Family Man

By Kain Servant

Shoot, flicker, dance...why was life so quiet? Flash, fall, Reeve’s eyes danced a merry jig around the solid room, around the almost sedentary surroundings. Large oak table, he had bought it because it had wonderful engravings that circled around the edges and kept him entranced long enough to hand over some money. Plush chairs, red, soft...too comfortable, sometimes he could sit in them for hours, almost as comfortable as his bed. He had bought those too, along with the finely woven rugs softening the sparkling, clean wooden floor. There was a white linen tablecloth on the table that he had found in the most expensive furniture store in Midgar, , on it sat crystal plates, on which sat food, he bought it all. His eyes hurriedly examined anything else he might be able to take in, thoughts flooding around his shoulders as he strained to find solidity.

On the chairs by the table, near the food sat two figures, a wife and his child. He had bought them wait, maybe he hadn’t... The son was born, of course...born from the wife, who married him...for his money. Or maybe for his looks, either way he bought her, Jessa, pretty girl, great rack, good cooking. But he always bought the food, she didn’t have a job so how could she? It was always up to him, ever his responsibility.

What? Someone had said something! Nervously he jerked around, trying to find the source, maybe he had said that aloud, maybe someone was angry, someone he would have to appease again with his smile and his laugh. No wait! No one’s mouth was moving so no one was speaking, unless it was him, which meant they might think that he was crazy! But her mouth moved again, Jessa, and she was asking Tommy to pass her the potatoes, mashed potatoes in a crystal bowl on the far end of the table. So he wasn’t needed...he could lapse back into his thought, issue r resolved.

Jessa looked over at him and smiled, which probably meant that nothing was really required of him but a smile, which was easy. He could smile all damn day and not be tired, not feel like he spent anything at all. Which was nice because it seemed that he smiled a whole lot and that way no one asked anything of him, they just wanted him to assure them that he still approved of them. Why? Why was he so important that they looked to him for security? He wasn’t...sure – did someone ask a question? Wait, the smile, he had almost forgotten! Quickly he gritted his teeth and sparkled a glorious smile over at his loving wife, thus contenting her and allowing her to go about eating again. Issue resolved. Dance, fall, flash – his eyes ran around the room again furiously, taking in the shelves and doors and floors and lights, everything that wasas his and that he had earned.

It was enough, wasn’t it? Why else had he bought everything but to be happy? Why else had he lived but to be happy – that was the point right? That was why he had done everything that he did – he just wanted everyone to be happy, he just wanted everything to go well. That was why he had been out working earlier, helping Officer Gariton uncover the illegal Flash deposits in the city. It was his gift to humanity, helping to get rid of the sick bastard drug-addicts that whored the streets. They were just ruining their lives, not to mention making the world in general look depressing. It couldn’t do to make everything look depressing, everything had to be right, everything had to be happy.

Which was probably why Reeve never showed Officer Gariton the Flash deposit under his house, that would probably make Gariton sad to see that, and he couldn’t have anyone being sad – which is why he sold Flash – to make those sick bastard drug addicts feel content...make everyone happy. Wait – did someone say something? He looked around angrily for the subject in question, whoever was ruining his perfectly good thought train. But no one was there – no one was talkiking, the dinner table was as quiet as ever. Slowly he glanced down at his own plate, saw that it was still full of turkey and potatoes and gravy and his glass was still full of Burndai wine. Such a scene might look a little suspicious, because everyone knew he loved his wine and food, so hastily he began to scoop the contents of the plate down his throat – no need to upset anyone, which brought up a question in his mind. Why was he upset? Usually he ate without thinking, without feeling or questioning anythihing – what was wrong this particular day that he fell out of habit – no one had died and his life was still stable. He had never been caught doing anything – no wait! He had never done anything – nothing wrong! He wasn’t double dealing he was just preserving the peace!

Reeve looked angrily down at a misshapen lump of potatoes, a likely culprit to say the least – it looked far from perfect. Everyone was always accusing him of being a double-crosser, playing both sides against the middle. That was so hugely incorrect that it upset him just thinking about it. He wasn’t playing both sides against the middle, he was playing the middle for the benefit of both sides, couldn’t they see that? He didn’t mean any harm to come to anyone, ever, they were all just so suspicious and paranoid that he always turned out to be a bad guy in the eyes of the peoplple. A jerk and a villain...if they only knew.

ShinRa had ruined his reputation probably; he should never have mixed with the bastards. But it was good money and ShinRa seemed to be an honest man – but then again they were oppressing innocent people. So of course he had to help the innocent people too – which meant fighting against ShinRa with them, which technically was fighting against himself. But it all turned out fine, because Sephiroth turned out to be the real culprit, and both sides hated Sephiroth, so he ended up helping everyone. See! Who said that? Rattle, bang, clank – the chair grumbled beneath him as he shifted positions to scan the room surreptitiously, looking for someone who might be hiding in the corner – playing tricks with his mind. It wasn’t his fault that he was so intelligent, that he heard and saw everything – he was s so smart that he had even been called “Intelligence” before. No real point with everyone hating him.

But they didn’t hate him, they just misunderstood him. And his wife and son loved him...he had played ball with them the day before, in the beautiful two and a half acres of grass he had bought for a back yard. It was wonderful fun, Tommy was laughing and running, and Jessa just stood and watched them both and smiled. Then after they were done, Tommy had hugged him and thanked him. It didn’t happen very often – the affectionate little bit – usually he got his love from Jessa and didn’t expect too much from Tommy – but it was touching when it did happen. Tommy was a wonderful boy...going to school and getting good grades – he would probably turn out just like his father.

A sharp twist of pain wrenched Reeve’s gut, and he twisted his neck sharply to see what had caused it. Nothing...just some inner turmoil – why would such a thing pain him? For his own son to turn out like him – it was a wonderful thing to make him proud. Right? Tommy would be intelligent and helpful to everyone – he would make everyone happy. He already could with that smile – that smile he had gotten from Reeveve. The smile Reeve had gotten from his own father – he could still remember that smile. That smile coming from a twisted fuck of a man.

Reeve shuddered in a long sigh and looked back around the table, relieved to see that his family was still eating comfortably. How much time had passed – and what had he been doing that whole time? Was he staring at his chest? He thought about that slowly, then assured himself that he was fine, that no one thought he was a freak, no one cared what he had been doing. He wasn’t a freak...the thought of his father still burned painfully in the back of his mind like a old burn that was scarred over. But it was scarred over – over and gone, his father was dead and Reeve had his own life now. And the smile was good, the smile was love – people loved him.

What time was it? His mind jerked frantically in a circle, his head turning toward the huge ornamental grandfather clock that stood in the corner of the room – its head laced with gold, a design that he had picked out personally. Six o’ Seven. At Seven he had to call Cynthia and tell her that they were on for the night. The thought of that sent another pain through his side, but this one he ignored d as he glanced nervously at his wife. Beautiful Jessa, sitting in her own world with her beautiful crimson dress he had bought her draping over her voluptuous form. The dress left one shoulder bare for him to stare at, peach-colored skin for him to devour at a glance...he wasn’t really having an affair on her – it wasn’t hurting her or anyone.

He never would have met Cynthia if he hadn’t felt sorry for her – Cynthia’s husband had just left her when they met on a rainy day in a café on Fourth Street. She was crying and he had been a gentleman and consoled her, and then one thing lead to another, which led his lips to hers, his body to hers...he was just trying to make her happy, and she was happy. She didn’t care that he had a family, and as long as no one else found out then everyone couould continue to be happy. Happy at his expense – just leave me the fuck alone! Who said that!?

His father. Reeve shuddered again and lowered his eyes to the sorry pile of potatoes huddled in the corner of his white crystal plate. His father always pretended to be happy when he was around people, when he went to church or to work. But he wasn’t – he was a sick bastard who just thought that everything had to be perfect on the outside. He couldn’t understand that some people, including his son, were just people, just human. To him they were his puppets, something that he had to control and force some required action from like juice from a lemon, straight on to an open wound.

But he wasn’t like that – he would never be like his father, because he loved Tommy. He had never raised a hand against his son and he never would – Jessa too, it would never happen. Somewhere behind him he heard the ticking of the clock, and felt the impulse to turn and look at it even though he knew he had just seen the time. Six o’ Seven. He had plenty of time – why was he so worried? Something was wrong tonight, he wasn’t quite sure what it was, but it was definitely something g negative, something that could disrupt his life. It would be alright though...he was stable and happy, he wouldn’t allow anything to happen to him or his family or his life.

Maybe it was something back at work; Criminal Investigations Department was a tedious place to hold a job, so much paper work and background. Maybe he had slipped and Gariton had discovered something about him...they could be coming to get him right now! Or maybe Jessa had sniffed some unfamiliar perfume on one of his shirts and was going to confront him about it in the bedroom after dinner. He didn’t want a confrontation – he just wanted everyone to live and be done with it! Why couldn’t they just understand that he was trying to help – why did they have to push him?

The pain a third time. Was someone there? Rattle, click, and bang – a chair rocked as his son stood to his feet, holding a clean plate in one hand. With a beaming smile he looked over at Reeve, “I’m done, may I be excused?” Shuffle, slither fall – his eyes crept over to Jessa to confirm that she was still content, and then he nodded his consent, not speaking. Sometimes he was afraid of his voice – afraid that it would shake or stutter and b betray him. Betray him of what – to a child? Reeve’s lips curved in a dry smile. What was wrong with him tonight – afraid of his own child...?

The clock hummed, the floor shivered as Tommy walked slowly across the room and disappeared into the kitchen to wash his plate. Tommy was such a wonderful child – much better than he had been as a child. Reeve had to reconstruct himself, make himself a good person with pain and habit – but Tommy was already good, already set up to achieve. He was proud of Cloud. No wait – of Tommy! Reeve looked around suspiciously, wondering where Cloud had come from, some evil apparition floating in among the wisps of air.

Reeve was not proud of Cloud – not that he had anything to do with the fall of the hero. The poor bastard had gone insane after Sephiroth had died and everything had settled back to normal. Most people were happy, but Cloud couldn’t stand it – Aeris was gone. Some phantom haunted him that no one could save him from, no one could understand. The young legend, the most powerful man alive, had wandered his final days aimlessly from town to town, looking for Aeris – always accusing people he met as being the ones who killed her. He killeled some of them, mercilessly, slaughtered the entire town of Nibelheim in fact. That was when people got fed up of letting him go free – and Vincent put a bullet through his head. Maybe Cloud was happy when he died – maybe he found Aeris when he was dead.

But where had Cloud come from? Reeve looked suspiciously around the room once again, focusing finally on his lovely wife, finishing off the last of her meal. Cloud had lost all of his hope...he was going to die! Reeve gasped abruptly. Click, thrust, action – Jessa turned in concern, to see what was wrong with him. Quickly Reeve lifted his crystal wine glass and drained the rest of its crimson contents, the Burndai wine. Seeing that he was alright, Jessa smiled happily and stood with her plate and silverware, “I’ll see you in the bedroom.” She spokeke melodically before retreating to the kitchen.

Reeve waited until he was completely alone, and then let out the rest of the gasp that had never escaped. Quickly his eyes searched for the time. Six Thirteen. He would have to get ready and make up some excuse as to why he was going to leave before seven. Maybe he would say that work had called him in and he would be working late. And then he would go and share the night with Cynthia, let her comfort him as he comforted her. He wasn’t going to die – the notion was ridiculous. After all he wasn’t insane, he was secure – how could he possibly die? Was Jessa going to pull a gun on him? Would some drug lord try to put an end to his betrayal at the end of a bullet?

Jerkily he jumped to his feet, leaving his crystal plate and wine glass where they sat. No use in scaring himself with something that would never be – everything was going to be fine. He would just change from his work clothes, from the heavy blue suit coat and pants he wore, the white silk shirt and red designer tie, change into something more casual. Perhaps he would wear jeans, maybe even a T-shirt. But then Jessa would be curirious as to why he was going into work in casual clothing. He could tell her he was going to the gym...but then she might want to go with him.

No it wouldn’t do – he would have to change into something formal...Reeve almost laughed as he watched how fast his thoughts could travel of course. Normal, of course. He was very normal. Letting out a content sigh he walked speedily to the stairs and up to his room to change.

Click, slide, pull – he pulled the door open and let himself in, drawing in the comfort of the dark room, his seclusion from the distrustful world. The room was nearly empty, there was a soft bed in one corner, a bookshelf in another, and then a wall closet that held all of his clothing. Swiftly he moved toward the closet, drawing the door open with a quick pull.

“Shit!” What – what was it?! Reeve jumped instinctively back, and then almost immediately relaxed with a nervous laugh. He had pulled open the wrong door – instead of opening his clothing closet, he had opened his keepsake closet, the closet he kept everything from the past that was valuable to him in. There was his tuxedo from his wedding, his first ID card from ShinRa, a beautiful red rock he had found in Cosmo Canyon. And then the biggest of all of them, the shape that had caused him to jump back – his Cait Sith doll.

The huge robotic creature loomed ominously over him, its white synthetic fur showing a dull gray in the lack of light. The dim-witted smile that was plastered to its features seemed crushed out by the small black shape that crouched on its head, a cat wearing a crown.

It’s me! “That is me!” What the hell – what did that mean!? Reeve inspected the robot carefully, carefully looking it over and appreciated the creativity of the project. It was an accomplishment earned – just like him, a hard earned accomplishment. It was true!

Jessa. Tommy. Betrayal – hate, they hate you! You’re no father, you’re no hero! You’re a cringing little coward hiding behind your smile, a sinister little demon hiding behind a fool lump of flesh! Cynthia and Gariton, Cloud, Rufus – you betrayed them all, you hate them and they hate you! No one loves you – not even your own father, so you hide!

“Hide!? Where?!” A ragged despair tore through him as he fell back, staring up into the dull eyes of the stuffed moogle. Behind your flesh, behind your smile. You are Cait Sith!

“No! No you fucking liar! It’s not true!” Vision failed him, his body began to float away until all that he was sure of was who he was, what was true. He was running...he was hiding...he was one loved him...and he wasn’t happy. He wasn’t happy. “Fuck!”

A drawer was open, a gun was in his hands and he was shooting, shooting the robotic figure standing motionless in the dark closet. Bang – thunk! One shot for the hate and two for the lies. And another and another, for the fear and the pain. Holes grew on the dead form before him, but it didn’t stop him, didn’t stop the uncontrollable, unexplainable anger coursing through him as he fired another shot for his father. For that miserable man that made Reeve who he was, that man who killed his mother and beat Reeve within an inch of his life – that man from whom Reeve had to escape and force his way up, that man who ruined him and made h him. That man who he never wanted to be but who he was becoming! That man hiding behind a hideous smile.

The last hole opened slowly, and smoke poured from it in a stream as silence suddenly pervaded the darkness. Reeve thought he could hear Jessa screaming somewhere, running somewhere, probably coming to find him. He knew what she feared – perhaps she feared it every day, maybe that was why she never asked him about his affair, why she never expressed the pain she felt – why she ate from his crystal dishes and never asked why. The perfect...crystal...dishes. He would save her – he would never, ever, turn out like his father!

The absence of sound thundered like a hurricane in the last few seconds, the absence of motion rushing around him like a tornado, the absence of love tearing him apart like...

Click, drop, bang – the sixth bullet rushed from its residence, shattering Reeve’s skull – ending his torment in an ocean of crimson blood. Jessa found him, what was left of him, clutching a gun in one hand, Cait Sith’s leg in the other – a hideous smile frozen on his face.


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