There was a kind of sombre silence hanging with the merciless chill in the early morning air, like the two had decided to pair together in hopes of making Reno even more miserable than he already was. They were succeeding. Icy wind cut through the thin layers of his suit, piercing his skin until his flesh not so much as froze, but burned. A cigarette hung loosely between a pair of well-defined lips, and the redheaded Turk backed up against the familiar metal body of his chopper, hoping to block out the cold.
The grey light of dawn was spilling across the city of Midgar, casting harsh shadows over the landscape. From his vantage point atop the ShinRa building, Reno watched as the faintest rays of sunlight peeked over the distant horizon, and he prayed that they brought warmth with them. Fuck, it was just way too cold.
He checked his watch. Quarter passed six in the morning.
"Fuck me." He murmured through chattering teeth, wishing he had had the common sense to bring a jacket with him. Wasn't spring supposed to be warm?
He'd been given the delightful opportunity to wake up at this ungodly hour in order to transport a fugitive from the ShinRa building to Nibelheim for a trial. Well, it wasn't so much as a trial as a "you're guilty, and this is how we're gonna punish you" kind of deal.
And it wasn't so much a fugitive as a twisted little monster.
When the creak of metal jarred the silence of the morning, Reno lifted his head and watched as three massive SOLDIER's brought his cargo through the door of the roof and toward the waiting helicopter. It would have been seen as insane to have so many men escort the fugitive, a mere sixteen year old boy who was just shy of five feet, six inches tall.
But, considering what the kid had done to the city only weeks ago, Reno would have asked for a dozen more.
The fugitive was shackled at his wrists and stripped of his weapon, which was being carried by one of the huge men at his side. The early morning light reflected beautifully off of the sword's twin blades. His head was hung low, face hidden behind a curtain of sleek shoulder-length silver hair. The skin-tight black leather wrapped around the boy's slight frame creaked as he moved. He looked almost harmless at first glance, but Reno caught the tension in the boy's strong shoulders, and the way his long gloved fingers were balled into two furious fists.
The kid was pissed.
Couldn't blame him.
Reno pushed off the helicopter and took one last drag of his cigarette before flicking the butt away. He exhaled a cloud of silver smoke and moved to open the chopper's side door, watching as the SOLDIER's pushed the boy inside. One climbed in with him, but only to shackle him firmly to the chopper's inner walls, just to make sure he didn't try to pull any shit on the fly over to Nibelheim. As Reno waited for them to finish what they had to do, he caught a flash of white out of the tail of his eye.
Rufus ShinRa, the young President of the ShinRa Company, was standing at the doorway leading up to the rooftop, the wind whipping through his crisp white suit and soft blonde hair. When he motioned with a regal curl of his hand, Reno came to his side like the obedient dog he was.
"You sure you'll be able to handle him?" Rufus asked softly, his calculating blue stare locked on the helicopter.
Reno raked his fingers back through his long red hair. "He's tied up, yo. What harm can the little bastard do?"
The blonde President merely cocked a brow.
"Yeah, I guess I should be careful." The redhead laughed uneasily and looked toward the chopper. "What about his brothers?"
"They've already been shipped out." Rufus nodded. "Tseng and Rude have them each in two separate choppers. They left last night. We thought it best that they not travel together. They're stronger that way. And if Kadaj knew that we already had his brothers held in Niebelheim, we think he'll be more cooperative."
"Right." Reno frowned. "Why the hell did I get the psycho one, again?"
"Rude is the only one big enough to handle Loz, and after Tseng went through what the three brothers did to him, he said he'd rather not have to deal with the mouthy one." Rufus snorted.
His President clapped him on the shoulder. "Cheer up."
"It's Kadaj, boss." Reno grumbled. "This is not going to be a smooth ride."
Rufus nodded. "It's only a few hours. You can have tomorrow off."
"Thanks." At the sound of the chopper's door sliding shut, Reno knew it was time to get moving. "Guess I should head out."
After exchanging goodbyes with the young President, Reno turned heel and headed for his helicopter. He climbed into the pilot's seat and reluctantly shut the door behind him, already not liking being in an enclosed space with the most infamous Remnant of Sephiroth. While he fired up the blades and waited for the engine to warm up, he risked a glance over his shoulder.
Kadaj was sitting against the back wall of the chopper, his arms shackled behind his back. His double-bladed sword was on the floor near him, but wasn't close enough for him to find a way to use it. His head still hung low but, as though sensing Reno watching him, he glanced up, his one eerie Mako eye that wasn't hidden by his bangs catching the light. The slit pupil made the redheaded Turk shiver and turn away quickly.
The kid may have been beautiful, but that stare of his was creepy as all fuck.
He felt Kadaj staring at the back of his head.
As the helicopter rose into the sky, Reno sat back comfortably and directed it in the direction of Nibelheim. The rising sun was piercing in its brightness, making him squint and hold his free hand over his eyes like a visor. Reno had to admit, Midgar was beautiful under the light of the morning sun, even after all the damage the three Remnant brothers caused. It wasn't often that he saw his home under such a pristine golden kiss of sun. Waking up this early was just not going to happen, pretty scenery or not.
The ride to Nibelheim would take a minimum of five hours, as there was a mountain range and a fucking ocean to cross in order to get to the Nibel Continent.
Five hours in a helicopter with Kadaj.
Joy of fucking joys.
He couldn't quite understand why the trial was being held so damned far away in the first place. He supposed Midgar wasn't ideal at the moment, considering half of the place was rubble thanks to Kadaj's Bahamut SIN summon, but come on. Nibelheim? The very place that Sephiroth went batshit is where his three Remnants would be punished for their crimes? Irony, you fickle bitch.
There was little doubt in his mind that the brothers would be put to death for all this. They were too dangerous to be left locked up.
Reno could still feel Kadaj staring at the back of his head, and he dreaded glancing over his shoulder a second time.
The first two hours of the flight were surprisingly silent, and as the soared over the mountains, Reno felt a sense of relief. Maybe this wouldn't be as difficult as he first thought. Kadaj didn't utter a peep, but those eyes were still fixed onto the back of his skull. And wasn't that just the best thing to feel when operating heavy machinery thousands of feet above the ground. Reno kept rubbing at the goose bumps that kept appearing all over his body. He couldn't take it any longer.
"What the fuck are you staring at, yo?" He looked over his shoulder.
Kadaj didn't reply. He just continued to stare with those haunting cyan eyes.
"Well? You gonna answer or what, kid?" Reno growled.
Reno turned away, but not two minutes passed before he was ready to snap. Kadaj just wouldn't stop staring. "Will you fucking quit it? It's creepy as shit."
Still the Remnant didn't speak.
"Fucking fuck, man!"
What he finally received as a response wasn't words, but menacing laughter that started off low before erupting from deep within Kadaj's chest. If insanity had any specific sound, that would be it. The hair at the back of Reno's neck stood at attention.
"The fuck is so funny?" The Turk's voice wavered somewhat.
The boy flicked his head, allowing his hair to fall away from his other eye so he could give the redheaded Turk a good look. "Two hours." That young, velvety voice of his was sin itself. "Not bad, Turk."
Reno blinked. "What?"
Kadaj stirred, and Reno could hear the rattle of his shackles as he attempted to get comfortable. He stretched out his lithe legs and crossed them at the ankles. "Mm, it took you two hours to snap. I personally wouldn't have lasted as long if someone was staring at me without pause, so kudos to you."
" He gaped. "Were you testing me?"
"Yes." Kadaj smirked.
Mind games. Motherfucking mind games. He should've known.
Reno set the chopper on auto pilot and rose out of his seat, stalking toward the little brat, who just looked up at him with an unchanging expression of accomplishment. His towering form cast a shadow over Kadaj's tinier body, but the Remnant looked no less threatening.
"Why?" He growled at him.
"Because I was bored." The boy's smirk widened.
The redhead narrowed his powder blue eyes. "You're fucking insane."
"No shit, Sherlock."
Reno turned and marched back to his seat, aggravated beyond belief as he plopped down onto it. Keeping the chopper on auto pilot, he reached into his pocket and pulled out another cigarette, which he promptly lit up. The deep drag of nicotine settled him down, and got him thinking
This kid was being sent to his death. He had been separated from his brothers, shackled up and thrown in the back of a helicopter to be flown for five hours to his execution trial, and all he was doing was being annoying. He wasn't thrashing, screaming, fighting. Just sitting there and acting like the little mindfuck that he was.
Reno sighed around his cigarette. "You want some water?"
When he turned, even Kadaj looked surprised at his question.
"You gotta be thirsty, yo." Reno plucked a water bottle from one of the hidden compartments and strolled over to the young Remnant. He knelt in front of him and unscrewed the cap. "I'm afraid it's not that cold, but it should do the trick."
Kadaj didn't say anything. Just gave him an odd look.
"It ain't poison, yo." Reno removed the cigarette from between his lips for a moment and sipped from the bottle himself. "See? It's just water."
Kadaj didn't say anything, but he could tell the kid was parched from the way he discreetly licked his dry lips as he eyed the bottle. He wanted a drink, but he was just too damned arrogant to ask for it.
" Reno shuffled closer and placed the mouth of the bottle to Kadaj's lips. Slowly, he tipped it forward, letting the water pour into the boy's mouth.
Kadaj swallowed eagerly, draining half the bottle in one shot before pulling away. Rivulets of water trickled down his chin and neck, and Reno didn't even think as he gently brushed them away with the tips of his fingers. Kadaj's pale skin was unusually cool, but achingly soft.
The not-so-subtle clearing of the boy's throat was what made him pull away.
"Sorry, yo." Reno felt like a tool. "Uh, you need anything else?"
"A drag would be nice."
Reno smiled softly and placed his own cigarette between Kadaj's lips, holding it there until the boy filled his lungs.
"Didn't know you smoked." He muttered as he took the cigarette back, tapping the ashes to the floor.
Kadaj held the smoke in his lungs for a good thirty seconds before exhaling, the silver cloud blending in with his hair. He moaned. "Mm
I rarely do. Yazoo and Loz hate it."
"I feel you. Rude's been begging me to kick my habit for years."
Reno paused. Holy fuck, wait. Were they bonding?
As if reading his thoughts, Kadaj said, "You know, you don't have to pretend to like me, Turk. You can quit the whole Bonding Buddies Bullshit and go sit down before you crash us into a mountain."
Bonding Buddies Bullshit. Now didn't that just roll right of the tongue.
The redhead grunted and stood, returning to his seat with the cigarette still held between his fingers. He took control of his bird once more, straightening her out when she had tipped forward slightly during auto pilot. A red light on the panel was blinking rapidly, and Reno leaned in and squinted when he tried to read the little white lettering above it.
CHECK ENGINE. Crap, he'd probably have to make an emergency landing. And all he had below him were the snowy peaks of mountains and the hazed form of the Northern Crater in the distance.
Kadaj's voice snapped him out of his thoughts, both by the unusually soft tone and the words uttered.
"I'm going to die, aren't I?"
He glanced over his shoulder at the boy, and knew he wanted honesty. Hell, he deserved honesty "Yes."
Kadaj only nodded. "And my brothers?"
"Mm." The Remnant leaned back and sighed heavily, his eyes on the ceiling.
Reno felt a clench at his chest at the indifference in Kadaj's reaction. Sure, yeah, he knew what to expect when he reached Nibelheim, but who the hell actually wanted to hear it coming out of someone else's mouth? Reno knew that, had it been him in Kadaj's position, he'd be a walking panic attack.
Maybe Kadaj was stronger.
"I'm sorry." He heard himself blurt before he had a moment to think about it.
"I don't want your pity." Kadaj muttered.
"It ain't pity, yo." Reno frowned, turning his eyes back to the skies for a moment. That blinking light was ever in his peripheral and it was driving him nuts.
"Fine. Then stop pretending like you give a fuck." The youth growled.
Reno was taken aback. "Excuse me?"
"The water, the cigarette, the sympathy." Kadaj snorted. "Quit pretending like you care about me and just fucking drive the copter. That's all you're here for, anyways. You're the chauffeur taking me to the graveyard. Had anyone else asked to take your place, you'd have gladly given it to them. You don't want to be here. You don't care. Quit being a fake ass fuck and just shut up and drive."
Reno stared. Just stared. There was the fear he was looking for. Hidden behind the anger and the insults, there was the kid's fear.
A sudden lurch from the helicopter promptly grabbed hold of Reno by the ponytail and whipped him back into fucking reality. He tossed in his seat like a ragdoll, his stomach smacking into the lever he used to control the copter. Even Kadaj went flying forward, the shackles bound to the copter's walls keeping him from faceplanting.
Something was wrong. Holy fuck, something was wrong.
"The fuck did I say about driving, Turk?" Kadaj roared behind him.
"That was not me, yo!" Panic gripped his heart and he seized the lever in both hands, trying to control his bird.
She was descending at an uneasy speed, her body shaking and jerking about as though the blades were struggling to carry her weight. A sort of catch and release that made Reno's stomach turn. There was nothing below them but fog and snow and a whole lot of mountain.
And that's when the blades stopped turning altogether.
And they plunged.
"Fuck! Fuck! Oh, fuck!" Reno scrambled out of his seat, gravity's pull as the helicopter tossed and turned in the air sending him smashing and crashing into the walls. The plummet made his stomach heave in that uncomfortable way, and he became dizzy.
He reached the handle of the copter's door and gripped tightly. His teeth ground hard against each other as he tried to keep his grip tight on the thing and, with one quick jerk, the door flew open. He had to clutch onto the wall to keep from falling out. Fierce wind and snow smacked into his face.
Beside him, Kadaj was colliding into the wall with equal force, and when Reno made the careful crawl to his side, he gripped onto the boy to keep him still.
"Kadaj!" He yelled over the thunderous howl of wind that felt like it was right in his ear. "I'm gonna unshackle you, and then I need you to jump! Got it?"
"What?" Kadaj shouted, and Reno was sure that question was not because the kid didn't hear him.
"Trust me!" Reno locked his stare. "You gotta jump!"
Without waiting for the kid to make up his fucking mind, Reno reached behind him and released the shackles. He was damned lucky the things didn't require keys. Just a precise turn of a lever, and Kadaj was free. The Remnant tumbled against Reno's chest and seemed to grip for dear life, fingers curling into his jacket.
The kid was scared.
Fuck, so was he.
"Ready?" He shouted, the wind whipping through his ponytail. He could see through the open the door that the mountain was very, very, very close.
With one hard shove, the boy was out of his arms and right out the door. Reno watched without a breath as Kadaj's sleek leather-clad form tumbled out of the opening and disappeared into the whirlwind of snow.
Just as he made a move to follow, the impact came.