An Apple and a Stone

Well, hello again my lovelies! Tsukasa here!

If you've read any of my other stories about Reno, you'll most likely know what I'm about to say:

I know Reno technically has no last name. It stemmed from me accidentally originally choosing Sinclair as Theda's last name, but when I learned it was a common choice for Reno's supposed last name I had to change her's to Grisham. Then I decided I liked Sinclair as a last name for Reno. It seems to fit somehow.

Anyway, this story focuses on Ringo, Reno's son who was 4 in the last story. Now he's 17.

Make sure to tell me if you like it (or if you don't. That's cool too)!

Happy Reading!

Tsukasa Kwassa Kwassa


Everyone was constantly telling me how much I looked like my father. My father was famous it seemed. Everyone seemed to know him. My father worked for Shinra, a fact that my mother seemed to hate. I didn't want to tell her, but it was my greatest wish to become a Turk like my father, Reno.

The Department of Administrative Research had their eye on me since the time that I was very young. My father's boss, a man with long black hair whom seemed like the type to never wear anything but a crisp black suit, had come to our house once to ask my father if he planned to enroll me in the "academy" when I was old enough. My father had averted his boss's eyes as he mumbled a response along the lines of "Theda wouldn't like that."

I never found out what the "academy" was, or what it would have been like, because my father decided to home school me. He taught me all sorts of interesting things about our planet, its history, and the people that had made their mark on it. I learned of Jenova, the SOILDERs her cells helped create, the lifestream, mako reactors, Sephiroth, Meteor, the restoration of Midgar and ever of the origin, downfall and restoration of my father's company, Shinra Electric Power.

"Do you think I could become a Turk like you Dad?" I had asked him when I was no older than nine. My father's work was fascinating to me.

"Ringo, there'll be plenty of time to think about that when you're older."

"But I am older Dad!" I said. "I get older every second!"

My father laughed. I liked his laugh, it was loud and infectious.

"That you are, yo." My father always said that. "Yo." Once I asked him why and he had told me that it was the way everyone talked where he had grown up. But then my father sighed. "Ringo, you can grow up and be anything you want to be. You're a bright kid, much smarter than me. But your mother.. she has a hard enough time with me working for Shinra. I don't know how kindly she'd take to you working for them too. She's got enough to worry about, yo."

I frowned. My mother was a bit of a worry wart it seemed to me, but I didn't dare voice my opinion to my father. He loved my mother, more than anything and I didn't want to upset him.

That night I couldn't sleep however. All I could thin about was getting to wear a suit like my father's and going on missions in far away places. I wanted to fly in a helicopter. I wanted to fight the enemies of the world. I wanted to be a Turk more than I had ever wanted anything.

I kept the dream with me for years, even though I never did mention it to my father again. It was like a secret that burned in my chest constantly. On the morning of my 17th birthday I awoke early, before either of my parents did. After eating a piece of toast and tying my now long hair back into it's usual ponytail, I left in the direction of Shinra's headquarters. Entering the lobby is when I first realized how truly massive the place was. I allowed myself a moment to just watch the busyness of the place and appreciate the sheer enormity of the company. That's when I heard the shout behind me.

"Reno! I thought you had requested leave for your son's birthday. Why on earth are you here? You better not be going through a divorce, you're going to be damn miserable to deal with if you are. I know how much you love--"

The man had turned me around and looked into my hazel- yellow eyes.

"You're not Reno, are you then," he said bluntly. I noticed the man was the same who had visited our house when I was little. I was pretty sure my father had called him Tseng. "Does your father know you're here?" Tseng asked sternly.

I merely shook my head. Tseng nodded in response to me.

"Ah," he said. "Well then, you'll need to come with me."

Tseng led me to an elevator. He pressed the button for the top floor.

"Am I in trouble?" I asked.

"With your father? Probably. He's very fiercely protective of you, in case you haven't noticed. Doesn't want Shinra corrupting you, I supposed. But you came here because you wanted a job right?" I nodded. "Then you're not in trouble."

We left the elevator, passed a secretary into a very large office with a large window that overlooked all of Midgar and Edge (which had melded into one at this point). In this large office was a large desk, and at it sat a man I had never expected to see with my own two eyes: Rufus Shinra.

"Ringo, is it?" he said, a slight smirk played upon his lips. He gestured at a chair before his desk. I sat in it and looked up at the man. He had blue, blue eyes, not smiling ones like my father's but piercing like lightning. His blond hair was slicked back, yet a few strands fell into his face with a careless elegance. "Tseng," he said. "Call Reno and inform him of his son's whereabouts. I suspect he'll want to come down here as well." Then after Tseng had left, he turned back to me. "You know, you would look exactly like your father if it weren't for those eyes of yours. Did you get them from your mother's side?"

I shook my head, still slightly awed.

"My mom's eyes are grey," I said. "Nobody knows where mine come from."

Rufus Shinra leaned back in his chair, nodding.

"You know, it took you far less time than I thought it would for you to reach us," he said. "But we all knew you;d end up here. Even your father, though I'm sure he hoped against it." I remembered the strange look my father had give me when I first asked if I could be a Turk. "You were meant to be a Turk Ringo. Ever since you were born. Shinra needs you.

Even knowing he most likely gave this speech to every other recruit he had, even knowing it went against everything my mother wanted for me, I was enraptured. My chest swelled/

"So you mean I can do it?" I said. "I can become a Turk... Sir?" I added hastily. Rufus Shinra smiled and nodded.

"But let's wait for you father to discuss it further." My smile fell.

"My father... He won't let me," I said sadly.

"We'll see," said Rufus Shinra.

About ten minutes later is when my father crashed through the door.

"Sir what is the meaning of this?" he half bellowed at his his boss. "Why is Ringo here?"

"I was under the impression he wished to join your department," Rufus Shinra said calmly. "I have been keeping an eye on your son, Reno. He's quite talented."

On my father's face twisted an expression midway between fury and disbelief.

"Sir, with all due respect," he said with not a hint of respect in his voice. "I kept Ringo out of the academy for a reason. He is not going to be at Turk. He is not going to have anything to do with this company. Nothing. Do you know what Theda goes through every time I'm sent on a mission. Pure torture. Can you imagine what she'd go through if her only son had to go away on dangerous missions too? She'd die, sir. I can't do that to her... I-I..."

Then my father turned and punched a wall with all his might. It dented. He cursed as one of his knuckles split and began to bleed. He almost seemed on the brink of tears of fury. It was truly frightening to see my father this angry.

"You lover her," Rufus finished for him. "Yews, I know. Please Reno, have a seat." My father did, but he did not look at me. "Reno, I'm going to be very frank with you. Ringo has expressed to me that it is his greatest wish in the world to become a Turk. And if you try to prevent him, you will be retiring much sooner than you thought, do you understand?"

Rufus Shinra's eyes flashed dangerously. I was shocked. I did not realize it might come to this. Guilt bubbled up in my stomach, making me feel ill. I did not want to even look at my father anymore.

"Yes, sir," I heard him say contemptuously through gritted teeth.

"Take your son and leave then Reno. We shall be in contact."

My father stood. He looked down at me and sort of half way jerked his head in the direction of the door. I followed him into the elevator and down to the lobby of Shinra Electric Power company. My father did not speak a word to me. I wanted him to scream at me until he was hoarse, but he merely remained as silent as stone. The burning guilt in my stomach bubble even more. I couldn't believe my own selfish stupidity. The entire way home I kept my head hung low, so if on the off chance that my father could bear to look at me, he'd see the shame that I felt.

Just before we reached our building, my father stopped and turned to face me. He took a deep breath and put a hand on my shoulder and looked straight into my eyes.

"Your mother is not awake yet," he said, his voice oddly cold. "You are not to tell her anything. I will tell her. You are to go directly to your room and back to bed. Your mother wanted to wake you up as a surprised for your birthday."

"But I'm not--" I began to protest, but seeing the look on his face, I stopped.

"Oh no," he said. "Oh no, no,. You see, you wanted to be a Turk? I'm your boss now, yo. What you didn't think of that? There are only two men in the company I answer to, that's Tseng and Rufus Shinra himself. Now go to your room."

I felt even sicker. My father had never been this angry before. Suddenly, I was not looking forward to work whatsoever.

My birthday celebration might have appeared normal, but in reality the only one truly having any fun was my mother., blissfully unaware of the rift that had grown between her husband and her son and ignorant as to the reason why.

That night I found it hard to sleep, and laying awake in my bed is when I heard it. The shouting. I got out of bed and crept silently down the hall to my parent's room.

"Why didn't you stop him?" my mother shouted.

"Theda, I couldn't. The president had him under his thumb. There was nothing I could do."

"No! Reno, that's not good enough! You swore that when you retired, we'd be done with that... company. Don' you remember what they did to my father? What they did yo me? How am I supposed to live with my child working for that... place?"

My father began to place his hands on her shoulders.

"Theda, I-"

"Don't touch me Reno!" she screamed. My father looked very shocked. "Just... don't. Please."

"I'm sorry," he said quietly. She looked up at him. My mother was crying. Suddenly, the sick feeling in my stomach that had been threatening to take over since morning did so. I ran for the bathroom and nearly did not make it. Kneeling over that toilet, puking up bile, I felt that I deserved every bit of torture I was going through. My hair was falling into my face and sticking to my cheeks, but suddenly I felt someone pull it back and out of the way. It wasn't long afterward that I had emptied my stomach completely and I turned to see that the one who had been holding my hair back was my father. I didn't say anything, I just collapsed into him crying, as if I were a child. He held on to me and at that moment I truly appreciated how strong he really was. I heard my mother sit beside me , and she hugged onto me as well. And I cried even harder.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry," I repeated between sobs.

"It's okay," my mother whispered into my ear. "It'll all be okay Ringo."

My father said nothing and merely held onto me tighter.

The next morning my father came in to wake me up, carrying a package.

"Your uniform," he said. "I suspect your first assignment will be in there too." He turned to leave.

"Dad?" I said before he could leave. He turned to face me. "I really am sorry," I said. "I didn't really mean to make you upset."

"Yeah Ringo, I know that, you" He came and sat at the foot of my bed. "I mean... you made yourself sick. That takes some doing." I nodded and he sort of smiled halfway. "Who are we trying to kid here? You're my son. I've never been good at doing what I'm told... damn miserable at it actually."

He looked up at me and then he started to laugh. Then I started to laugh. My father messed up my hair.

"Come on, get dressed then yo!"

It made me happy beyond belief to know he was no longer angry. He left my room and I opened the package. As I had suspected, it contained a black suit with a black tie. There was also a sheet of paper which said "Report to the 10th floor on 6/14 at 1300 for preliminary assessment and partner assignment."
It took me a second to realize that was later the same day. I looked at my watch. 12:30.

"Shit," I said bluntly, grabbing the suit and running in the direction of the shower. Ten minutes later, I bolted down the stairs and started a frantic search for food.

"Wait up, wait up!" my mother called as I approached the front door with a piece of bread hanging from my mouth. She looked at me. "Come on," she said. "You don't want to look too much like your father."

'I don't want to be late either,' I thought to myself, but I tucked in my shirt and allowed her to straighten my tie and zip up my jacket.

"There," she said. And then she hugged me. "Make sure you come back safe," she whispered into my ear.

"I love you Mom," I whispered back, and then I left.

Ten minutes late, I found myself in a room on the tenth floor, alone. It was a pleasant enough room, very bright, but very empty. The chair which I sat on was the only piece of furniture. Suddenly a man entered and I stood. He barely looked up, but kept his eyes glued to a the clipboard.

"Alright then, name?"

"Ringo Sinclair," I replied. The man made note of it.

"Age?" he asked.


The man let out a low whistle.

"Man are we taking em young. Okay... combat specialty?"

I hesitated a bit before answering.

"Hand to hand, I guess."

"Alright, so if I were to do this..." The man punched at me without warning and instinctively I blocked the blow and used the man's own wight to flip him on his back.

"Sweet Jenova, kid who taught you how to do that?" the man said as he stood again, now rubbing his head.

"My dad's been teaching me since I was seven," I said.

"Who's you father then?" he said, now retrieving his clipboard.

"Reno Sinclair," I replied. The man looked up at me, and for the first time he really looked at me.

"Sinclair... yeah, duh. Well that explains a lot. Reno's son... figures I'd be the one stuck with the song of one of the most elite fighters on the planet. 'K then Sinclair, follow me."

The man led me down a hallway to a room filled with weapons. In that room a much younger amn with glasses was waiting for us.

"Hey Ari, this one's gonna be an EMR."

The bespectacled man, Ari, looked up. His eyes locked on me, wide.

"I swear, sir I haven't been smuggling out more swords--"

"It's his son you nimrod. He's not gonna kick your ass, and he needs an EMR."

Ari apparently had met my father before under undesirable circumstances, because he trembled as he retrieved me a dangerous looking metal rod with a red button. It was attached to a leather bracelet by a long strip of leather and a circle of metal.

"There you go," said the man with the clipboard. "An Electro- Mag Rod. Your father uses one too, it's extremely well suited to his style of martial arts, which I notice he passed on to you." The man rubbed the back of his head and I felt a slight twinge of guilt for hurting him. But all other feelings melted away when I took the EMR into my hands. It felt perfect, like I was meant to have it. I made a few swings with it... it felt like an extension of my arm.

"You like that, eh?" said the man with the clipboard. He was smiling. "You are one interesting kid. C'mon. Time to get you a partner." I nodded and followed him eagerly. I couldn't wait to see who my partner would be. We went down more hallways until we came to a desk with a woman behind it.

"Hey Lamont, is that the Sinclair kid then?"

"Yes," the clipboard man said. He handed her his clipboard.

"Ahhh Reno... I can't believe he has a son! The man's so attractive, it's a shame to think he's married." My face suddenly felt very hot.

"Cripes Tacita, you'll make the kid's face turn the same shade as his hair!" Lamont exclaimed. Tacita rolled her eyes.

"They've paired him up with Petra Blackthorn, she's down on the end there."

Lamont, as I now knew he was was called, led me down a hall past a few doors to the one on the end.
"Well this is where I leave you then Sinclair. Good luck, maybe I'll see you down the road." Lamont gave me a laid back sort of salute and I returned the favor.

Inside there was a table and at it sat a stunningly pretty girl about my age. She had short black hair and dark skin, but her eyes were sparkling blue green, almost as if she had eaten a bowl of mako for breakfast. She had a large ornamental gun on the table before her, and she stared out the window dreamily, polishing the metal. I stopped in my tracks and just sort of stood there watching, caught off guard by her allure. Nut then she notice me. The girl jumped up to her feet and gave me a rigid salute.

"Sir! I did not notice you there sir! Please forgive me!"

"Er... hi?" I said. "I think you may have confused me with someone else. Are you Petra?"

"Do not think me worthy of you notice sir! I am nobody!" She was shouting so loud it made my ears ring.
"No," I said. "No wait! I really think you have me confused with- I'm not my father. I'm Ringo! I'm Ringo Sinclair, I'm you partner."

Petra gaped at me, her face growing pinkish.

"I though you looked sort of young," she mumbled.

"Yeah, by about 28 years," I said.

"There is no way Reno is 44 years old!" she exclaimed.

"Well actually, he's 45." This conversation was definitely taking a much different line than I thought it would.

"But he's so... The man doesn't have a single grey hair. His face is so smooth, he's just ridiculously good look--" Petra looked at me and then clapped her hand over her mouth.

"Maybe if I'm lucky that'll happen to me too then, " I said, chucking nervously. Petra merely seemed too mortified to speak. Knowing how red my pale skin must have blushed only made me feel even worse. My exceptionally pretty new partner had a crush on my father. My father who I looked exactly like in nearly every respect. I was extremely thankful when Tseng entered the room.

"Congratulations to both of you then. You are both officially now members of the Turks. Ringo, I know we've met, but Miss Blackthorn, in case you did not know, I am Tseng. I'll have you know, there is only one man I answer to in this company and that is Rufus Shinra. There are several men in this company who claim to be on the same 'level' as me, but you will come to find the Turks are in a league of their own when it comes to this company, and we are more often than not left to ourselves. To be a Turk means you will be asked to do many things. Investigate, protect, research and even eliminate threats. No one ever said this was and easy job, and I'm sure neither of you thought so either." he paused to give something that almost seemed like a smile, but it looked odd on Tseng's face. He then reached into his pocket. "I am giving you both you Identification Cards. Keep them on you at all times."

He slid them across the table. I picked mine up and examined it. Looking at the picture of myslef, I wondered where they had gotten it from, but resolved that it had something to do with some high tech device I did not understand and didn not ask. I slid the card into my pocket.

"I am going to five you your first assignment," Tseng continued, still very business like. "You are to compile a detailed profile on Zebulon Lawrence, a former Shinra scientist who seemes to think working for the local crime boss is better usage of his time. Shinra fired him, but his movements seem to be becoming more sinister as of late. Find out all you can pertaining to this man, using any means nessecary." Petra and I nodded. Tseng looked looked us over with his hard black eyes. "Good luck," he said and he left.

I stood and Petra followed suit.

"Where to now?" I asked. She shrugged.

"All Turks are given an office, I just don't know where ours would be," she said.

"Alright, well let's just get out of here for starters." I figured maybe we could get directions from Tacita or soemthing like that, but once we made it back downt he hall, we ere greeted by our escort, a blond woman by the name of Elena. Her and Petra seemed to hit it off right away.

"Tseng is sort of like my partner I guess," she said when Petra asked about it. "I'm not his first though. He never really talks about his original partner though, and when I joined they just sort of stuck me with him. I guess they figured his experience would rub off on me. You know it's odd, most Turks don't even have partners. I mean the only two I can think of who really rely on each other and work closely together are Reno and Rude. I guess they just decided it would be better to pair you two up."

"But if Tseng's your partner, does that mean you're high up in the department?"" Petra asked enthusiastically.

"Not really. I'm something like eighth in command. After Tseng is Ringo's father." She smiled at me. I felt my ears heat up again. "Then there's Rude, there's my sister, there's Cissnei and a few others. This department isn't as big as you'd think though! You two are the first to become new members since the initial restoration... in 14 years I think."

This surprised me a little.

"What about the academy?" I asked. "I always got the impression it was rather large."

Then it was Petra's turn to blush.

"It only started 14 years ago. We were supposed to be the first graduating class only... I was the only one to graduate. Everyone else either dropped out or flunked the final exam."

"Oh," I said, suddenly aware of how lucky I had been to get the job I had. That's when we arrive at our office. It was completely empty except for our two desks which were angled in such a way that we could see one another as we worked. On the desks were computers, but that was it. I sat down at one of the desks and suddenly the computer scanned my eyeball in a flash of bright light. I was temporarily blinded by colorful little starbursts, and my eye watered and began to sting.

"Input name?" asked a box on the screen.

"Ringo Sinclair," I typed into the computer. Apparently this computer now recognized me as its master, because it now opened many new windows explaining how to use it and welcoming me.

"I guess we should get to work," Petra said, sitting at her desk. I nodded, pulling up a new window. And so began my work.

It turns out being a Turk gave you clearance to access databases no one else could, so finding information was not the difficult part. It was in fact the sheer amount of information that made the job so tedious. You had to scan through pages upon pages in order to find one specific paragraph. Petra's comupter was linked directly to mine, so whenever I would find something I would send it to her and vice versa. But after a few hours of reading nothing but the daily tooth brushing habits of Zebulon Lawrence, my eyelids began to droop. The next thing I remember was my father shaking me.

"Ringo, we're going now. Wake up."

"Huh?" I said sleepily.

"Man, could you be any more like me? I swear, it's like having a clone, yo. We are going home now. It's 7 o' clock. It'd help if you were concious."

I looked around groggily.

"Why didn't you wake me up?" I aked Petra.

"I liked watching you sleep," Petra mumbled, blushing slightly.

"Oh. Well... I'll see youtomorrow then," I said. SHe looked up, smiling at me. her eyes seemed to be full of light."

"Yeah, see you!" she said cheerfully. I felt my stomach lurch, but I wasn;t quite sure as to whu. I stood and followed my father out of the room.

"So ummm...." he said once we had entered the elevator. "Some partner you have there, yo. When I came in to get you, she stood up and nearly knocked over her desk."

"She's sort of... obsessed with you Dad." My father laughed hearing this.

"Oh man, just what I need," he said shaking his head. "But I dunno Ringo, she was giving you the eyes, yo."

"Probably because I look like you," I mumbled, blushing. He laughed even harder. Just then the elevator door opened and somebody obviously form a different department walked in. The man looked to my father and gave him a nod of acknowledgment. Then he looked to me and did a double take. When we left the elevator, the man looked very concerned about his mental health.

"All, right," my father said. "All right, I'll stop making fun of you. I just think it's funny the gave you a partner like her... though I'd watch out. She could probably kick your ass, yo."

"What do you mean by that?" I asked, confused.

"Are you kidding? The girl's a SOILDER reject. When the restoration first began, it was the plan to re instate SOILDER. However, the public demanded the program shut down when she was very young, so at a loss of what to do, the department heads decided to send her to the academy. I was the one who handled her case. I was her escort for the first month she was there. There were a lot of people who wanted that girl dead, yo."

"Why?" I asked, shocked. My father sighed and shook his head.

"SOLDIER was the organization that gave birth to Sephiroth. It scares a lot of people. You're too young, you weren't there for it Ringo. Everyone on this planet nearly died, because Shinra messed up. And... well obviously Petra Blackthorn is too young to have anything to do with Sephiroth, but people don't like thinking its possible for him to come back. Although he already has once." The expression on my father's face was hard to read. He looked almost bitter. I though of Petra's blue glowing eyes.

'So it is from Mako then,' I though to myself. But then a quite different thought crossed my mind. I turned to my father laughing.

"At least now I know why she has a crush on you," I said sniggering. "You were he protector. She probably thinks you're some sort of God!"

He pushed me, laughing.

"Now you're asking for it, you little twerp. After all the things I've done for you, this is how you treat me? Did you even listen to a word I said?" I just looked at him and laughed. "Oh, so you think that's funny? That's messed up, yo." I just laughed harder, and so did he, until tears were streaming down both our faces. Only my father had the power to make me act so ridiculously. However, through our laughter, I had hardly noticed we had already made it home.

That night, I kept thinking about Petra and her Mako eyes. I didn't even really know why I was thinking about her, but I couldn't seem to think about anything else. Eventually, realizing how long a day I had had, I decided it was far past time for me to get some sleep. I pulled the covers up over myself and turned out the light, and within seconds I was asleep.

In the following weeks, I found that I didn't stop thinking about Petra. At first I thought it was because I was seeing her everyday and we had to work so closely together, but slowly I began to realize the feelings I had for her were of a more affectionate nature. I found myself becoming nervous whenever we talked, and sometimes while we were working I would allow myself to just watch her for a few moments. Once or twice, she looked up and our eyes met. She would smile. I would turn as red as ever and busy myself as quickly as possible.

Our work on the Lawrence cas was becoming increaslingly difficult. Our profile had uncovered a very sinister organization the man seemed to be running, which we were in turn told to investigate. Through our investigation, we found threatening individuals, who we were in turn told to profile as well. Often times when my father dropped by to say he was heading home, I would have to remain behind to continue working. It was late on one of these nights that after drooling on my keyboard five sepearte times, I decided that my efforts were becoming useless and I might as well go home.

"I'm gonna go," I said to Petra. "I'll see you tomorrow." Petra always stayed later than me, she wasmuch better at this whole "desk work" thing. But this time was different.

"Wait," she said, half standing and shutting down her computer. "Do you mind if I walk home with you? I live in Sector 3, but the station's in the same direction as your building I'm pretty sure."

My heart was racing, but I couldn't very well say no.

"Yeah, sure." I was blushing again. Why didn't my father ever blush like this?

'Probably because he's so cocky that he has no shame,' I though to myself. Another time maybe I would have laughed, but walking down the empty Shinra hallway with Petra merely made me nervous. My face felt so hot, I could only imagine it being nearly purple.

"Are you okay?" she said, her glowing mako eyes looking over me with concern.

"I- yes. I'm fine." My stomach did an elaborate somersault. She was worried about me. Was that good? What that bad? I didn't scarcely know what to think. We stood and waited for the elevator.

"Ringo, your hands are shaking. Are you sure you're not sick?"

Oh, what I wouldn't give for my father's brash over confidence. The first thing he probably said to my mother was "You're really hot. Lemme by you a beer." Suddenly I was snapped back to reality. Petra's hand was on my forehead.

"You don't have a fever," she said. Then she she looked up at me with those haunting eyes, and they began to fill with tears. "You're afraid of me, aren't you. You're just like everyone else."

"No!" I said, very near desperately. My hand raised automatically to dry her tears. "Petra, it's not that at all... You must be the most beautiful girl I've ever met and I can't stop thinking about you. And I'm nearly going insane because... I... I... really like you."

"Oh. Ringo I-" She wrapped her arms about me. Again, my stomach commenced with its gymnastics. "Ringo why didn't you say so sooner? Don't you realize how long I've wanted you to say that?"

"Probably since you realized how much I looked like my father," I said, now hugging her back. But she pulled away from me laughing.

"Is that what you thought? No, Ringo... Your dad's way too old for me. Plus he's not the same person. He's much more..."

But I never found out what that was. She trailed of, just gazing at me. It was rather disconcerting. Our faces were so close that I could nearly feel her eyelashes. The next thing I knew, we were kissing. The elevator dinged and we merely backing into it. Usually the fact that the elevator was so slow bothered me, but this time I was grateful. I couldn't stop touching her face. It was almost as if I couldn't believe it was really her in front of me. Then as the elevator opened, I pulled away from her.

"Come on," I said, taking her hand. "Let's get out of here."

The next day I awoke feeling as if I could explode from happiness. I came downstairs from my shower whistling. My mother laughed when she saw me.

"Someone's happy today," she said. I smiled and gave her a hug. "Something good must have happened. Either that or you want something."

"I'm just happy, Mom," I said.

"Wouldn't have anything to do with that girl you walked home with, would it now?" she said, giving me a knowing look.

"Maybe," I said. "But don't tell Dad."

"Wouldn't dream of it."

"What are you two conspiring about? You're up to no good, yo." My father was now coming down the stairs, tying back his long hair.

"Come on," my mother said, approaching my father. "You'll be late to work."

"I love you," my father said and he leaned down to kiss her. He was a great deal taller than my mother.
"Dad," I said, opening the door. "Let's go."

"Aren't we Mr. Responsible?" he said sarcastically, but he followed me out the door and it wasn't long before I was in my office waiting for Petra. She walked in and I smiled. Beaming in return, she walked over to me and we embraced.

"Good morning," I said.

"Yes, it sure is," she replied. I gave her a kiss, but then for a while I just stood there, my eyes fixed on hers.

"We need to get to work," she said, still staring up at me. She said it because she knew it was true, but there didn't seem to be any conviction behind the statement.

"I guess you're right," is said. "But I wish you weren't."

I leaned in to kiss her again when my father walked in.

"Hey Ringo, Tseng wanted to see you guys... and holy shit, I am so sorry."

It was hard to tell which one of us looked more mortified, me with my ears going a shade somewhere close to magenta, Petra who's eyes were the size of dinner plates or my father who I discovered could blush just about as red as I could.

"So... um yeah. He needs to see you. Excuse me. I need a drink."

"Don't you think it's a bit early for that Dad?" I asked, trying to pretend like nothing had happened.

My father just shook his head vigorously.

"No. Not after that it's not, yo. Just... go. Tseng. Please."

Still feeling horribly awkward, I walked past my father and out of the office, Petra following me. I turned right, in the direction of Tseng's office. Petra ran up along side me.

"Is it me, or did we just get busted?"

I looked back at my father who was now walking off in the other direction, mumbling something along the lines of "burned into my retinas."

"Yeah, I guess we don't have to worry about finding a way to tell him now," I said. I looked over, catching her eye and we both burst out hysterically laughing. We continued to walk down the hall. Just before we reached Tseng's office, I glanced into my father's office, knowing he was no longer there. My father's partner Rude at his desk, working diligently as per usual. I then glanced over to the other desk. It was a horrendous mess. I smiled. That was my father for you. However, Tseng's office was the next one on the right, and we walked in.

"You wanted to see us sir?" I asked. Tseng looked up.

"Yes. Yes I did," he said standing. "I'm giving you two your first mission."

Our first mission. I'd been doing desk work for so long, I had hardly remembered Turks went on missions. I glanced over to Petra. She looked excited.

"You have been working the Zebulon Lawrence case diligently I understand. Since you two know this case better than anyone, you must realize this means I'm sending you to-"

"Nibelheim. The old abandoned Shinra mansion," Petra replied before Tseng could finish.

"As much as it pains me to hear the place referred to as old, you are correct. You are to detain Lawrence and incapacitate as many of his followers as possible," Tseng said. "You will be leaving this afternoon. Here are your tickets. Go back to your office, gather your weapons and any items you may require Ringo, I suggest you tell your father where you're going." I winced, thinking of having to face my father after what had just happened. But I knew I had to.

"Yes sir," we said in unison, bowing our heads. We then turned and left. As we stepped out into the hall, I noticed my father standing in the door of his office, smirking.

"So lovebirds, what's verdict, yo?" he asked.

"We're going on a mission," I said. "To Nibelheim."

"I see," my father said leaning against his door frame. "In that case, I'll tell your mother you won't be home for dinner." My father pushed off the door and strode over to us. "Good luck Ringo," he said, smiling and then he messed up my hair.

"Hey, stop that!" I cried laughing. My father laughed too.

"Good luck to you too Petra," he said before turning back to his office.

It wasn't long before we were at the station, waiting for our train. We had one bag between the both of us, filled with materia, some potions and random snacks. Petra had her gun strapped to a holster beneath her jacket and my EMR had contained itself in its leather bracelet (how it did that, I always wondered. My father had tried to explain it once and merely ended up confusing himself) and we had our tickets, so all that was left to do was wait. Petra leaned against me and was beginning to fall asleep on my shoulder when I heard the hissing that signaled the approach of the train. I shook her gently.

"Come one Petra, it's here."

We gave our tickets to a squat man in a uniform, and then found ourselves at seat. I put the bag up in the overhead bin and then sat next to Petra, who was already seated. She looked tired. I put my arm around her.

"You can sleep if you want," I said.

"Thanks Ringo," she mumbled, leaning against me. The train gave a lurch, signaling we were on our way to Nibelheim. For a while I watched Petra sleep, but it wasn't long before I had fallen asleep myself. When I awoke I found that I had drooled all over myself.

'How do I always manage to do this?' I thought, exasperated. I started to wipe my off my face with my sleeve and glanced up at the itinerary screen. The stop for Nibelheim was approaching. I looked over to Petra, who was now curled up like a cat by my side. As much as I hated to do it, I knew I had to wake her.
"Petra, it's our stop," I said gently, running my hands though her hair. She groaned.

"Alright," she said groggily. "I'm getting up." She sat up rubbing her eyes and I stood in order to retrieve our bag.

"You know, you make a good pillow," she said.

"Thanks. I take pride in that." I sat down next to her and touched her face. She leaned in and kissed me. I pulled her in closer. I could only wish that the world would disappear so I could make that moment last forever. But the train did eventually pull to a stop and we knew we had to go. We had a job to do.
Nibelheim almost looked like a place that time had forgot. Compared to the sprawling crush of humanity that was Midgar and Edge, it seemed almost antiquated. It was hard to believe the whole place had been nearly burned to the ground. The Old Shinra Mansion was a dilapidated mess of an old building, and there was something eerie about it.

"I don't like this," I said to Petra. "This place gives me the creeps."

"Come one," Petra said. "We'll sneak in around the back."

At the back door a guard stood. I was surprised to see that I recognized him as Ari, the man who had given me my EMR. Petra drew her gun, but I stopped her.

"Wait, I've got this," I said. I then swaggered out from behind our hiding place.

"Ari, you lied to me, yo," I said, in the best imitation of my father's voice. Ari blanched and began to fumble with his gun.

"I-I'll shoot!"

"Like shit you will Ari," I said. I kicked the gun out of his hand an followed through by hitting him in the face with my EMR. There were sparks and he slumped to the ground. Petra ran out.

"You have no idea how much you just sounded like your father," she said, an air of bewilderment in her voice.

"Yeah, well that was the point," I said, blushing slightly. Petra gave a mock shiver.

"That was so creepy." I smiled. We then entered the building.The smell of mold seemed to consume everything. It seemed that we were in the basement. It was unusually quiet, which made me uneasy. I couldn't help but feel there was something wrong. We eventually reached a long hall way lit with candles. Weapons drawn we crept down it to a door. After assessing its strength, Petra kicked it down.

"Ugh, that is disgusting," she said looking inside. I looked. There was a large coffin.

"Vincent Valentine," I said.


"Vincent Valentine was a Turk fifty years ago. A scientist named Hojo experimented on him and he spent thirty years in that coffin. Now he's a permanently young man with red eyes and a red cloak, and without protomateria he turns into a monster," I explained. Petra gave me a dubious look.

"You so made that up," she said.

I opened my mouth to argue, but was cut off my a man's voice from behind us.

"I'd listen to your boyfriend if I were you dear. Because he's absolutely right." Suddenly we were surrounded by men dressed all in black. I thrashed violently and tried to fight them off, but there were too many of them. It wasn't long before two men held back my arms and two more held back Petra. I looked up to see a man in a white lab coat before us. Zebulon Lawrence.

"I must say, this facility really couldn't be better suited to human experimentation, as Vincent discovered and as your mother should have had it not been for that meddlesome father of yours."

"What?" I said angrily.

"Oh, you didn't know?" he said nastily. "Your mother was due to be brought in for experimentation when you father intervened and allowed her to escape. Did you know Sephiroth himself was created in this place? Yes it has a glorious past. And that is where you come in my dear," he said sinisterly to Petra. I tried to fight off the men holding me, but to no avail. I had to watch on in anguish as he the man approached her and touched her face. "Did you know you are the last remaining Mako enhanced being excepting Cloud Strife? When I knew I need a SOILDER for my research, you must forgive me dear, but I decided you were definitely easier to get a hold of. The stupid Shinra dogs did half the work for me. Imagine my delight when I discovered they assigned the very rookie I wanted to my case? They thought I would be easy for a rookie... they though wrong." He then turned his attention to the thugs holding her. "Take her to the operating room."

"No!" I screamed, struggling once again. But it was no use.

"Ringo!" she cried. "Ringo help me!"

"Petra!" By then I could no longer see her. Lawrence stepped in closer to me. "I will kill you if you touch her," I said savagely to him. He laughed.

"Yes, I'm sure you would if you were able to. But I've been meaning to pay back your father for divesting me of one of my finest specimens, so if you'll forgive me I'm afraid you'll be staying right here where Vincent did."

He left and the thugs started carrying me towards the coffin.

"No!" I screamed. "No! Get off me! Get OFF!"

I managed to punch one of the men in the jaw. I heard it break. Using both their astonishment to my advantage, I dispatched them quickly enough. I then ran off in the direction I saw them taking Petra. I could hear her screaming. It made me feel sick, and hatred bubbled up in my stomach. I ran up stairs. Her screaming was getting louder. It almost sounded as if they were torturing her. I needed to find her, and fast.
Suddenly I came to a door the screaming seemed to be coming from behind. My heart racing, I burst through the door. What I saw was sickening. Petra on an operating table, Lawrence ripping at her clothes, cutting into her skin. I was blinded with a rage that I had never felt the likes of in my life. Something inside me snapped and I ran at him. His assistants tried to stop me, but I utterly destroyed every single one of them. Blood spattered my face and clothes. I jumped on Lawrence and began to beat his face in with my own bare hands. He was laughing. The sick bastard was laughing. Then I felt someone's hand on my shoulder. I looked up. It was Petra, holding her stomach which was bleeding profusely.

"Ringo, don't," she said. "The mission." She then began to fall to the ground. I caught her.

"Petra?" I said, my emotions starting to take over.

"Ringo..." Her voice sounded weak, as if she were fighting merely to keep the power of speech. "You were the only one... who's ever... loved me. Who wasn't... afraid of... my eyes. Thank you."

"Why are you talking like this?" I said. "Don't worry, I'm going to get you out of here."

"I love you Ringo."

"Petra don't. Save your strength." She just smiled at me. But then I heard a sound from behind me. All I remember after that was seeing Zebulon Lawrence smile evilly as he shot an large oxygen canister next to a candle. Then everything went black.

When I opened my eyes, I was surrounded by people. My mother with tears in her eyes. Rude looking just as serious as he ever did. Tseng looking horribly ashamed. Elena, her eyes red and puffy. My father. My father with his arm covered in bandages and his face covered in scratches.

"What happened to me?" I asked. My mother began to cry harder.

"There was an explosion," my father said, his voice weak. "Rude and I only just got there in time."

"Petra," I said. "Where's Petra?"

No one said anything. I felt a lump form in my throat.

"No," I said. "No, it's not possible."

I started to get out of the bed, but when I went to put weight on my right leg, I found that it wasn't there. My father caught me.

"Ringo, I'm so sorry," he said. "Petra was... dead when we got there." Suddenly the lump in my throat began to feel a lot more like a gaping hole in my heart. All I could do was cry and hold on to my father. He was crying too, something I had never once witnessed him doing. My entire world seemed to be crashing down around me.

The next week was Petra's funeral. I stood at her grave marker, dressed all in black, a new metal leg attached to the stump of my old one. "The girl in who's eyes was Lifestream, now resides in the Lifestream" read her epitaph. Thinking of Petra's eyes, tears flowed silently down my face. I looked up at the sky. I knew she was there, and I hoped she was watching me. Suddenly, I felt myself smiling, though I didn't quite know the reason why. I dried my eyes and made my way back to where my father was waiting for me.

"Are you gonna be okay, yo?" he asked, his voice devoid of its usual lazy, sarcastic quality.

"Yeah, you know. I think I am," I said. He smiled at me wanly, and put his arm around me.

"I'm glad, Ringo," he said. "Let's go home."