Title: Pretty Hate Machine.
AN: This is written for ficalbum@lj, i took huge liberties with the characters, hence the AU.
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII, Advent children.
Betaed by; erestorjunkie
Disclaimer: none of these characters are mine, sad but true.
Summary: Reno gets even more confused…
Warnings: AU! Angst.
Pairings: Reno/Cloud Reno/Tseng
MERRY CHRISTMAS Y’ALL.
You give me the reason.
You give me control.
I gave you my purity.
My purity you stole.
Did you think I wouldn’t recognize this compromise?
Am I just too stupid to realize.
Stale incense old sweat and lies, lies, lies
It comes down to this.
And your strain.
It gets under my skin.
Take in the extent of my sin
NIN – sin.
It was a little strange as they crawled into bed that night, as the spell of lust and alcohol no longer clouded Tseng’s judgement, he was all too aware that there was a half naked man laying beside him in his bed. And that this half naked man had given him a blowjob, and on top of that an absolutely divine one. “Reno?” he whispered.
“Yeah,” Reno whispered in the dark.
“Nothing,” Tseng said and then he too rolled over on his back.
Reno turned about and popped his up on his elbow, looking at Tseng in the dark bedroom, “I wont tell him,” he whispered.
Tseng draped an arm over his eyes, and sighed. He had not thought about that at all, Reno was cheating on Cloud, and here he was concerned about being a freak. “Good,” Tseng said.
“I can sleep somewhere else if you’d prefer to be alone,” Reno whispered.
“Maybe that would be a good idea” Tseng whispered, trying to will himself into thinking of beautiful, curved, soft, sensual women. But they all tasted of Reno’s mouth.
“I understand,” Reno said softly and sat up in the bed. “Tseng?” he said as he moved out of the soft double bed, but he didn’t get further before he heard the distinct tone of his phone ringing. With a sigh he got reached out and fetched it in his pants pocket. “yeah” he said with a flat voice.
Tseng couldn’t make out who was in the other end, but it was a hysterical woman that was for sure. What had Tseng sitting straight up in the bed, forgetting all about erotica, was when Reno stood up with a jerk and said “shht… shhhht.. Tifa, Tifa, you are not making any sense.”
Reno grabbed his pants and sat down on the bed, putting them on, holing the phone between his ear and shoulder, listening to a very upset Tifa on the other end. “Oh my God,” he whispered as he stood up and clasped his belt. “Sit down, have a drink, whatever.. Tifa, I am there in five minutes” and then he hung up.
Tseng stood up and pulled on his pants as well. “So?” he said as he buttoned his shirt with quick fingers “will you tell me why I am getting dressed at five in the morning?”
“Marlene, she is gone,” Reno said as he left the bedroom.
Tseng hurried after him, barely having time to lock his door before they sat in the car. “Gone?” he said “as in ran away?” when Reno didn’t answer, he sneered “did the kid fucking vaporize or what?”
“No” Reno said, running a hand through his hair, “She was abducted,” He turned to look at Tseng “I think its the killer, but when we get there you can’t tell Tifa, she don’t know anything about that.”
“Its not like the child murderer is a secret,” Tseng said dryly.
“You know what I mean, she will freak out if she thinks that someone is pretending to be Cloud, and then Marlene is gone,” Reno said, and Tseng nodded in agreement.
They arrived at Tifa’s fifteen minutes later, only to find her pacing the floor, and as the door opened, she growled, “What took you so long?”
“We were at the other end of town, I think we broke the damn sound barrier to be here this fast,” Reno said, as he sat down on top of one of the tables. “Try and relax and tell us what happened,” he said softly.
Tifa took a deep shuddering breath and nodded, “Alright.”
Reno could feel her apprehension towards him coming off her in waves, but this was not about Tifa, it was about Marlene, and that meant they had to trust each other, rather ironic really. Two people in love with the same man, working to solve what that one man should have fixed, had he been present. “Begin at the beginning, when did you see her the last time?”
“I am afraid it begins before that,” Tifa said. Grabbing a chair, turning it around so she rested her arms on the backrest. Looking at Reno, ignoring Tseng’s presence. “One afternoon about a month ago, this man comes in here, a very handsome tall dark haired man, he didn’t want a drink, but wanted to speak with me” Tifa said, “But you know what its like to be lonely and seeing ghosts, I suppose.” she sighed.
“I do,” Reno said, crossing his legs, and lighting a cigarette as he continued listening.
“Well, he said his name was Thyr, and that he had met Cloud wherever it was, he gave me some city name I had never heard of, and I was too stupid to check up on him, See Reno.. I wanted to believe him so badly, I wanted ot believe that Cloud sent Thyr here to help me out, that Cloud hadn’t forgotten about his family.”
‘Technically you are not his family,’ Reno thought, but pushed it away, and just nodded and listened.
“He told me that he and Cloud had found this oasis in the desert where things would grow, and that he would take us there, he just had to prepare everything first,” Tifa looked away from Reno, “and I believed him.” She took a deep breath and continued “He even brought us fruits from the farm in oasis, he brought the kids apples and figs, he came here for a long time as a friend of the house, and then one afternoon he was here, he said he wanted to take Denzil to his brother’s kids birthday, and he sat here and waited for something like half an hour, just talking with me in the bar while I did my job, Marlene came and sat with us, taking about everything and nothing, asking obnoxious questions, just kids stuff.” Tifa said.
Reno nodded and looked at Tseng, “would you bring us all a drink?” he asked.
Under normal circumstances he would never have fetched a drink for anyone who bossed him about, but he could see that Tifa would only speak with Reno, and that they both really needed a drink, and honestly, so did he, so he silently moved behind the bar. Reno smiled at Tseng as he handed him a drink, but didn’t invite him, Tseng took it that this was between Reno and Tifa really. But Tifa asked him to sit with them as he handed her the drink, and so he did.
Tifa took a sip of her drink with shaking hands, “then Thyr asked me if he could take Marlene instead, since Denzil was apparently busy and had forgotten, I told Marlene to go upstairs and get her best dress, and then he walked right out of here with her,” Tifa sucked in her breath, “and I haven’t heard from her since, nor that man, Thyr, if that is even his name.”
Reno sat in silence at first, and then he downed the drink. “I will do my very best to find her, I promise” he said as he jumped down from the table, “but I don’t know where to start,” he looked at Tifa, who just looked like she was about to burst into tears.
“I can’t be sure of anything he told me at all,” She whispered.
“Did he say where his alleged brother lived, where the birthday party was supposed to take place? Did he tell you what his brothers name was?” Reno said looking over at Tseng with a frustrated expression.
“He said he was going to Threestones,” Tifa said looking thoughtful, “I think he said his brothers name was Leo.”
“Really?” Reno said, trying his hardest to keep his emotions private, this was bad, the odds of finding Marlene alive just dropped to zero. But as they still searched for Elvira, then Marlene could still be alive. “How long has she been gone?”
“Two days,” Tifa said, “I tried to track her down myself, but I got nowhere at all, I have nothing to go on at all!” she grabbed Reno’s arm hard “Do you think its that child murderer we hear about, please Reno, if you think so, you have to let me now.”
“You called me because you were told that the child murderer was my jurisdiction,” Reno stated, “You must have suspected it yourself.”
Tifa nodded, “but do ‘you’ think so too?”
Reno looked over at Tseng again who shook his head. Reno looked down at Tifa, “I don’t know.”
As they left Tifa’s tavern, Reno’s phone buzzed again, looking at the caller ID he could tell it was the Midgar police central, so he picked it up. “Hello? This is Reno,” he said, waving at Tseng to get into the drivers seat of the car.
“You are needed at Threestones, apartment 606, there are police on the scene,” the neutral dispatch woman said.
“Elvira?” Reno gasped.
“Can’t tell Special Agent Vaughan, all I know is that your presence is requested at the scene,” the dispatcher said.
“Thank you, we are on our way,” he said and hung up. And then he looked at Tseng with a completely helpless expression. “I think they found Elvira in my apartment,” Reno said.
Tseng frowned, “but that was not a kid, that was a mannequin.”
Reno rested back in his seat with a deep sigh that bordered to a sob. “I don’t know anything anymore,” he whispered.
Tseng started the car and they drove off to Reno’s apartment. As they arrived most of the tenants were all standing in the corridor, seeing if they could catch a glimpse of the delightfully gruesome. Reno pushed roughly through the group, and went up to his door. He closed his eyes and leaned against the doorframe with a pitiful groan.
Tseng was right behind him, and as he looked into the apartment, bile rose in his throat, Elvira, or rather what was left of Elvira was hung from the ceiling just like Fedora, but this kid still had her head, and then some, she also had Fedora’s head neatly placed between her outstretched legs like a second head, staring out at Reno and Tseng as they stood in the door.. Elvira’s hair soaked the pile of guts and rubbish that lay under her. Tseng just shook his head, “damn, we were too slow.”
Reno took a deep breath and called for one of the officers “where is the note?” he said.
“Its most odd Special agent Vaughan, but there is none” The officer said, “It’s the same killer alright, but apparently he has changed his methods.”
“They never do,” Tseng said dryly behind Reno, “there must be a note, maybe not a piece of paper, but there must be something else then, the killer thrives on that we know who’s next.”
Reno nodded in agreement, they searched the apartment, but there was nothing, Reno sat down in his bed with a growl. “There just has to be some clue, think Reno, think dammit,” he closed his eyes and counted to ten, and then opened them again, his father had taught him this trick when he needed to look at something differently, his father had been an artist, and this was hardly the same, but maybe it was related somehow, maybe the killer was an artist, staging his victims for people to see, Reno was sure there was nothing left to circumstances. Everything was exactly like it was planned. He looked at Elvira, and then at Fedora’s head. What were the similarities, other than they were girls, there were none really, the difference was that Fedora had had very rich parents, and there had been a intensive search for her, that was not the case for Elvira. Reno squinted his eyes and noticed scars on Elvira’s face and on her hands, something she could not have gotten from the killer, these were old scars. Cold sweat suddenly sprung from his forehead as he realised what was the missing link here. “Tseng!” he cried, so sudden and so loud that everyone was startled.
Reno got up and walked over to the carcass, he took her hand and held it up to Tseng, “look” he said.
“Its a girls hand” Tseng said.
“Besides that,” Reno said, “look man!” he shook the girls hand. “Scars,” Tseng gnawed on his lip and nodded. “And where do you get scars?” Reno let go of the girl’s hand and held out his own for Tseng to examine. “You get scars from fighting.”
“You can get scars from elsewhere Reno,” Tseng said with a doubting tone, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Sure,” Reno said, “but you do not crush your knuckles from reading a book, or get your chest slashed” Reno said, taking the girls hand and holding it out next to his own, besides that the girls was paler, and clearly belonged to a very dead child, then the hands were identical. Same crooked knuckles, you could tell that some of the fingers had been broken, and not mended correctly. “She was a gladiator,” Reno said, “poor man’s entertainment,” the last he spat out like a curse, and then let go of her hand again.
Tseng couldn’t have been more surprised even if he had tried; Reno broke him off when he was about to speak.
“Its not even likely that it was her parents that placed that missing persons file,” Reno’s eyes seemed to darken for a moment as if he remembered something unpleasant, “Tseng, what did Tifa say?” Reno turned to Elvira who hung before him “She said that she had told Marlene to put on her best dress, I am sure that if you check out the description of Elvira, this was ‘not’ the dress she wore when she was last seen.”
Tseng reached out and touched the dress “But of course! It is brilliant! Its Marlene’s dress!”
Reno turned to Tseng and sneered “Its not fucking brilliant, its fucking sick!”
“That’s what I meant,” Tseng said, a little embarrassed.
Reno and Tseng left the crime scene, and went to the car. “It didn’t give us one single clue where to look for Marlene though,” Tseng said.
“No,” Reno said. “But one thing we did find out, and that is that the killer has a solid base, since he had a place to keep Fedora’s head, and Folsom’s body.”
Tseng nodded “Yes, but where” he said almost to himself. “Something like that would smell awful!”
“Absolutely,” Reno agreed.
“Then maybe we should look through police records for complaints about odor, trash and vermin.”
Reno raised a brow “Trash and vermin in Midgar? That will be like looking for shit in a septic tank.”
“Well we could narrow it down to very extreme cases,” Tseng stated childishly.
Reno shook his head. “Alright, at least it gives us something to do other than wait around for Marlene to resurface in seven parts.”
The silence returned, and Reno lit a cigarette in lack of things to say. “Your car is at my place,” Tseng said a little carefully “I can give you a lift there, since I am going home anyway.” Oh Lord that was rubbish, Tseng thought to himself, you are not making any sense man!
“That would be nice,” Reno said, looking out of the window into the dark rain.
“Reno, I ought to tell you that what you did up in the apartment was really amazing, I am very impressed.” Tseng said, feeling like a git, but a one hundred percent honest git.
Leaning against the window, Reno smiled, “my dad was an artist, he wanted me to be an artist too, and well, he taught me to look at things in shapes and colours.”
“An artist? Reno the portrait painter, somehow I have a very hard time imagining that,” Tseng said, trying for friendly conversation while they drove.
“Me too” Reno said dryly. And rolled down the window to toss the cigarette, “I don’t want to talk about it alright?”
“Sure” Tseng said and drove on in silence.