasted world wide. Rufus was terrible at the game and always tripped over his own feet.

The young president reasoned that if he was going to trip, he might as well do it without music and with as few witnesses as possible, other than those needed to assert that he did in fact trip. Thus Rufus faked his fall, though he tried to do it so realistically he lost his balance and truly fell into a sitting position on the floor, thanking every entity for the thickness of the carpet, nevertheless it still hurt.

"Oh, my ankle!" Rufus screamed in feigned agony. "It's broken!"

That is the story of how Tseng, Leader of the Turks, well known workaholic, and loyal babysitter of Rufus' every whim, ended up carrying the supposedly injured president to the infirmary, to be given lollipops by a pretty nurse, while the doctor wrote his dramatic verdict about poor Rufus' terrible, though in reality non-existent, injury.

Because of this, Reno and Rude were chosen as Rufus' replacements at the DDR contest against Cloud Strife, who was said to have been trained by the DDR legend herself, Tifa Lockhart. Needless to say, Reno was certainly energetic about it, as he was about everything.

When the time of the contest came, a solemn, yet perfectly groomed, as usual, Rufus watched from a wheelchair, taking the extend of his fake injury to the extremes, claiming that he could not walk due to the pain of his broken ankle. But he was given vast credit for at least showing up anyway. It wouldn't be the first time he faked a major injury, but people couldn't help it but to feel sorry for the pretty boy whenever he wanted them to.

Cloud danced to the beat of the music, capturing the attention of some of the female audience, while many others were focused on Reno. All male eyes were on Tifa, who cheered for Cloud by dancing on the sidelines. She thought she could help Cloud by showing him how it's done, but she succeeded in dooming her DDR padawan by distracting him and making him miss the arrows on the screen, while he stared at her, and glared at all the men looking at her.

However, the DDR duel took an unexpected turn when Reno, who was moving out of rhythm but moving a lot and very fast, tripped over his own feet and actually did twist his ankle, thus being forced to forfeit the match, with Cloud winning by default.

Next up came Rude, to take Reno's place in the next round. Rude was the man with the seemingly stiff posture, expressionless face, and rarely heard voice, so Cloud thought he had this won. Yet somehow, though Rude's face was devoid of the evidence of effort, the bald Turk never missed a single arrow, which frustrated Cloud, who was trying so hard.

With Tifa forgotten due to the strong battle vibes of rivalry coming from Cloud and Rude, the entire crowd focused on them, save for a few girls who were still more concerned with Rufus or Reno; but both Cloud and Rude had their fair share of admirers.

Cloud pushed on, willing his feet to move faster and more precisely, but his effort could not match Rude's skill. Effortlessly, Rude continued to carry out the song to perfection, while Cloud became clumsy by frustration, even with his nearly limitless Soldier energy.

Then it happened, both men missed their steps, trying to move faster than they could control. They tripped over their own feet and let out unanimous yelps of pain as they both gained matching twisted ankles. It was especially shocking for Rude, since his voice was rarely heard.

Rude regained his composure and limped away quietly, while Cloud made childish pouty-faces and was consoled by Tifa. Consequently, the DDR competition ended without a winner.

The moral of the story is that for every injury Rufus gets away with faking, the Turks, and sometimes Cloud, have to take it. But then, that's not as much of a moral, as it is a well known fact.

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Mission 65: Poison

He had very good reasons to suspect and among those reasons was Cloud Strife, though given the situation, Tifa was the most likely suspect, after all, she had all the chances in the world to do this, though she lacked the motivation. Cloud on the other hand, as much as Reno denied it, had every right to be mad and could have sabotaged the drink made by Tifa. Why didn't Tifa bring it to the counter herself?

Poison couldn't be part of the situation, could it?. Cloud carried the glass the short distance, just a few steps away, because Tifa was busy making the next drink. Even so, Reno was sure that in the short time Cloud blocked the view of the glass with his body, anything could have happened, he could have slipped something lethal into the drink.

It was a seemingly easy mission for Reno and Rude. All they had to do was try Tifa's new menu of drinks and tell her which they liked best. Cloud didn't understand why Tifa would hire the Turks to do something they would do for free, but she said something about showing her support to the reformed Shinra.

As Reno's thoughts returned to the possible attempt of poisoning before him, he realized there were other points to consider. Even if Cloud had the motivation for the crime and the means to commit his revenge, there was still the fact that Tifa was involved. However, it would be obvious Cloud was the real culprit and Reno wouldn't put it past him to openly admit it. Tifa would be off the case and regardless of what Shinra may do to avenge Reno, Cloud's revenge would have been served.

Sure this wasn't the only means available to the spiky haired blond, but it was the most effective. Cloud could start an all out battle with Reno, but the Turk had endurance, speed and a few tricks of his own, there was no way Cloud could finish him off on time before someone interfered and stopped the fight. Poison was the easiest way.

The redhead continued to deliberate while the glasses piled on the counter in front of him. He could feel Rude's confused stare as if wondering why Reno didn't touch any of the glasses in front of him, even if Rude was consuming his samples as fast as they came.

Picking up the first drink Cloud had brought, Reno looked at the glass dubiously. "Think they're trying to poison me?" Rude shook his head and Reno decided to be brave. He drained his glass in one gulp and immediately regretted it. "Ugh, yuck!" He swallowed with some difficulty.

Tifa looked surprised and a little hurt, "you don't like it?"

Reno shook his head, "it's not your fault, Tifa," he glared at Cloud.

"No, it's alright, you can be honest with me, I really appreciate the constructive criticism." Tifa looked determined, "I'll try harder, I'll definitely make a much better drink. I'll study new recipes all day today and mix more drinks!"

"All day? What about our date?" Cloud complained.

"I'm sorry Cloud, why don't you go out by yourself, since you already took the day off? I need to do what's best for the business and be ready," Tifa had decided and wouldn't change her mind.

"It's not your fault; I put pepper in Reno's drink to get back at him. Don't cancel our date!" Cloud confessed.

"You don't have to make up a story to make me feel better," Tifa insisted, "like I said, I appreciate constructive criticism and I made up my mind."

"I'll stay here with you..." Cloud sighed in defeat while Reno was relived to find out he wasn't poisoned after all.

"Absolutely not, I don't want you to waste your day off watching me read recipes and mix drinks, you're going out and having fun," Tifa ordered.

Cloud frowned; he knew there was no arguing with Tifa. Not only did their date get cancelled, but he was kicked out of the Seventh Heaven while Tifa spent time making drinks for Reno and Rude. Karma was never on Cloud's side.

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Mission 66: Mystery Box

Reno dashed towards the elevator, dodging bullets, he didn't know what was in the box he held, but he knew it had to be important. The elevator doors opened revealing Elena, but Reno was still too far to get in and Barret was catching up. "Elena! Take this to Rufus!" He threw the box.

Elena was surprised but caught the box nonetheless and in a rush of Turk instinct, she punched the elevator button to go up and the glass case rose.

Barret shot at the glass, but it had been fortified and made bulletproof. While Barret tried his luck with the glass, Reno dashed towards the stairs. Barret chased after him, resolving that Elena would probably disable the elevators or arrange an ambush if he tried to take them.

As the gun arm man rushed up the stairs, cursing the redhead's speed, Reno crawled out from under the stairs grinning. He rushed to take the elevator to the final floor to wait for Barret.

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"Sir, we have no time for this! Avalanche is invading us!" Elena yelled as she punched and kicked Rufus' office door to no avail.

"I said I won't be seen like this!" Rufus yelled from inside the sealed office.

"Sir, be reasonable, Elena is-" Tseng was interrupted; he was in the office with Rufus and Rude.

"No!" The president shouted.

Reno arrived and wondered what this was about. Elena saw him and tossed the box at him. "Rufus says he doesn't want women to see him in that state, whatever that means." Then she announced, "Open the door, Reno is going in, I won't look."

Reno didn't know what this was about, but before entering the office, he warned, "Mr. Gun Arm is coming up the stairs," and went into the office where Rufus, Tseng and Rude were.

"Do I fight him alone?" The door to the president's office had already closed. "Fine, I'm a Turk, I can handle him." Elena adjusted her gloves, put on her shiny new knuckles and prepared the battle field by setting up a trap, she froze the last few steps and waited.

Barret came running up and slipped, letting out a mighty yelp and a few stray bullets. Elena jumped on the fallen Barret, his spine pressing painfully against the stairs. She threw a wave of ice at him, freezing him up to the neck. She secured one foot over his frozen gun arm just in case and swiftly punched him repeatedly on the face.

After Barret was beaten to unconsciousness, Elena pulled out a screwdriver from her jacket, a Turk was always prepared. She chiseled the gun arm out of the ice, then proceeded to take it apart, leaving him with only a metal stub. Whenever Barret showed signs of waking up during the process, Elena would beat him into unconsciousness again.

Finally, Rufus stepped out of the office, looking perfectly normal and peeked at the door that led to the stairs. "What happened?"

"It was really funny, he saw me in the city and asked what was in the box, so I said it was a secret and he started chasing me saying it was a secret weapon!" Reno was probably the only one truly amused by the ordeal.

"You mean I could have just explained it wasn't?" Elena was both shocked and angry.

"Do you know what this will do to Shinra's image? Listen everyone, here's the plan. If Elena gave Barret enough of a concussion to make him forget what happened, we're in the clear. We'll just tell him he fell and we kindly helped him. If he still remembers what's going on when he wakes up, we'll have to take some extra steps. Elena, if anyone asks, tell them he attacked you out of misplaced prejudice towards Turks and try to look scared and defenseless," Rufus instructed.

Elena nodded, "understood!" She was much smaller than Barret and by appearance easy to overpower, but after the incident in which she was kidnapped by Don Corneo in Wutai, Elena had been training hard to be lethal and she had become a true Turk.

"Tseng, if it comes down to it, I'm sending you as the ambassador of peace to Strife's group, try to negotiate with them. As far as I know, they are aware of Barret's temper and might believe that he lost it. Elena, you're going with Tseng, try to look like you've been crying and cling to Tseng as if you're scared, you have to convince them you're the victim," Rufus continued his plan.

"Yes, sir," Tseng was a bit unsure if it would work, but he would try his best. Elena seemed happy with the idea of playing actress with Tseng as her co-star.

"Rude, you're on guard duty," though it sounded as if Rude would be guarding Rufus, that was not the case as the president soon clarified, "you'll be guarding Reno to make sure he doesn't cause any more trouble."

"Me?" Reno protested, but Rude decided it was best for all of them if he dragged his partner away from the scene.

"Places everyone! Get some medics in here, put the gun arm back together, but make sure it doesn't have any ammunition," suddenly his Turks paused and stared at Rufus. "What?"

"Is that what you didn't want me to see? I get it, you think it's embarrassing enough to be seen that way by other men, you couldn't stand any women seeing that," Elena observed Rufus' hair.

The president's hair had been normal when he exited the office, but now it spiked in every direction as if it stood up from the force of his brain plotting. Rufus gasped as he realized what was going on and rushed back to his office. The mystery box contained hair gel... but it wasn't his prefered brand.

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Mission 67: Communication

Cloud had specifically requested that the Turk to handle his mission should not be Reno or Rude. Rude had been Cloud's rival for Tifa, thus the blond knew he couldn't trust the other man with this mission. Reno was Reno; he ruined everything so he couldn't be trusted either.

It was Tseng who first showed up for the mysterious mission, which Cloud was expected to explain. "It's... like... um... you need to... you just have too..."

Tseng did not understand. Cloud had been muttering incoherently for the past fifteen minutes in the Turks office, currently occupied only by the Turk leader and the delivery boy who insisted he had to explain in private. "Pardon?"

"Tifa... me... tell... you..." Cloud's face was a brilliant shade of red as he stared at his feet in absolute embarrassment. He couldn't believe he was resorting to this, but he had to, it was the only thing that would work. He had tried to do things the other way around but something always came up and he was getting desperate.

"I don't understand," Tseng wondered if all the mako in his system was making Cloud's brain come undone. From what Tseng heard, it wouldn't be the first time Cloud was left with an IQ of zero and able to voice only incomplete incoherencies.

"Me... Tifa... you!" Cloud pushed the words out.

"Do you want me to call Tifa to come pick you up? Why don't you wait for her in the medical center, I'll escort you there," Tseng offered.

"No! No! That's not it!" Cloud tried to explain.

There was a knock on the door followed by Elena's voice, "I finished the report!"

"Come in Elena and don't let your guard down," Tseng gave Cloud a warning look.

Elena gave Tseng the aforementioned report, all the while keeping her suspicious eyes on Cloud, "what's wrong with him?"

"I don't know," Tseng whispered back. "He came here to hire either you or me for a mission, then lost his mind while trying to explain what it was."

Cloud heard the hushed whispers and pouted, "I'm not insane!"

"Now Cloud, calm down," Elena spoke gently, "tell us what's wrong, we're only trying to help you," her tone and chosen words only made her sound more suspicious.

"You-tell-me-Tifa!" Cloud blurted out, his face red like a tomato.

Elena laughed, "is that all? Don't worry Tseng, he's not crazy, he was just having some trouble communicating. I'll take this mission and don't worry, I'll be casual; Tifa will never know you asked."

Cloud breathed in relief, "thank you." That was it, it was done, now all he had to do was wait.

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Some time later, Cloud was cleaning his room when Tifa stood at the door. "Cloud, can I talk to you?"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah!"

Tifa took a deep breath, "I was talking to someone and I realized how that maybe the only way for us to be able to tell each other how we feel is if I take the first step. Maybe you've tried to tell me before, but maybe you were interrupted. Anyway, lets not put it off, be honest Cloud, do you love me like I love you?"

"No way, no way!"

Tifa was both furious and hurt. Elena's guess had been wrong and Tifa also misinterpreted the signs. Without another word, she stormed away.

Feeling nervous and impatient for Elena to give Tifa the hint that would make her go talk to him, Cloud had occupied himself in cleaning his room. He put on a tiny pair of wireless earphones that were barely visible inside his ears and further hidden by his hair. He tried to focus on the song to calm down, but got a little too caught up with it, singing along with the most unfortunate lyrics at the worse time possible.

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Mission 68: Smart

Reno stood dumb-folded, further proving the point that Rufus had just expressed when he called the Turks to his office that morning. "I'm not stupid!" The denial only made him sound more lacking in the brain department, as anyone who was smart, should not need to point it out.

Rufus was feeling nice that morning and decided to elaborate, "I know you're not stupid, you have some useful skills," building explosives, finding blackmail, sneaking around, surviving being thrown against walls and off buildings, piloting a vast variety of vehicles, getting drunk on orange juice, among other talents. "The point is people think you look stupid."

"I look cool!" Reno insisted, "I have fan girls!" Not just fan girls, but also a ghostly stalker, a shape shifter body of thoughts, a being created by the love of his fan girls, far more powerful than any remnant of Sephiroth ever was. It was a scary thought, but also something that filled him with pride.

"We all do," Rufus reminded, though clearly he was less happy about it than Reno, as the distraction sometimes became annoying to his work, while Reno welcomed all distractions during work.

"I have fan boys," Elena grinned, the discovery had been truly amazing to her as she had been feeling ignored among the Turks, but she soon realized that perhaps it was not so unique after all, "but I guess you all do too."

The four men in the office cringed, "there's no need to discuss this," Rufus half growled, he didn't need to remember the fan boys. "Anyway, the point is that for the sake of public relations I'm giving all of you the mission to make Reno look smart; that is all, you are dismissed."

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Tseng, being the leader, decided to give the issue the first attempt. He made Reno sit down at the Turks office and began to brush his hair. Of course Reno didn't sit still, so he had Rude hold him in place. "Some of this... just like that... okay, you're ready!"

Reno looked in the mirror with a tortured expression. His hair was flat and well brushed, not a single hair out of place. Plus the sticky stuff Tseng put on it made it appear darker instead of the overly bright red that made him stand out.

"Go walk around the city to show how smart you look," Tseng ordered, despite Reno's complaints, pouts and sad kitten eyes, "that's an order, Reno! Rude, make him go."

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At the end of the day Rufus viewed the results of an online survey, Reno was still thought of as stupid and no one really liked the unidentified new Turk whom they did not believe to be Reno. He couldn't possibly be Reno, his hair wasn't bright enough and his expression was sad and uncomfortable instead of cheery.

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Having failed, Tseng stepped aside to allow Rude to give the mission a try on the next day. By then Reno's hair was fixed to his bright messy style and he was feeling much better.

Rude tried to make Reno appear smart by stopping him from saying anything silly. However, try as he may to get Reno to stay silent, it never lasted long and Reno would always blurt out some random silly comment about something or other. The quiet Turk gave up mid day and allowed the Rookie to give it a shot.

Elena's idea was simple but classic; she got a pair of glasses and had Reno wear them. They were not nerdy bottle-bottoms, as that would be too excessive, instead the glasses has a classy elegant frame that looked pretty good. The Turks thought that Elena had found the solution to their mission, but then Reno started running into walls and tripping over his own feet. Alas, the glasses were not regular glass as initially assumed, but actually prescription and they did not match Reno's eyes at all.

Elena had apparently found them while cleaning Healin Lodge in an old box labeled 'brother', though no one really knew why Rufus kept such things. She had mistakenly assumed the glasses, despite the box's mysterious label, belonged to Rufus and he had them as a non-prescription accessory, since the Turks knew he didn't really need them. As a result of Reno's clumsiness, despite looking cool, his level of stupidity went up on the public polls.

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The next day happened to be a Sunday and though Tseng wanted to continue the mission until it was done, Reno snuck away. The other Turks, under Tseng's workaholic insistence, tracked Reno down to Rocket Town.

Puzzled by his location, the Turks observed Reno quietly as he helped Cid with his airship. They knew Reno loved flying, though he wasn't as obvious about it as Cid. They also knew that they had actually become friends due to their mutual interest in flying machines after Shinra and the former Avalanche made peace. What they did not know was that Reno had such a geeky side to him, actually calling the airship parts by their technical names and using terminology that most regular people might not understand at all, while discussing the inner workings of the airship's design.

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When Monday came around, Rufus was surprised by the public opinion survey results many of which labeled Reno as some kind of mechanical and aviation engineering geek. Cid was angry that his airship parts were filmed, while the Turks secretly filmed Reno for the purposes of their mission, but he was assured his copyright would be protected by Shinra and didn't make too much of a fuss after being bribed with some shiny new airship parts.

None the less, the general public was not happy, Reno was not supposed to be that smart, it didn't make any sense. They feared the contradiction was due to some kind of severe mutation he had kept hidden for years and was finally becoming too unstable to suppress. Surely the redhead Turk would soon become insane and start burning down random little towns all over the planet.

Resigned to the inevitable failure of their mission, the Turks decided to tell people that the video was a fake, and that the geek talk was a voice-over by a paid actor, because Reno wasn't even smart enough to read those big words from paper. People believed it immediately and calmed down.

Rufus ultimately canceled the mission, concluding that trying too hard to get approval was not worth it and that unless you want to be labeled as a mutant freak, you should just be yourself.

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Mission 69: Air Show

A connection that leads to friendship can also lead to ruin. One man's treasure is another's trash and two men's misery is the joy of the world. Between the flames, wreckage, festive confetti and arguing of "it's your fault!" and "no, it's your fault!" two men miraculously survive with seemingly harmless scratches that will sting terribly when the first aid arrives to prove that sometimes the cure is worse than the illness.

"Tiny Bronco II," Cid agonized.

"Radioactive Cake," Reno joined in. There was a pause in which Reno received odd stares. "What? I can name my airplane whatever I want!"

Then the agony continued. "Why?!" Cid and Reno cried out in pain, more so for their beloved flying machines than for themselves and outside of the Seventh Heaven, the crowd's cheers roared like cruel barbarians witnessing the public execution of two innocents.

When Reno began to frequent Rocket Town to help Cid with his airship work, since Reno was also very interested in flying, everyone thought it would end in disaster. However, time passed and things became calmer than ever before. Reno had a hobby to keep him busy under the watchful eye of Cid, which prevented him from causing too much trouble.

Cid had someone to share his obsession with who didn't know more than him, but knew enough to keep up with some instruction. He had Shera to share his engineering with, but then her geeky rocket scientist side would surface and Cid hated to be corrected, he would much rather learn through trial and error, with him conducting the trials and Reno, the sacrificial guinea-pig, dealing with the consequences of the errors.

Of course such a lovely friendship was too good to be true and one day Cid and Reno ended up arguing about who was the best pilot, which led to a competition in the air that would go down in history as the best air show ever. They flew above the city of Edge, spun in mid air, made sharp turns and let out a tail of smoke to write in the sky. Albeit many would criticize their spelling and grammar, the crowd was nonetheless very impressed.

Then they got distracted, absorbed in the joy of flying and their own maneuvers in the sky, off in their own little worlds, thinking that the sky belong to no one else. That's when they lost track of each other and crashed in mid air, both airplanes exploding in a rush of fireworks in the sky. They had been playing to throw out the fireworks along with a load of confetti in the next part of their act, competing for the most impressive display, but the crash detonated them all at once.

Everyone assumed it was all part of the show and what a show it was. Reno and Cid landed in parachutes among the cheering crowd and the rain of confetti. Shera, Tifa, Cloud, Rufus and the other Turks were among the crowd that gathered in the streets of Edge after the announcement of the greatest air show ever was made on Shinra's television network and website. Reno did not get Rufus' authorization for that, but the show had been a great success so Rufus decided it was for the best.

The crowd was still cheering loudly as the surviving pilots were taken inside the Seventh Heaven where their multiple scratches were cleaned with stinging disinfectant and bandaged properly. The two men were still mourning their airplanes and blaming each other when Rufus made an announcement, "I expect you to be ready for another show next week," all the witnesses, despite the state the pilots were left in, had loved the show and cheered for Rufus' great idea, expressing their happiness at his sponsorship of the next event.

Reno and Cid were speechless for a moment before exploding in a fit of complaints, objections, grumbles and whining that turned out to be useless anyway; these people did not understand the sorrowful sacrifice of a personally customized airplane. After all, one man's treasure is another's trash and two men's misery is the joy of the world.

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Mission 70: Breaking the Limits

"Reno, shut up or you'll ruin the picture and for goodness' sake, Cloud smile!" Tifa had suspiciously insisted to take a picture of Reno, Cloud and Rufus together and the three men had no choice but to comply, Rufus strangely easily, Reno without argument, but without stopping his current ramble and Cloud dragging his feet and frowning, he didn't feel photogenic.

Reno kept quiet for a split second before going on about how Tifa should get his good side, but that it didn't matter too much because he was awesome from any angle. "Reno, shut up!" Rufus scolded, then once the redhead was quiet, this time for just long enough, as the three continued posing for the camera.

Tifa gave up on making Cloud smile, settling for his pitiful grin and took the picture. "One more," Tifa joined them, handing the camera to Rufus.

Rufus was about to protest about not appearing in the picture if he was the one taking it, but remembered his mission, having been caught up on looking good for the camera before. This time after the click of the camera there was the click of handcuffs, the sneaky Tifa had handcuffed Reno and Cloud together. Then Rufus announced, "Reno, your mission is to test the limit break theory by staying handcuffed to Cloud for twenty-four hours!"

"I don't want to be stuck with Mr. Emo for three days!" Reno complained.

Cloud could only twitch and mutter, "not happening."

"One day, twenty-four hours is one day," Rufus corrected, feeling kind of sorry for Cloud, but not enough to let go of his amusement.

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It had been only fifteen minutes and Reno and Cloud were already driving each other crazy, Rufus had retreated to the safety of his office, leaving the bribed Tifa in charge of the limit break study. "I can't take it anymore, he's too emo!" Reno pinched Cloud's cheeks and stretched his face up in a weird smile.

"Stop it!" Cloud tried to push Reno away, forgetting they were handcuffed and was dragged along with the redhead, both of them falling on the floor.

"Get off, Cloud, you're heavy!" Reno complained, as he and Cloud scrambled to their feet while Tifa laughed.

"Are you calling me fat?" Cloud glared, now he would have something else to be emo about. A sudden staring contest ensued until Cloud blinked and Reno began to celebrate his victory, while Cloud continued to pout, "I'm going out to make a delivery."

"Not like this," Reno lifted his hand along with Cloud's, the silver handcuffs still joining their wrists.

"I have to do something to keep busy, you're driving me insane!" Cloud argued in desperation.

"No, you're driving me insane!" Reno argued back, while Tifa continued to laugh at their antics, feeling a little cruel, but most of all amused.

They shoved each other away, dragging the other along until they tried to move away, walking in parallel motions, faster and faster until they ran, throwing childish insults at each other such as chocobo-head and tomato-head. The race continued outside the Seventh Heaven, with Tifa chasing after them, they pushed random people aside, invoking their anger and began to use materia at each other, missing their real target or being caught in the blast and leaving destruction in their path.

Realizing the situation was out of control, Tifa tried to stop them, but it was too late. However, it seemed that everything would be alright and the destruction would end when Reno clumsily got himself and Cloud trapped inside a pyramid.

"This is your fault," Cloud grumbled.

"No, it's your fault!" Reno argued.

Tifa watched them from outside the pyramid, "I'm not letting you out of there until you're ready to behave and stop destroying things."

"Fine, be that way, we'll let ourselves out," Reno retorted.

"How are we going to do that?" Cloud felt helpless and claustrophobic. "I thought the pyramids could only be broken from the outside."

"You think I don't know how to break out of my own pyramid? Grandpa will let us out." Reno appeared to be sure enough that it would work.

"Your grandfather?" Cloud questioned, he had never really seen anyone from Reno's family except once catching a glance at Rita when she came to visit Edge one day. She was cheerful, party-loving and looked more like Reno's big sister than his mother. Cloud knew he should stay away, one crazy redhead was already too much.

"Kind of," Reno grinned as the materia glowed.

"Ramuh? What will happen if you summon him here?" Cloud doubted that it was a good idea when they were trapped in such close quarters.

"Guys, I don't like the glow of materia I'm seeing in there," Tifa warned, though when Cloud joined in to release his summons as well, having decided that the possible consequences couldn't be worse than the current situation, she was wise enough to run for cover.

The pyramid broke in a huge explosion as the summons were released, the full force of their attack being thrown all around, perhaps even stronger due to being compressed in the pyramid and suddenly let out when it broke. Needless to say, they caused a disarray of a disaster zone. In the middle of it all, looking bruised and burned, there stood Reno and Cloud, still handcuffed to each other, but they somehow knew they wouldn't be stuck together for much longer, they had already broken the limits of tolerable destruction.

To be Continued

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Missions: Report VIII

Mission 71: Time Bomb

It all began with Reno's bright idea and Cloud's stupid acceptance of that bright idea. This was nothing new, as trouble usually begins with one of Reno's ideas. Marlene's birthday had gone very well, though Barret wasn't pleased that Shinra had sent a representative with a gift, that had been Reno's mission. Barret kept a close eye on said gift but later deemed it harmless when he saw it was some kind of model building kit. What could it hurt to piece together toys, even if they were Shinra toys? The man with the gun arm had been going to anger management training at Tifa's insistence and became a little more tolerant of Shinra, though he did it with gritted teeth and angry glares.

It was the day after Marlene's birthday when Reno was hanging around the Seventh Heaven as he usually did, along with his red chocobo, Blaze. Cloud had no deliveries that day, Tifa was there as well, being the proprietary of the business and Barret had stayed over for an extra day. Marlene and Denzel were upstairs playing with the new toys she got for her birthday. Denzel was thankful Marlene wasn't one of those girly girls who played with dolls or else she would force him to play with her and he didn't want to do that. All the girls around them were a bit tomboyish anyway, so Marlene wasn't a pink princess either.

Marlene went downstairs to show everyone her creation, a small time bomb she made from the building kit Reno got her for her birthday in the name of Shinra, further upgraded with parts from the expansion packs Reno talked Cloud into getting, assuring that explosives were the perfect gifts for a girl who was becoming a young lady, because women love explosives. "Look what I made!" Marlene held up the round device that ticked suspiciously.

Denzel didn't know what that thing was; he didn't know what the kit was for because neither of them read the instructions. The device didn't appear to be special, it wasn't a car or airplane or train, just a round thing, yet Marlene assured she had put it together correctly by instinct or something like that, thus Denzel wisely decided to be cautious.

"How nice," Tifa wondered what the ticking was for and spotted a small display with red numbers. It wasn't the time of the day, but a number counting backwards, perhaps a sort of chronometer. "You see, Barret? I told you everything would be fine, this is a very good gift with intellectual value that encourages creativity." She passed it along for everyone to get the chance to see Marlene's creation, while Barret grumbled quietly and counted to ten.

Reno examined the time bomb, he knew exactly what it was, "here Cloud, you hold it."

Cloud didn't like the look in Reno's eyes, he should have known listening to him and giving Marlene that time bomb building kit was a bad idea. "What do I do with it?"

"Pass it to me," Tifa encouraged, convinced that it was nothing but a harmless hot potato game, maybe the round device would play music when the time ran out, then the one holding it would have to sing along. Tifa received the bomb and passed it to Denzel who had a bad feeling about it and tossed it forward as soon as he got it.

Barret caught the bomb and it beeped. Marlene ran for cover behind the counter and Denzel followed her, not really knowing why, but he knew it was best not to question his survival instinct. "Take cover!" Reno yelled. Blaze jumped over the counter following Reno while Tifa stood confused until Cloud tackled her behind the counter, she didn't see the explosion that followed, but they all heard it.

When they peeked out from behind the counter, with Tifa scolding Cloud for being so wild, Barret was letting out a stream of colorful curses, his gun arm was damaged with sparks flying from it as it went haywire and a rain of bullets followed. All those present took cover again, until the ammunition ran out and the crisis passed.

"Barret, how could you!" Tifa scolded angrily. "We were just joking around; you don't have to be such a sore loser! It was cheating to run away from the hot potato, but you didn't have to overreact like that. You made a mess, the walls are full of holes and you broke Marlene's toy. You should be ashamed of yourself, just be thankful no one got hurt."

"I didn't do it, this thing blew up on its own!" Barret argued.

"Nonsense, it's just a toy, it's perfectly safe!" Tifa insisted, scolding and upset.

"It's from Shinra!" Barret emphasized, frustrated and angry.

"Cloud made sure it was alright and he even got the expansion packs to match the starter kit, it was a perfectly safe toy, right Cloud?" Cloud nodded his head at Tifa's critical look, unable to utter a single word. He knew that opening his mouth would inevitably lead him to inserting his foot in it. "Barret, I expect you to clean this mess!" Tifa ordered.

"But my arm isn't working, besides, I'm telling you that thing was a real bomb, it blew up!" Barret complained.

"That's enough!" Tifa's glare made all those present back away slowly. "You will clean this up and fix the holes in the walls, now!" Defeated, Barret went off to fix the damage, grumbling about the evils of Shinra. Tifa took a deep breath, then tried to look calm so the others would stop looking so frightened, "I'm sorry about your toy, Marlene."

"That's okay," Marlene wasn't sure what there was to be sorry about, the bomb had worked exactly as it was supposed to. She knew she was being mischievous, but there was a certain rush of satisfaction that came upon getting away with it.

"I have to go now," Reno decided it was best to leave before someone blamed him for what happened, "come on Blaze, time to go home."

"I have to go make a delivery," Cloud made up an excuse to leave.

"I thought you didn't have any deliveries for today, Tifa recalled.

"I forgot about it, but I just remembered it so I have to go now," Cloud, Reno and Blaze left.

Tifa watched them exit the Seventh Heaven suspiciously, but she soon shrugged it off and let them be. They were probably running off to bet on the chocobo races or something, Blaze was not only fast but also well trained as a battle chocobo since Reno had been taking him to work with him since he was a chicobo. Reno was banned from the Gold Saucer, but that didn't stop him from sneaking in and entering the races before anyone could stop him. Surely they were just running away from the possibility of being asked to help Barret clean, not that Tifa was planning to do that, it was his mess to fix all by himself.

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Mission 72: Delivery Boy

Cloud lay in bed in his pajamas, light blue adorned with pictures of little clouds. He was blissfully staring at the ceiling, he didn't need to get up today, he had the day off from his deliveries due to having hurt his toes. It was Reno's fault of course; most of Cloud's disasters were Reno's fault. To compensate for the incident, Reno was given the mission to go on Cloud's deliveries, which was harder than it sounded.

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"Come in, come in!" Mukki insisted when he saw the new delivery boy. "You're so much more cheerful then Cloudy, don't get me wrong I love Cloudy, but he's always so gloomy."

"I'm only here to deliver this box," Reno was certain he didn't want to know what was in the box.

"No, no, you have to come in!" Mukki smiled, looking even creepier in his pink sweat suit, he had apparently been getting ready to start exercising. "Your hair is so red and shiny; you must let me brush it!"

Reno backed away slowly, he felt sorry for Cloud, if this was his job no wonder he was depressed. Reno was really starting to worry, when a loud "wark!" put Mukki in his place.

Mukki looked at the big red bird, so brightly colored and festive, but so dangerous and threatening. What if the chocobo pecked his face full of holes? "He doesn't bite, right? Oh those lovely feathers, may I have some to decorate my hair?"

"Wark!" Blaze spread his wings threateningly, causing Mukki to jump back.

Relieved that he had his dear chocobo with him, Reno held out a clipboard, "sign here!"

Mukki took the offered pen with a shaking hand and signed, taking the box and watching as the cute new delivery boy hopped on the fabulous but dangerous red chocobo and dashed away like a run away prince from a fairy tale.

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The next delivery was similar to the first in terms of the client, but quite different in other aspects, while still remaining alike. "I thought I banned you!" Dio was sure he would never be free of the red haired trouble maker running around his Gold Saucer.

"I'm here to bring a package, that's all," Reno handed Dio the box who signed for it without complaints. "Since I'm here, I might as well have a look around..."

"No, no, you are banned! The chocobo on the other hand is another story. I watched the last race and let me say I've never seen such a magnificent creature." Dio looked at Blaze with adoration, which caused the chocobo to back away. "The strength, the speed, the endurance, the elegance, this chocobo is special!"

Dio was in the middle of his speech when Reno hit him on the head with his electro-rod, "stay away from my baby!" Then he hopped on Blaze again and they hurried away.

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"We have one more delivery for today," Reno petted Blaze; he didn't know how he would have survived the day without him. Fearing the worse, Reno jumped off the chocobo in front of the house of the last delivery and rung the doorbell.

The door was opened by a little old lady who looked harmless, "is that box for me?"

"Yes it is and I need your autograph right here," the lady signed and received the box. That last delivery was easy so Reno was relieved.

"You look more cheerful today, Cloud, that's good. Is that the red haired boy who's always picking on you, Reno was it? I knew you two were good friends deep down. How about some cookies?" The old lady offered.

Reno could not turn down cookies so he happily agreed, not even bothering to clarify that he wasn't Cloud and Blaze wasn't him. The old lady really needed to go to the eye doctor.

"Have you thought about what I asked you before?" The lady inquired while Reno and Blaze were happily eating cookies. "It would make me so very happy."

Reno had no idea what the old lady was talking about, but she was the sweet grandmotherly type, whatever she wanted couldn't be bad. "Sure, I'll do it, no problem."

"You will? Oh thank you, how about we get started on the preparations tomorrow?" The old lady smiled happily.

"Sounds good to me!" Reno had no idea what he was agreeing to, but it wasn't his problem anyway, tomorrow Cloud would go back to making deliveries. Besides, how much trouble could this be? It was just offering a kind old lady some help; Cloud would have probably done it anyway.

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The next day at the Seventh Heaven, Cloud was about to leave to go on deliveries, his recovery vacation was over. He went down stairs to have some breakfast and was greeted by a newspaper to the face thrown by Tifa, "you have no shame!"

Cloud examined the news article on the page that collided with his face. It was an announcement proclaiming that a certain rich old lady was engaged to a much younger man by the name of Cloud Strife.

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Mission 73: Baby Vincent

As it always happened with DDR, everyone gets competitive and tries much harder than they would have otherwise. Some make it a duel, such as Cloud and Rude. Others just want to have fun and instead trip over their own feet, like Reno. There are also those who win with ease without trying too hard, like Tifa. Such is the way of the DDR.

There is also the classic occasion of inevitably dropping something while trying to follow the arrows. The case was not Rude, though it would have been ironic if he dropped his sunglasses then stepped on them while playing DDR, since it was Reno who usually clumsily stepped on Rude's sunglasses. This time instead, the one who dropped something was Vincent of all people. The item, light as a feather, slipped out mysteriously from under his cloak and was blown away by the breeze of the red cloak as Vincent danced.

The item was a picture which fell at Marlene's feet. She curiously picked it up and returned it to Vincent when he was done with the DDR song, asking loudly and cheerfully, "is this your baby picture?"

Vincent tried to take the picture immediately, but Tifa's hand shot out first and grabbed it, "let me see! Aw, how cute!" With her announcement the Seventh Heaven, which had been declared the official DDR battle arena, was filled with curiosity and the picture was inevitably passed around, much to Vincent's annoyance.

Since he knew they wouldn't stop asking, Vincent explained, "I found those pictures in the Shinra Mansion," among some old things that used to belong to his father and were set aside buried under a mountain of other random things long ago.

"This is the baby I was looking for!" Rufus exclaimed when the picture was passed to him after going through the Turks. The baby's big bright red eyes matched the Shinra logo perfectly and they stood out against the child's ghostly pale skin and long black hair, it was like a black and white picture with one detail in a bright color.

Everyone was confused and Vincent had to asked, "why would you be looking for my baby picture?"

"Not yours specifically," Rufus explained, "I was looking for a baby to feature on the ads promoting the new line of Shinra baby toys. This baby will be the new face of Shinra!" Rufus held up the picture proudly.

Vincent snatched away the picture and hid it in his cloak, "I'm not a baby anymore."

"You don't need to worry, I'll just have my people recreate a computer generated version of you as a baby, it will be perfectly realistic, I'm sure," Rufus reasoned. This time everyone was in his favor, encouraging Vincent to appear on Shinra's ads. Even Barret, who clearly hated Shinra, decided that it was a good idea so that Vincent could influence them for the better, since it was clear Shinra would never just go away.

Vincent frowned, in an expression much like an emo Cloud, different from his baby picture where no one could tell if he was pouting or grinning. He knew he was doomed as long as that picture existed, so there was only one thing to do. He retrieved the picture from his cloak along with a lighter, because real men always carry lighters even if they have no use for them, then he burned the picture to ashes.

Before Tifa decided he needed to be decapitated for the mess. Vincent scooped up the ashes in a napkin and handed it to Rufus, "you may use my baby picture if you wish," he was certain there was no other picture aside from the one that became ashes in existence, so he assumed he was safe. Having his baby picture all over Shinra would be worse than dealing with everyone's complaints about his action anyway.

Rufus grinned and handed the ashes back to Vincent, "you should keep that one, I already have a copy." Simultaneously Tseng, Elena, Reno and Rude showed their PHS' where Vincent's baby picture was displayed in perfect high definition, in even better quality than it had been on paper. "It's already been sent to the databases at Shinra and we have many secret backups."

Vincent was about to protest but stopped, he understood he wouldn't be able to win anymore; he too had been a Turk after all. Turks never let an opportunity to gather blackmail slip by and once they have it, there's no stopping them.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 74: Tricky

"I'll do it!" Yuffie exclaimed at the top of her lungs as she entered the Seventh Heaven.

Tifa, Reno and Vincent looked towards the new arrival, taking note of her unusual attire. "What are you going to do and why are you dressed like that?" Tifa inquired.

Before Yuffie could say anything, Reno cut in, "is there a party? Why haven't I been invited? I'm going to crash it if you don't invite me!" Determined, Reno stood up and marched away, he stopped, turned back, finished his drink which had already been paid for, then marched towards the door again. "You just wait; I'll have the best samurai costume in the entire party!" He ran outside.

Yuffie pouted and crossed her arms indignantly stomping her foot. Her wooden sandal sounded off against the floor, "samurai? I'm a ninja and there's no party!" Reno was already gone and could not hear this.

"Then why are you dressed like that?" Tifa repeated the question.

Yuffie was wearing a royal blue kimono with pictures of golden shurikens on it. "I just thought I should wear something special today since it's my first day as a model," Yuffie grinned from ear to ear and posed with one hand behind her head and the other at her waist.

"Really, you're a model?" Tifa wasn't expecting that, "when did it happen?"

"Oh you know," Yuffie made her way to the bar and sat down next to the quiet Vincent, "stardom came so fast!"

Tifa rolled her eyes, "don't let it go to your head."

Yuffie flipped her hair; she was wearing a big golden bow on her head, to match the one around her waist. "Don't worry, we won't forget all the little people when we're famous, right Vincent?"

"If you say so," Vincent muttered, he wasn't sure he wanted to be included in the conversation and didn't know why he was being included.

"Look at him, sitting there getting inspired," Yuffie laughed, "so, when will we be getting started?"

Tifa looked in confusion between Yuffie and Vincent, the bartender's perplexity matched that of the man in the red cloak. He spoke uncertain, "what do you mean we?"

"I model, you sculpt, that's how it works," Yuffie reviewed, "I'm the answer to your request. Remember how you needed a model for your sculptures? Well, I'm here!"

Vincent shook his head, "I don't need a model to base my sculptures on, I need some tools to help model the sculptures," he remembered his innocent request from not too long ago. He had asked Reeve if he had any tools he could borrow, but Reeve sent him to Rufus, who must have passed the mission on to the Turks, who misinterpreted his request.

"What about my modeling career?" Yuffie dramatized, "my fifteen minutes of fame can't end now, not before they even start!" She pouted indignantly, "just what are you sculpting anyway? What could be better than me?"

"I promised Cid I would sculpt a rocket for him, in a much smaller size than a real one of course. I also told Nanaki I would sculpt him next, in life size, he wants to put the statue next to Seto," Vincent explained.

"Can you sculpt me next?" Tifa suddenly chirped.

"Very well, I will add you to the waiting list" Vincent agreed, "I will sculpt the rocket, Nanaki and then Tifa, after that I will rest."

Yuffie gritted her teeth in indignation, "what about me?" Before Vincent could answer, she hissed, "fine, be that way, you're probably intimidated because you know there's no way you could capture my true beauty!" She got up and began to leave, "I'm still keeping my payment!" She waved some pictures around; they were of Cloud playing with dolls.

"I don't want to know," Vincent looked away.

"It can't be," Tifa gasped in shock as Yuffie left the Seventh Heaven, "I requested a mission for Reno to play dolls with Marlene, I wanted to help Cloud get back at him, but somehow Reno must have tricked Cloud into taking his place and got some blackmail out of it too."

"Turks are tricky," Vincent simply stated.

Tifa eyed him suspiciously, "didn't you used to be a Turk?"

Vincent cleared his throat and tried to change the subject, "so, do you think Reno really believed Yuffie was dressed up for a costume party or was he putting up an act to escape?"

"I don't know," Tifa replied, "Turks are tricky."

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 75: Prank

He was terrified and he didn't know it was the work of karma guided by his own hands, but that aside he was very afraid. He had a good reason to fear for his life if he was ever discovered, but he was unaware of it, instead fearing because of something else.

Reno of the Turks, the resident troublemaker of Edge had done it again; he sabotaged Cloud's shampoo, sneaking upstairs and down again unnoticed. He was surprised to arrive at the Seventh Heaven to see Cloud at the counter, while the delicious scents coming from the kitchen told him that Tifa was there, cooking.

The delivery boy's hair was just as blond as ever and Reno pouted, impatient for his trick to work. He couldn't have discovered the prank, he would have complained if that was the case. Was it just that Cloud stopped washing his hair? That would be gross.

Then Tifa exited the kitchen behind the counter, her hair a bright red. Since her hair was black, and black is a stubborn color when it comes to changing, it took a few washes for it to lighten and become red.

Tifa knew Reno would be insane to try to prank her; he always played jokes on Cloud, but never her. She was the bartender and cook who made his meals and drinks, no one was stupid enough to mess with the person that handled their food, not even Reno. Thus she blamed it on the shampoo; it was a new brand that she was trying for the first time. Even so, it wasn't so bad, her hair looked nice.

Reno remembered how he once walked into the Seventh Heaven to find Cloud hugging Tifa while calling out his name. He didn't know that Cloud was only complaining to Tifa and found the scene creepy. Terrified Reno ran away, he thought Tifa had dyed her hair red as part of a Reno cosplay to please Cloud. He never once questioned that the sabotaged shampoo bottle belonged to Cloud, he could totally picture him using girly shampoo.

Tifa found Reno running away to be odd, but assumed he remembered he had something to do. Cloud didn't understand, Tifa had not complained about her hair so he thought she dyed it on purpose. Cloud didn't like it because it was Reno's color, but he didn't say that to Tifa to avoid offending her.

Reno came to several conclusions that day. One, despite the creepiness of the situation, Tifa looked good as a redhead. Two, Cloud did not wash his hair anymore. Three, Cloud was obsessed with him.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 76: Look

Reno of the Turks, red hair, goggles, silly grin, hardly ever shuts up. Rude of the Turks, no hair, sunglasses, serious expression, hardly ever speaks. Total opposites, best friends. Unlike Rude, Reno liked pranks, from the silly to the elaborate, though the simple improvised jokes were his favorites.

"Hey Rude, look behind you, it's a giant lime green moogle!" It was a simple joke as old as time, but Reno could never get Rude to fall for it and look. The redhead pouted as Rude ignored him and continued enjoying his food. The Turks were at the Seventh Heaven where Tifa always welcomed them as her best customers, much to Cloud's annoyance.

"Give up," Tifa laughed, "no one falls for that kind of joke, unless it's an idiot."

Cue Cloud, the delivery boy went downstairs with his last box of the day. "I'm going on my last delivery now, I'll be back soon."

"Okay," Tifa smiled, she had some secret plans.

"Cloud look out, Sephiroth is right behind you and it looks like he's going to glomp you like a fan girl!" Reno pointed to the empty space behind Cloud.

Cloud jumped in shock, his expression terrified. He dropped the box, its contents shattering on impact. He drew his sword and prepared to defend himself against... air. "There's nothing here!"

A collective fit of laughter invaded the Seventh Heaven, "made you look!" Reno choked out his mocking words between laughs, "you fall for it every time!"

"Sephiroth hugging Cloud is less likely than the giant lime green moogle," Tifa sighed, "I rest my case," Cloud could be rather dense at times. That was the reason why Tifa planned to do something special for Cloud that would let him know beyond the shadow of a doubt that she was interested in him.

"You!" Cloud turned his rage towards Reno.

"Cloud!" The delivery boy froze at Tifa's scolding voice. She raised her index finger moving it from side to side in a sign of 'no'.

Cloud pouted, put away his sword and picked up the box he dropped. He stomped out of the Seventh Heaven angrily. Tifa never took his side when he wanted to kill Reno, life wasn't fair.

xoxox xox xoxox

When Cloud returned, Tifa had already put her plan into action. She was wrapped up as a present waiting for Cloud to find her. Unfortunately, she fell asleep in her box, which Cloud mistakenly delivered to Rufus. At least he didn't drop the box, but that also meant Tifa didn't wake up until she was in Rufus' office, with Cloud gone. Tifa stormed out in a fury, Cloud would pay for this.

Just outside of Rufus' office Rude and Reno were walking down the hall. Tifa exited the office and went in the opposite direction towards the elevator. "Rude look, it's Tifa and she's wrapped up like a present!" Reno pointed.

Rude paid his partner no mind and kept walking without looking back.

"I'm serious, she's right there. It's Tifa in gift wrap, look!" Reno tugged on Rude's arm, but the tall man could not be moved. "I'm telling the truth this time, honest!" Rude disappeared down the hall with Reno uselessly trying to drag him in the opposite direction. Instead the redhead was dragged along as Rude walked, unable to make the larger man turn around. Tifa left and Rude never knew what he had missed.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 77: Paintball

Reno smiled as sweetly as he could and Reeve backed away. He was stressed enough as it was, the last thing he needed was Reno showing up by surprise at his WRO office. "I was thinking," the conversation was off to a bad start. When Reno bothered to think about something it was because he was plotting mischief. "You look really stressed so I thought I should help you relax. The president says I'm not embracing the new Shinra enough. I asked him if hugging the building would be enough, but he didn't sound satisfied." Reno remembered the odd looks he got while attempting to hug the building, his arms outstretched against the wall. "Anyway, I'm doing a good deed here so just go with it. I'm taking you to the shooting range for a game of paintball."

"No!" Reeve screamed in (rather squeaky) agony. It was too late, Reno had already decided that it would be done.

xoxox xox xoxox

The day came and the Turks lined up in their paintball suits at the outdoor shooting range. Tseng was briefing them as if they were about to go into a real battle field. Reeve arrived right on time being carried by Cloud. "Put me down! Have you forgotten what I've done for you, ingrate!"

Cloud set the frightened Reeve down, "sorry, the Turks paid me to deliver you here. They said they would put me out of business if I refused." His advertisement did say he delivered any kind of cargo. That did not exclude living cargo of the kicking and screaming variety. He really needed to work on a new ad.

Tseng looked completely serious, "that is our target." He pointed at Reeve, sounding very much like an army general. "Let the battle begin!" Sometimes, you just had to go with the flow. Sometimes, you just had to listen to Reno even if his ideas were a little crazy. It was especially one of those times when the possibility surfaced that Reno had found a new victim. He had someone to bother outside of Shinra and the Turks, for the sake of their own peace and quiet, would support that.

Frightened beyond belief, Reeve let out a high pitched squeak and dashed away. He didn't even bother to suit up or grab a paintball gun. He knew he wouldn't stand a chance either way.

"Fire!" Tseng announced, he started sounding more like an executioner than an army general. Cloud jumped aside as Tseng, Reno, Rude and Elena began to shoot paint at their helpless victim. Soon Reeve was coated in red, blue, green and yellow.

Not daring to risk his life, Cloud took cover behind the equipment shed. It was the only really safe place in the large land of the shooting range. He peeked out and yelled advice, but didn't do much else. He wanted to be safe but couldn't help it but to watch the event unfold. He made a mental note not to get on the Turks' bad side. He knew firsthand how lethal Reno could be with a prank. Getting the Turks mad was a death wish. Perhaps they had been holding back all along.

The multicolored Reeve crawled away from the merciless Turks. He saw a pair of shoes and looked up to see Rufus Shinra, all geared up for paintball. "You came to save me!" A flicker of hope came and went.

Rufus grinned, all the frustrations that Reno caused him resurfaced in his memory. Misery loves company. "You know, my weapon of choice is a gun." The last thing Reeve saw before passing out, was a massive storm of black paint.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 78: Turbulence

"Reno," Elena hissed quietly as she entered the pilot's cabin of Rufus' private jet. "Why are the motion sensor's in the cargo hold going off?"

Seconds passed and there was no reply.

"Reno!" Elena called again louder. She listened and realized that Reno was absentmindedly humming something. Annoyed, she pulled one side of the headphones he was wearing, the sound of music escaping, then she let it go.

"Ow!" Reno complained as the headphone recoiled and collided with his right ear. "What are you doing over here, Elena? Change of plans?"

"Yes, but not in the flight schedule. Our plans for a peaceful trip have been canceled. We have an intruder in the cargo hall. He's probably out to kill the president. I told you to check the jet but you just had to go to that souvenir shop."

"Quit whining, why didn't you check the jet yourself?" Reno retorted.

"Because I was guarding the president!" Elena argued. Reno set the jet to auto pilot and exited the cabin followed by Elena. "Where are you going?"

"To get rid of the intruder you can't get rid of yourself," Reno replied smugly.

Elena pouted and glared, "I didn't say I couldn't take care of this myself. I just said that it's your fault it happened!"

"That still doesn't solve it," Reno pouted in returned and they began a staring contest.

The contest was broken by loud footsteps, signaling that the intruder was entering the passenger area ready for a fight. Rufus woke up from his in flight nap and yawned loudly. "What's that noise?"

"Turbulence!" Reno and Elena replied at the same time, their rushed combined voices reaching a high volume.

Rufus frowned, "you don't have to yell and since when does turbulence make any sound?"

"It's special turbulence..." Elena smiled innocently while Reno bolted to the end of the hall.

"What's his problem?" Rufus looked to the end of the hall to see Reno leaning on the door connecting the upper area to the cargo hall below.

"Exercise," Elena guessed. She tried to find something to distract Rufus with, "um... sir, no offense but your hair is... well, kind of messy." It was not a lie; Rufus' hair had somehow been ruffled out of place while he slept. It was Reno's idea of a stupid joke.

"It is?" Without a second to waste, Rufus rushed to the bathroom and locked himself in. He examined his hair in the mirror and pulled out several brushes, combs and hair products from a few compartments.

While Rufus was oblivious, the intruder knocked down the cargo hall door, throwing Reno several feet forward. The redhead scrambled to his feet as the tall and muscular intruder approached. "I'm going to crash this plane with your leader on it," he laughed evilly and dashed like a hundred ton runaway train towards the pilot's cabin.

"Stop him!" Elena yelled. She and Reno each grabbed one of the big man's large arms, but were easily thrown away.

"You're not getting away with this!" Reno was the first to recover. He jumped on the man's back, hitting him on the head with his electro-rod repeatedly. The man couldn't get rid of Reno, but he wouldn't get knocked out and kept yelling threats at the 'secret agent' as he referred to Reno.

"Turn the volume down!" Called Rufus' voice from inside the bathroom.

The intruder threw Reno off him, but Reno kept jumping back and hitting him repeatedly. "Stubborn secret agent!" The intruder growled grabbing Reno by the neck.

BANG! The large intruder fell limp as blood flowed from the back of his head.

"Get him off, get him off, get him off!" Reno struggled to escape from the weight of the corpse that fell on him until he finally managed to crawl out.

"I... I did it, I stopped the crisis!" Elena cheered.

Reno curiously looked at the weapon she held. "Is that Tseng's gun? Why do you have it? I knew it you are sleeping together!"

Elena's face turned tomato red, "what?!" She tried to explain, "It's just that Tseng forgot it at my apartment, that's all. He was there for... work."

Reno didn't buy the excuses, "a man doesn't trust a woman with his weapon unless he trusts her with his weapon."

"That was redundant and made no sense," Elena observed.

"Never mind, let's clean up this mess," Reno concluded. The Turks quickly cleaned up the mess, hid the body and mopped the floor.

By the time Rufus was done with his hair, everything was back to normal. He sat in his comfy chair calmly. Reno had returned to the pilot's cabin and Elena hovered nearby as if waiting to see if he wanted something. In truth, she wanted to make sure Rufus didn't realize what was going on. "I would like a cocktail... and you should play that movie from before, it sounded good. What was it, some kind of spy movie?"

Elena smiled innocently, "yes." Thus the flight continued and there was no more turbulence.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 79: Brothers

"I'm what?" To say Cloud Strife was shocked was the understatement of the century. "That's a lie!" It better be a lie, he desperately needed it to be a lie. "You're lying; you made that up to bother me, you..." He stopped short of breath and leaned back on the front counter of the Seventh Heaven.

Behind that very same counter Tifa stood frozen like a statue, eyes wide, mouth open, every inch completely still, save for the tightening of her grip around the glass she had been cleaning when she heard the news. The glass gave in and shattered, causing Tifa to jump in pain and disappear into the kitchen to clean her hand.

Cloud didn't notice the event that had transpired with Tifa and the glass behind him. He just stared forward at Tseng. This was Tseng of the Turks, the serious and responsible leader not known for his pranks. He wasn't Reno, his words were not so easily disregarded. Cloud wanted him to be Reno so he could roll his eyes and ignore him, maybe even swing his sword at him. But this was still Tseng, the leader, the serious one, the one who wouldn't play such a cruel joke on him.

"I wish I was..." Tseng admitted, he knew that the truth would be difficult to handle for both Strife and the president. Reno of course knew, but he was back at headquarters bothering Rufus against his better judgment. However, it wouldn't be long before he realized that it was best not to infuriate the man who paid him and moved on to bother Strife.

"She never told me," Cloud gasped breathlessly. "She would have told me." He clung to the possibility of everything being one big mistake.

"Think about it," Tseng reason, his expression as serious as ever. "Would she have told you? He came and went, he left, just like that. It was a remote town in the middle of nowhere. He didn't need to worry about his reputation out there. There's no other explanation about why she wouldn't tell you, she couldn't, it must have been... difficult."

Tifa reappeared from the kitchen and took her previous spot behind the counter in silence. She didn't hurt her hand too badly, just a few shallow cuts that would no doubt begin to fade by the next day.

"Shinra Mansion," those two words left Cloud's lips and he shivered involuntarily. Maybe that was the reason why he went to that little town, maybe he stayed there, then they met and... he didn't want to think about it He desperately didn't want to believe it to be true. He bit his lip to stop the agonizing scream that threatened to escape his throat at the realization that it could be very true.

Then it happened, Rufus Shinra walked into the Seventh Heaven dragging Reno by the ear. The redhead complained every step of the way, as it was natural, but the blond president didn't release him until they stood right in front of the counter, facing cloud. "Strife," Cloud jumped upon being addressed by Rufus.

"Strife," the ex-soldier repeated, "yes, Strife, not Shinra."

"Why is it my fault?" Reno protested, rubbing his pained ear. "Everyone believed it. Elena was already making a fuss before I realized what was going on. Even Tseng and Rude believed it."

"I know," Rufus voiced, "it was all my fault for being unclear, I was upset and caused a misunderstanding. I don't blame you, Reno, I just needed to let out my stress on someone. Take it like a Turk," he sounded almost apologetic, but not quite, certainly not. There was a pause before Rufus' voice turned aggressive again, "actually, it is your fault, because you're the one who let her out in the first place!"

"Rufus," Cloud's expectant voice interrupted the exchange between Rufus and Reno. "What does this mean?"

"The Turks overheard me." Rufus paused, searching for the right words to phrase it.

"Ranting," Reno supplied.

Ignoring Reno, Rufus continued, "thinking aloud about having recently discovered that Dark Nation's puppies are not pedigree. Reno stupidly let her run off while he wasted time at the Seventh Heaven, instead of walking her like he was supposed to. Recently I acquired some documents that indicated I might have had a sibling, or rather half sibling from Nibelheim. The man in question, still a boy then, was confirmed to have died in the Nibelheim fire. The timing was just bad I suppose. The two events have nothing to do with each other, but speaking of both things all at once made the Turks misunderstand and somehow believe that we were brothers."

"Then we're not?" Cloud held his breath waiting for the absolute confirmation.

"No," Rufus confirmed.

Cloud let out a breath of relief, "that's good to know."

Rufus pouted, "what's that supposed to mean?" Indignantly, because truly, he didn't want Cloud as his brother, but really, Cloud should have been honored, Rufus left, dragging Reno out by the ear again.

Cloud just stood there looking like a huge weight had been thrown and consequently lifted off his shoulders. He found that he at least had that much to be thankful for, he wasn't a Shinra, never mind the benefits that could bring to a poor broke guy like him, he didn't think that deeply about it. Tseng soon followed after Reno and Rufus, which left Cloud to loiter around the bar and Tifa to go about her tasks of cleaning glasses that were already clean out of lack of anything better to do.

Cloud was feeling peaceful, for the most part, until the next day, Reno showed up with a wagon full of puppies and tricked him into taking one. After all, Rufus' couldn't keep them all, plus it would be good for Shinra's image if they gave away puppies.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 80: Cookies

Hello door, meet key card. It was the story of Shinra and it happened every time all the time. When ever an employee, be it someone totally dispensable as most were, a high executive, or a Turk, came and went around the building, they had to use keycards, otherwise the doors simply would not open past a certain level.

"Mr. Turk!" That's why Reno never suspected the little girl to come so close to causing disaster. Of course she was too young to actually work for Shinra, that fact was obvious when Reno looked down at the little voice. She must be the daughter of an executive; she must have gotten bored and wandered off, getting lost in the large facilities.

"Hey kid, are you lost? Whose office are you looking for?" At least the child was smart enough to know he was a Turk. Some of the adult employees sometimes couldn't tell who was a Turk and who was a regular Shinra employee and it made Reno wonder how they managed to keep their jobs if they didn't even know that.

The little girl shook her head then set her oversized plastic bag on the floor in front of her and took a few cookie boxes out of it to show them to Reno. "I'm selling cookies! I have chocolate covered, chocolate chip, salty, cheesy, and vanilla."

"You're some kind of girl scout?" So it turned out the kid wasn't lost, she was off to do business while her parent worked, or at least that's what Reno assumed.

The little girl nodded, "yup! Do you want to buy a box of cookies? They're only ten gil." She proceeded to use the sad kitten eyes tactic, though the pictures on the boxes were already effective enough.

Reno didn't know how they did it, but when ever he looked at those pictures in the cookie boxes he wanted to devour all the delicious cookies inside. It was late and Rufus had not left Shinra Headquarters. At that rate, it would be several hours before Reno had the chance to eat a decent dinner, but if there were cookies available for him to take back to the office, then he might as well have that for dinner while he guarded Rufus. It wasn't all that rare; Reno was known to stuff his face with sweets any time, for any reason, sweets which he more often than not stole from Rude. Reno's stomach growled, encouraging his choice to purchase the cookies, "alright, I'll buy the cookies." Thus it was done, and the girl ended up selling her last dozen cookie boxes.

As Reno made his way to Rufus' office with the bag full of cookie boxes, he felt odd. Turks didn't go around buying cookies from girl scouts; it just wasn't Turk-like. Then there was that little voice in the back of his head, that Reno was certain had been permanently silenced long ago, which told him he might be rewarded for his kindness.

Then Tseng of all people received him with a relieved sounding "great job handling the situation," as soon as Reno entered Rufus' office. The president, who looked like he was suffering from a stress induced headache, nodded in acknowledgement while Reno stood there in surprise.

"What did I do? I mean, I fully accept the credit but I want to hear some feedback and stuff." Maybe, just maybe, that little voice was right, and an act of kindness, even if it was driven by hunger, would be rewarded after all.

"An employee, or I should say an ex-employee, of Shinra stole some secret data and hid it in a cookie box that was left unattended on a neighboring desk. We suspect he knew the cookies belonged to another employee's daughter and he planned to later buy the cookie box to get the data out undetected. Fortunately, though the security camera in that particular corner of the office was sabotaged, most likely by the same culprit, someone saw this man putting something in a cookie box, thought it was suspicious, and reported it. Rude, Elena and I put the pieces together with our investigation while you were missing. But since you recovered the data without alerting anyone of the situation and also made the Turks look good by buying the cookies, I will overlook your momentary disappearance, just his once," Tseng explained.

"Finally, it's about time this was solved," Rufus ran his fingers through his hair then announced, "I'm tired and I still have a headache. Tseng, Elena, I'll leave this matter to you. Reno, Rude, to the chopper, take me home."

Tseng and Elena took the bags full of cookie boxes from Reno, "my cookies!" Reno complained.

That caused Rufus to cringe and growl, "shut up!"

Wanting to avoid trouble, and possibly doom, Rude clasped his hand over Reno's mouth and dragged him away; because when Rufus had a headache, he started shooting when people didn't shut up. Some rewards are worse than no reward at all...

To be Continued

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Missions: Report IX

Mission: 81: Deadly Game

The box was small, which instead of calming Cloud, it made him suspect. He handled the box with the outmost care, as if fearing that a sudden movement would make it explode.

"It's an emergency!" Reno had said, then switched to a very serious tone. "I have a mission for you. I have already contacted someone at Shinra; if you go to the lobby and speak to the receptionist you will receive a box. Deliver it to Rocket Town."

"I'm telling you, you don't need to do that!" Cid's voice was heard in the background, along with the sound of items being tossed aside, it was very suspicious indeed.

Cloud did pick up the box. The receptionist looked calm, likely had no idea what this was about. But Cloud had a theory and it wasn't looking good. He assumed that the box contained some sort of miniature explosive that was super powerful despite its compacted size. Or maybe it was the control that would detonate a previously hidden bomb. Cloud didn't know, and he didn't want to find out the hard way.

None the less, he couldn't very well leave the box in the hands of Shinra, so he pretended to accept his delivery mission and took it. Then he hurried to Rocket Town to get some answers, Cid sounded like he knew something, in fact, he sounded as if he could be in trouble. But the pilot could hold his own in a fight and he should be fine as long as the Turks didn't have the box, now in Cloud's possession.

The delivery boy was tired, exhausted even, but this was no time to rest. Upon his arrival in Rocket Town, Cloud carefully cradled the box in his hands and searched for Cid, sneaking around as if expecting to be ambushed. Shinra was supposed to be reformed, but apparently that was no longer true.

Quietly and quickly, Cloud snuck into Cid's backyard, hiding behind the latest airplane Cid was working on. He softly opened the back door and peeked in. "Cid? Shera?" Cloud whispered, but there was no answer. He listened and heard voices, laughter, and sounds that didn't quite fit in with the situation he theorize was taking place.

Cloud entered the house, tiptoeing towards the source of the sound. He observed the group that was apparently carefree. A yawn escaped Cloud, much louder than he intended, and the Turks and pilot noticed his precense.

"Didn't hear you come in Cloud," the house was a mess, but Cid didn't seem to mind. It looked like there really had been an assault, save for the fact that the Turks were happily sitting around Cid's table eating the snacks Shera brought them, and Cid didn't mind that fact.

"What happened here? What is this?" Cloud held up the little box.

Cid took the box and Cloud gasped at the pilot's careless handling of the tiny box. "I lost my playing cards. I told Reno he didn't have to send for another deck because I was sure I would find them, but I never did." Cid explained, opening the little box to reveal that it contained a deck of cards.

"Hey Cid, are we going to play sometime this century?" Reno complained. He was tired of waiting.

"Shut up and drink your tea, I'm coming." Cid shuffled the cards as he walked to the table. "Are you staying too?"

Cloud could only blink and nod dumbly. He rushed to make this delivery, despite being in desperate need of rest, and it turned out that there was no battle, no danger, no secret attacks and no explosives, just a normal deck of cards.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 82: An Unwelcome Favor

"Delivery for Reno," Cloud called out, but it was Rude who opened the door.

"Next door," the bald Turk quietly spoke.

"Um, sorry," Cloud went off to deliver the package to the correct address this time, and was about to knock on the door when he spotted a note attached to said door. The delivery boy read the note aloud, "I'm not here, leave my package with Rude." He shrugged and returned to Rude's door, knocking on it again.

Rude opened the door and found Cloud, whom he had sent away a mere few seconds ago.

"Reno left a note on the door saying I should leave his package with you." Cloud handed Rude the box.

Rude received it, this was nothing new coming from Reno. "Sign?"

"Oh yes, you need to sign this, Reno is supposed to sign it, but I think it's okay if you sign it in his name." Cloud had learned that sometimes a fake signature looked more real than a real one, especially when the one with the real signature was lazy and got someone else to sign for him all the time. Reno wasn't the only one who did that, and Cloud had learned from experience not to say no to a forged signature.

Rude signed the receipt, kept the package, and Cloud went on his way.

The same scenario was repeated several times over the past few evenings. It continued until one day Cloud was able to catch Reno returning to his apartment after a mission. "Reno!"

The redhead, rushed to get inside, closed the door and locked it.

Needless to say, Cloud was surprised by the action. "Reno, your package!"

There was no answer.

"Reno!" Cloud continued to call.

Still, there was no answer.

"Reno!" Cloud would not give up.

Realizing that he had no choice, Reno finally replied, "read the note!"

But Cloud continued knocking on the door, "I already read it, but this time you're here!"

"Do what the note says!" Reno insisted.

"Why?" Cloud was tired of bothering Rude with Reno's packages. How lazy could the redhead be? Besides, the entire situation looked suspicious, and Cloud was starting to think that Reno was up to some mischief.

"Because you know you want to," Reno's answer was as confusing as it could be.

"What do you mean?" Cloud asked.

Reno opened the door of his apartment a few inches and peeked out at the puzzled Cloud, "go, I'm doing you a favor, so go."

"A favor? You're not even the one paying for these packages, it's some guy called Kurt Nores that keeps sending you things..." Cloud paused, Kurt Nores... if the letters were rearranged it spelled Reno Turks. "Why would you mail yourself?"

"So you have the chance to talk to Rude. I don't think things are going well with Tifa, so I'm helping you both get over your broken hearts together as friends who share the same pain... and I'm amusing myself at the same time," Reno admitted.

With mischievous, gossip spreading people like Reno around, Cloud would never be allowed to have peace. The delivery boy didn't know how it was possible that Rude had not killed Reno yet. However, Cloud did not have Rude's patience, and that is how Reno ended up running for his life again.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 83: Clock Parts

It was the second time that week that Cloud had attempted to kill Reno, and the week wasn't even half over, though Cloud wasn't the only one who was trying to kill Reno that week. Some would think the redhead had nine lives, or over nine thousand lives, because the amount of miraculous escapes he made was truly amazing. Yet, even with so many close calls, Reno never learned to be quiet.

It wasn't that he was trying to cause Cloud any harm, not this time. In fact, Reno was only trying to help. But alas, Reno is Reno, and something is bound to go wrong, simply because he is Reno.

Cloud's delivery was rather simple in the sense that the item to be delivered was nothing dangerous, overly fragile, or alive, though he was advised to be careful with it. The route was one that Cloud knew well, he had gone from Edge to Kalm and back again many times over his career as a delivery boy. However, there was a catch, because just like there's always trouble when Reno is involved, there is always a catch when Cloud is involved. This time the catch was a race.

Cloud had taken one look at the competition and assumed victory would be his. The clock parts he was supposed to transport were crucial for the newly developed clock making industry of Kalm and needed to be delivered on time... no pun intended. So to choose a delivery boy for this task, a race was held. Competing against a mailman in an oversized van and a kid in a bicycle, Cloud thought he had this in the bag... but he was wrong.

"Cloud!" When Cloud arrived with the first clock part, out of the five that had to be delivered from different locations and times that day, he found Reno and ignored him. But Reno didn't like being ignored and jumped in front of Cloud. "Didn't you hear me?"

"I'm busy working," Cloud didn't stop walking.

"I know all about the race and I'll help," Reno offered. "It's been made the Turks' mission to make the world a better place and so on, and that includes helping you. Rufus wants to show his good will, I think. I know this great shortcut-"

"Stop!" Cloud hurried his pace and continued hastily walking towards the Kalm clock store, almost running.

"Listen to me," Reno insisted.

"I don't want or need a shortcut. I can handle this." Cloud entered the store and delivered the box, coming out a few minutes later with some new directions.

"Trust me, you need the shortcut." Reno was waiting for Cloud outside the store. "Besides, it's not cheating. You can take whatever road you want in the race, so why not take the shortcut?"

"Shut up, Reno," Cloud refused to listen and headed back to Fenrir. "I can win this race by myself. I don't need your help. Don't think that just because I spared your life it means I've forgotten about what you did."

"Alright, alright, I get it!" Reno attempted to explain his good intentions once more. "You have to hear me out; I was at the Gold Saucer, betting at the chocobo races when I heard-"

"About the shortcut?" Cloud interrupted, "I don't care." The delivery boy raced off full speed on his motorcycle, leaving the Turk behind.

The distant echo of Reno's voice reached Cloud with a "don't say I didn't warn you!"

xoxox xox xoxox

It was not until it was too late that Cloud found a big traffic jam in the main road, the cars were so close to each other that even though Fenrir was smaller than a car, Cloud couldn't slip past them. Was that what Reno tried to warn him about?

"Cloud!" No... No, no, no! "Cloudy!" That voice, Cloud was afraid to look at the car in the lane beside him, but his head unwillingly turned towards the voice. "Are you going to Dio's special wrestling event too? I didn't expect this many people to go, just look at the traffic. I hope we get there on time. I'm sure glad I found you, this traffic jam would be so boring without someone to talk to. You should give me your cellphone number and your email so we can talk some time. How have you been, Cloudy?"

Mukki, it was Mukki in the car beside him and calling him Cloudy no less, while having the nerve to ask for his number and email. Cloud twitched and made a mental note to kill Reno for not properly warning him about Dio's event, which was what Cloud guessed Reno had heard about at the Gold Saucer.

It was true that Reno did try to warn him and Cloud didn't listen, but after all those 'it's not your fault' hypnotism and therapy sessions he took to get over his previous depression, Cloud was unable to blame himself for anything, even if it was his fault. At least Cloud wasn't the 'Lord of the Emoness' anymore, but that only meant he had more energy to try to kill Reno later.

As for the race, the mailman avoided the traffic jams, but thinking he had won, because surely the spiky haired blond was stuck in traffic, he stopped at a donut shop and got distracted. Meanwhile, the boy in the bike, though he was the slowest of the three, due to his mode of transportation, was the one to win the race.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 84: Pumpkins and Pokemon

"The pumpkins," Cloud delivered the box to Rufus, who was now wearing clothes that Cloud knew he saw somewhere before, possibly on TV. The cap looked especially familiar, though it was a miracle in itself that Rufus would hide the hair he was so proud of.

"Good, now you can help with another thing," Rufus decided.

But Cloud shook his head; he needed to take a break before he had a breakdown. "I think that's enough work for today-"

"No! You're the only one who can do this! Reno, explain the new job!" Rufus left the explanations to
, which was usually a bad idea. But the entire thing had been Reno's idea in the first place and for once, Rufus didn't think it was possible for him to mess up the plan.

Cloud could only stare as Reno appeared in front of him, dressed in yellow, with bunny-like ears, red cheeks and a zigzag tail. Then he realized where he had seen Rufus' outfit before, he was that trainer from Pokemon. Marlene and Denzel watched that show all the time. After the initial shock wore off, Cloud laughed like he never laughed before.

Reno wasn't really bothered by it because he honestly didn't mind the silly costume. "Pay attention, I'm telling you about your new job! Anyway, like I was saying, we're getting all the Shinra employees together for the Halloween party and everyone's invited. We're also getting everyone who ever worked for Shinra to come, it was my idea. I only told Rufus about it to annoy that vampire because... well he's kind of fun to annoy. So you have to talk to him and get him to come and make him be a little more original and dress up as something other than a vampire."

"Vampire?" Cloud asked between laughs.

"Yes, Vincent, the vampire!" Reno explained.

"I don't think he'll be too happy about being called a vampire," Cloud laughed some more, "but I'll tell him to come." Because if Reno was Pikachu and Rufus was Ash, then there was a chance that the other Turks were dressed up as Pokemon too, and that was too fun to miss. In fact, Cloud would tell all his friends about it.

"Just make sure he doesn't come as a vampire, because he looks like a vampire all the time and that's boring. That's his costume over there, take it to him." Reno pointed at a box, which Cloud took along when he went to talk to Vincent, who was going to visit the Seventh Heaven along with everyone else that day.

When Cloud arrived at the Seventh Heaven, everyone was already gathered there. Cloud told them about the Poke-Turks and they all wanted to see them. Now it was all a matter of getting Vincent to agree to wear whatever costume was in the box so they could help Cloud finish his job and be welcomed to the Shinra party.

Alas their hopes were brought down when Vincent firmly declared, "I am not going to dress up as a purple butterfly!" But they would not give up.

"Butterfree," Marlene corrected as she shared a knowing look with Denzel. Older people couldn't even say the names of Pokemon right.

Obviously, the group wouldn't take no for an answer, especially since they might get kicked out of the Shinra party before they got to bother the Turks about their silly costumes because they were Cloud's friends, and Cloud was the one who couldn't finish his latest odd delivery, to deliver Vincent in a Butterfree costume.

xoxox xox xoxox

Children ran around stuffing their faces with candy and comparing their costumes with other kids. Rufus' image improved, as did the image of the Turks. Pikachu, Squirtle, Charmander, Pidgeotto and the ex-Turk, Butterfree.

Rude was by far the most quiet and serious pokemon anyone ever saw, he had only said one word during the entire night after receiving many pokes from random kids, "charmander." Which would have been translated, if anyone understood pokemon language, into "I'm pissed off," but no one quite caught it.

Elena's element was ice, so she ended up as the cute little turtle pokemon, who stayed close to the leader bird during the entire time, occasionally feeding him because, while it was possible to be able to pick up items with her blue gloves, Tseng couldn't do anything with his wings.

Reno was actually enjoying the party; none of Cloud's friends could annoy him because he liked being a Pikachu. Leave it to Reno to have fun with all the silliness. He also took some time to annoy Vincent and make fun of the costume he was forced to wear by group pressure and children's sad looks. Feeling himself about to lose his temper, the "vampire Butterfree" as Reno called him, made a silent vow to stop procrastinating in what needed to be done, rid the world of a certain annoying Pikachu.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 85: Poker

Between making deliveries, Cloud Strife returned to the Seventh Heaven and watched the different stages of the Turks' boredom. At first they simply lacked something to do, after being used to staying busy all the time, before Reno make possible customers think twice about hiring them, so they went to the Seventh Heaven and just sat there. Then they were beginning to be bothered by the fact that they had nothing to do.

Cloud came and went, and watched as the boredom progressed. They tried to make small talk, they stared at the walls, they ate, they drank and finally, they just hung around idly. The boredom could be felt in the air, leaving the Seventh Heaven with a heavy atmosphere.

But this was none of Cloud's business, unlike the Turks, he had plenty of work to do, to earn a fraction of the gil they earned, which was rather frustrating, but the delivery boy would bear with it. One after another, the packages Cloud had to deliver became less and less, and one after another the minutes of the afternoon ticked away slowly.

The next time Cloud returned from a delivery and picked up another group of packages, because he could only carry so many at once on Fenrir, Tseng and Elena had left. "They went out together," Tifa had casually mentioned and Cloud eyed Rude suspiciously, as if warning the Turk not to try to ask Tifa out while he was gone delivering more packages.

Once again, Strife Delivery Service was on the case. Cloud rushed around the streets of Midgar delivering more packages. At least his business was doing better than usual, but of course there had to be a catch, Cloud had plenty of work when the Turks did not, thus leaving Tifa alone with them. His only consolation was that Reno was also there to occasionally make a silly joke and shatter the possibility of a developing romantic atmosphere between Rude and Tifa.

"Just a few more packages to go," Cloud told himself. But as he entered the Seventh Heaven, the packages that needed to be delivered were the last thing on his mind. "Reno, what are you doing?"

"Drinking a strawberry smoothie," Reno replied.

"I can see that, but..." Cloud trailed off from the sheer random weirdness of the situation in front of him.

"Yes, it's spiked, just in case you're wondering," Reno answered the unasked question.

"Where's your shirt?" Cloud finally asked.

Reno pointed at the end of the counter, "there, it's not for keeps, I can have it back at five. Marlene and Denzel are with Elmyra so we played poker."

"Strip poker..." Cloud had a bad feeling about this. But fortunately Tifa's clothes were not among the pile. "So you lost?"

"Not really," Reno replied. After all he still had his pants and goggles, though he lacked his jacket, shirt and shoes. Reno and Rude never found out that Tifa could clearly see their cards reflected on their sunglasses and goggles respectively, and she never mentioned it. All is fair and love, war and card games.

Cloud's eyes went wide, along with Reno's clothes there were other clothes on the pile, an entire other Turk suit. "Rude..."

"He's helping Tifa clean the kitchen," no sooner had the words left Reno's mouth, Cloud had already jumped over the counter and ran into the kitchen.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 86: Scarred for Life

Cloud only had to deliver one more package, just one and he would be done with his work for the day. Barret had come over and was staying for a few days. During that time, Cloud had set aside a moment to try to have a man to man talk with Barret. Barret knew Tifa well enough from the days of Avalanche and though he was now a widow, Barret had once been married.

Putting all those facts together, Cloud thought that he could request some advice about making his relationship with Tifa progress, and first of all start. Thus the previous night, Cloud told Barret about his problem and received some advice. To summarize, Barret told him to "be more direct and say what you need to say!"

Cloud just couldn't get himself to say anything straight out in the past. It wasn't that he didn't try, because he certainly did. Cloud tried to express his feelings time and again, but saying how he felt wasn't his forte. He still tried though, even if he ended up tongue tied and embarrassed as if he was still the child he was back in Nibelheim.

Regardless of all those troubles, Cloud Strife was feeling determined. After he finished today's work, he would ask Tifa out on a date. He had already asked Barret to stay with Marlene and Denzel, to which Barret happily agreed the previous day. Then Tifa would be free of her usual babysitting duties and able to go out with Cloud. The delivery boy would finally push the words out and ask Tifa on a date, he would, he was certain he could do it this time. As Barrett pointed out, he just had to say it, there was nothing overly complicated about it.

However, Cloud never expected his last delivery of the day to take such a strange turn. It was simple enough, the location was the very Seventh Heaven where he lived and he knew what the package contained. When Barret made the order he wasn't sure about the zip code, and since Cloud was a delivery boy, it was only logical to ask him about it, even if it was only a small technicality since Cloud would end up taking the package from Junon to the Seventh Heaven anyway.

As expected, Cloud knew the answer to Barret's zip code question and it was then that the blond found out that Barret's package was supposed to contain the Special Edition Super Deluxe Gun Service Kit. It was a practical assortment of different tools and utensils used to clean and maintain guns, or gun arms in Barret's case.

Then it happened, the event that would leave poor Cloud scarred for life, the image that would forever be burnt into his mind, never to leave the vast abyss of his darkest nightmares. When Cloud went upstairs to deliver Barret's package, he found Barret admiring himself in the mirror wearing a pink tutu, while growling curses under his breath.

Cloud's jaw dropped as he stood there wide eyed and frozen at the door. He wanted to scream in both fear and agony, but his throat refused to produce any sounds. He wanted to run away and not stop until he was on the other side of the planet, but his legs refused to move.

Cloud's grip started to become weak, until the package slipped out of his hands and the audible noise of the impact upon the floor caused by the box, containing the Special Edition Super Deluxe Gun Service Kit, alerted Barret to his presence. "Cloud!"

He ran; Cloud Strife finally managed to wake up from his shocked daze and he ran for dear life, dashing down the stairs and tripping over his own feet in his desperate haste.

"Cloud, are you okay?" Tifa had been coincidentally mopping the area at the base of the stairs and witnessed the spectacle of Cloud tumbling down. She immediately tossed the mop aside, and away from Cloud's mouth. It wasn't done on purpose, Cloud came so fast that Tifa simply didn't have time to react and move the mop out of his path, much less attempt to catch him. But she did help him to his feet.

Cloud made a pained face, not only because of the fall, but because of the taste the mop had left in his mouth. Although none of that was as bad as the terrible trauma he had suffered seeing none other than Barret wearing a pink tutu. "Ba-ba-ba..." his voice had still not fully recovered.

"Come here, sit down," Tifa helped Cloud towards one of the tables in the restaurant area, in front of which they sat. "Did it hurt that much?" The fall certainly looked painful, but Cloud was strong. Even so, Tifa knew very well that even the strongest person could feel pain. She tried her best to console Cloud, gently patting his back tracing circles and allowing him to rest his head on her chest.

Cloud brushed madly, but didn't say a word. Unfortunately he was far too traumatized by what he had recently witnessed to be able to fully enjoy being so close to his crush.

"Is he okay?" Cloud jumped upon hearing Barret's voice and immediately became alert.

"Cloud fell down the stairs, it must have really hurt." Tifa spoke in a sweet and loving tone, as if her concern for Cloud had made her momentarily forget anything else she might have been thinking of.

"You gotta watch where you're goin'!" Barret commented; he wasn't in the mood to deal with anything.

Cloud could only blink in surprise at Tifa's lack of mention of Barret's clothes, which still included a pink tutu. Further confusing the already confused delivery boy, Reno entered the Seventh Heaven along with Marlene and Denzel, who giggled quietly and ate their ice-cream.

"Here's your ice-cream!" Reno cheerfully handed Tifa her cone of vanilla, which had partially melted on the way there.

None the less, Tifa said, "thank you," perhaps more so because Reno had actually managed to make it to the ice-cream shop down the street and back without getting into trouble while Marlene and Denzel were with him.

"No problem," Reno grinned at Barret, who glared at the redhead using every last ounce of self control he had left to stop himself from killing the Turk there and then. "Hey Cloud, you look pale!" Barret growled as if telling Reno that he better leave soon. Reno grinned some more, finally said, "I'll be going back to work now," and left the Seventh Heaven.

Barret huffed and went back upstairs, while Tifa ate her ice-cream. "If I had known you would be back by now I would have told Reno to bring another ice-cream. Do you want to share this?"

Cloud only blinked, tilting his head to the side in confusion. "Um..." No one had said anything about Barret's pink tutu, so he felt it was best not to say anything about it either. Maybe he was hallucinating, or maybe there was something wrong with his eyes. "No, that's okay; I have to go out again anyway. I'm going to try to get an appointment with an eye doctor."

"Oh, yes, I understand. It's good to have an eye exam every now and then." Especially for mako eyes, Tifa only thought that last part, deciding it was best not to say it aloud so as to avoid adding to Cloud's worries, since he already looked worried enough as it was.

Cloud nodded and left. He had a perfectly good opportunity to ask Tifa to go out with him and he wasted it. In fact, he didn't even enjoy his consolation time close to Tifa as much as he could have. It was all because no one else said anything about what was plainly obvious to him; Barret was wearing a pink tutu.

Cloud's fragile mind decided that he was wrong. There was nothing to fear, Barret had not randomly started wearing pink tutus, Cloud's eyes were merely tired. Maybe he needed glasses or contact lenses and the pink blur that was the tutu around Barret would disappear.

Because Cloud didn't ask about Barret's pink tutu, no one ever told him, they simply assumed that he knew. Tifa had assumed that Barret himself had told Cloud how he got into that predicament while they were upstairs. As for Barret, he would rather not bring up the subject at all, so if no one asked, he had no reason to explain.

In truth, Reno had challenged Barret to a card castle building competition. The loser would wear a pink tutu and buy ice-cream for all the others present, which at the time included Tifa, Marlene and Denzel. Barret's right arm was robotic and not too steady due to needing maintenance, plus Reno had been getting plenty of practice building card castles on his desk while procrastinating to do Shinra paper work. As a result, Barret never stood a chance.

Thanks to a merciful persuasive speech from Tifa, Reno agreed to cut Barret some slack and allow him to serve his punishment while hiding in the Seventh Heaven, instead of having him go to the ice-cream shop in a pink tutu. However, Barret still had to pay for the ice-cream, which Reno went to get along with Marlene and Denzel.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 87: Paper Boy

Of all the delivery jobs, after delivering pizza and letters, delivering newspapers was one of the most well known, though not the safest. Stories were told about how paperboys were chased by dogs like miniature mailmen. Also, in some stories, the paperboys didn't play the victim but the villain. Those villainous paperboys broke windows and hit heads with their news filled projectiles before fleeing the scene never to be caught.

To summarize, the name of paperboys was stained as either strong evil doers or weak victims, but never valiant heroes. One man, who was possibly one of the oldest papermen ever, as he could definitely not be called a paperboy anymore, was determined to change that. His name was Cloud Strife.

"You name it; we deliver it," was the motto of Strife Delivery Service and people could easily say the word "newspaper." Thus Cloud was stuck with the job of delivering newspapers. He rode on Fenrir, which was quite different from the usual paperboy bikes, and caught the attention of the citizens more than the titular page of the newspapers he delivered.

"Newspaper!" Cloud called out, while trying his best to focus on diminishing the red tint that spread across his cheeks every time he voiced that word.

Tifa had told Cloud time and again that it was an honest job, and that Denzel and Marlene were still one or two years away from becoming interested in the position, so he wasn't stealing some poor child's possibility to earn some extra money. Thus in the end, Cloud accepted the job.

"Newspaper!" Cloud couldn't afford to get fired, so if he was told to call out like that, no matter how silly he felt, he would force himself to do it.

"So it was true!" Reno jumped out from behind the Healin Lodge main entrance door, after Cloud failed to spot him looking out the window next to it before yelling his paperboy battle cry. Worse yet, Reno had a camera and was snapping away picture after picture.

"Stop!" Cloud defended himself in the first none deadly way he could think of, he threw a newspaper at Reno. But being Reno, he was used to having people lose their patience with his antics and start throwing things at him, so he skillfully avoided the newspaper. However, Cloud didn't stop there, he started throwing newspaper after newspaper, trying to knock Reno out, or at least knock the camera out of his hands.

Finally one of the newspapers hit Reno on the head and knocked off his precious goggles. The redhead gasped and let the camera, which he had borrowed without permission from Rufus, slide out of his hands. "My goggles! This means war!" Reno picked up the fallen projectiles and began the newspaper counter attack against Cloud, who continued to return fire.

"Cloud Strife!" Reeve had not received his morning newspaper, so he went to see what the holdup was about. Since Reeve was the one who pulled some strings and got the paperboy job for Cloud, he felt in part responsible for the safe and timely delivery of the newspapers.

Cloud froze mid-throw and Reno's newspaper hit him square in the nose. Cloud woke up from his daze not bothering to return fire anymore, and looked at Reeve, then at the newspapers scattered all over the ground, then finally at Reno to whom he pointed at accusingly. "It was his fault!"

While Reeve gave them both a talk about responsibility and respecting other people's newspapers, Reno blatantly ignored him and Cloud nodded automatically. None of them noticed Elena at the top of the Healin Lodge stairs with a video camera.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 88: Insurance

Rufus Shinra was very pleased, his face not matching the situation at all. However, there were no cameras or paparazzi there to capture his unfitting expression and somewhat cruel joy. To his benefit, the accident had not been fatal, he wasn't heartless, he was simply amused.

"I'm really sorry," Cloud had not stopped staring at the floor of Reeve's office at the World Restoration Organization Headquarters since he and Rufus, along with Reno, who was the president's bodyguard for the day, arrived. "Really, I am!" He lifted his gaze a little, but lowered it to the floor again when he caught sight of Reeve's stern look. He was just like a little boy who broke something important and wanted to convince his parents that his guilt was so great he required no further punishment to learn his lesson.

"Accidents happen," the victorious grin never left Rufus' face as he placed his hand on Cloud's shoulder.

More so than feeling supported, Cloud felt like Rufus was rubbing salt on the wound, metaphorically speaking, for his actual wound had already been taken care of. It was a small scratch, but Rufus insisted on Cloud accepting his kindness and sent Reno, the closest Turk at the time, to give him first aid. As a result Cloud now sported a chocobo decorated band-aid on his right arm.

"Yeah, accidents happen!" Reno agreed grinning like a Cheshire cat, then the cat turned into a sad kitten as he looked at Rufus, "the president is always forgiving, right?"

"Most of the time," Rufus warned, he didn't want Reno to go crashing any of the Shinra owned vehicles for fun thinking he could get away with it, not that Cloud's crash had been the redhead's fault; for once, Reno was not to blame for the latest accident.

Reeve sighed deeply and massaged his temples, his headache ever growing. "Insurance, insurance..." he muttered. Cloud appeared to be sincerely sorry for the occurrence, albeit regardless of that, Reeve would have to pay for his good will.

Cloud had not been doing so well in his delivery business lately, it's not that he didn't get any delivery requests at all, but rather that the few he got led to less than pleasant experiences of varied natures and causes, with Reno being the main cause of Cloud's misery.

Because of that, Reeve decided to be nice and talk, meaning persuade, meaning pressure, meaning whine at, Rufus so that the young president would give Cloud some jobs, preferably jobs that didn't involve any interaction with Reno. Rufus eventually agreed on one condition, with Reeve having given Cloud his recommendation, the final vote of confidence came in the form of an insurance contract where Reeve would take care of all the expenses involved in restoring everything to the way it was if Cloud ever messed up a job, provided that the delivery boy was the one at fault and that it could be proven that Reno was not in the ten mile radius at the time of the problem.

Several witnesses could testify that Reno was in Healin Lodge when Cloud's accident outside Edge occurred, just over ten miles away. Thus as stated by the contract, Reeve had to uphold his end of the deal. "Fine, I'll pay for the cargo that was destroyed, what was it anyway?"

"A fruit basket," Cloud muttered.

"It was a good will present from Shinra to the mayor of Kalm," Rufus elaborated, because that sounded so much cooler than just saying fruit basket. "That's not all you have to pay for, the contract states you have to restore everything to the way it was, Cloud here needs Fenrir repaired; we wouldn't want him to go out of business, right?"

"No we wouldn't," Reeve growled and Cloud cringed.

"I said I was sorry," the delivery boy whimpered.

"A contract is a contract," Reeve accepted his fate with a grim expression. "Alright, I will pay for Fenrir's full repairs and the fruit basket."

"Good will present," Rufus corrected, "and don't forget Cloud's medical bill."

"For what?" Reeve could see nothing wrong with Cloud's health.

"That!" Rufus pointed at the band-aid on Cloud's arm, as if telling Reeve with his expression that he was oh so insensitive for not noticing. "Reno had to give him first aid, so you'll have to pay his medical bill."

"Reno is not a doctor," Reeve pointed out, annoyed at the redhead's amusement with the entire conversation. He must have been very entertained to be this quiet.

"That's my point, he's a Turk, he's an all purpose being trained to offer transportation in a variety of vehicles, go on undercover missions, and act as a heroic knight when needed. Transportation, Undercover, Knight, that's what a Turk is. He's more expensive than a doctor and he gave Cloud his services today," Rufus insisted.

Reeve felt his head pounding; he knew there was no way he could win this argument no matter how much logic he threw out, Rufus was too good at bending it. "Transportation, undercover and knight? What about the R? Reaper?"

"Don't get off topic!" Rufus defended.

"Alright, you've won," Reeve just wanted them to leave so he could rest after getting some pain killers for his headache. "I'll pay for the fruit basket," Rufus pouted and Reeve corrected himself, "I mean the good will present, Fenrir and Reno, is that all?"

"I suppose that will do," Rufus grinned victoriously, "we'll be going now, have a nice day," he stepped out of Reeve's office followed by Reno, while Cloud stayed behind, frozen like a statue, staring at his shoes.

xoxox xox xoxox

"You know," Reno began as he and Rufus got on the WRO building's elevator, "Mr. Cat Lover is just going to ask for more funds from Shinra to take care of all the expenses. Speaking of which, will I get a bonus for playing doctor?"

Rufus frowned, "it's about the principal, but you just had to point that out and ruin it. I'm not giving you a bonus; in fact, the next WRO donation is coming out of your paycheck!"

For the rest of the day Reno tried to talk, meaning persuade, meaning pressure, meaning whine at, Rufus so that he wouldn't give his paycheck to the WRO. Unfortunately Rufus was very stubborn.

xoxox xox xoxox

Back at Reeve's office, Cloud still stood there unmoving, until Reeve sent him away with a tired expression, "you can leave too."

"Sorry," Cloud apologized once more before rushing out of the office. He cared about Zack and Aeris, he really did. But couldn't they give him those spiritual messages and otherworldly pep talks when he wasn't driving?

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 89: Limit Break Theory

Far from being a limit break, it was a limitless break, as Edge was now a broken city, with random explosions all over the place and chaos, panic and turmoil reigning supreme. To think it all started because of one man's foolish curiosity and another man's foolish agreement.

xoxox xox xoxox

Many people had heard the phrase 'necessity is the mother of invention' at some point in their lives. It was a reference to the adaptability of the human race and how they rose to the occasion simply because they needed to, even if they had been powerless to do anything before even if they wanted to.

The realization that there is no other choice, the understanding that it's do or die, the rush of adrenaline and the knowledge that the only hope left is the hope you create with your own power, can push one beyond the limits that seemed to be unreachable before.

It is said that everyone has that potential, but few find themselves in a situation so dire that they awaken it. Although sometimes, even if the situation demands it, that potential is not reached because the lack of belief that it can be done is interpreted by fate as a lack of desire to accomplish it. Miracles only come to those who confidently believe in them with unwavering faith.

That aside, there could be other ways to test that theory, the limit break theory. If only the mental state and rush of adrenaline could be simulated, the possibilities could be amazing, or perhaps fatal. It might have been a fifty-fifty chance if not worse, but that was enough for it to catch Rufus' attention when Reno came into his office one day and started rambling about how many crazy deliveries Cloud could make before going on what Reno called a "super mega ultra uber awesome pwnage l337 delivery limit break of doom FTW!"

It was an interesting theory, Rufus had to admit, and what was even more peculiar was who brought this theory to his attention. To think Reno of all people would come up with a good idea, something that he could use to make transporting goods from point A to point B that much more cost effective.

Rufus paused, shook his head and took a deep breath. He reached for the com-system and pressed the button, opening a communication link with the secretary positioned behind a desk in a much smaller office next to his. "Bring me a very large cup of extra strong super caffeinated coffee, no milk, and make sure to put fifty spoons of sugar in it." Normally, one would blame craziness on too much caffeine and sugar, but this level of insanity was so great it had to be caused by a severe lack of the aforementioned substances.

Time ticked away as Reno rambled about his great idea with Rufus filtering out the sound as a well practiced habit. The door to the office was opened and the secretary came in with Rufus' coffee, setting it on the desk and quietly leaving before she caught whatever madness inducing virus the Turk and the president might have.

Rufus drank his cup of coffee without stopping, then took another deep breath after he was done, setting the empty cup on the desk. He waited for it to take effect, but somehow he was still inclined to listen to Reno's idea, which still appeared to be interesting. Maybe he was losing his mind for good.

"Alright," Rufus finally agreed, "you can test the limit break theory on Strife."

Rufus was feeling mischievous and he did have a lot of caffeine and sugar in his system, so instead of giving Cloud a lot of crazy deliveries to make, he paid Tifa, who needed the money since she had Marlene, Denzel, Cloud and herself to feed, a generous bribe to assist him on catching the delivery boy off guard and handcuffing him to the unsuspecting redhead Turk. Little did he know that because of this situation, Edge would be doomed.

xoxox xox xoxox

Mission 90: The Perfect Gift

Cloud Strife cursed his luck; he should have known that cruel fate would have him stuck with Reno again. While Cloud took care of buying some polish so that Vincent could keep his golden claw and shoes all nice and shiny, Reno poked a pyramid of polish cans that was neatly arranged on display at the store. The frustrated blond delivery boy had told his annoying redhead companion to stop several times, but Reno being Reno, did not heed the warning until the pyramid of cans fell apart loudly.

"I'm warning you," the store manager, who was stuck playing cashier for the day as well, gave Cloud a seriously creepy look. "If your friend broke anything you'll have to pay for it," the man reminded Cloud of Mukki, which made everything that much more scary.

"He's not my friend," Cloud argued, as Reno came running away from the scene of the crime.

Reno grinned casually at Cloud, "ready to leave, pal?"

The man who looked like Mukki took Cloud's gil, which the delivery boy had hastily dropped on the counter rather than handing it in, gave him a suspicious look, up and down, then finally bagged the polish can and gave it to Cloud. He then went off to examine the damage on the other side of the small store, while keeping an eye on the two men. Cloud grumbled and hurried out of the store. "Where do you think you're going?" The manager called after them.

"I didn't do anything!" Reno exclaimed, "that noise came from outside, the pyramid is fine, see?" He pointed while trying to look innocent.

The manager looked towards the pyramid which was behind a small aisle, he could see the can of polish on the very top peeking out above the aisle, encased in a strange glass-like structure, though that might just be the light bouncing off the shiny cans, there was no other logical explanation. "I suppose you can go, but I'll be watching you when you come back, I'll be watching you both." Another of his detailed looks, up and down, sent both Cloud and Reno running out of the store making a silent vow never to return.

They were out front in the parking lot where their rides, a black motorcycle and a red chocobo respectively, were waiting for them. A loud crash was heard as Cloud got on Fenrir and Reno hopped on Blaze. "You used one of your pyramids to keep the pyramid of cans in the store from falling, didn't you?"

"Yeah, and it sounds like that guy just broke it," confirming Reno's theory, the manager came running out of the store shouting at them. "Good thing Blaze can outrun Fenrir!" It was a fact that had saved Reno's life many times when he went too far into Cloud's bad side. A split second later, in a blur of bright red, the speedy red chocobo disappeared in the distance with Reno riding him. Cloud was soon to follow, hastily starting up Fenrir after clumsily dropping the keys twice and getting away without a second to spare.

xoxox xox xoxox

Cloud got back to the Seventh Heaven, where Vincent was waiting for the polish, it made no sense why he would hire Cloud instead of just going to the store himself. The unfortunate delivery boy discovered that Reno was there as well, with his red chocobo companion being praised and spoiled by Denzel and Marlene because Blaze was just too cute.

Glaring at Reno who had ditched him in a dangerous situation, Cloud pouted deeply and stomped over to the bar where Reno and Vincent were sitting, the former testing the latter's patience with his constant rambling. "I brought your polish," he told Vincent, then looked at Reno accusingly, "and I came out of everything alive in case anyone cares!"

Vincent accepted the polish with a quiet, "thank you," and handed Cloud a bag of gil, much too big for just the polish, there was a tip included, but it wasn't all a tip. "Don't forget my other request; I must go now, so I will trust you to have it ready on time." The silent dark haired man hurried out of the Seventh Heaven before he lost the will to resist the temptation of killing Reno.

"I guess I'm off to work again..." Cloud headed for the door and Reno followed him.

"C'mon Blaze, time to go, you can play with your friends later," the redhead and the red chocobo hurried after Cloud, who was not happy to be followed.

"Why are you following me?" Cloud was still angry about being abandoned with that creepy Mukki-look-alike at the store.

"I know about your secret mission," Reno suddenly spoke in a serious tone as if it was a scene from a suspenseful movie.

Cloud became serious as well, with a warning look that told Reno not to give away too much information, especially not in their current location. "I thought Shinra might participate, I guess I have no choice but to let you tag along, it's worse if you do this on your own."

xoxox xox xoxox

Twenty minutes later, Cloud, Reno and Blaze were walking through the Edge mall thinking about what to buy for Marlene's birthday. Vincent thought it would be rude to let a young lady's birthday pass without some form of congratulations, thus he sent Cloud to find a gift, since he considered himself to be a little behind in the times to be able to accurate choose something Marlene would like. Tifa was busy baking a cake and other treats, thus she entrusted Cloud with the same mission and now Cloud found out Shinra had decided to conduct some public relations and sent Reno as their representative to deliver a birthday gift for Marlene.

"When I got this mission, I thought they just wanted to keep me busy to get rid of me," Reno refused to shut up, making random conversation with Cloud as they walked, "but then I realize they just had no idea what to buy and thought I might get a good idea because I always get good ideas, so Shinra is counting on me!"

"I think they really did want to get rid of you," Cloud grumbled. "Either way, I don't know what to get."

"I'm getting her a time bomb building kit, so you can get an expansion pack for it with parts and extra stuff so the gifts will match," Reno replied.

He received an odd look from Cloud as soon as the blond realized it was not a joke, "what?"

Reno proceeded to explain the logic behind his brilliant idea, "Marlene is still young, but she's growing up and I thought a girl her age would prefer to be treated like a young woman rather than a kid."

"What does a bomb have to do with that?" Cloud failed to see the logic.

"Women like that kind of thing," Reno stated as a matter of fact, "don't you know anything? Women love weapons of mass destruction and anything that creates flashy explosions. Marlene is turning into a young lady, so pretty soon she'll be interested in all that stuff."

Cloud opened his mouth and closed it again like a fish. He was in no way an expert on the subject and for all he knew Reno's theory about a young lady approaching adolescence might be true. "Are you sure about that?"

Reno nodded, he was a Turk, the kind of women he was around were all cruel sadists even if they hid it underneath a sweet appearance, though one could theorize that Turk or not, all women were sadistic by nature. Even the rookie had a very scary side that Reno knew not to provoke.

"Well, if you're sure..." Cloud paused, the dilemma was not truly solved, they knew what to get but not where to get it, "so where do we find a time bomb kit and expansion packs?"

Reno laughed at the obvious question, "we're in Edge's mall, we can find anything here!" Then the trio of two men and a chocobo went off to find what they were sure would be the perfect gift.

To be Continued

My Main Site: http://azurelight.net
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Most of the mission requests consisted of a character and a word, then I wrote a story about that character that involved the chosen item or verb, the others were basic concepts of things the Turks should do.

Missions 02 and 03 were requested by Hikou. The idea for Mission 04 came from a comment sent by Sasami10. Mission 06 was requested by Little Duck. Mission 07 was requested by CrAze. Mission 08 was requested by Snow. Mission 09 was requested by Littleduck. Mission 10 was requested by Windy.

Mission 11 was requested by S.N. Naina. Mission 12 was requested by Sasami10. Mission 13 was requested by Death Korps (the chocobos) and Sasami10 (Tseng and Elena). Mission 14 was requested by Niquie. Most of the missions in this collection take place after Advent Children, except Mission 14, which takes place during Before Crisis. Mission 15 was requested by Sharem. Mission 16 was requested by les yeux sans visage. Mission 17 and 19 were requested by Death Korps. Mission 18 was requested by Death Korps, an apology for Elmyra, and it's also for evenstarfictionfan who wanted to see more missions with all the Turks. Mission 20 was requested by Silver Tears 11.

Mission 24 was requested by Death Korps. Mission 25 was requested by Sharem. The idea for Mission 26 came from a review by S.N. Naina. Missions 21, 22 and 23 were requested by Sasami10. The idea of using plushies for the scavenger hunt on Mission 22 came from an old animated Chipmunk movie. The idea for Mission 28 is from evenstarfictionfan and les yeux sans visage. Mission 30's idea is from Niquie.

Mission 31 was requested by Hikou about Rude and jumping. I also credit Hikou for calling Rufus 'Princess Ruru'. Farbucks is a parody of Starbucks in Shrek II and Basket Robin is a reference to Baskin Robins. Missions 32 and 37 were requested by evenstarfictionfan. Credits to Snow and Cherri for the Shinra Toy Factory. Missions 33 and 40 were requested by Snow. Snow, owns the character by the same name on Mission 40, I only borrowed her for the story. Mission 34 was requested by Nique. Mission 35 is based on a dream I had where a grown up Denzel joined the Turks and Reno had to train him. Missions 36 and 39 were requested by Sharem. Mission 38 was requested by Dawn of Destruction.

Mission 41 was requested by Cherri. Missions 42 and 44 were requested by Sharem. There are ideas from reviews from Aki Masamune in Mission 44, being nice to a fellow fan girl and "turk torture". Missions 43 and 47 were inspired by Kaeghlighn's reviews. The title of Mission 47 is a reference to The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy. Mission 48 was inspired by Sacred3's review. Mission 49 is for evenstarfictionfan, who wanted to see more of Tseng being protective of Elena.

Missions 51 was inspired by les yeux sans visage who asked what happened to Reno's stalker. Mission 52's concept is from by Rei Mumei. The girl who wanted Reno as her present in Mission 54 is the body of thoughts made from the love of all the Reno fan girls. The sister of the Reno fan girl body of thoughts is a similar being, but she was made from the thoughts of the fan girls of a different bishounen. The idea for Mission 54 came from a conversation I had with Snow. Mission 56 was requested by xOx-Just-Like-Yesterday-xOx. The Costa del Sol saga includes Mission 55 and Mission 60, requested by Sharem. I also credit Sharem for the term "sleep-killing" used on Mission 51. The piano saga was inspired by kikofreako.

Mission 62 was inspired by demonlifehealer. The marble in Mission 63 was requested by Rei Mumei. In Mission 64 the DDR part was inspired by a review from Prisonerksc2-303. Mission 65 was requested by kikofreako, the writing prompt was: Reno looked at the glass dubiously, "think they're trying to poison me?" The concept used in Mission 66 is from a review from demonlifehealer, Rufus' plotting making his hair spike from all the thinking. Mission 67 requested by SugarHoney91, the concept was Tifa telling Cloud how she feels. Mission 68 was requested by Naruta13, to make Reno look smart. The glasses were Lazard's. Mission 69 is for Dragon Reverb, the concept was Reno and Cid doing an air show.

Mission 72 was requested by Sharem. Mission 73 was requested by Sonica Foxie. Mission 74 is for kikofreako and Firehedgehog. Mission 75 is for demonlifehealer. Mission 77 is based on the Shinra RPG from the shinra database live journal community. Mission 78 was inspired by the movie Knight and Day.

Mission 81 was requested by Snow, the concept was deck of playing cards. Missions 83, 84 and 86 was requested by Rei Mumei. I got the idea for Mission 88 from Kaarina Helvete. Mission 89 was inspired by a review from Holly-Sama. Mission 90 was requested by Sharem.
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