Chapter 2

Nobody's Fault but Mine

"Reno..."

"In the flesh babe," Reno declared, a smirk gracing his face shamelessly. He moved from out of the shadows and looked down at the younger individual before him. Her face looked the same as it had a year ago, sans babyfat and slightly protruding cheekbones. His gaze traveled down lower and noticed no real changes. Still the same skinny leggy brat.

Yuffie took in the sight before her and finally realized this was no joke, no dream, it was all too real and those sentiments caused an explosion of fury. Her small hand swung back and collided with the Turk's face leaving behind a swelling sensation for both candidates to deal with.

"Wow, happy to see you too, brat."

"What the hell are you doing here?" Yuffie shouted angrily, "It's been more than a year, Reno! No call. No letter. No anything! I just wake up one morning and you're gone. I never hear from you again. I had to see your picture in the paper to know you went back to Shinra! You have no fucking consideration for anyone!"

Reno watched as crimson painted his ex's face and remembered back to their trysts. He knew it was the anger that fueled previous passionate encounters they had. The anger and the possibility of getting caught by their teammates. It was a thrill. He would never openly say but she also wasn't that bad. There were times when Yuffie actually made him laugh. Hardly any women made Reno laugh, at least not genuinely.

"Even now you have nothing to say to me," Yuffie shouted, placing her hands on her narrow hips, "You haven't changed at all. After a year, you're still the same arrogant dumbass!"

"Can you shut up for a second?" Reno explained, feeling his temples pounding incessantly, "We do need to talk but it's not about us."

"We have nothing to talk about. Do what it is you do best and just disappear."

The Wutain turned the other way and began to make a proud exit, thoughts of her sky high burger returning as her stomach rumbled in lust.

"You're not getting out of here that easy. I just pulled a lot of bullshit to come and see you so you're gonna stay put and listen!"

Reno grabbed the thin wrist preparing to escape with the rest of Yuffie Kisaragi. He held onto it earnestly and ceased her from moving any further. His eyes burned down on her and noticed the endearing innocence, which he would never admit affected his own mentality about purity, had disappeared. In no doubt, it had been his own fault. Reno had done this to plenty of girls he had bedded so that absence had not left behind much afterthought.

"Let go, jackass!"

"Can we set aside any hard feelings and just talk minus insults?"

"You walked out on me, you have no right to make up the rules! I..."

The red head grabbed his determined hostage's other wrist and flung her up against the brick wall, careful not to cause any damage, "Listen to me, Yuffie! I came to find you because you really don't have all that much time."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Yokimoto wants you and your little group of unmasked crusaders dead! He gave us - me, Elena, and Rude - the mission today for two weeks. Two weeks, if you're not dead, it's my ass and job on the line."

The small brunette stared up at her enemy, the ability to speak leaving her list of skills briefly. She knew something like this was bound to happen sooner or later. Shinra and its leaders were ruthless in achieving its masochistic goals. Plus, they didn't have hitmen just for tacky decoration purposes.

Without thinking any further, Yuffie brought her leg back and collided it right between the taller man's legs rewarding the ninja with a yelp of pain and loosening grip. She yanked her hands free, pushed her assailant back, and made a break for it. Her legs burned from the harsh vibrations of her stomping feet against the concrete floor. Mere minutes before she could get back into the comforting reality of Kalm, Yuffie was yet again jerked back into the shadow's embrace.

"Get off," she screamed, thrashing her arms around and trying desperately to escape her future murderer's grasp. In a repetitive motion, Yuffie was lightly slammed back against the wall but this time instead of being pinned and receiving the verbal thrashing on her life, Reno placed his lips on hers gently at first but then deepening it with passion soon after.

Yuffie melted into the Turk's lean body, her hands placed above her head locked with his own atop for precaution's sake. She wanted to push back, give him another knee to the groin surprise but the action's desire dissipated into the escalating pleasure of the sinful moment. This was wrong, she knew it, but then again the thief was never really much for rules.

-

"Scarlet...where are you going?"

The vixen continued to put on her clothes, ignoring the prying question of one of her many lovers. Even if this one treated her the best, which was the truth in the matter, she could not attach herself to any particular person. Scarlet had to have a choice, she would not subject herself to the slavery love ultimately condemns. Freedom was her main priority, not the warm fuzzy feelings love and infatuation were rumored to possess.

"I'm going to see Reno."

"Reno?"

"Yes, Reeve, Reno. You know, attitude with red hair and a slouch."

Reeve smirked at her sarcasm. It may have been cold at times but there was always that underlining humor that made it somewhat enjoyable.

"I know who Reno is but why do you have to go see him? It's late."

She sighed knowing the impact his reaction would carry. The truth would set someone free, or the saying went, but not without driving someone mad on the way to pure enlightenment.

"Don't ask and I won't have to feed you any lies."

Reeve quirked a dark eyebrow up, his eyes never leaving the back of the girl who his heart pounded and went out to, "Then don't lie to me. Tell me the truth."

He was pretty sure where this was going but needed to hear it directly from her mouth to his ears. Reeve needed to know the truth for wondering would drive him far more insane than the jealousy of the thoughts provoked from the topic.

"Why? It'll only drive you insane in the end," Scarlet demanded, violet eyes looking back curiously.

"Just tell me."

"We don't have a relationship so I'm not going to hide it any longer or feel bad for the effect it's gonna have. Reno and I have been seeing each other...and that's where I'm going, to see him right now."

Reeve sat back for the longest time, his thoughts jumbled together like puzzle pieces dying to be connected. He thought of Reno and Scarlet together. He thought of Reno touching Scarlet in ways only he should be able to touch her in. Passionate temper flared as a normally healthy heart pumped green into a cold bloodstream. Jealousy coursed like death into his body, killing any love within and replacing it with blatant hatred.

"Why are you doing this?" Reeve hissed, grabbing Scarlet's wrist roughly and yanking the woman back into him, "I gave you everything! I gave you things that prick doesn't have it in him to express. I treated you like a queen!"

Scarlet snatched her arm away from his tight grasp and quickly jumped up from the bed directly into safety, "I'm not a queen. We're not in love so stop acting like we are!"

"You're right," Reeve declared, his voice rising with every spoken word, "You're no queen, you're a fucking slut! Get out of my sight, whore! Get the fuck out!"

Calculating eyes fell sadly upon her lover, soft lips parting and closing again rhythmically in desperation of finding the right words to say. She wanted to say so much, wanted to prove that his expressed emotions and kindness were not in vain. No one had ever shown the compassion to her that this man had. Her feet moved forwards, outstretching a hand of comfort to the shattered heart before her.

"Get out," Reeve bellowed, warm brown eyes frosting over with glazing tears of fury, "Just get out! I don't want you here anymore. You're a fucking omen, Scarlet. I never want to see you again."

Scarlet sighed, lowering her arm and turning around without a second glance, "Good-bye, Reeve. Please don't hate me. If I could, you would be someone I would easily...love."

"Get out..."

The door opened slowly, shining unwelcomed light into the dim room. After a short pause, the door opened wide, letting out what it previously let in, and clicking shut short moments later. Darkness, yet again, reigned.

Reeve scrubbed at his eyes, staring at the immobile door, in a way hoping it would open and reveal a very apologetic Scarlet. In another way, he was glad the door remained closed, his hopes residing in the harlot taking a painful plunge down the stairs. He cursed himself for his stupidity. Tseng had been right, he was too damn soft for his own good.

His jaw clenched, blinding fury taking over his entire body ruthlessly. There was no control, he was a pawn to his own emotional downfall and that only caused him to become angrier. Without warning, Reeve got out of bed and knocked over everything on his night stand. The porcelain lamp crashed and shattered all over the floor. Important documentation joined the shards of glass against their will.

Reeve grabbed the sheets and ripped them off before tossing the mattress over. The bureau, in all its fine wood crafting glory, was next in line for abuse. The mind warped zombie, with surprisingly inhuman strength, held onto the side and pushed the heavy object over without a moment's hesitation. It fell over with a loud thump, wood chips flying all over as proof of illicit violence.

Rabid eyes searched the room, almost seeming to sober up when noticing the horror he would be forced to clean up himself sooner or later. Reeve had never truly known himself to possess the darkness necessary to achieve this type of malice. He had always been the bunny rabbit in a cage full of tigers and bears, a cage full of hunters. The nice guy who, ironically, always finished last.

The newly appointed hunter sunk to the ground, evaluating his life to be nothing more than oppressing. He was the car in the junkyard. The can in the recycle bin. But no more. Reeve Marigoto would no longer play the part of passive. For once, he would be the cause of action.

He should thank Reno for this sudden revelation...on second thought, Reeve pondered with a smile perking up on his once solemn face, a thank you is definitely in order.

-

"She's not in her room," Tifa exclaimed coming down the stairs and eyeing everyone in the nicely decorated room.

"Don't tell me she went out alone," Cloud muttered, balling up a fist and then releasing, "That girl never listens!"

"I'm sure she's fine. Yuffie can handle herself, at least she's old enough to start," Cid declared, removing the cigarette from his mouth and blowing out excess carbon monoxide.

"I'm going out looking for her," Tifa stated, moving towards the coat rack for a jacket to wear.

"Tifa..."

"No, Cloud! I'm going out looking for her, she could be in trouble."

Cloud narrowed cerulean eyes on his closest friend, not moving from his position on the recliner, "If Yuffie wants to be on this team, she has to understand the concepts of following rules. She's a loose canon, she only wants to do what she wants without regard for others!"

"Being a part of this team means we have to look out for each other because we are all the other has."

"Don't be so naive, Tifa. We are our own best ally, in the end, we fight for our own lives. Yuffie doesn't understand that, she thinks we're always gonna be right there saving her ass when she needs it. I'm tired of it, she needs to learn that there won't always be a safety net."

Tifa stared in wide eyed wonder, freezing in place as though time had ceased to exist. She couldn't believe her ears, after all these years and experience, Cloud was still the same proud, standoffish individual that walked into seventh heaven that fateful night so long ago.

"You know what, I never told you this because I had too much respect for you but now after hearing all this I just suddenly got the feeling in my spine back. How can you say something like that after all those times you pulled your I'm not Cloud Strife, I'm just a puppet hypnosis act? We saved your ass on that and so many other occasions. If it weren't for us, you'd still be Sephiroth's bitch with that promising attractive afterlife glow. So don't you dare sit there with your we're all alone in the end spiel because it's bull. I'm going out looking for Yuffie, if you wanna come, great, I could really use the extra help. If not, all I can say is - you're a jackass, Cloud Strife!"

The younger of the two blondes could do nothing but watch the shapely figure make an exit, the door slamming shut signifying her disappearing act success.

"Wow...what got into her?" Cid asked, not bothering to replace a stubbed out cigarette with a fresh new stick of nicotine.

Cloud didn't bother to answer, all he did was repeat the female's action by grabbing his jacket and leaving by the same door the fuming brunette had.

Cid Highwind was left alone to light up another cigarette to further blacken his lungs. He sighed, trying to take in what had just occurred, "Everyone's gone crazy."

-

"Is this all you can find on Reno Perablo?"

The small blonde glanced at her boss occasionally through naturally averting eyes, chewing her bottom lip nervously. He had always made her feel extremely uncomfortable ever since that first day he said, "You're hired." There was something menacing behind his professional exterior that she didn't trust to be alone with.

"Yes, sir. That was all the information I could find on him. Anything else?"

President Yokimoto looked his secretary up and down before smirking, "No, Sarah, that will be all."

Sarah nodded, turning around and practically dashing out of the tense office in relief. His eyes probed her enough to cut an impressive circumference through her small body. The innocent eye candy now understood first hand what her friend Sofia, who also worked for Shinra, had meant about their new boss and his perverse fascination with female employees.

President Yokimoto continued to watch as the younger woman made an exit. One thing Reno had in common with Yokimoto was apparently his preferred Lolita complex. The younger, it seemed, the more active and apparently better choice when it came to bedding material.

Frowning, the president looked from the door to his desk. On the surface laid folders on the development of one of his best Turks from childhood to the man he was today. Any secrets or scandals, murders, basic statistics were bestowed within this very folder. He hadn't bothered to look through the contents until now, hearing from reliable sources that Reno Perablo was your best man if you wanted something done quickly and efficiently.

If those reliable sources were still around, Yokimoto would have them executed without trial in an extremely slow and painful fashion.

He flipped through the first file and saw pictures and stats of his childhood into his teenage years. From a skinny runt to a taller skinny runt. There wasn't anything all that horribly scandalous that the president could use against Reno. Basic murders, assaults, and even arson but that wasn't anything plausible, hell, those hardly endearing characteristics were the reason Shinra made the spitfire a Turk to begin with.

"Damn..."

Yokimoto slammed the folder shut and ran a hand through his thick hair anxiously. A Turk for ten years and not one incriminating thing he could use to nail the loud moth. This was surely a nightmare that far exceeded the nightmare Reno had originally inflicted on the company curator.

An assertive knock sounded at the door causing the bitter man to awaken from his mental turmoil of the hour, deprecating thoughts leaving his mind momentarily.

"Who is it?"

"It's Reeve, sir," came a muffled voice from behind the barrier separating the two men from achieving eye to eye contact.

"Enter."

Reeve walked in and revealed without second thought how truly a mess he was. His normally happy go lucky personality was no longer evident in currently tempestuous brown eyes. Reeve was also not dressed in his assigned navy blue suit but instead, jeans and a wrinkled t-shirt that appeared to not have been a part of his clean assortment of laundry.

"What is it, Reeve? I'm busy so this better be good."

The tall Shinra employee said nothing more, only threw down a thin file marked CLASSIFIED across the manilla cover. Malicious eyes focused on the man across from him as silence snaked evilly through the cracks of an unwelcoming room.

"You're looking for information to take Reno down. This should do more than suffice."

President Yokimoto looked from the folder to his disheveled company. There wasn't enough of a conscience to ask what was wrong, why there was a foreign scowl instead of a usually registered smile. Greed laced into the crimson of his blood and all he could see was the possibilities this folder possessed.

"Thank you, Reeve. You can go now."

"I'd prefer you to open the file first, sir."

"What does it matter?" the businessman asked quirking an eyebrow up suspiciously, narrowing his eyes in desperation to unmask true intentions.

"It doesn't. I just wanted to see if this is what you wanted, what you needed in your crusade," Reeve answered, not bothering to exchange expressions for the one he had, he felt, was convincing enough.

The new head of Shinra didn't say another word; he lowered the eyebrow and proceeded to open, in his own twisted mentality, heaven's gate. Eyes widened in horrifying disbelief, veins making another cameo on tanned temples for what he saw caused him to nearly tear the evidence in half.

"Is this a joke?" Yokimoto shouted, grabbing a photograph of Reno and a member of AVALANCHE at a cafe obviously not against public displays of affection, "Where and how did you get this?"

"There were suspicions of Reno and Yuffie Kisaragi engaging in activities which would be considered treason during the time of Shinra's rebirth. Vice President Medina hired an investigation and came up with those pictures. How they ended up in my hands is simple. As you know, Medina was stealing funding for Shinra and dipping a little too often in the corporation's account therefore causing his permanent leave. When Medina was booted, I was assigned to clean out his office and came across these pictures. The affair had long since ended so I kept them and didn't show any information unless the affair was yet again to resurface. I am showing this to you now because I firmly believe Reno deserves...his just rewards."

Yokimoto fumed while looking down at the photographs once again, his eyes only picking up red pigments. In his paranoia, he automatically imagined the worst, the two still together and planning to bring Shinra to the ground from the inside. It was already apparent AVALANCHE wanted the company gone, now that they had a member, a Turk, on their side, it would be far more simple to accomplish the task.

He crumbled the picture up in his tightening fist before slamming it down. The president was made a complete fool of and the realization of that simple thought caused an unsaddled temper to flare twice as angrily than before.

"Get Rude and Elena in my office first thing tomorrow morning!"

Reeve just nodded his head once and turned his back to make a quiet departure. A smile spread across his face; Shinra wasn't well known for ends meeting fairly but this time justice would finally be achieved. Even friends needed a taste of their own bitter medicine.

-

Scarlet walked down the hallway of Shinra's dormitories, a scowl of disappointment painting her face a shade no amount of makeup could hide. This was the second time Reno had flaked on her and it was beginning to become a very annoying trait the redhead possessed. She sighed, brushing a strand of curly hair from her line of vision. The hauty woman was considering a permanent severance from the Turk but sadly realized that once the moment came, she would cave.

He would put on the charm, nibble the earlobe a bit.

She would purposely melt away any common sense preventing stupidity.

And there they'd be, in bed again, right back to square one.

"I'm gonna kill him," Scarlet murmured to herself, continuing to walk until she was within the familiarity of her own apartment style dorm. It was a rough night and all she wanted to do was sink herself into a nice hot bath, washing away all insecurity and anger.

Approaching closer to her door, piercing violet eyes noticed something placed carefully above the knob. She couldn't tell exactly what it was from the distance and the curiosity only caused the sassy weapon's expert to walk more lenient towards a stride instead of steps.

She reached out and grabbed the quadratic piece of paper, as soon as she was mere footsteps away from entering her quarters. Eyes widened at the sight of Reno with the skinny twit of AVALANCHE. Full lips twitched in fury as her body heat and blood pressure increased considerably.

"I'M GONNA KILL HIM!"

-

"What are you doing?"

Reno continued to caress the younger woman with his lips, feeling her body shudder against him. He ignored the question, harmones causing a ripple effect resulting in a deafening sensation. Calloused hands explored her body hungrily as he replaced lips on her collarbone.

"Reno, stop," Yuffie breathed, pushing the persistent courtier back mainly focusing on whatever strength and resolve she had left within.

"Isn't that what you were pissing and moaning about?" Reno asked, placing his hands up on the wall to remove any temptation of relocating his hands on soft skin.

"You're about a year too late."

Silence filled the claustrophobic area as the two stared at each other to find some kind of solace. So much was meant to be said yet nothing proved the words were deserved. Yuffie proceeded to open her mouth until a familiar voice cut her off immediately.

"Yuffie, her name is Yuffie. She's about 5'3, skinny, brown hair."

"Oh no...that's Tifa! Get lost, Turk," Yuffie hissed, pushing the taller of the two back as her dark eyes darted to the side to make sure there were no unwelcomed visitors.

"Hmm...Tifa, one of your AVALANCHE cronies?"

"So?"

"Shit! What great fucking fortune! She's coming to me, making my job a whole lot easier."

The small brunette pushed Reno back with enough strength to knock him over without remorse, "Get out of here, asshole! I mean it. If Tifa finds me here with you I've got more explaining to do than I'd like to elaborate on."

"We need to talk."

"Not now!"

"When?"

"After I get the lobotomy Tifa's gonna give me when she finds me alone in a dark alley with a Turk."

"Sugar, all you have to do is tell me when and where we can talk about something I figured would be beneficiary to you and the troops," Reno explained, lighting up a cigarette he had previously plucked from his jacket lapel, "and poof, I disappear into thin air until our next rendeavouz. Now I can't disappear because I don't know exactly when to reappear."

"Yuffie. You in here?"

"No, no..Cloud," Yuffie proclaimed, running a nervous hand through her hair while shooting her smug ex a venomous look," Fine. Friday, same time, Yum Yum Diner. Now go!"

Reno smiled after getting his way, jumping up to his feet and looking his "enemy" up and down one last time, "Pleasure seeing you again, darling."

"I can definitely assure you the pleasure was all yours."

"Always so linguistically polite."

"Wouldn't want to disappoint when it comes to insulting you. Now get lost," Yuffie spat, pushing Reno away with one hand.

"Now, just to verify, we're meeting again on Friday, right?"

"Yes!"

"Today's Thursday so that makes Friday tomorrow."

"Thanks for the update, would you like to brush me up on my numbers too?" Yuffie wheezed bitterly while pushing her iron footed annoyance back and away from discovery.

"Actually, I would. I have my doubts of your ability to tell time so I think I better ask your do-gooder tribe to give you a few lessons. Wouldn't want ignorance to be the excuse for you not showing up."

"I'll be there! Now get out of here!"

Reno smirked and winked before walking off into the shadows as promised, "See ya tomorrow then, love."

"Yuffie?"

"In here," Yuffie shouted, still staring into the shadows that her former lover sashayed so incredibly cocky into. It had been one year since he disappeared from her life and yet, he still shakes her up the same way he had when they first started seeing each other.

"We've been looking all over for you," Tifa exclaimed as soon as she met up with the ninja, "What are you doing in here?"

"...Sightseeing..."

"We're going back to the house," Cloud stated, cutting short the sarcastic remarks but not without shooting his comrade a look that lacked mercy, "We'll talk when we get back."

The eldest of the three turned his back and walked out of the alley with his childhood friend right behind him. Onyx eyes looked up at the sky and sighed, "Reno, this better be worth it."