Chapter Ten


Reno woke with a start in the darkened hospital room and was surprised to find himself in bed and to see that Tifa was lying on her side beside him, gazing at him with a contented smile on her face. A relieved smile came to his face at the sight of her open burgundy eyes. "For a second there, I was afraid you waking up was just a dream. But... er... I don't remember um... how'd I get in bed?" he asked, relief turning into confusion on his face.

Tifa laughed lightly in amusement at his befuddlement before replying, "Elena carried you over here. You looked so uncomfortable slumped over in that chair. You really thought it was a dream?"

"Well, you waking up's kinda been a recurring dream lately. Then I'd wake up and find you're still out..."

"Really? Well, guess I'll have to prove you're awake," she said before leaning over and kissing him deeply. "There, now, you still think you're in a dream?"

"Well, I'm not usually the type to use over-used metaphors, but yeah, that kinda felt like one," he replied with a grin, drawing a chuckle from her. "Had dreams like that all the time before you got knocked out..."

"Well, maybe you'll have another now, because you need to rest more."

"Don't worry, I'm fine," he insisted.

"No, you need to catch up on your sleep. Don't worry, I'll still be here when you wake up. I've just been dozing off and on, so I'll probably still be awake when you wake back up."

"Hey, if you can't sleep, why not take advantage of it?" he asked before planting a light kiss on her lips.

"Later," she insisted, finding that it took quite a bit of willpower to pull back from his kiss. She then pulled his head down to her uninjured shoulder and began softly stroking the back of his head with one hand and rubbing his back with the other. "We'll have plenty of time for that later. Then we can pick up where Cloud interrupted us."

After thinking back for a moment, a grin came to his face. "Oh yeah... That guy's got the worst timing ever, you know?" His hands found the opening in the back of her hospital gown and began to massage her bare back as he stated, "I saw a rubber glove dispenser on the wall over there. There's this trick I know, where you can cut one open and make the best dental dam on the planet. Cause you leave the thumb right in the middle." His grin widened when he felt her pulse increase at his offer. "Why wait?"

"Stop tempting me, Reno. I said later. Wait till we're somewhere more private."

"Worried about a nurse walking in on us? Fair enough," he conceded. He then relaxed and simply enjoyed the sensation of lying wrapped around the woman he loved. They lay quietly together for some time before his breathing resumed the slow, even rhythm that told her that he had finally fallen back asleep. She spent the next several hours thinking and occasionally dozing off for short periods. Each time she awoke, she would smile down at the sleeping redhead that her arms were wrapped around and resume contemplating what their shared future might have in store for them. Eventually, she decided that it was a reasonable enough hour to check out and pressed the call button for the nurse.

"Can I help you?" the nurse on duty asked through the small speaker next to the button.

"I'm ready to start checking out now," Tifa replied.

"I'll let the doctors know. It could be a while before they get to you, though."

"Well, could you send breakfast up while I'm waiting?"

"Sure. I'll be up in a few minutes with a menu."

"Hold on, do you have French toast?" Tifa asked, wanting to circumvent the delay of waiting for a menu.

"Yes, we do."

"Alright, send up two of those and two cups of coffee."

"Yes, Ma'am, I'll call it in. It should be up in a few minutes."

"Thanks," Tifa replied. She then resumed thinking, alternating between serious plans for the future and fantasies about what might happen the next time Reno and herself have some real privacy. After nearly an hour and a half, breakfast finally arrived. The nurse delivering it turned the room's lights on, then cast a disapproving gaze on the couple sharing a bed. However, she didn't say anything, deciding that a celebrity who saved the planet could be granted a little leeway in hospital policy.

"Here's your breakfast, Ma'am," the nurse announced as she placed the two trays from the hospital cafeteria on a large wheeled tray and rolled it into place over the bed. "I brought you your medicine too," she stated, gesturing to a small plastic cup on one tray that had a pill in it. "Is there anything else I can get you?"

"Not unless there's some way you can get me out of here quicker."

"Sorry Ma'am, nothing I can do about that. A doctor should be along soon," the nurse stated apologetically before stepping out of the room. Tifa then pressed a button that raised the upper portion of the bed, lifting her and Reno into a sitting position. When this failed to awaken him, she held one of the styrofoam coffee cups under his nose and smiled at the small triumph when he began to stir.

"Ah, another fun wake-up call," he remarked before taking the cup and sipping the steaming black liquid. "Too bad it's hospital coffee, though," he joked, making an exaggerated disgusted face at the taste.

Tifa laughed lightly at his joke before responding, "At least they brought plenty of cream and sugar." She then picked up the pill and swallowed it with a small glass of water that was also on the tray.

"So, what've they got you on?" he casually asked while pouring a large amount of cream and sugar into his coffee.

"Nothing new. I've been on this for years, for my herpes. It makes the outbreaks less severe and happen less often. I guess I've been off it while I was out, cause I'm in the middle of a pretty bad one," she replied, watching carefully from habit to gauge his reaction.

"Does it hurt?" he asked, concern plain on his features.

"How do you think I know I'm having an outbreak?"

"Oh. Sorry, guess that was kinda a dumbass question..." he apologized.

"That's alright," she said, smiling softly. "Anyways, I've had enough outbreaks over the years that I've become pretty good at tuning out the pain and itching. You know, you've gone on a lot about how I've amazed you, but lately, you've really returned the favor."

"Well, hey, I'm in love," he replied nonchalantly. "I guess an amazing feeling like that's good for inspiring amazing stuff or something."

"I've had guys tell me they're in love with me and then, not five minutes later, call me damaged goods after finding out about the herpes, then just walk out of my life. I even had one jump back when I told him, like he was afraid he was going to catch it from touching my hand. Even the ones who wouldn't tell me to my face still treated me like damaged goods. Every guy I've ever told has... except you."

"Yeah, well, they were probably just faking being in love, trying to get some. But this's the real deal. Besides, you accepted me, shitty past and all, and that kinda... well, that really means a lot to me. You ain't damaged goods, you're the amazing woman I love more than anything. I know that sounds really damn cheesy, but... it's how I feel."

"And that's an amazing thing to hear. I'd gotten so cynical over the years that I thought I'd never have anyone say anything like that to me, or make me feel the way you do... You thought you were being cheesy, but I used to dream of someone saying... you know, making me feel like this, almost seems too good to be true... Not that I think it's not true or, er... Anyway, our breakfast's getting cold," she said, suddenly feeling a bit awkward.

"Cold hospital food can't taste much worse than hot," he joked, drawing a chuckle from her as they began eating. "Hey, I managed to stop smoking again," he announced after eating his first piece of toast.

"Good, I'm glad to hear that," she congratulated him, putting her fork down to give him a quick hug.

"Yeah, well, I didn't have much choice. Rude took my smokes when I tried to light up in the waiting room when you were in surgery. I didn't want to leave you long enough to get more and I'd have to step outside to burn one, so I kinda ended up just sitting here, going through withdrawal. Heh, definitely not a pretty sight. Think everyone wanted to put me in a coma for a while there..."

"Good thing that's over. Think you're eating fast enough?" she teased when she noticed he'd already finished eating when she was barely halfway through. "I'm surprised you didn't choke on that."

"Hey, now that the rest of my sense of taste's coming back, I don't wanna spend any more time tasting hospital food than I have to."

She chuckled a bit at his logic before resuming her meal. After finishing, she picked up the bedside phone and dialed the number for the Wutian embassy. "Yes, this is Tifa Lockheart. I need to talk to Minister Kisiragi." She then waited to be connected. "Hey, Yuffs. The nurse says it shouldn't be too long until a doctor comes by and I can check out. Alright, great, I'll see you in a bit," Tifa said before hanging up. "Hey, do you know how to get the sides down on this bed?" she asked Reno after he finished his breakfast. "I kinda have to use the bathroom."

"I dunno," he said after looking at one of the plastic guardrails. He then climbed out of the bed and looked at it from the other side. "Well, onto plan B," he announced before reaching over and gathering her up into his arms. He then took a few steps towards the bathroom and lowered her so she was standing on the cold tiles. "I'll be right out here, call if you need anything," he offered as she walked into the bathroom.

"Thanks," she replied before closing the door. Several minutes later, the sound of running water could be heard and she then re-appeared in the doorway with a concerned expression on her face. "Reno? This may sound weird, but I want to see how bad the damage is. But when I reach back to untie my gown, it feels like the stiches're getting pulled too much. So, um, could you help me with this?" she asked.

"A... alright," he replied, trying to keep calm in the face of the unexpected request. /C'mon, man, be professional. You've been in her position often enough, waking up after a mission gone bad, wanting to see how bad you'd been hurt. Besides, you won't be seeing much more than you saw when you were trying to stop her from bleeding to death, so save it for later/ he silently told himself as he followed her into the bathroom, then stood behind her at the mirror. He slowly untied the gown and helped her remove it, revealing a line of stitches that started at her left shoulder, ran across her left breast, and created an 'x' with the old scar Sephiroth had given her at Nibleheim before finally ending at the top of her right thigh.

"I didn't think it's be so... much..." she said, stunned at what she saw in the mirror.

"Hey, the stitches make it look worse than it really is," Reno reassured her. "And far as I'm concerned, you're still beautiful, Tifa, even with the stitches in." He then planted a line of light kisses up her neck to prove his words.

"Thanks, Reno. Could you help me get this back on?"

"Sure," he replied before helping her put the hospital gown back on and re-tying it for her. "Hey, I'm sure it'll heal up fine, nothing you need to worry about."

"I hope you're right. Hey, is this your toothbrush?"

"Yeah."

"Mind if I borrow it? My breath must be horrible after being out for so long."

He smirked at this. "Well, I wasn't going to say anything about the coma-breath, but now that you mention it, yeah, go ahead and borrow it."

"Heh, like your morning-breath's much better," she retorted with a smile before reaching for the toothbrush.

"I never claimed it was," he replied, still smirking. "So hand it over when you're done." After both had brushed their teeth, they walked back out to the bed. He then lifted her back into the bed and climbed back in beside her.

"So, have any nice dreams last night?" she asked him.

"Nice's kinda an understatement," he replied, looking her in the eyes. "It was you and me on a secluded beach."

"Sounds fun. What were we doing?"

"Oh, you know... Making out, then making love, but you probably don't want to hear the details till we're somewhere more private," he told her with a roguish grin.

"I'll be looking forward to it," she said with a seductive smile. "I wonder if there's any secluded beaches near Junon?"

"I'm sure we could find one. You really wanna act out my little fantasy?"

"Of course. It sounds like fun, and besides, I want you. The only things stopping me from taking what I want right now are my infection and the lack of privacy. And there's that look again. It looks cute on you," she observed after her words brought a goofy grin to Reno's face.

"Heh, well, you know, back when I was in the Turks, I had this habit of checking out early whenever I got stuck in a hospital. Skipped the paper work and everything, drove Tseng nuts."

"You mean you'd sneak out?"

"As soon as I could walk again. Over the years, I kinda became an expert on it. So, if you want some privacy, I could arrange it."

"No, I want to check out right, make sure there's nothing else wrong with me. Besides, there's still my outbreak. Hey... you know... even with condoms, there's still a small chance you'll catch it one day, you know that, right?" she asked.

"Yeah. Not that big a deal," he replied with a smile while looking her in the eyes.

"So you're fine with knowing you'll probably catch this eventually and be stuck with it for the rest of your life?"

"You're worth it," he told her with sincerity in his voice. "And hey, there's plenty of other stuff we can do while we're waiting for the sores to fade. Like this." That said, he leaned over and kissed her. This time, she made no move to pull away. Instead, she wrapped her arms around him and pulled him closer. Losing themselves in their passion, they lost track of time and their surroundings, focusing only on one another.

"Hey, what'd we do to deserve getting mooned?" Yuffie jokingly asked from the doorway quite a while later.

Tifa was mortified at the reminder that she was only wearing a backless hospital gown, a fact that had slipped her mind when she had straddled Reno in the heat of the moment. Blushing furiously, she reached back and pulled her sheets up over her hips. "Couldn't you knock?" she asked.

"We did," Elena replied. "Twice. We thought you two were sleeping or something. I guess it's safe for you to come in now, Rude."

"Hey," Rude said as he walked in, "I heard the news, congratulations. You two decide when you'll have the wedding yet?"

"Thanks, man," Reno replied with a wide grin. "We haven't really talked about when yet, gotta get Tif' here all mended up first."

Yuffie asked, "So, did the doctor see you yet?"

Still blushing, Tifa turned to look at her visitors before replying, "No, we've been waiting all morning." She then turned and slid off Reno's lap, careful not to flash anyone as she sat down next to him. He kept one arm around her as she did this, pulling her close as she settled down. Looking over her visitors, Tifa noted that Elena and Yuffie were in their work clothes, fitted black business suits, although neither woman was wearing her tie at the moment. Standing a bit behind them, Rude was dressed much more casually, in old jeans and a t-shirt that bore the faded logo of Rabid Moogle Whisky.

"We brought you two some clothes and stuff," Yuffie offered, holding up three full plastic bags as the trio claimed seats around the bed.

"I probably should wait until after the doctor gets here, otherwise I get the feeling I'd have to change back into the gown for the exam."

"Yeah, probably," Yuffie agreed as she set the bags aside. "We brought you two some lunch too."

Elena handed over a paper bag from the Sub Pen and two cans of cola to Tifa and Reno. "We picked up a behemoth & bacon and a Costan club, both with everything on them."

"Everything?" Reno asked, pausing in reaching into the bag to direct a suspicious glance at Elena.

"They left the olives off the behemoth sub," she replied.

"Good. Guess this one's yours then, it's got the little bastards all over it," he said as he handed a sub to Tifa.

"So, I guess you two've been having all sorts of fun while we've been gone," Elena teased with a grin.

"Hey, you know me," Reno stated nonchalantly as he removed the remaining sub from the bag.

"Yeah," Elena replied. "Probably had so much fun that I'll be an unofficial aunt again before long. I guess since you two're getting hitched, you'll probably start a family soon enough. Reno's gone on about how he'd like to have kids someday before, so he'll probably talk you into having a few. You two ever need a sitter so you can get some private time after having kids or need anything else like that, I'm sure Rude or I'll be able to help."

Reno donned his best poker face and replied, "Yeah, thanks for the offer, but you're kinda jumping the gun here. So, I miss anything exciting outside?"

"Not really," Elena answered. "Why'd you change the subject so suddenly?"

"No reason."

Tifa decided that it would come out eventually and stated, "It's alright, I don't mind. He's trying to change the subject because that's a bit of a sensitive topic for me. See, I can't have children."

"Oh," Elena stated in surprise. "Sorry."

"It's fine, I'm used to it," Tifa said, forcing a smile.

"You know," Reno suggested, "we could always adopt."

"You'd do that?"

"Hell, yeah. We both like kids, this way we could take in one or two, have our own happy little family and all that."

Tifa closed her eyes for a moment and considered the possibility with a smile on her face. "Yeah, I'd like that... Not right away, of course. Maybe sometime after our honeymoon."

"Sounds fun," Reno added before lightly kissing her on the lips.

Yuffie smirked and joked, "Almost sickening, how lovey-dovey those two're getting," drawing chuckles from the two ex-Turks who'd accompanied her.

Reno opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by a knock at the door. "Excuse me," a skinny man in a brown suit and matching tie said as he stepped into the room and held up a badge. "I'm Detective Zenigata from the Junon Police Department and I'd like to have a word with Ms. Lockheart."

"What's this about?" Tifa asked, lowering her half-eaten sandwich.

"I'm just here to ask if you want to press charges against Mr. Strife, ma'am."

"I didn't know you could put someone in a coma on trial."

"We can't. But there's no statute of limitations on attempted murder. So if you say yes, we can file it away along with the video from the ATM camera and put him away when he wakes up."

"I don't know..." Tifa said with a thoughtful expression. "Something seemed a little... wrong about him that night. I've never seen him that drunk before, and he only ever drank heavily when he was really upset about something."

"You think he was pissed about us?" Reno asked.

"Could be, but in any case, I think he's probably been punished enough."

Reno looked surprised by this. "What, you're going to just forgive him?"

"Sending him to prison seems pointless, it won't bring back what he's taken. I might even forgive him if he's apologetic, although I doubt I can ever consider him a friend again. Or maybe I'll kick him again when he wakes up, I don't know. You all probably think I'm being stupid for being too forgiving."

"Well," Reno stated, "being that I'm another guy you were too forgiving towards, I'm not gonna make a fuss about him if you don't wanna."

"If you change your mind or have any questions, Ma'am, just give me a call," the detective said before handing over a business card. "I'll leave you to rest now, Ma'am. I hope you make a swift recovery." That said, he exited the room.

"So," Tifa began, "What've you been up to while I was out, Yuffs?"

"Business, mostly," Yuffie replied. "It's all boring stuff you probably don't want to hear about. Y'know, like trying to convince them it's a good idea to re-negotiate copper import tariffs and sell us their new artillery technology. Not exactly the most exciting part of my job," she said while rolling her eyes. "But at least it gives me an excuse to come visit you and gets me away from Dad's nagging for a while."

"He still bugging you about grandkids?" Tifa asked with an amused look on her face.

"Ugh, don't get me started," Yuffie declared while rolling her eyes again. "Always going, 'Yuffie-chan, why aren't you married yet? If your brothers had survived the war, I'd be surrounded by grandchildren by now.' and trying to hook me up with these slimy guys who're only interested in me for my title. Can you believe he actually told me, 'In a few years, you'll start getting wrinkles and sagging and no man will want to look at you, so you'd better hurry and get married'. I'm barely twenty-one, damnit! Grr... Annoying old geezer. And before I left to fly here, he said, 'Good luck and try to bring back a nice foreign husband while you still can'. Can you believe his crap?"

Tifa remarked, "Sounds like he's getting desperate."

"Yeah, and the more desperate he gets, the more annoying he gets. Damned old..." Yuffie's rant was cut off by a knock at the door that preceded the entrance of a gray-haired man in a white doctor's coat.

"Ah, Ms. Lockheart, it's good to see that you're awake."

Looking annoyed, Reno asked, "The hell took you so long?"

"Priorities. It's been a busy day down in the ER. Now, young lady, follow my finger with your eyes," he instructed as he pulled a penlight from a pocket and shined it in her eyes while moving one of his hands to the side. "Good," he said as he put the light away. "Are you feeling anything unusual? Dizziness? Nausea?"

"No."

"Good. The stitches can come out in ten days. Until then, I'm putting you on a weight restriction. No lifting more than twenty pounds. And try not to move around too fast or twist around. Now, a nurse will be along shortly with the paperwork for checking out."

"That's it?" Reno asked. "We waited over six hours for some shit that barely took five minutes?"

"Sorry, but this was as early as I could come," the doctor apologized before leaving the room.

"Anyone wanna bet the nurse'll make it here before dinner?" Elena joked.

"She better," Reno remarked. "I wanna hurry up and get outta here."

"Well, guess I can get changed now," Tifa said. "Anyone know how to get the sides on this bed down?" After a round of shrugs from her visitors, Reno once again climbed over the side and picked her up. This time, she was careful to hold the back of her gown shut when he set her down. "Um, I've only got two hands, and it takes both to hold this shut right, so could someone help me with the bags?"

"Gotcha covered," Reno volunteered as he grabbed the bags. "You'll probably need some help with the whole 'no stretching too much' thing too," he stated as he followed her into the bathroom.

Elena teasingly accused, "You're just doing that as an excuse to mess around with her, aren't you?"

"Nope, just getting changed," he replied while giving his best innocent look. "Besides, we're engaged now, so anything we do together's automatically respectable as long as we don't let you all watch."

"I don't think that's how it works," Rude spoke up with an amused expression on his normally unreadable face.

"Yeah," Yuffie chimed in, "that's only when you're married."

Tifa smiled and replied, "Well then, I guess it's a good thing we aren't planning to do anything naughty until we get some real privacy," as she reached past Reno to close the door.

"Hey, before I forget," Yuffie called through the closed door, "I've got to warn you two, there's some reporters waiting outside the hospital with cameras. So you two might want to shave."

"Alright, now, let's see what's in the bags of goodies they got us," Reno remarked.

"Any shampoo in there?" Tifa asked. "Feels like my hair needs washed."

"Don't see any, but mine's in the stall if you wanna borrow it."

"So, you want the suds back after I rinse them out?" she teased.

"Heh, you know what I meant."

"Yeah. I oughta shave too. There a razor in there?"

"Hold on. Yeah, here you go," he said as he handed her a disposable razor and a bottle of shaving gel.

"Thanks. Hey, mind helping me get out of this thing again?"

"Wait, you really think I'd mind helping you get naked? Hey, I'll even step out and grab one'a those gloves, show you that trick I was talking about earlier if you want."

"No, I wouldn't want all the people on the other side of that door to hear us," Tifa replied, wishing that circumstances would allow Reno to do as he'd offered.

"What, you're that loud?" he teased as he untied her gown.

"Maybe. That depends on how good you are," she answered with a sly smile as she stepped into the shower. A moment later, she unexpectedly burst out laughing. "I thought so!" she announced as she turned around, holding Reno's shampoo bottle. "For color treated hair!" she read from the bottle with a wide grin. "I thought that hair of yours was too bright to be natural."

"Hey, it's natural." he claimed. She silently replied by looking at the bottle again, then giving him a skeptical look. "Well, mostly natural. It's kinda embarrassing, but I kinda started getting a few gray streaks at twenty. Job stress and all that. So I cover it up to match the rest. So, you done laughing at my shampoo yet?"

"I guess it's had enough. Sorry, I wouldn't've laughed if I knew why you used it." Tifa told him as she turned on the water.

"Well, hey, help me touch up the roots and I'll call it even. The ones around back're a pain in the ass to get right."

"Funny you should mention that, because this's about as far as this hand'll reach," she stated, holding her left hand level with her forehead.

"Say no more, I'll be right in," he declared as he began to quickly disrobe. A moment later, he was standing behind her in the shower, lathering up her hair. "Hey, what's wrong?" he asked while massaging her scalp. "You're tense, you oughta be relaxing and enjoying all the pampering you're getting."

"Sorry, but it's kinda hard to relax when I have to be treated like an invalid just to get clean."

"Hey, I'm not treating you like an invalid, I'm trading favors with you. So, you owe me one," he declared with a grin.

"That actually helps. Guess I'll return the favor when you're done, oughta be a fun little game."

"Course, you know I'm not planning on stopping with your hair."

"Mmmm, good," she purred, relaxing under his skilled hands.


Quite a while later, the much cleaner couple emerged from the shower, smiling despite the fact that both were bleeding from varied shaving mishaps. After toweling one another off, they turned their attention to the bags Yuffie had brought. "I don't suppose you saw any bandages in there?" Tifa asked.

"Nah. But there's always this old trick," he stated before sticking small bits of toilet paper on the cuts Tifa had accidentally made on his chin.

"Guess it's better than nothing," she agreed as she set to work stopping the bleeding from the tiny cuts Reno had inflicted on her knees. "Now, let's see what they brought us..."


A few minutes later, the pair finally emerged from the bathroom, with Tifa wearing a loose sleeveless knee-length light blue dress that didn't put any pressure on her stitches and Reno in a plain t-shirt and faded old jeans.

"Have a little trouble in there?" Elena asked, laughing at the evidence of their shaving difficulties.

"Well, the nurse got tired of waiting for you two..." Rude announced, wiping the smiles from Tifa and Reno's faces. "...so she left the paperwork on that table over there, said to drop it off at the nurse's station on your way out."

"Heh, you had me going for a minute there," Reno laughed as Tifa picked up the papers. She then sat on the edge of the bed and began working on the papers while he sat behind her and combed out her knee-length hair. After finishing, they picked up the remaining clothes, the large stack of cards for Tifa, and, with the help of their friends, the large number of flowers before filing out of the room. Reno also surreptitiously pocketed a large handful of latex gloves on the way out, deciding that they'd come in handy later. Following the signs on the hospital walls, they easily found their way to the floor nurse's station where they dropped off Tifa's discharge papers. A few short minutes later, they found themselves in an elevator, descending towards the main lobby.

"Guess it's about time to get professional again," Yuffie declared with a grimace as she pulled a gray and red diagonally striped tie from a coat pocket and put it on. Elena followed her example, donning a plain black tie before the elevator stopped.

As they exited the elevator, they were joined by a small team of diplomatic security agents from the Wutian Embassy. "Is this really necessary?" Tifa asked.

"Yeah, unfortunately," Yuffie replied as they approached the exit. As they passed the security station, Reno handed a receipt to one of the guards and was given back the EMR and handgun he'd checked when he'd entered the hospital.

Stepping through the hospital's front doors, they were greeted by a barrage of camera flashes and questions from the gathered reporters. Pushing through the crowd without any comments, they found their way to a limo with small Wutian flags flying from the fenders. Tifa, Reno, Elena, Yuffie, and Rude climbed into the limo and the security team split up and entered a pair of sedans that were parked at both ends of the limo.

"Like my car?" Yuffie asked as the small motorcade took off.

"Hey, any car with it's own minibar kicks ass as far as I'm concerned," Reno joked, mixing drinks for himself and Tifa while she looked through the cards she'd received.

"Well," Tifa began a few minutes later, "with this weight restriction I'm on, I can't really work. It's been long enough since I've had a vacation, guess it's time for another."

"I'll loan you my travel agent." Yuffie offered. "So, where're you two gonna go?"

"I was thinking maybe two weeks in Cosmo Canyon."

"Why Cosmo?" Reno asked. "What's there to do there?"

"Well, for starters, there's several secluded beaches in the area," Tifa answered with a sly smile.

"Alright, Cosmo sounds good to me too," Reno abruptly decided.

"There's secluded natural springs, too," Tifa added before taking a sip of the Gin & Tonic Reno had made for her.

"Sounds interesting. One of yours?" he asked.

"Yeah, never had a chance to try it, either," she replied, purposely keeping the conversation vague, because she didn't want their friends to know that they were talking about places they'd fantasized about making love to one another at.

"Well, my agent'll probably have some options lined up for you two tomorrow. No telling when you can actually ship out, though," Yuffie told them while pouring herself a glass of Cinnamon Schnapps.

"I guess in the meantime, I still haven't seen your place yet," Tifa told Reno. "It won't make much sense for us to be paying rent on two places when we'll only be staying at one, so we oughta pick one and move in together."

"Yeah, I like that idea. I've got more space at my place, and two bathrooms, but my bed's just a little twin size. But hey, we've got good sound insulation in the walls."

"We can always move my bed into your place if that's the one we go with," Tifa suggested. A short while later the limo stopped at Tifa's apartment building and her and Reno exited after a round of farewells to their friends. "Hey, wrong way," Tifa called when Reno made a wrong turn in the hallway leading to her apartment.

"Sorry, kinda hard to see through all this," he replied, having to follow her voice due to his vision being blocked by the armload of flowers and bags he was carrying.

"You didn't have to carry all of it," she said, reaching out and taking his arm to guide him away from a collision with the wall.

"Hey, I don't want you going over your weight limit and ending up back in the hospital, alright?"

"Well, hey, the door's over here," she informed him, guiding him through her doorway before continuing, "None of that looks very heavy. I could've carried some of it."

"Yeah, well, too late. Where d'ya want this stuff?"

"Good question," Tifa mused, looking over her small apartment. "I guess the live ones can go on the floor in front of this window, so they'll get some sun. Here, let me take those before you drop them." She then began pulling the live plants from his arms and setting them aside. "Alright, I don't have anywhere to put all the cut ones, so just stick everything else on my counter."

"Right. Think there's anything edible left in the fridge?"

"After sitting for two weeks? Probably not," she replied as she kicked off her shoes and sat down on her couch. "We could order out. There's some take-out menus up in the cabinet to the left of the fridge."

"Hey, there's wine up here too," Reno announced, pleased at his discovery. After searching a few more cabinets, he emerged from the kitchen carrying a small stack of menus, a bottle of red wine, and a pair of wineglasses. He then set it all on the coffee table and took a seat beside Tifa. "Well, pick one," he offered before kicking his shoes off and getting to work opening the wine bottle.

"Hmmm, been a while since I've had Wutian, and this place always delivers quickly," she decided, holding up a menu.

"Sounds good," he agreed while easing the cork out of the bottle. "I picked the menu last time, so why don't you go ahead and order for us and I'll go pick out a movie."

"Fair enough," she replied before picking up the phone and dialing.

After she hung up the phone, he asked, "How about this one?" and held up a DVD with a cover that showed a blond woman with her arms around a blond man who was holding a rapier in his left hand in the foreground and a castle and a close-up of the woman's face in the background.

"What, you like that one?"

"Doesn't everyone?" he asked. "You mean you know someone who doesn't? Inconceivable!" he quoted, causing her to laugh.

"Alright, put it in," she told him with a smile.

"As you wish," he replied with a grin.

"Heh, keep that up, and I'm going to have to start calling you 'farm boy'," she teased.

"As you wish," he repeated while sitting down next to her. "Course, you remember the whole double meaning thing, right?"

"Of course," she answered as the movie began.


Reno and Tifa were both on their second glass of wine and the characters in the movie were sailing towards the Cliffs of Insanity when dinner arrived. After pausing the movie, Reno got up and paid for their dinner, then set the various cardboard boxes on the coffee table and handed Tifa a pair of disposable chopsticks before reclaiming his seat and resuming the movie.


Some time later, Tifa and Reno were wrapped in each other's arms, watching as the credits rolled. "Ah, I love that movie," Tifa stated.

"Yeah, it's one of my faves, too." Reno added. "We definitely hafta do this again some time."

"As you wish."

"Hey, that's my line, you line thief," he joked, drawing laughter from her.

"Sorry," she laughed.

"Yeah, well, don't let it happen again," he teased.

"As you wish," she answered with a smirk, causing both to burst out laughing. "It's strange, I normally wouldn't be so tired this early, especially since I haven't really done much today."

"Yeah, I'm kinda tired too. Ready to hit the sack?"

"Yeah, I think so." After quickly putting away the leftovers and turning off the TV, they headed into her bedroom.

"So, how you feeling?" he asked while helping her change into a loose, knee-length nightgown.

"What, besides being tired?"

"Well, I didn't spot any sores in the shower. So, feeling better?"

"Sorry, but you didn't see them because they're all internal."

"Ah. Well, in that case, we've still got some options," he announced while stripping down to his boxer shorts.

"You have anything specific in mind?" she asked, intrigued as he slid into bed beside her and turned off the light before laying down with his chest to her back.

"Actually, yeah," he whispered into her ear as he wrapped his arms around her and began gently caressing her abdomen. "You ever hear the philosophy that the mark of a great lover is they only need their hands to please their love, and everything else's just a bonus?"

"No. Wait, are you offering what I think you are?"

"Yep," he answered before softly kissing her earlobe. "You know, Tif', I love you with all my being and I wanna show you that every way I know. I think you'll like this one. Now, lemme tell you about that dream I had this morning, you and me all alone on a secluded beach..." he began as his hands started to roam.


First off, sorry for the huge delay on this chapter. Aside from the usual reasons like writer's block and the fact that as much as I love to write, it's not the only thing I do in my spare time, I also had a death in the family, so didn't write anything for about three weeks. As always, big thanks go out to Noroi for betaing this and to all the readers who were kind enough to review.

Big thanks also go to The Tiramisu of Impending Doom, who sent me some fanart. I suppose having someone like your writing enough to draw something based on it's a good sign. If you want to see her rendition of the picnic scene in chapter three, you can find it at: http/img407.imageshack.us/img407/4138/retilightweight207xy.jpg

Zenigata's a reference to a fun old show called Lupin III. And, just in case anyone didn't recognize it, Tifa and Reno were watching The Princess Bride.

Once again, sorry for the delay. I plan to wrap this up in the next chapter.

New note: Edited again because some site update deleted all the '--' lines I used to use to denote scene changes. So time to slap horizontal rulers into all my fics. Wow, I can't believe this's sat so long unfinished. I may be making ridiculously slow progress on this, but I will finish it.