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28th-Jul-2009 12:55 am - FFVII Crisis Core: A July Day (Some People Know Too Much) (Tseng, Zack)
Back to Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core! It's like I never left. 8D This one - and the ones that'll hopefully come after it - is meant to be part of some lazy set of lighter-hearted drabbles about Shinra. 8D WE'LL SEE HOW IT WORKS OUT. This one floats alone in the old sea of the odd Zack and Tseng drabble-era.

Prompts are perfectly welcome in the comments. The more hilarious the better!

A July Day (Some People Know Too Much)

Fandom: Final Fantasy VII (Crisis Core timeline)
Characters: Zack, Tseng; random guest appearance by Kunsel
Rating: PG
Warnings: Gen, and humour, alas!
Summary: Zack whiles away a July day, and figures that some people just know too much.

2185 words and an inability to keep things short!



Night

Thursday nights in July were warm and humid. Midgar burned in the afternoon sun, and when sunset came it burned again; neon and gil going up in flames in the real estate under-Plate. It had been a few years since Zack came out from small-town life in Gongaga and into the complicated tangle of slum-city streets, but watching Midgar blaze to life in the evenings never failed to amaze. All kinds of people crawled out of the metal work of the city's buildings and girders: office workers from the financial district would slide into bars and pubs, completely metamorphic, while executives from hallowed Shinra floors worked out side-by-side with the train graveyard steelworkers at Sector 7's sprawling gym.

Zack'd seen off-duty vets from the SOLDIER corps wander repeatedly into Little Wutai just weeks after coming back from campaigning in the War. They liked it better there, they said whenever he'd go after them. Better food.

'But it's kinda risky, isn't it?' he asked them, but they all laughed the kind of laugh that all old Midgar folks seemed to acquire and told Zack that, no, it wasn't more risky. It was probably safer than anywhere else in the city – not like any Midgar punks were going to wander in there looking for trouble, right? Besides, the people in Little Wutai were the least likely to take up arms against the beef of the Shinra Company armies.

'They know we're a lot stronger than them, for one – they pay attention to the news when most people can't be bothered. And another thing – they want to be Midgar citizens as much as anyone from anywhere wants to "be from Midgar". Don't you?'

'I am from Midgar!' Zack protested automatically. 'Sort of,' he qualified.

It wasn't really his cup of tea, though, Little Wutai. Nice place, but a little too quiet, a little too orderly; it reminded Zack a bit of someone he knew. Besides, the only occasions when he really had time to come down to Sector 7's market were his days off duty, and Zack still had a long, long list of other nooks and crannies he hadn't quite explored before. Tonight, Zack decided, was going to be the night he finally got up the guts to go where no man could really ever confess to have gone before in spite of really wanting to know what lay behind those really big and flashy pink and red and gold doors –

The Honeybee Inn winked back at Zack.

It wasn't like he was here for a girl or anything, but everyone who was anyone in Midgar knew about this place and, well, it couldn't really hurt to stand outside and watch the… action. There were plenty of girls to look at, though they weren't exactly his type (Zack didn't really know how prostitutes were anyone's type, unless they were really desperate or kinda, y'know, depraved). Funny thing about them was that they didn't all look like how Zack expected prostitutes to look (haggard, badly made up, depressed, careless). Sure, there were some of them that looked like they were in this only because they didn't know where else to go, but Zack was convinced that he saw a few girls – the ones going by in these huge and ornate and anachronistic palanquins that the Inn used, or the ones sliding by to the back doors of the Inn in big, posh cars with dark-tinted windows – who looked like they were really in-charge and smug, like it was the men who were getting ripped off and not them.

Zack whistled under his breath. 'This is one crazy city.'

'It is, isn't it?' asked a voice from just behind his neck.

'AAAAH!' Zack yelled aloud, whirling around so fast that his feet almost tangled with each other. Black suit, black tie, white shirt. 'Tseng!'

Tseng's hands were tucked neatly into his pockets, and he didn't look like he felt too out of place. 'Hello,' Tseng greeted Zack, calm as ice.

'F-F-fancy seeing you here!' Zack stammered, raising his hands in the air and laughing hysterically. 'This isn't what it looks like, man! I'm not a perv or anything –'

'But I am?' Tseng asked blithely.

'NO!' Zack yelled again, this time attracting a few more turned heads and a couple of titters from some watching girls. 'I mean, I just didn't expect to see you here! It's my day off tomorrow so I decided to come wade a little deeper into Sector 7, haha ha, ha, ha.' Zack scratched his head sheepishly. 'Gotta admit, the last person I thought I'd bump into here was you. I can sort of see someone like Palmer trotting in via the VIP entrance, but… I didn't know Turks ever stopped working, y'know? You're laughing, aren't you, you bastard. Tseng!'

Tseng chuckled. 'Only a little bit, I promise.'

'Geez,' Zack exhaled. 'What are you doing here?'

'Working,' Tseng shrugged.

Zack stared at him. 'It's twelve thirty at night. This is, uh, the Honeybee Inn. You know what this place is, right, I mean, you -'

'Turks have very flexible working hours,' Tseng cut in smoothly, his voice layered with plenty of equanimity.

Zack's eyes widened as he realised the implications of what Tseng said. He winced. 'Am I even supposed to know you're here? The way you guys work makes me think that you have some kind of "leave no witnesses" policy going on.' He shuffled his feet. He liked Tseng, and it was always weird to realise that Tseng operated on a very different level from him. Zack didn't know much about the Turks, and he really wanted to keep it that way. Ignorance was bliss.

Tseng actually laughed, which made Zack blink. 'If we had that policy, I think I'd be fired for walking into the Inn via the front door.'

'Tough boss?' Zack grinned in sympathy.

'You couldn't even imagine,' Tseng deadpanned.

'Worse than Genesis?'

'All the philosophy, none of the poetry,' Tseng surmised. 'Teaching method's probably similar, though.'

Zack, who had a very good experience of being left to run screaming through the Midgar Plains away from a field zolom while Genesis (serving in Angeal's role that day) stood back and laughed, asked, 'Sink or swim?'

'Mostly sink,' Tseng told him. 'It's apparently more interesting if we're drowning; we make more noises.'

'So what, the Bossman sends you down here for training or something?' Zack whistled. 'I'm not sure if that's cruelty or kindness.'

Tseng smiled. 'Probably a bit of both. You can come along if you want.'

Zack snapped his gaze to Tseng's face. 'In there? I'm allowed?'

'You're from SOLDIER, aren't you?' Tseng asked, starting toward the front doors and the counter just beyond.

'Yeah,' Zack nodded, jogging to catch up. 'Why?'

'Membership in SOLDIER means that you've got the life insurance policy on your head,' Tseng said, stepping up to the waiting receptionist, who had thick, careful makeup and mascara to shade her eyes. She winked at him (AT TSENG, Zack's brain provided in capital letters. BRAVE WOMAN!) and slid him a key without Tseng even opening his mouth. (OH MY GOD, Zack's brain added.) Tseng accepted it and then they were off again, winding through a staff-only door instead of the gilt corridors that the other customers were using. 'They say no one quits being a Turk,' Tseng was saying, as though they weren't striding through the underbelly of a brothel. 'But no one quits being a SOLDIER, either. Here we are,' he announced, opening the door of a room.

Zack peered in through the door way and beheld – 'Where's the bed?' he blurted out.

'I'm afraid I don't usually sleep around on the job,' Tseng said, moving past Zack and into the room, which was furnished mostly by shelves, a desk, a computer system with multiple monitors and a small conference table. The Turk looked over at him. 'Though if you want we could use the desk.'

'I hate you so much,' Zack complained, coming into the room and shutting the door behind him. 'You guys get all the cool lines.'

'We also never clock off,' Tseng reminded him, settling down at the desk. He motioned around the room. 'It's easier for me to work from here than from Shinra Building when we have business in the area,' he explained. 'It's quieter, for one. The Inn has very good soundproofing.'

'I'm getting really sort of afraid that you'll keep telling me things I'm not supposed to know,' Zack moaned. 'One day one of you guys will come after me for knowing too much.'

'We have failsafe procedures,' Tseng shrugged. 'The Shinra family is… thorough.'

'You're practically happy,' Zack accused him. 'Are you enjoying seeing me flail around in extreme discomfort?'

'Not quite,' Tseng said, and flipped on the monitors on the table.

'AAAAAH.' Zack zipped around to stand behind Tseng at the desk. 'You're watching porn on the job?!'

'You have it the other way around,' Tseng corrected him patiently, clicking around and rearranging some of the sixteen camera feeds on the screens. 'I'm watching pornography as my job.'

'This is live?' Zack asked weakly as he observed something happening on Screen 2A that he had previously thought only possible in very, very good dreams.

'This is research,' Tseng hummed. He was taking notes. Names, dates, timestamps.

'I'm going to go blind,' Zack said faintly, backing away. 'I'm not old enough for this yet.'

'It's a very good way of "wading into Sector 7",' Tseng said, calmly enlarging a screenshot of an eerily family looking man. Zack looked away; this was crossing one (million) too many work/life boundaries for his liking.

'I think I'm going to go wade in the opposite direction now,' Zack professed. 'Somewhere PG-rated.'

'Wang's is serving drinks and late-night snacks at a discount this week,' Tseng provided, eyes still fixed on his work.

'In Little Wutai?' Zack asked from his position of safety at the door. 'You go there?' Through his haze of disbelief and mild panic, he considered Tseng's looks, and the blank slate of the man's history.

Tseng looked up. He smiled. He looked back down.

'You know too much,' Zack said quietly, a hand on the doorknob.

'Good night, Zack,' was what Tseng called in reply.




Day coda

It was a Thursday afternoon in July. The Shinra Building. SOLDIER.

'I hate Thursdays,' Zack said, sluggish. 'And I hate July. I may also hate afternoons.'

'Nnngngnn?' asked Kunsel. They were in one of the inventory rooms; Kunsel taking stock, Zack taking stock. 'Please put that back,' Kunsel mumbled, eyeing Zack's hand against a set of materia. 'Those are newly mastered. Even you're not going anywhere near them, your holiness Zack-Fair-SOLDIER-Second-Class.'

'Do I sense bitterness in your voice?' Zack grinned. 'C'mon, man, you know that you'll be getting your own stripes in a few months.'

'I'm too bored to muster up the effort to be bitter about General Angeal's complete lack of bias,' Kunsel replied, ticking off a few final items on his list and uploading the document to the server. 'Too bored and too warm.' He yawned and stretched, fanning himself with one hand. 'What's up with the air conditioning? It's boiling in here.'

'S'offline,' Zack sighed as the two of them made their way to the door. 'Guess why?'

'Again?' Kunsel groaned. 'They've wrecked it again? That's the fourth time this year!'

'Surprise surprise,' Zack sang. 'Wonder what set Genesis off this time, huh?'

Kunsel tapped his chin with a finger. 'Maybe I should go investigate.'

'Didn't they...' Zack made a violent, crushing motion with his hand. '... to your camera the last time you tried that?'

'I was only trying to document the life and times of my superior officers,' Kunsel said defensively. 'Everyone says that the virtual training room is a mess whenever the Generals are done with it, but no one's ever seen the extent of the damage.'

'Genesis has a really bad-ass sword,' Zack informed Kunsel, patiently. 'And Angeal's got one too, except it's bigger. And Sephiroth, too, just longer. Do you know what they can do to you?'

Kunsel smiled brilliantly. 'Probably nothing as bad as what your unconscious attempts at metaphor just suggested to me.'

'What?' Zack spluttered. He paused. His face twisted into a portrait of agony. 'No, you did not just - just - that is gross, Kunsel.'

'You know,' Kunsel murmured, digging into the pocket of his fatigues for his PHS and tabbing madly through his folders. 'According to a Third Class who served in the field under General Sephiroth during that one skirmish on the Eastern Wutai border last year for two months, General Sephiroth's sword is -'

'I am going to sign out now!' Zack declared very loudly, striding off towards the elevators.

'Long weekend for you, isn't it?' Kunsel called after him.

'I'm not even going to ask how you know that!' Zack threw back over his shoulders.

'I know about many things, Mr. Fair!' Kunsel yelled as Zack jabbed at the elevator buttons. 'Wezly from 2nd knows certain details about Genesis because he heard from -'
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