Chapter 1: Reunion

The alarm clock buzzed insistently, although she had been awake for over an hour, she didn't feel compelled to get up at turn it off. She was currently working as a barmaid in a shitty bar in Junon, and she knew she'd have to be at work in less than a half an hour. Heaving a sigh, she pulled herself out of bed and drug herself to the bathroom. The shower woke her up a bit, and stepping out of the shower into the cold air of the room quickly dispelled the last bits of sleepiness that had persisted.

Pulling on a randomly picked shirt and skirt; brushed her hair and teeth; searched the house until she found her shoes; grabbed her purse and set out for what she was sure would be a tiring, uneventful night. She barely paid any heed to what was in front of her as she walked. She had been in Junon for six months, and that was long enough for her legs to automatically know where they were going.

The bar was already packed when she got there. She expected no less, since it was a Saturday night. And so the night went. She numbly served drinks, ignored passes drunken men made at her, and all the while noted somberly how much her life had changed in a few short years. Finally, it was near closing time, and she was longing to go home and sleep.

"Here. Table 6. And tell the guy that we're gonna throw him out if he don't leave soon." Her boss handed her a tray. She hadn't even noticed there was any customers still around. She walked in her usual daze to the table, and set the glass next to a mess of red hair. The man was nearly passed out it seemed, and was half-asleep with his head face down on the table.

"Hey. Sir. It's closing time. Pay your bill and get going, please." She said and nudged him. He muttered something and didn't move.

"Sir, you have to wake up. We're closing now." She insisted. Mentally she cursed all stupid drunks who got too piss drunk to leave the bar at closing, which meant she had to stick around longer than she was scheduled to.

Suddenly, the man's head shot up and he stared at her with bleary, bloodshot eyes. She did a double-take, and nearly dropped the tray as recognition hit her.

"Reno...?" She asked, rather stupidly. Of COURSE it was him. How many other redheaded men in rumpled suits did she know that would be passed out in a shitty bar?

"Tha's funny. You're.. that one girl..." He replied, and then promptly passed out.

She seriously contemplated dragging him outside and leaving him in the alley for the night, considering he couldn't even remember her NAME, for god's sake! She had hoped she'd have made somewhat of an impression on someone she had worked with for over a year.

Of course, somehow, she found herself not only paying his bill, but pulling him to his feet and dragging him with her as she walked home. Fortunately, he had random bouts of near consciousness in which he was somewhat capable of walking. It still took her forty-five minutes to reach her apartment, whereas it would normally take ten.

She deposited Reno on the couch, pulled off his shoes, and threw a blanket over him. For whatever reason, she was wide awake. Deciding it was her couch, and she could do what she wanted, she sat on the other end of it. She pushed Reno's legs off the side of the couch so he was half-on, half-off. At least she didn't leave him in the alley, she reasoned and turned on the TV.

There was nothing on, so she left it on the weather channel and muted it. She glanced over at the man sprawled all over her couch. She smiled wryly, remembering her first impression of Reno. She had not liked him one bit. She was determined to take her job seriously, and there he was, a complete antithesis to what she was striving to be. At first she thought he was a pathetic, lazy drunk. Which he was. But she had also quickly realized that despite his flaws, he was insanely good at what he did. He had been one of the better killers Shin-Ra had ever created.

Finally, she began to yawn, and decided it was time to get some sleep. She readjusted Reno so that he lay in a more natural position on the couch and retired to her bedroom. She fell asleep the minute her head hit the pillow.

When she woke up, she started to get up and ready for work, until she remembered that she had the day off. Just as she started to go to sleep, she detected movement coming from her living room. In an instant, she was up and crouched by the door, reached for the gun she kept in the closet. After a moment, the past night's events flooded back and she relaxed. Pulling on a robe, she pulled the door open and headed towards the living room.

She found Reno in the kitchen, digging in her refrigerator as if he was perfectly at ease and owned the place. She silently fumed and waited for him to acknowledge her presence. Finally, he turned and looked at her, with his mouth stuffed with some sort of food. He started, and began to cough violently. She slapped him on the back and handed him a glass of water. He gulped it down and in a raspy voice, asked,

"Elena? That you?"

She twitched, "Of course it's me! Don't you remember last night? And here you are, acting like this is YOUR home, getting into the food, even though you didn't even remember it was me who lives here!"

"But I always do that." He said with a shrug as he took a gulp of milk straight out of the carton. She snatched the carton from him and poured herself a glass. How like him to be so callous. It was probably nothing for him to wake up in some random woman's apartment.

"We didn't screw did we?" Reno asked, in a casual tone. Elena choked on her drink. She managed to sputter a negative response before going into a coughing fit even worse than Reno's. He pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pants and tapped one out. After lighting it on the stove and taking a drag he asked,

"So how'd I end up here?"

"I work at the bar where you decided to get piss drunk and pass out." She snapped. For some reason, Reno had always managed to infuriate her so easily.

"You? Working at a bar?" He asked incredulously. She glared at him.

"Why is that so hard to believe?" She retorted.

"Well... You always seemed like such a prude. I never saw ya get drunk or anything." He replied with a shrug and flicked ashes into a nearby empty flower vase.  His comment had taken her aback. She had never really thought of herself as a 'prude'. She had simply thought she should be professional. And that meant no drinking on the job, which was more than she could say for the man standing in her kitchen flicking ashes into her favorite vase and acting as if the past five years had never happened. She mentally told herself to calm down repeatedly, and took a few deep, cleansing breaths.

"Where's Rude?" She suddenly asked, in an attempt to start a conversation. Reno looked at her strangely. So much for the conversation gambit.

"He's dead." Reno finally spoke, in a hollow voice. He looked away and drove the cigarette butt into the edge of the vase.

"D-dead...? How...?" She whispered. It had been years since she had even thought of Rude, but somehow... a wave of sadness hit her.

"Me and him were working as bodyguards for some old rich guy. Got shot during a break in," He muttered and stuck his hands in his pockets, "Fucked up, ain't it? After all that time we worked as Turks, and he get killed in some random, goddamned, two-bit robbery."

She watched his face as he spoke. There was emotion beneath those green eyes that contradicted the casual way he spoke of the death of his closest friend. Without thinking, she reached over and grabbed his hand. He looked at her, startled, before that careful mask of indifference slid back into place.

"I'm sorry about Rude." She said quietly. He nodded and looked away. He extracted his hand from hers and walked to the living room. She followed and watched him begin to collect his shoes and jacket.

"I guess I'm gonna get out of here now." He announced.

Reno had been one of the most annoying men she had ever met. Already, they had slipped back into the bickering that had been constant when they had worked together five years before. But...

She didn't want him to leave. She had no idea why, as only a few minutes before she had been ready to throw him out. Still though, there was something. Perhaps it was loneliness, or a desire to cling to a remnant of the past she wanted to return to. Or maybe it was even the that despaired look he had in his eyes when he spoke of Rude.

"Stay." She found herself saying. He looked up at her.

"Ya don't have to put up with me anymore. I'll just get out of here before we're at each other's throats." He replied with a faint grin.

"No, please. I really want you to stay. Just for a little while. We could catch up on old times. Or something." She babbled and felt more than a little stupid as soon as she finished speaking. Reno eyed her with an unreadable look and nodded.

"Okay." He said and threw his shoes and jacked somewhere in the vicinity of the door.

"Okay." She echoed, and immediately decided she must have taken leave of her senses.

Chapter 2   |   Fanfiction