Chapter 4: Nervous Date

"Well, this was it." She thought as she pulled on her gloves. Thanks to Mia, she had a date. She had dug an evening gown out of her closet, which oddly enough, she had bought years ago when she accompanied Tseng to a Shin-Ra company party. It had always reminded her of him, and so she had packed it away the day after he died and had never looked at it again. And she had badgered Reno to rent a tuxedo for the night, despite his initial protests. She went to the mirror and applied some lipstick and looked herself over.

"Not bad, I suppose. I'm lucky I was able to fit into such an old dress." The dress was crimson and had a slit down one side, and spaghetti straps. The gloves were white and went up to her elbows. Nothing particularly flashy, but acceptable, she reasoned and slipped on her high heels. She shoved the tube of lipstick into the matching red purse and turned to open her bedroom door. She was already feeling incredibly nervous, and was contemplating backing out of the whole thing. Slowly, the door swung open and she walked to the living room.

"Damn! You look good!" Reno grinned at her and gave her a thumbs up. Her heart was caught in her throat. He DID look good cleaned up. She blushed as he continued to look her over. She noted that even in a tuxedo, he still had the first few buttons of his shirt undone, and had apparently decided to not wear the bow tie. She had somehow expected that though.

"You look nice too." She said quickly and walked towards the front door.

"Oi. Wait a sec!" He raced in front of her and opened the door. With a bow and a smirk he said, "After you."

She couldn't help but laugh. It was too weird, with Reno attempting to act chivalrous. She took him up on the offer and walked out first. When they got outside he offered her his arm. She blushed and took it. Maybe the night wouldn't be so bad after all.

As soon as they reached the bar, she changed her mind. Bambi hurtled out of the door as soon as they got near, and flew into Reno's arms. He pulled his arm away from Elena and twirled Bambi around. She was wearing a pink sequined dress that had a low neckline in order to show off her generous bust, with pink shoes, purse and gloves, and had her light blonde hair up in some elaborate twist. Elena sighed and averted her eyes from Reno and Bambi, who were already making out like there was no tomorrow, and looked around for her own date. She hadn't met him yet, but Mia had assured her that she'd like him.

"You must be Elena." A voice said behind her. She turned around and looked up to see a man who looked to be in his mid-fifties. He had on a tuxedo and his graying hair was neatly combed. Her smile faltered a bit.

"Do I seem THAT old to Mia? Honestly, I'm only thirty!" She thought irritably and forced herself to calm down. She decided she shouldn't judge the man on his looks alone, anyway.

"Yes, I'm Elena. You're Richard right?" she smiled and shook his hand.

By the time they reached the opera house, she was ready to bang her head repeatedly against the wall. Reno couldn't keep his hands off that obnoxious, neon pink creature, and as for Richard...

"Therefore the Nibelheim revolution wasn't REALLY a revolution, it was just replacing the aristocracy of Midgar with another form of aristocracy in Nibelheim, either way there was no real political revolution, just power changing hands, which brings me to my next point...." Richard rambelled on, and she blocked him out again, managing somewhat interested sounding "mm-hms" every now and then. Bambi listened raptly, though looked more than a little confused, and Reno was asleep in his chair.

The opera would start in five more minutes. Five LONG minutes. She looked at Richard and nodded in feigned interest and turned to look at Reno. His unruly bangs covered his eyes, and she had to fight the urge to push them out of his face. When the music for the opera started, he bolted awake and looked around, obviously disoriented. She smothered a laugh and focused her attention on the opera.

"This is really fuckin' boring." Reno whispered in her ear less than fifteen minutes later. She nodded faintly. Bambi and Richard's attentions were entirely focused on the stage. She was mildly surprised to find that Bambi, did in fact, like opera. Go figure. With a sigh, she tried for the millionth time to figure out what exactly the opera was about.

"Hey, Elena." Reno hissed again and held up something in front of her eyes. He held it so close to her face that she couldn't tell what it was. She snatched it and held it back.

"A candy bar?" She asked. He was unwrapping another piece of chocolate he had pulled from his pocket and shoved it in his mouth.

"You snuck candy into an opera." She stated and smiled at his content expression as he ate the chocolate. "You're so childish sometimes."

"Hey, if you're gonna insult me, gimme back the candy." He retorted and took the candy bar from her.

"Maybe I was going to eat it..." she replied. He broke the candy bar in two and held up one piece towards her. She shook her head. "No, it's OK. I don't want to get chocolate on my gloves."

"So open your mouth, stupid." He said. Surprised, she did as she was told, and he popped a piece of candy in her mouth. She unsuccessfully tried to fight back a blush. She glanced guiltily towards Richard. He was so focused on the opera, she could have jumped up and shouted obscenities and he probably wouldn't notice, she thought irritably.

After the opera finally ended, they decided to have dinner. Richard proclaimed that he knew of an "exquisite" restaurant, and Bambi squealed that she wanted to go somewhere "exquisite" and so they ended up in some fancy restaurant Elena had deemed ridiculously overpriced when she first ended up in Junon.

"So, Elena, Mia told me you once worked at a prestigious job in Midgar. Something for the government?" He said and put his arm around her. She and Reno both stiffened visibly at the mention of Midgar, and she had to force a smile.

"Oh, Mia exaggerates. It was just a... a..." She tried frantically to think up a suitable lie.

"Elena and I both worked for the Shin-Ra Electrical Company. Just low level, entry position jobs, of course." Reno cut in smoothly. She gave him a grateful look.

The food arrived, and Elena was all too happy. The food was bland, but it gave her something to focus her attention on. She watched out of the corner of her eye as Reno ordered yet another glass of wine. How DID that man drink so much without acting the least bit drunk, she'd never know.

Bambi's high pitched voice brought her attention back to the conversation that was going on around her. "That's a beautiful pin on your tie!" the girl said with a loud giggle. And to think, she was drinking apple juice. There must be some law against someone sober being so goddamned annoying, she thought darkly.

Richard replied in his nasally voice, "Well it serves a purpose..." He flipped the tie over to reveal a string going from the pin to the shirt. "Keeps it in place, see?"

"HOW SMAAART!" Bambi laughed loudly and clapped her hands. Even Reno rolled his eyes on that one.

Dinner continued on painfully slow. Richard droned on, Bambi shrieked and giggled at everything he said, and Reno and Elena kept exchanging glances everytime Bambi said something overly stupid. Both had long since completely zoned out Richard.

Something drew Elena's eye to the floor, and she blinked.

"A roach! Kill it!" she yelled and jumped up. Said roach crawled closer to her and she cringed. She had always hated bugs. So what if she was an ex-assasin! She still didn't like bugs.

"Actually it's a venature beetle, a rare species hailing from southern Gongaga, it's quite a fascinating creature with the most extraordinary chemical make - " Richard started calmly.

Reno jumped up and stomped on the roach.

"... up....." Richard finished slowly.

"Yep... somethin' in it sure made those guts fly..." Reno commented and lounged back in his chair.

Right after the bug incident, Elena completely lost her appetite. Richard and Bambi both excused themselves to go the bathroom. It had been twenty minutes since they left. A waiter set the bill on the table and looked at her expectantly.

"Uh... I get the feeling they're not comin' back..." Reno said and looked at Elena. Elena nodded. A perfectly awful end to the most horrible date she had ever been on. She took the check and looked at it. And immediately began to laugh hysterically.

"Oi... what's with you? You OK?" Reno asked and grabbed the check from her hands.

"Of course... I don't have enough money to pay for this." She chuckled, on the verge of tears.

Reno stood up and pulled his wallet from the back pocket of his pants.

"I got it covered. So don't cry OK?" He held out his hand, and she took it. He pulled her up and led her towards the exit after leaving a sufficient amount of Gil on the table.

"I'm sorry for putting you through all this." Reno said as they walked towards the apartment building.

"I think you got the worst part of the deal. I'm sorry Bambi left you for Richard." She replied. Which of course, was a complete lie. But it sounded good to say.

"Ah, it's OK. She annoyed the hell out of me anyway. I wasn't with her for her charming personality, you realize." He grinned. She rolled her eyes. At least he was honest.

As they walked home arm in arm, she decided that it really hadn't been such a horrible date after all.

Epilogue   |   Fanfiction