A.N.: God DAMN this turned out to be long—longest I've written since You May Be Right. Anyway, this fic is old as hell XD I've had it on my hard drive since the beginning of September. Hell, I was still on summer vacation when I started it.

It's a liiiiittle strange XD Part of me can't believe I wrote it, part of me can't believe I didn't write it sooner XD

Oh yeah. Flashbacks. Basically the OoOoOoOoO marks flash to and from. That should be easy enough to figure out.

Anyway, I think I'll just shut up and put the rest of my ramblings at the end.


That was it

He'd told himself, one more time, one more thing like this, and then he'd take action.

They'd kissed before—he started that. That had been his fault.

She'd been in his lap before. The first time she'd been a little drunk and the second time… well, he had to admit that that was his fault too. Since then, he hadn't really been keeping track. He figured it was better not to. Or maybe that was the worst mistake of all.

But no. Combining the two—that one was her fault. And that just wasn't fair. She was probably oblivious to the fact, but it wasn't very easy for a man to be close to her like that. Reno was no exception. He'd been trying not to let on, but she was driving him crazy. So he decided, one more thing, one more time when he felt like he couldn't take it anymore, he'd do something.

…It was at that point he realized he didn't know what 'something' was.

He couldn't tell her to stop—didn't want to tell her to stop. If she wasn't completely unaware of the effect she had on him, he was certain that, in the very least, she hadn't intended to follow through. A damn teasehe thought resentfully.

He kept feeling like it wasn't fair. How was he supposed to expect this? 'No chance in Hell,' he recalled, was how she put it. He'd be damned if she didn't mean it, and didn't still feel the same way. He couldn't bring himself to try anything, not if he valued his life and certain essential body parts.

And he did.

So he told her he had to go see Rude and he'd come get her at the bar later. She frowned a little before forcing a smile, fixing her skirt—it had ridden up a bit when her knees had ended up on either side of him on the sofa—and gave a soft 'All right,' in that way she often did. She even looked a little disappointed.

He did everything he could to ignore that.

Maybe going to see Rude wasn't such a good idea after all.In fact, it seemed like a terrible idea when he thought about what he had just walked out on. What was he—out of his mind? He banged on the door impatiently. What was taking so long? He thought Rude was just mute, not deaf too. As if on command, the door swung open and Rude gave him a blank look.

…Well, at any rate, 'blank' was the nearest guess he could make—The eyes usually said it all, but thanks to Rude's sunglasses, the only time he had a noticeable reaction to anything was on the rare occasion that his eyebrows raised far enough to be seen above the dark lenses. That usually only happened when Reno did something that they both knew was stupid. Reno would always tell Rude to shut up when that happened, despite the fact that Rude hadn't said a word. Both men were both silent, staring for a minute—Reno's fist was still in midair—before Rude spoke. Reno even found that a bit unexpected—usually he was the first one to open his mouth.

"We have a doorbell, you know."

He looked to his right. Like he would notice that."Yeah, well—"

"And the door was open." Now Rude was just mocking him.

Reno glared at him. "Shut up asshole. Just let me in," He complied, standing out of the way and shaking his head as Reno passed. "Where's Laney?"

His reply was deadpan. "Out shopping," Well, there was the shocker of the century. "Why are you here?"

"Well gee, thanks for the warm welcome," Rude was never one to beat around the bush. Naturally, Reno took a seat at the kitchen table without asking or waiting for an invitation. "What makes you think I'm here for a reason?"

"First of all," Reno watched him get a bottle of what was no doubt something alcoholic and two glasses—Rude really knew him too well, "You nearly broke my door from banging on it. And second, you're usually with Tifa around this time."

He took the filled glass Rude handed over as he sat down. Reno was grateful for the booze—it seemed perfect at the moment. But he didn't like what Rude was implying with his last remark. He didn't spend that much time with Tifa… "Fine, you win. And since you're going to mention her, I'll come right out and say that she's the reason I'm here."

"Hmm," Scintillating commentary, as usual. "What's the problem?"

Reno decided he needed an increase in blood-alcohol level before going on. But when he tested his drink, he immediately winced. "What the hell is this shit?" Of course, he knew that no normal person drinks for the taste of the alcohol, but he wasn't down with the taste of whatever the hell Rude had just given him. It had some weird, fruity, girly taste. He had no idea what to make of it, but he was damn certain it wasn't his kind of drink.

"I don't know," Rude said as Reno took the bottle. "But it's all we have. Elena bought it," Reno started inspecting the label. "Don't bother," Rude said, when he noticed what Reno was doing. "It's in some other language."

Reno put the bottle back down and glared at it, but took another gulp of the drink. Booze was booze, and he needed it. "Why did you let her buy this?" he said with distaste, cringing again as he swallowed.

"…She wanted it."

Reno laughed, looking at the bottle again despite the fact that Rude told him not to bother. It sucked, but the proof—in a language he could understand—satisfied him well enough. "You're whipped, man," Rude just shook his head at him again. Reno would never understand why Rude put up with his abuse. Reno'd never admit it, but Rude could kick his ass in a heartbeat. Like Tifa.

Like a lot of people. Shit, he needed to do something about that.

"So what's the problem?

Oh, right, that. He shifted forward on his seat in preparation for telling his story. "Okay, well—"

His speech was cut dramatically short by the front door blowing open, revealing a very windswept Elena, heavily laden with shopping bags. "Whew! It's getting pretty rough out there," She set her bags down and pushed her hair out of her eyes, finally taking note of the two of them at the table with her liquor.

"Laney? What the hell is this?" Reno demanded, holding up the bottle.

"Oh that! It's foreign. Cool, huh?"

"…You've had it before?"

"No…" she said, frowning.

Reno rolled his eyes and mumbled irritably "Girls…"

"So what's goin' on?"

"Reno's got problems," Rude said, eyeing the bags of expensive looking things that she'd brought home.

Elena took a seat at the end of the table, leaning forward with interest. "Yeah? And what else is new?" she said teasingly to Reno.

"Ah, shut it Laney," Reno said, just managing to resist a pout and slumping forward to rest his chin on his folded arms.

"Aww," she said grinning leaning even further onto the table so she was right in his face. "Is poor Reno upset about something?" He glared at her, so she turned to Rude instead. "What's his problem?"

"He's having girl troubles."

Elena gasped and her face turned serious—the kind of serious that she only applied in situations of potential juicy gossip. "Get out!" She looked back at Reno, eyes wide gleaming conspiratorially. "What happened?"

"You wouldn't understand," he mumbled. He'd really been looking for Rude's take on the situation, not hers. "It's kind of a guy thing."

"Pssh," she scoffed. "I spend enough time with you two. I think I can handle it. Just tell me what you were telling Rude."

Reno wasn't so convinced. Hanging around with the guys was one thing, but hearing about personal sexual frustrations in blatant, crude terminology and detail was bound to be different. Having Elena around wouldn't exactly help him explain. But there were ways to get rid of her, of course. "Yeah, so, I was all like 'What are those handcuffs for?' And she was like—"

"Okay, okay!" Elena said in aggravation, slapping her palms on the table as she rose from her chair. "Fine, I don't wanna hear about it," she muttered, grabbing her shopping bags and fleeing to the bedroom.

Rude looked at him strangely—Reno really could tell that sort of thing, even with the glasses. "Is that, uhh, true?"

"What? No. …No," Then a thought struck him. "Hey man, you don't still have a thing for her do you?"

"I'm with Elena. You know that."

Reno narrowed his eyes a little. "You didn't answer my question."

A tense moment of silence ensued, the two men staring each other down.

"No. I don't still 'have a thing for her,'" Rude said at last.

Reno held his gaze for a moment, before leaning back in his chair. "…Good."

Shaking his head, Rude laughed faintly. "You're worried about me stealing your girl?"

Reno smirked. "Aw fuck no, I'm not threatened by you. I just had to know if I needed to kick your ass for thinkin' about it."

Rude seemed to shake his head at Reno a lot. "So are you going to tell me why you're here or not?"

A few shots of the mystery drink later, and Rude looked just as stumped as Reno felt.

"So what should I do?" Reno asked him, reaching for the bottle again.

"Well for one thing," he answered, snatching the bottle away, "You're not getting drunk over this. Secondly… I have no idea."

"Well FUCK, man!" Reno threw up his hand in frustration. "What the fuck do I come to you for?"

"I didn't ask you to—"

"I shoulda talked to Laney instead!"

At that moment, she poked her head out of the other room. "What the hell are you yelling about!"


She was at the table in an instant. "Yeah right. C'mon, I wanna hear about your girl troubles. I've decided I don't care how dirty they are—I'm really damn curious."

It was always curiosity with her. "…Fine." If he'd been worried about censoring his story before, he was too intoxicated to care about it now.


It was a typical late night at the bar. Reno's back still hurt from sleeping in her bathtub and scrubbing her damn floor, and having to hunch over in a stool wasn't helping.

"So did you and Strife ever get busy or what?"

He heard Tifa laugh from where she had her back turned to him, putting glasses away. "What kind of question is that?"

"A perfectly legitimate one, I think."

This time she had to turn over her shoulder and raise an eyebrow at him. "How do you figure that one?"

"Y'know… I gotta know the situation I'm workin with here." Really, it was all very logical.

She let her eyes wander back to the shelf. "Well no, as if it's any of your business."

Hmm. It was easier getting that information than he thought it'd be. And it was totally his business—it would definitely do wonders to his ego if he got something that idiot had let slip through his fingers.

Reno mulled it over for a while, and Tifa went back to work, this time scrubbing down the counter. Suddenly her hand slipped, sending the plastic ashtray flying to the floor next to him. She looked up. "Would you…?"

He glanced into her eyes, so pleading for even such a small task, and to the ashtray on the floor. He'd fucking kill himself trying to bend over to get it, but he'd do it for her.

He couldn't stop himself from wincing horribly when he replaced it on the counter. She looked at him with concern in her eyes. "Are you okay?"

"No…" She frowned at him, so he continued. "Your forcing me to do your bidding, while very kinky and sexy I must say, has left me in a lot of pain."

She briefly put a hand to her mouth. "Oh, I'm sorry!" She took the ashtray out of his clenched hand and circled the bar. She took his arm and bid him to stand. "Come over here."

If Reno had noticed the couch in the corner before, he'd forgotten about it. But he was sure as hell glad it existed.

"Sit down," she told him. "No, not like that. The other way."


"Face away from me, okay?"

"Okay…?" He had no idea what she was talking about… until he felt her hands on his shoulders.

Was she really going to…?

She was.


He definitely hadn't been expecting that. He wasn't sure how he was supposed to react. All he knew was that the couch could go fuck itself—he was way more grateful for the massage. "So, uh…" he said after a while. He really needed to keep his mind away from any dirty thoughts that it was so likely to wander into. "Why didn't you?"


"You and Cloud. What we were sayin before." Right. Cloud. That was good. Surely he was the mental equivalent of a cold shower.

He could see the fuzzy outline of her shaking her head through the corner of his eye. "He… didn't want to, I guess."

Wow, Cloud was even stupider than he imagined possible. "Did you?"

She laughed slightly. "Yeah," Her hands went a bit lower. "I did."

He scoffed. "I guess I can't really see the appeal."

"Well maybe you can't," He detected a smile in her voice. Then she sighed, and she seemed almost wistful. "But I did love him, after all."

Reno hadn't meant for the evening to take some kind of melancholy mood. He looked over his shoulder at her, smirking. "But sex and love don't go hand in hand. You know you can't rely on love for good sex." Or apparently, any at all.

She giggled, and he was relieved that she was taking the situation lightly. "You're right. I do know that," There was a pause. "But what do you think you can rely on?" she asked thoughtfully.

"I dunno." He started staring at the wall again, very happy to be rid of that particularly painful knot near the center of his back.

"Really? I always thought… you know…" Her voice seemed lower. And when did she get so close? "It's really good when… when you want someone really badly… like…" Her hands stopped moving and he could hear her breathing. It was just like that dream he had. It was also just like that day after that dream he had. Why did she have to do this to him? "So badly you can't take it anymore. You know?"

'You know?' Just like that, so innocently. As if she hadn't just pressed up against him and said that, in a way that totally compromised what little self-control he had when he was around her.

And how was that supposed to be fair?


"Hmm…" Elena leaned on one hand, letting the fingers of the other tap on the table. "So what happened after that?"

"I told her I felt better, I walked her home… Then I went home, and y'know, cause of the massage and all—"

"Okay! I think you can cut it right there. What else?"


He tried knocking again. He wasn't being very patient, but fuck it. He really hadn't meant to miss meeting her at the bar—it was just him and his damn tendency to oversleep, no matter what time of day it was.

Finally, she opened the door. "Oh, hi!" She smiled brightly at him. He didn't really think she'd be mad, but still—he felt bad for not being there. But he was only a few hours late. He just missed out on the free drinks and walking her home after the bar closed.

"Sorry," he blurted out, more quickly than he thought he had ever in his life. "I overslept."

Tifa just kept smiling. "It's fine. Come on in," They sat on the couch for a moment, and suddenly she looked a little awkward. "Umm, I was just about to take a shower though," She looked at him. "Oh! But you're welcome to stay. I won't be long, I promise." She leaned in to give him a brief kiss, and sauntered off down the hallway.

Reno had to swear under his breath. Now he was sitting in her apartment, picturing her as he often did—hot, wet, and naked. Only this time, if he opened a door and pulled back a curtain, he'd find that very image.

Oh god.

He told himself to calm down. So what if she was totally nude in the other room? That really wasn't any different than all the other times he'd pictured her like that, right?


Eventually he gave up on keeping his mind out of the gutter, and just leaned back on her couch, letting his thoughts race. Not too far, hopefully.

He was jarred from his reverie by the sound of a door opening, revealing…

No. She wasn't wearing only a towel. She couldn't possibly be.

Of course, if she weren't wearing a towel, she'd be wearing… nothing…

He swallowed hard and utterly failed at stopping himself from letting his eyes travel down her body.

"Umm…" She played with a lock of wet hair, leaning against the wall. "I just have to… go put some clothes on," She took a step backwards towards her room. "So umm…" She bit her lip. "I'll just be in there, but I'll be out in a minute… okay?"

He swallowed again and nodded slowly.

She licked her lips and her face looked faintly pink. It was probably just from the shower. "…All right then."

He very intently watched her go, and immediately thought about going after her—he couldn't ignore the absence of that little click that meant she'd locked her door. He sat on the edge of his seat, debating with himself.

On one hand, she'd probably kill him if he tried something like that. But on the other hand, he didn't feel like he could take it anymore.

At any rate, he didn't have much of a choice when she emerged from her room, to his disappointment, fully clothed. Though he couldn't say much for the amount of skin coverage her outfit provided.

Tifa immediately joined him on the couch and leaned into him, settling between his legs in his semi-sprawled position, and sighing contently.

Reno sighed for an entirely different reason. It was going to be a long night.


"And I'm assuming nothing happened after that either… right?" Elena resumed her finger tapping on the table.




"Nothing. You were really that worried about being late?"

Rude sniggered. "And you call me whipped…"

Elena frowned. "What?"

He coughed awkwardly, suddenly finding the floor very interesting. "Nothing."

She blinked a few times and turned back to Reno. "Was there more?"


It was a bit surprising that only such a short time after seeing her, he'd already be compelled to call her. But would she even still be awake? What time was it anyway?

When he turned over to check the clock on his bedside table, the phone rang. Despite the fact that he was considering doing the very same, he still had to question who'd be calling at such an hour.

He picked it up, frowning. "Hello?"


When he thought about it, this was the first time she'd called him since he'd oh-so-subtly left that post-it note with his number on it in her kitchen. He rolled onto his back and rubbed his eyes with the hand not holding the phone. "Yeah babe. What's up?"

"Well… umm," He waited patiently for her to continue. "I was just getting ready to go to bed, and I was going to get a glass of water from the kitchen… and there was a message on my machine," She laughed a bit awkwardly. "I didn't notice it for such a long time. I hardly ever check my messages. But it was from my landlord."

Reno blinked. She wasn't getting evicted or something was she? As far as he knew, she didn't have trouble keeping up with her bills… "Yeah?"

"Yeah. Apparently they're fumigating my building tomorrow."

"Oh. When?"

There was a pause. "First thing in the morning. Around six."

That was only a couple of hours away. It was suddenly very obvious why she'd called.

"So… I can't be here when they do that."

"Come stay over here then." No point in dancing around the issue. And he didn't want to make it awkward for her. She was the kind of person who didn't want to bother anybody.

He could picture her biting her lip. "…Would that be okay?"

"Of course. C'mon over."

He heard a grateful smile in her voice. "Thanks so much Reno. I'm gonna call a cab and I'll be over there in a little while, all right?"

"Definitely. Seeya then."



He'd just invited a woman that he was very attracted to over to his place in the middle of the night. He was becoming increasingly aware of that as he lay there waiting for her to show up.

He didn't hesitate in opening the door when he heard her knock. "Hi." she said, stepping in. She looked him over and blushed.

Oh right. He hadn't put a shirt on. Or pants… Whatever, he was decent at least. He supposed she was dressed a little more modestly than he was—which was saying something—though he couldn't stop himself from wondering what she was wearing, if anything, under that far-too-baggy and shapeless tee shirt. "Hey."

She giggled. "The cab driver was looking at me like I was nuts."

If he had to warrant a guess, the cabbie was probably looking at her for another reason. Then again, a girl hopping into a cab in nothing but a giant shirt at four AM would probably look strange to most people. They both took a seat on his couch.

"Anyway, I'm really glad you let me stay here. I didn't know where I could possibly go on such short notice. Plus I really needed to get to sleep, so I couldn't do that if I was trying to book a hotel or trying to get in touch with someone out of town. I don't know many people who'd be up at this hour."

"Oh sorry, you tired? I didn't mean to keep ya up," Though God only knew she kept him up at night all the time, and she wasn't even aware of it. "You can go take my bed, and I'll sleep in here, okay?"

"No, no, I don't need the bed. It's yours—I don't want to be a burden or anything."

He frowned. "I don't want you sleepin out here."

"Umm…" Tifa chewed at her lower lip. "Well… we've shared a bed before, right?"

He stared at her. Sure, they had shared a bed before, but this was definitely different. A lot different. "…Is that what you wanna do?"

She turned bright red. He felt similar to how she looked, but he didn't have the tendency to show it the way she did. "I-if you wouldn't mind."

He smiled at her. "Not at all," He put a hand on the small of her back and steered her into the bedroom.

He easily fell under the covers—he realized he was tired too—but she just sat on the opposite end of the bed with her back to him. "Umm…" She looked at him over her shoulder. "Would you mind if I took this off?"


"It's just… I don't normally sleep in something like this. I just threw it on for the cab ride."

"Uh, yeah… sure." He tried not to act too into the idea of her taking something off, and tried not to watch too intently while she did so. But with her back turned, he couldn't stop himself from blatantly gaping.

She turned back to him. "Where can I put this?"

"Over there's fine."

When she stood, he got a better look at what she was wearing—a much better look. He was sure that as a woman she had some fancy term for it, but he could only classify it as underwear. A tight tank top that didn't reach her belly button and very, very short shorts. If that wasn't lingerie it was damn close.

And if that wasn't enough, when she crawled back under the covers, she had to sidle up next to him as well. She stretched an arm across his body to his neck, and she pulled herself closer to him. "Thanks again for letting me stay here." Then she kissed him full on the mouth, and he was suddenly aware that she was nearly on top of him.

Against all odds, he fought the urge to deepen the kiss, the urge to let his hands wander from her waist and see just how short those shorts really were. He reasoned that he must be crazy. He had a half-naked woman in his bed with her limbs practically wrapped around him, and he was considering not doing anything.

But really, he couldn't just suddenly make a move on her now. Girls needed time to prepare for that kind of thing… right?


She stared into his eyes for a few moments when she pulled away, and then looked a bit embarrassed. "Well… good night." And just like that she pulled away from him completely, curling up on her side of the bed. But he reached out and brought her back next to him, falling asleep quickly.

In the morning, she was gone.


"And since you're going to ask, that was all that happened."

Elena sat there not saying a word.

"That's it. I'm done now."

Still nothing.

"So are you gonna say something or what?"

Her head shot up and she stared at him wide-eyed. "You're a DUMBASS."

It wasn't like she hadn't called him that a thousand times before, but he had no idea what he'd done to provoke it. "What?"

"Oh my god, you're soooooo stupid!"

"What? Why?"

"I can't believe you don't get it…"

"Enlighten me please?"

She paused dramatically, then continued with the same intensity. "She wants you to make a move!"


"Oh my GOD, you're an idiot. I know that sometimes we women do things unintentionally and men's minds just wander out of control, but it doesn't mean we're incapable of doing that kind of stuff on purpose!"


"I mean what does a girl have to do to get noticed nowadays?"

"Laney! Can you kindly explain what the fuck you're talking about?"

She rolled her eyes. "Okay," she said, bracing her palms on the table, "It's like this. That first thing you told me. All right, maybe she wasn't exactly implying that she 'wanted you so badly' but you should have taken it as some kind of hint!"


"And I guess that one was before you guys were 'dating' or whatever. But the shower thing? Come on Reno! She knows if she tells you she's gonna take a shower, then you're gonna be thinkin' about her taking said shower. Don't think that she does all this by accident. And then she came to talk to you, wearing practically nothing, to call attention to the fact that she was gonna go undress in the other room. And you said she left the door unlocked? Well, I'm not saying you should have taken it as an invitation but she was obviously trying to tell you something."

Yeah. Right. Obvious.

"But that thing with her in your bed? I can't believe you didn't try anything! Mostly in general because it's you, but just about anyone in that situation would have gotten the hint!"

That one surprised him as well. He definitely should have made a move. But he panicked.

…Panicked? Him?

"I mean what more does this girl have to do to make you get the picture? Strip down, hop on your bed and yell 'do me!'?"

"That would've helped, yeah!"

"Well she's not gonna do that. She's shy, isn't she? Everything she already did was practically the equivalent of that for her."

"Well uhh, there was one other thing…" He told her about what had happened that afternoon.

She was silent for a moment. "Are you insane?" By now he was pretty sure that he was. "She was making out with you on her couch, basically straddling you, and you make her stop, and tell her you have to go see a guy instead? She probably thinks you're gay or something!"


"God, the poor girl. She's been trying as hard as she can, without embarrassing herself, to get you to make a move, and you just push her away without explanation. She probably thinks you don't want her."

God, that was so far from the truth it wasn't even funny.

"What is wrong with you?"

That was a very good question.

"I mean, I'd expect this sort of thing from him," she gestured to her right, "But I thought you were supposed to be good with women!" Rude raised an eyebrow in his defense.

"But she's different than all the other women I've been with," he blurted out before he could stop himself. And she was. He'd never been with a shy girl before. How the hell was he supposed to know how to act, or how to pick up on her 'signals?'

"Aww…" Elena suddenly lost the vehement demeanor she'd gained on Tifa's behalf. "You like her…"

He nearly denied it, simply due to the fact that usually whenever Elena took a tone like that, she was trying to make him mad. "Well duh." Maybe that was more of the difference than her being shy. He actually felt like he had something to lose this time.

"Well then stop waiting around!" She said, standing. "Lord knows you may have completely screwed things up already!" She stalked off and left Reno there, dumbstruck.

He turned to Rude. "Y'think she's right?"

Rude stroked his chin thoughtfully. "I'd be hard-pressed to believe she's not."

"Goddammit…" Reno muttered, rising from his seat and heading to the door. He had to go see Tifa.

"Where are you going?"

"Where do you think I'm going?"

"Oh… can I come with you?"

This stopped Reno in his tracks. "What the fuck man?"

"You're going to the bar aren't you?"

Oh right, the bar. He'd been thinking of where he was going to be after he went to the bar. He just shook his head, not feeling like he had any more time for this. "Whatever. Later."

He stepped out of the apartment feeling like he'd been doing everything wrong for the past few months. He felt bad for making her think he didn't want her, especially when it should have been painfully obvious that that was the farthest thing from the truth.

But he was going to find her and fix his mistake. He was going to make it up to her in every way imaginable.


A.N.: This fic actually started out the same way Snowball's Chance in Hell did. One day I said to my friend 'haha, Reno must be getting pretty sexually frustrated in my fics.' And like most of my crackpot ideas, it turned into a fic XD

BTW, this IS in the timeline, and is a prelude to A Posse Ad Esse XD But that should have been obvious kiddies!

Anyway, please, please, PLEASE review. I put a lot of work into this OO