Glass Palace Cracked

Look at me.

What do you see? Or, what do you think you see?

Sure, I know what you see. I have a mirror in my house, don't I? Rather - I used to, before I broke it. Amazing what you do in a fit of rage. However, shards of glass still reflect all sorts of little messages - small, blank, just another girl - another Jane Doe. I never got around to cleaning it up, as I'm never home anyway. In and out is all I do. That's the way my life has always been.

My name is Elena.

Or is it? It isn't the one I was born with.

Look at me. Blonde. Blue eyes. Small, petite. Harmless, you think. Just another harmless female.

Or am I?

Even I don't know.

It's easier to pretend, though.

Perfect, they say. Perfect. Like a doll. A living, breathing doll. I blink, I react, I smile, I talk. So, I'm a doll with batteries.

It's easier that way, always easier. Quickly - appliqué makeup; lipstick here, eye shadow there, just a hint of mascara, a dab of foundation. Blow-dry the hair, put on the uniform, and I exist.

One could say I've come a long way from the little runaway girl I used to be. I lived on the streets, of course - what do you think, there were homeless shelters and orphanages I could have gone to? No. Begun in a fit of charity and insanity on the President's part back when Shinra was just an electric company that happened to manufacture weapons, he'd needed the good press then. Obviously, he doesn't need it now. I don't think you've lived in Midgar long enough to remember that.

Do I look eighteen to you? Yes, I look younger, don't I? It helps, helps a great deal. See, men like it that way. Remember that, that's a rule of thumb on the street. If a man likes you, he'll pick you up, feed you, and maybe even let you sleep. If he doesn't let you sleep, hell, at least he gave you a roof to spend the night under. They expect gratitude for the smallest things.

Reno doesn't know. Rude doesn't know. Tseng might. He, after all, did recruit me and must have done a background check. He doesn't say anything about it.

Sometimes I wonder how much he knows I'm hiding.

It's convenient for Reno and Rude to think I'm desperately in love with Tseng. It keeps them away from me, and Tseng... well, Tseng has a few skeletons in his closet that makes it convenient to hide behind me.

See, one thing I learned- act just a little clumsy, a little callow, a little 'not there', and you can observe and learn all sorts of things.

You amuse me. You seriously think I'm going to tell you what they are?

But - what harm could it do, really. You're going to die anyway.

What? Don't scream. Where do you think you can run to? I'm a Turk. They train us to hunt little mice like you down to the ends of the earth. It gets rather tedious at times.

Oh, don't worry. I'm not going to kill you right now. But if you insist on screaming, I'll shoot you. So shut up.

Smart boy. You had me worried there for a second. You're not quite as dumb as you look, beard and all.

Now, don't take this personally. I'm just doing my job. Of course, I enjoy it, who wouldn't?

It took me a while to get used to this sort of thing. I nearly got fired before I did - but in the Turks, you don't get fired. You get dropped. Dropped like a sack of bricks off the edge of Upper Midgar - thump, ow, splattered brains, and the rats eat you for breakfast, if the homeless don't gobble you first. Don't look so shocked; people really can get that hungry. Like I said, the charitable fit Shinra indulged in so long ago has since been - how would you put it - canceled. Same old, same old - the usual pump pump squirt, and withdraw once the job is done.

Rule number two - sleep with your superiors. Oh, don't look so hopeful, even if I'm talking like you're going to survive this, you aren't. I never mix sex and my work. Reno does. You're lucky they didn't assign him to off you; he's none too particular about the person being alive while he does it.

How many times do I have to tell you to stop screaming? No one's going to hear. No one will. People in this city are well-trained.

Now, the superiors. I cut a few throats here, slept with a few there, got a few drunk along the way in the meantime. The President's quite the dominatrix, isn't he? Big gangsta spats, huge paunch, no mental exercise, and the smallest dink you'd ever hope to see. Amazing he tickled some broad long enough to conceive that spoiled brat of his. Oh, and Heidigger likes to be bitten. Hard. Quite interesting things you learn about people.

You really should've learned these things already - the art of covering your own ass. Then maybe you wouldn't be my target right now, hmmmm? Y'know, Reeve, I like you. I think everyone liked you. But - the minute you decided to join Avalanche... well, you understand.

Now, don't try to stutter. It really isn't dignified.

I think Rufus would have liked you. Oh, don't look so surprised. Surely you've heard things from all the gossip mongers? Contrary to belief, most of what you've heard is true. Ah, but just who he's doing the hokey-pokey with is another thing, isn't it? But they say he straddles the fence - well, truth to say, I had to get him real drunk. So maybe he's tilted just a smidgen.

Ah, so you still insist on babbling about your innocence. Here - perhaps it'll reassure you to know that we'd suspected you'd be the weak link in the chain all along. A certain spy in Avalanche helped a lot, too.

Haven't you learned by now I don't answer questions? Really, you're quite irritating. You don't learn things very quickly.

Time's running out, Reeve. Any last words?

Reeaaaaally. I'd had so many hopes for you, I didn't think you'd resort to using the most cliché of clichés. You wouldn't believe how many times I've heard that. The funny thing is, most of the time men said that. Shows how dumb men are. Hell, even my father said that right before I blew his balls off.

Yes, his balls. Oh, you're more shocked that I killed him, not how? Suffice it to say he deserved it.

Oh, don't get self-righteous on me. He hurt me, he tied me down, spread my legs and hurt me. I'm over it. That's just life, right?

No? Oh, and calling me 'bitch' doesn't make you any more original.

So nice talking to you. Would you like it in the head, or in the chest? Maybe you're a masochist and like it slow? Then I can shoot your limbs off one by one? No?

Oh, do try to die with a little dignity.

Men always do disappoint me in that way.