Disclaimer – FFVII and its characters don't belong to me.
"You busy, Love? I need a drink." Reno didn't even spare a glance at Tifa as he entered the bar. He was making a beeline for the counter, plopping himself down in the first of many open seats.
Tifa frowned at this, a strand of dark hair falling in front of her eyes as she looked down at the mop she had been pushing across the floor. "No, not at all," she muttered. She had half a mind to keep on mopping and ignore Reno to see how long it would take him to notice that she was in fact busy. But that would keep him in the bar longer than necessary, and the faster she got him his drink, the faster he'd potentially leave.
With a sigh she straightened up and returned to the counter, mop still in hand. Tifa leaned it against the counter as she walked around it, wiping her hands across her apron. "What it'll be today, Reno?"
Vodka… No, no. Maybe whiskey. No… I don't know. Surprise me. Just, y'know, nothing with fruit in it – that stuff you gave me last time didn't agree with my stomach. I was sick all night."
Tifa leveled her gaze at Reno, her lips pursed. "And the six shots of tequila before that had nothing to do with it, right? Or the three pints of beer? And an empty stomach?"
Reno blinked. "Huh, nothing gets by you, does it?"
"Reno, I work in a bar. I make a living mixing and serving drinks – I'd be a terrible bartender if I didn't count the number of drinks people were downing so I could add it to their tab. Which reminds me, you still owe me for the last three times you've been in here." Even as she spoke, though, Tifa went about pulling out a glass for Reno and placing it under the day's tap. Sometimes simple was best with him, if only because she knew he'd be here even longer saying nay or yea to any mixed drinks she put together for him. For a Turk he was surprisingly picky about how things tasted or looked. The guy had actually turned away a drink because it looked too green.
"I'll pay you… eventually. Just add this to the tab," replied the redhead with a flippant wave of his hand.
Tifa made a face, stopping the tap as the liquid foamed to the top. "And just when exactly is this 'eventually'?" she asked. "Because it's starting to sound really close to 'never.'"
"Hey, when I say I'll pay you, I'll pay you. I don't leave things unfinished." Here, Reno paused. "Well, not anymore anyway."
Tifa raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything. She placed the glass in front of Reno, watching as he sniffed the cup before taking a large gulp. And then another. And another. Finally, after he had drained the glass, Reno asked, "You just going to stand there and watch me drink?"
"Aren't there other bars for you to hit up?" returned Tifa.
"Yeah, sure, but none of their bartenders are as hot as you."
"You're such an ass." The words were half muttered to herself as Reno shot her a wide grin, clearly pleased with his retort. Choosing to end her conversation, or whatever it had been, with him, Tifa grabbed the mop from earlier and returned to the bucket of water she had been using to mop. She sloshed the mop in the bucket a few times, muttering all the while about Turks coming into her bar and making themselves at home without question.
It wasn't even just Reno that did it, although he was the more frequent visitor of his little crew. Elena came in ever couple of weeks to down a few glasses of wine, trying her hardest to appear sophisticated when both she and Tifa knew she'd probably be more comfortable guzzling down a beer. Regardless, the blonde Turk almost always had to offer up a comment or three about Tifa's lack of a love life. How Tifa hadn't turned around and slugged the younger girl, she'd never know.
Then there was Rude who came in every single Sunday while other people were pretending to be at church. And when the bar was technically closed. Tifa was no longer surprised to find him sitting at the counter when she managed to drag herself out of bed; she merely gave him a sigh and poured him his usual drink before opening the bar for business. She had yet to ask him how he got it. Turks didn't really need keys, and she figured she was better off not knowing which door or window was easiest to break through.
Tseng came around, too. He was almost as bad as Reno about ordering a drink and expecting Tifa to drop whatever other customers were already there. It wasn't that he was trying to be pompous, but that he was probably used to being served first. Or he just wanted everyone else in the bar to recognize that as the leader of the Turks he was still important to some degree. The fact that he had stopped a few brawls before she could get to the brawlers had earned him some brownie points… but only a few.
But Reno… Reno came almost daily, downed some drinks, paid every once in awhile (and never for the entire tab he had started up some while back), and, well… just acted like himself. Tifa couldn't really say what it was about his presence at the bar that prickled with her, but there was something. Maybe it was the fact that he always tried to use lame pickup lines on her. Or the fact that he used any number of pet names men had for women on her, as well as every other female in the bar. Or it could be the fact that he'd try to speak up on her behalf when someone asked her a question. It was almost like… well, like he had staked territory in the bar and felt he had more of a say in it than anyone else.
Or something extremely close to all of that.
In truth, Tifa knew it had more to do with the fact that she saw more of Reno than she did Cloud these days. It bothered her that Reno was inserting himself in her life as Cloud pulled his own self out of her life. She knew why Cloud was doing it – the demons in his mind had a tighter hold on him than she ever would, and frankly, Tifa was tired of trying to find a way around those demons. She had tried hard the first few months after the war, but now… now she almost accepted the fact that Cloud was gone, and that she needed to move on.
But where the hell did Reno factor into all of it? Was he trying to act like a replacement for Cloud or something? Or trying to distract her from the fact that Cloud wasn't around? If that was the case then Tifa needed to have a talk with whomever had put him up to it – either Cid or Barrett. Tifa didn't need anyone to be Cloud's replacement; she didn't even need Cloud. It hurt, yes, that he wasn't as much a part of her life as he had once been. But had he ever really been in her life? So much of their relationship had been created from the few memories she had ever had of him, and even then she had probably twisted half of them around to mean more than they really had. Tifa could get by on her own, much as she had before they had finally reconnected. So no one needed to worry about her now.
Tifa was so caught up in her thoughts that she didn't realize Reno had gotten out of his seat and had walked over to her until she felt him tug the mop handle out of her hands. Surprised, Tifa turned around, opening her mouth slightly to argue, but Reno moved first, bending his head down to plant his lips atop her own.
Tifa should have been too shocked to react, or so shocked that her fist should have come up and hit him of its own accord. But she didn't do that. Instead, Tifa had almost the exact opposite reaction. She melted into the kiss, her body twisting around so she could snake her arms around Reno's neck, pulling him closer as she hungrily kissed him back. She heard the mop clatter to the ground; she felt Reno's own arms wind their way around her waist, one hand planting itself on the small of her back while the other one moved upward to the base of her neck.
She had never really considered herself attracted to Reno before, and even as the kiss lengthened, she couldn't say that she was responding like this because of some hidden attraction to him. He was good looking in his own way, sure, but not in a way that had ever made Tifa catch her breath, or had ever sent her heart thumping a mile a minute. To be honest, she had really just never thought of Reno like that at all. But the kiss… well, there was a pull there. Maybe she had been alone for too long, or maybe the direction her thoughts had gone had reawakened some of that loneliness she felt in leading a rather mundane existence.
After all, Tifa had more or less settled into a routine. She got up, opened the bar, went about business, cleaned up before the after-work rush, closed the bar, showered, went to bed, and started all over the next day. No surprises, no excitement (other than breaking up arguments and fights). Life was normal again…
But how much normalcy do I really want? She thought to herself.
The question went unanswered, Tifa's mind blanking a bit as she felt her feet move half a step backward, little by little. Was it her moving, or Reno? It was hard to say. It was certainly him leaning her backwards as they bumped against a table, and it was definitely her pulling him downward with her, unwilling to stop the kiss.
Were those her hands moving to unbutton his shirt? And was that his trying to untie her apron? That was him running a hand beneath her own shirt and beneath her bra, and she was pretty sure it was her reaching down for the belt around his pants…
And that was definitely an embarrassed cough coming from somewhere behind them.
Reno froze first, his eyes glancing toward the doorway to see just who had interrupted him. Tifa began to untangle herself from Reno, her mind returning to the present as she tilted her head to glance at the disruption upside down.
"Cid." It took a beat for Tifa to realize who that was again, and from there she couldn't sit up fast enough, her face a bright red as she pushed Reno away from her and tried to straighten her shirt again. Reno seemed just as much in shock as she was, because it was the fall to the ground that knocked him back to his senses. As he scrambled to his feet, his hands re-buttoning his shirt and missing three of the buttons, he gave an awkward half-grin to the pilot now glaring at him.
"Highwind," he said.
"Reno." Cid sounded displeased, looking even more so as he planted his feet firmly in the doorway, his arms crossing his in front of his chest. "I told you to check up on her every so often. Not to seduce her."
"Is that what you think I was doing?" Reno gave a nervous half-laugh. "Definitely not seducing her. You can't seduce a woman like Tifa… I was just… well… you see… there was definitely some alcohol involved. And she was sloshing the mop around, and I tried telling her to stop, but she didn't hear me, and then, well… have you seen her lips? Up close, I mean? They were just… aw. They needed to be kissed, and I can't help myself when something needs to be done. –"
"So you kissed her," cut in Cid.
"And she kissed back." To Reno that seemed to be all he needed to explain what had just happened, but Tifa could only cringe as Cid glowered even more. "I-I didn't force her," he added helplessly.
The redhead didn't need to be told twice. He moved quickly around the table, narrowly avoiding Cid as the older man lunged toward him. He danced around the fallen mop and bucket, aiming for the door. All the while, Tifa watched from her perch atop the table, still trying to recollect her bearings.
She was brought back to the present again as Reno came around the table a second time, cupping Tifa from behind the neck to deliver a second kiss, and a grin. "Let's finish this another time, aye, Love?"
Tifa couldn't help but smile a little, not saying anything as Reno jumped away and toward the door once more, Cid seconds behind him. She could hear Cid yelling a slew or profanities after the Turk as he chased him down the street, his yells fading as they moved further away. Tifa's smile broadened ever so slightly as she pushed herself off the table to retrieve the fallen mop.
She really didn't know what had just happened, but she felt like a new chapter had begun. And for once, the mundane routine she led didn't seem so boring anymore.
A/N – Yeah, I don't even know what this is, or why. It just is.