Title: Forget Regret
Email: kalloway0018 at yahoo dot com
Disclaimer: If I owned FF7, Sephiroth would have spent much less time wearing pants. Therefore, I do not own it. Please do not sue.
Summary: Pre-game mystery with an overlying plot about choices made and the results of those choices.
Zack bolted out of bed, scrambling into his clothes before he'd even properly processed why he was awake and stumbling through the barely hindering dark.
That had been a gunshot. On Kysi's watch.
General Resi met Zack midway down the hallway, running faster than the barely awake first class.
"What's he doing?" Resi asked, letting his stride slip just a bit to match Zack's.
"No clue," Zack mumbled back. His throat was dry. He needed a drink, preferably of something harder than water. The last couple of weeks were killing him. "Didn't think he was allowed a gun..."
"He isn't. At least not with ammunition. No live shells in the dorms," Resi recounted from the rule book as though it really mattered at the moment.
Bursting through the door into the locker room, both men were surprised to see Kysi whimpering on the floor, white outfit splattered in a rapidly darkening red.
"Kysi!" Zack dropped to his knees, wrapping his arms around the Turk and trying to pull him up enough to see where the wound was.
"Bastard shot me," Kysi hissed, revealing that it was his right arm he was clutching beneath his body.
"Arm up," Resi instructed. "Wound above your heart until the medics can come. And Zack, call this in now!"
Nodding, Zack reluctantly left Kysi to Resi's likely more skilled first aid and ran for the phone.
"Hello, Medical Office, where..."
"Get a team down to the shower room of Hallway C," Zack interrupted, holding the phone tight enough that the brittle plastic was cracking under his fingers.
"Oh no..." Apparently this operator had gotten calls before.
"A man's been shot and is losing blood," Zack corrected, assuming that she was assuming this was another of the series. "And call for someone who knows something about firearms, so when you get the bullet out, we can figure out who did this."
"Yessir, Sir, I've alerted the team. Now what are you doing for the victim..."
"General Resi is here," Zack said. "Don't worry about anything else."
And he hung up, giving the phone a reprieve as he ran back to where Resi was holding a very grumpy Kysi's arm above his head. His jacket had been trashed to tie around under the wound, but still blood was running down, turning Kysi's snow-white hair almost black.
"They're coming," Zack said, nodding before sitting down next to Kysi.
"He didn't see who did it," Resi stated, answering Zack's next question before it could be asked.
"I'm watching that fucking ice cream party in my head," Kysi mumbled, "and I can't pick out a face. He's figured out how to walk around the motion lights."
"They'll be readjusted in the morning," Resi said quickly. "But we know that much, now."
"Anything?" Zack asked as he reached to push back Kysi's blood-soaked bangs, covering his own hand with blood in the process.
"I was sitting, but it still seemed like he was really... This really fucking hurts y'know and you're just sitting there..." Kysi howled in pain, clenching his teeth. "Like he was tall..."
At that moment the medical team intervened, followed by the absolute last person Zack wanted to see - Jameson.
The second their eyes met, Zack knew he was doomed. With just a gesture, he found himself walking away from Kysi and the gang of medics who were attacking him with gauze and a gurney. Wishing he could at least wave or yell out something uplifting, Zack did neither, sure that it was improper and also revealing that despite that blasted Turk coming up with stupid ideas and obviously being one of Jameson's lackeys, Kysi wasn't so damned bad as a colleague.
They stopped just inside the courtyard, exposed to the not-quite-chilly air as Jameson silently beckoned for Zack to sit beside him on a low plastic bench.
"Are you going to talk?" Zack asked. "I'm sure you have questions."
"Do you think this was related?" Jameson asked, mako meeting mako and holding Zack. Hell, he felt like an open book when trapped in those eyes.
"I hadn't thought of it any other way, but really... More concerned about Kysi, I guess. He's not so bad, for a Turk," Zack admitted. The thought that perhaps this was unrelated was still tangling its way into his not-quite awake brain, reminding him that this wasn't the only thing going on within the insanity that was ShinRa.
Kysi was a Turk after all, and Turk business could very well have snuck into this place.
"So you're going to try something else?"
"It's been quiet." Jameson finally looked away, out at the rest of the courtyard.
"But if you send us off... I mean, it'll happen and then we'll be back and then gone and then..."
"I want to keep you in the hallway," Jameson stated.
Of course he did. He was an utter bastard and since being stuck in the hallway was in fact the most miserable thing Zack could imagine, that's what Jameson was going to run with.
"But..." Jameson continued. "Five guards have just been added to the compound thanks to a slight budget increase. They'll more than cover you. So all you need to do is be a presence."
Zack couldn't think of what to say. He couldn't think of what to think, either, save that his whole vow of celibacy until this mess was over had to in fact be the stupidest thought he'd ever had.
"I'll even make sure you have a proper day-pass each week," Jameson said. "Kysi has told me how hard this has been on you both..."
'Sir,' Zack wanted to say, 'if I didn't hate your fucking guts so fucking badly, I'd hug you and break my vow and even blow your awful damned mage cock for saying that.'
"What's the official explanation for all of this?" Zack asked instead. There was going to be a spin on this. There always a spin on everything in the least bit troubling.
"No explanation," Jameson answered, reaching out to put one of his ridiculously small, slim unmanly hands on Zack's shoulder. "Simply that things are different."
"Yessir," Zack said flatly, knowing that the little underground papers would likely know more than he did in a few days. They'd probably even have an interview with the gunman, maybe, just as a way to piss off the higher ups. No... That was pushing it, but news of Kysi suddenly...
"What about Kysi?"
"If he regains all of his reflexes and dexterity, I doubt Tseng or Heidegger would demote him," Jameson said. "But if he can't move like he used to, he's not that useful."
"Go back to your room and get some sleep, soldier," Jameson said firmly, withdrawing his hand and sending a sharp glare in Zack's direction. "I believe this briefing is over."
"Of course, Sir," Zack managed, offering a quick salute before staggering back inside, the weight of his barely-hour-long nap finally crashing over him. Living eight hours off, eight hours on had been getting to him, but he wouldn't have been the one to say anything.
In a way, as he shuffled back to his room, he was almost kinda happy Kysi had gotten shot, except for the Kysi getting shot part.
But other than cigarettes, which didn't seem quite proper, Zack couldn't think of a darned thing to actually give to Kysi. Wasn't like flowers would do a Turk any good, but...
He fell into his bed, hoping it would at least be daylight the next time he was disturbed. At least without his shift sitting hopelessly bored and even reading Cloud's textbooks for fun, sleep was an actual viable option for something to do.
But it wasn't quite daylight when Zack found himself stirring to consciousness though, unsure of just what he'd been dreaming but fairly sure it was better than listening to a mini-war going on right outside his door.
Stomping out of bed, he almost forgot about whatever Cloud and Ryan were fighting about as he turned his light on and finally noticed what he'd been wearing for the entire ordeal earlier - mangled fatigues and a t-shirt Sine had gotten him that proclaimed 'I fucked a SOLDIER and all I got was this fucking t-shirt'. Nice, he thought. Real nice. Resi and Jameson and the other ten-thousand people who were poking at Kysi must have been amused at that.
Not to mention the smear of blood down the front of it, Kysi's blood...
Throwing the door open, Zack glared at the cadets, who seemed to be playing tug-of-war with a newspaper.
"Zack!" Ryan cried, giving a yank that nearly knocked the much-smaller Cloud over. "Settle this for us."
"Don't you have class?" Zack asked, wondering what was so good about a newspaper.
"Ryan is trying to steal my paper," Cloud said, not looking up. "I paid for it."
"I just want one picture," Ryan retorted.
Zack grabbed the paper in the center, one hand lifting it and both cadets for a moment before they realized their feet weren't on the ground and promptly let go.
"What's so important that you woke me up, anyway?"
"Look on page thirteen," Ryan said, attempting to snatch the paper back to save Zack the trouble of pointing.
Rolling his eyes, Zack couldn't help thinking that he was rooming with nine-year-olds instead of teenagers. He lifted the paper above his head and managed to flip to page thirteen without much trouble only to see an exceptionally nice black and white photograph of Sephiroth on the beach in Costa del Sol gracing the celebrity page. It even overrode an article about Rufus ShinRa's upcoming birthday.
Nice, really nice. Stomping back into his room, Zack didn't let the paper drop until he had fifteen gil in his hand, which he promptly pressed into Cloud's hands. "It's settled. This belongs to me."
"No fair," Ryan muttered, looking from the money to Cloud's confused face.
"Life isn't fair. Go to class."
And Zack promptly went back to bed.
It was mid-morning by the time Zack crawled out of bed for the final time, yawning and scratching with the sort of abandon he'd really come to miss, since eight hours on and eight hours off had certainly not left him time for things like that.
Grabbing some clean clothing and heading out into the main room, a white envelope that must have been slid under the door sat staring at him, his name handwritten in blocky letters across it.
Oh, could it be? Zack ripped the envelope open and found himself wanting to dance - a day-pass that would get him the hell out of... hell for the rest of the day. Whooping, because no one was around to hear anyway, he ran the other way down the hall and bounded three steps at a time up to the floor above so he could shower in peace without thinking of Kysi in a puddle of his own blood.
Sighing as he pulled off his clothing and stepped into the empty shower room, Zack couldn't help thinking of Kysi and unfortunately not in the delicious carnal ways he'd been thinking of the Turk. Somehow Kysi had put off the sort of aura that he was untouchable, so much less of a rookie than he likely was, despite being quite skilled at the tiny details of intelligence.
A day-pass... Yes, the city was calling him and there had to be something to do, even by himself. Laughing at how he'd spent half of the money he had with him just for a grainy picture of Sephiroth in a bathing suit, Zack wondered if perhaps Sine would float him a loan for a few days until his meager allowance came in. Sine was usually good with money, at least, and wouldn't be too upset that he hadn't been visited since that...
Damned vow of celibacy. That was such a bad idea. Absolutely nothing to do in the city besides break the only commitment he'd made to himself in such a long time that willpower threatened to escape him completely, the sort of thing really not proper for a man in his position.
Oh, the city, all metal and lights, decadence calling and beckoning to him in a voice he couldn't ignore. Jameson had finally done something that could be considered nice and useful and instead it was a curse in disguise!
That damned mage probably knew, anyway... somehow...
In the end, he didn't bother seeking out Sine, instead just wandering to the train station and catching a commuter fare in, leaving him with just enough to eat dinner if he went with a cheap box.
"Flowers for sale..."
He would have walked right over the girl if he hadn't looked up at the last minute.
"How much?" Zack asked, mind flashing to how annoyed Kysi would be when presented with a Get Well bouquet.
"Well," the girl said with a giggle, "you're cute so I'll sell you ten for five gil."
Smiling, Zack took a moment to look her over as well. She couldn't be nearly as young as she looked, perhaps seventeen or so.
"I'll take them," Zack replied, kissing his dinner goodbye. He could go back early and handle cafeteria food though. That would be okay. One little jab at Kysi would certainly be worth it, even if it wasn't completely a jab at all.
Digging out his wallet, Zack pulled out his payment and handed it over.
"I'm taking your dinner money!" the girl exclaimed as she peered into the nearly empty expanse of Zack's wallet. "So... let me get you something."
"But you don't even know my name..." He had nothing against straightforward women, after all. And she was cute.
"You don't know mine," she replied, grinning as she handed over her entire basket of flowers. "But we can learn all of that later."
Zack smiled in return, wondering how he'd managed to pull yet another fortunate moment from the string of near-disasters that his life had become.
Dragging back into the compound, a goofy smile plastered on his face, Zack couldn't help thinking he was the luckiest guy in the world. Not only was the flower girl adorably charming, but she had told him where she lived and asked him to come visit, no random sexual advances involved. To actually spend quality time with someone not in the military who didn't hate his guts...
Flowers now tied with a pink bow, Zack snuck into the medical wing, holding up a hand to hush nurses as he went. Certainly no one would give a SOLDIER First Class to much of a hassle when he at least was being quiet.
Kysi's light was still on and Zack wasn't surprised as he peeked in to see the Turk pouring over what looked like confidential files. There wasn't exactly a paperwork detail as part of the Turk program, but there were always stupid things that needed to be read and less literate Turks who probably needed the short version of things.
"Brought you flowers," Zack announced, holding them out and expecting a scowl in return but instead receiving a smile. "Kysi?"
"You brought me flowers," Kysi reiterated. "Not paperwork or pain pills that do shit. Which means that in some sick way you either care or want to mock me."
"The former," Zack admitted, grabbing a water pitcher and stuffing the flowers into it. As he sat down on the edge of Kysi's bed, he peered over to look at Kysi's now very-bandaged arm that was being held in place at his side only because his wrist was handcuffed to the bedrail.
"I'm a difficult patient," Kysi deadpanned, following Zack's gaze perfectly. "I'm not allowed to move it or I'll reopen the wound."
"Any better idea who did it?" Zack asked, trying not to follow the pale of Kysi's skin to where it vanished beneath his hospital gown.
"Tall... dark... If I didn't know better, I'd say someone built a bit like you, pal" Kysi replied. "And no, to answer your next question, I don't know if it was personal or work-related. I already have my share of enemies."
"You've been asked a few times..."
"Like ten times today, at least... had Tseng in here pitching a fit and Jameson and another couple instructors for some stupid reason and a weapons expert... If I knew who fucked up my arm, I'd be out there fucking up a whole lot more," Kysi explained, wincing as he flexed his fingers.
"So a complete mystery..." Too many pretty, untouchable things in his life. Not fair...
"And a bad fucking shot since he told me to 'DIE' before promptly nailing me in the arm. But he whispered because of course everyone sounds alike in a loud whisper," Kysi grumbled, flexing his fingers again, hissing in pain. "I'm not going to be any good to you now."
"Didn't Jameson tell you?" Zack asked. "I mean, how do you think I'm here -- we're off that detail... they're changing the lighting scheme and adding five guards to patrol."
"Well, other than you ending up like lace cheese, nothing exciting has happened..."
"Bastard!" Kysi exclaimed. "Took my materia and didn't mention that little fact!"
"Took your materia?"
"And my cigarettes... Don't suppose you have any nicotine with those flowers..." Kysi looked downright pitiful for a second, losing more of his composure and looking instead like a man handcuffed to a bed.
"Sorry," Zack answered. "And you look like the type to pull my hair if I gave you head, so..."
His mouth was going to get him into trouble sooner than later, Zack thought, not entirely sure why he made that comment but rather happy that Kysi only frowned for a second.
"You better scram," Kysi said suddenly, glancing up at the clock on the wall. "Time for useless pain pills and I don't think any of the docs around here would take too kindly to you sucking my cock past visiting hours."
Zack stuck out his tongue.
And then he turned to head back to his room, wondering if the dorky duo would still be awake and what they'd be fighting about if they were.
That and he had a picture to tape up on his wall, if only to annoy Cloud and Ryan all the more.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!