Innocence Repents


"There you were, with that look on your face,
As if you never hurt--
And I'm gonna be the one that pinches you, softly but surely,
and you'll frown, and I'll know that I'm not dreaming...

Oh're still smiling..."
-Eyes on Me (Obsession Remix)

Her gun fell to the floor among the discharges of its own ammo, the bullets only recently having embedded themeselves into the slowly stiffening corpse of their 'client'.

Nobody moved; each Turk stood apart from his comrades and respected the deadened room with their silence. Tseng to Elena's left; one hand in his pocket, the other loosely holding a 10mm by his side, his hair neat as ever. Rude, standing just inside the doorframe, coolly straightening the cuff of a glove as he stood watch over the two inanimate bodyguards. Myself opposite Tseng, nightstick humming with unspent electricity. The room seemed to settle around us, our own private theme music fading away.

Elena's hand, fingers still outstretched, slowly dropped to her side. She retrieved her gun and quietly walked over to where the late business mogul lay cooling on the floor. Taking a tissue from the box lying open on his desk, she laid it with an intimate gentleness over his face and walked out of the room with the same haunted silence.


We met again outside of Tseng's business car, a sleek black thing that glowed even in the shadows. Elena was perched on the trunk, propping her elbows on the back window and looking up at the stars.

Tseng glided over to his vehicle with his usual detached manner. "I trust you continued with your mission after you left us, Elena," he admonished as he passed her on his way to the driver's seat.

Elena looked down from the stars and slipped off the trunk. "Yes sir. I encountered no one on my way out." She held up a manilla envelope, which Tseng relieved her of. Both entered the car without further discourse, leaving Rude and I to exchange puzzled glances and follow.

Inside the car was the same feeling, an uneasy restlessness that hung in the air like a noxious gas. It continued even with the car in motion, the streetlights sliding over each of my comrades in turn, alternately illuminating us and leaving us in darkness. I set myself to looking out the window of the backseat, legs sprawled over a good bit of Elena's half.

She looked down at my legs passively, and pushed them aside with the same absurd gentleness she exhibited earlier. I scowled, putting them back where they were. "D'ya mind? A fellow's trying to get comfortable here."

"Sorry," she replied, unattached and surely not meaning what she said. She rested her elbows on her knees and hunched forward, closing her eyes as another beam of light invaded the car.

I almost felt sorry for her, looking so uncharacteristically vulnerable. I nudged her with my knee. "Look, me an' Rude are going out later to celebrate the fact we're not six feet under. You wanna tag along?"

"Not really."

My mouth threatened to twist itself into a smirk, but I managed to squash the urge. Maybe it was the heavy atmosphere, or the listlessness that settles in after a kill, or maybe the pizza I had for dinner, but I felt a need to push further. She's a Turk, right? She may be new, but...we're one happily screwed up family, and in that moment I felt oddly close to my surrogate little sister. So, in spite of every uncaring bastard out there, I leaned over and put my arm around her shoulders. "What's wrong, 'lene?"

Elena looked as if Diablos has just asked her for a cup of sugar, but still kept her face turned devoutly away from me. She regained her composure and licked her lips thoughtfully. "I knew that man I we just killed."

I raised my eyebrows. "No shit? Where from?"

"He was the son of one of my father's business partners, back before I joined SOLDIER. He had just graduated from college when I last saw him." She sat back up and rested her head on the seat, using my arm for a neckrest. "We were close, I suppose. He was a bit of a family friend," she added softly, almost as an afterthought.

This time I did smirk as a thought came to me. "You wouldn't be so emotional if he was just 'a bit of a family friend'."

Elena chuckled dryly. "Shut up, asshole." The insult fell short, ruined by the fact that her voice had begun to waver. A niggling voice in the back of my head was wailing about impending doom for said uncaring bastards everywhere, but I pulled her closer anyway. Later on, of course, I would probably deny I did this. Elena stiffened, most likely noticing the change in my behavior, but soon relaxed into my shoulder. "He was so kind to me. He always smiled at me, even though I was a decade younger."

The downside of our current position, I noticed, was that I could now feel her body trembling as she fought back transforming into a blubbering idiot.

"I know," I said, "that that's not what has you like this. Right?"

She finally looked at me, eyes holding a familiar sort of guilty madness. "When...I looked at him, to make sure he was dead...his eyes were open." She pressed her lips together and shut her eyes, chin shaking with the valiant attempt to keep the tears back. "He...he was still smiling. God...he was still smiling at me."

I can honestly say that I didn't know how to reply. I pushed a lock of her hair back from her face and she looked away, out the back window. The silence hardened the air again, and the car continued on its way.

A couple hours later, a father found his son pale and lifeless on his office floor, and we were paid for it.