Of Bloodstains and Balconies
By: Glass Mermaid
Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize. It all belongs to Squarenix.
AN: Takes place immediately following Advent Children. There's a song line mentioned, a beautiful piece by Anajin. Also, I totally forgot that Reno doesn't have mako eyes. A kind reviewer nudged me in the right direction and I scrabbled to correct it, so… here!
The late afternoon sunlight seems stale and false as it drifts down upon him, and he can feel the prickles of heat dancing on the edge of discomfort through his blue suit jacket. A slight breeze flickers up to cool him down, bringing with it the scent of rusty metal, disturbed dirt, and her teasing perfume. He takes a drag of his cigarette, long and low and acrid, and flicks his red ponytail back over his shoulder with a practiced jerk. He shifts his blue eyes carefully from the city below his balcony to her, narrowed against the brightness, and as it shines against her dark hair and smiling lips, suddenly the sun doesn't seem so bad.
She's shifting through a small pile of cards and clutter she's dumped onto his glass table, and as he takes a closer look and another drag, he can see that it's the contents of his wallet. He isn't surprised that she took the wallet, only that he hadn't noticed. A burst of distant laughter rings up through the buildings from the sidewalks down below where the air isn't so clear and the sun is absorbed by old metal and tattered stones from a planets rebellion. The sound momentarily distracts him from the brunette, and when he turns his eyes back to her she is fingering his Shin-Ra ID, her dark eyes squinting in the sunlight.
The breeze blows by again, threading through the strands of her chin length hair and shivering over it. He follows the twin tails of her headband as they shift and twitch, too heavy to follow the weak wind as it seems they would like to. Absently, he wonders what kind of fabric the Wutai use for such a sacred object, and remembers how reverently she had removed it that morning before joining him in the shower. It seems even she accepts some of her heritage, though she would fervently deny it if he told her so. He takes another drag of his cigarette, the hot smoke filling his lungs like sin and fog and sand before he blows it back outwards and away, careful to keep it from clouding her air. He's lucky the wind is blowing his way. Evening is falling, and he wonders how long they spent in bed today, because the hot sun is spilling off the balcony into shadows, and he can hear the soft strains of an ancient recording drifting from some tenant's random window.
'Thanks for the dance, I'm sorry you're tired. The evening has hardly begun…'
Her nimble fingers are racing through his wad of bills, counting and counting again, and he remembers the feel of those same digits tracing their way over his thighs. Stabbing out his cigarette, he leans back and smirks, feeling the first sheen of sweat gather below his clothing and flicking open the second button on his white, standard issue shirt.
Immediately he feels her eyes upon him, catching her pause of interest at the exposure of his pale skin, but neither of them says anything after slight smirks, and she returns to his wallet. He notices that she has accumulated a tidy stack of numbers and lipstick smeared names, and he can recall the haunting lures of stale perfume, uncapped alcohol and meaningless sex like the mother he's forgotten calling him home. Lyra, Emily, Gemasis, Harriet, Cioa, Sena… Blondes, brunettes and redheads, their beautiful names and gorgeous faces forgotten each time he turned to a new one. He smiles slightly, shrugging to himself, and his fingers tap out a small rhythm on the edge of his latticework chair. He hasn't seen any of those women from the moment he had seen her racing up the wall of an apartment building, all long legs and wild grins, only to flip gracefully down and land against the concrete like it was the normal thing to do. He had turned and said to Rude,
"Looks like I'm screwed."
His large friend had nodded silently, eyes hidden behind dark glasses as he glanced from the redhead back to the now wildly hollering ninja as she sprinted forward and leapt playfully onto the former Turk known as Vincent Valentine.
They were seeing off Cid Highwind in his thoroughly impressive new airship, all cluttered around that old church like it was their regular bar or something. The foul mouthed pilot himself, the animal things, the gun arm, the impressively endowed brunette, Cloud, Valentine, and the little ninja.
He had done the only thing he could do after realizing she was somebody he had to meet. He had sauntered up to the group as if he owned the damn town and smiled disarmingly.
It had been hard to get close to her, and she had seemed to sense his frustration behind the crossed arms of her demonic friend and Cloud's wary blue eyes, because she jumped girlishly and playfully stuck out her tongue before using him as a distraction. He watched, fascinated, as she rifled through Valentine's cloak and pulled out a brand spanking new PHS, idly flipping it open and pressing buttons. He had had to drag his eyes back to the spiked blonde, who, though seeming surprisingly contented, was still not willing to trust the Turks. His hands were shifting closer and closer to the massive sword strapped to his back.
"What do you want?" he had asked, and Reno had shrugged.
"Seeing as we just helped you blow up the baddies, you think that would afford us a handshake or two."
Rude just sat back, arms crossed over his chest, face impassive. Reno's eyes had fallen back on the little ninja, who was now pawing at some materia she had extracted from seemingly nowhere. Her would be champions were eyeing him guardedly.
"Reno, the only thing you'll get from me is piece of metal shoved up your – "
"Cloud!" The busty one, Tifa, had gasped.
And the girl had hastily shoved the materia back to nowhere before dancing out of their reach and turning to Reno with a curious look.
"You blew them up?" she asked.
He had shrugged, smirking, admiring the sheer length of her legs.
"Like, as in explosions and big bangs?"
"It was Rude's idea," he tipped his head to the black man, who nodded.
"God! That's awesome! All I got to do was take on Bahamut with Vinnie and the gang until Cloud showed up. They wouldn't let me do anything else, even though those jerks used my materia!"
She pouts for a moment, flicking her hair away from her eyes.
"All right! I'm off!" she waves to her suspicious brethren, and Vincent merely turns and walks away, Cloud following with narrowed look of warning to the Turks.
"You coming?" she asks Reno, and he finds himself following like a goddamned puppy. Rude shakes his head and jerks his hand in the direction of Rufus's temporary base. He'll meet him later.
"I remember you," she says after a long moment where he admired her legs and wondered how in hell this had happened, "kinda. I remember you like I remember scrapes on my knees and artificial banana candies and this one time I tripped and fell in a pond. Have you ever had fake banana candies? What's up with the shock stick?"
He doesn't know quite what to say in the face of such an outpour of nonsense, so he settles on, "I remember you," and a moment passes between them and he feels like he might have been waiting for her to find him again, because his breath is catching on his too uncertain lungs and she's looking at him with a smile on her face like she's just discovered new materia.
He isn't sure how it happened, but after an hour of strange, erratic conversation, sometimes flirtatious, sometimes caustic banter, and deeper and deeper touches, he'd been unable to keep his hands off the shifty Wutain ninja. The taste of her was over and on his tongue, his lips, his throat until he couldn't even remember what it was like not to taste her. Her hands had been all over him, her legs wrapped around his hips as he pressed her against a random wall and kissed her senseless. The next hours were just a blur, the sound of his heavy breathing and the feeling of him inside her all he could subside on, her slim legs still wrapped around his hips, her eyes shining perhaps even more then his in the darkness beneath the sweep of her lashes. They fit together, lock and key, lock and key, lock and key.
Hours later, after a mind shattering bout of fantastic sex that had been untamed and refreshing and strangely tender, he had barely been able to hold up his cigarette. He had woken up to hear a loud, long whistle, followed by a bang and completed with a rush of violet light. Swearing in confusion, he had dragged on his blue pants, snatched up his gun and his EMR, and wrenched open his bedroom door. Another horrifically loud bang, whistle, and this time, a wash of acid green flooded his apartment. Shouts and dog howls began to filter into his consciousness, and he wondered if maybe evil was back despite Cloud's efforts before catching sight of Yuffie.
She was standing on his balcony in nothing but a tiny yellow scrap of panty and his blue coat which barely covered her slim body. He'd never look at the damn thing the same way as always, an image of the tiny brunette lighting the fuse of another firework and setting it lose into the gorge between his apartment building and the next stayed with him.
"You fucking psycho bitch!" came a distant, angry shout of an awakened resident.
She just laughed, and the fading colors of blue and pink lit her up like the greatest gift he'd ever received, and he knew he could end up falling for the damn twit. She carefully selected another large firework, setting it off in a blaze of orange streamers, before moving onto the next. He leaned against the doorframe, admiring the smooth expanse of her stomach and the sides of her breasts through the gap in his coat.
"I'm going to call Shin-Ra on you, you nutcase!"
"He is Shin-Ra!" she hurled back, jerking a thumb that the shouter couldn't possibly see back at Reno. He hadn't even known she'd seen him. "Besides," she tossed a grin his way, "I've probably got diplomatic immunity or something."
She set off an enormous yellow firework before bowing gracefully to her furious audience and spinning back into his apartment, dragging him with her. She was laughing so hard her sides must have hurt, and he looked at her, mystified and intrigued and utterly impressed that he had found somebody crazier then him.
"Had fun?" he smirked.
"Enough to get you evicted," she sang, and he caught her around the waist, pulled her against him, and his coat slipped down to bare her shoulder.
"I've had to call people to clean the blood and brains off my floor, sweets. I doubt a couple complaints about some chick lighting up fireworks at two in the morning is going to phase them much."
"I just wanted to celebrate! It's not like those idiots really knew what we were up against. I just wanted to," she giggled, "wake them up."
"How about I keep you up?" he murmured, and her eyes had darkened, and then all he could remember was his coat falling to the floor and his fingers tangling in the strings of her underwear.
Reno snatches his mind back the present. His bangs glow like copper in front of his strange eyes, shifting back and forth in the errant zephyrs like a hand waving in his face, but he shifts the thought to brush them out of his eyes away when she surges upwards, snatching her stolen treasures in one small fist and throwing herself so hard against the edge of his balcony he's damn sure she's going to fall over it. Her arm is outstretched, palm open wide to release forgotten numbers to the wind, her other hand clutching the rail as she tips, so close to going over he feels fear jerk in his chest. But she's laughing, loud and brash and full of joy, and his heart falls back out of his throat when her small feet once again touch the warm stone of his patio.
He leans back in his chair, unsure of when he had moved forward, and his eyes follow the tumbling paths of white, lavender, yellow and green paper as they spiral down and away; a legacy of dingy hotel rooms, crowded bars and quiet restaurants lost to her quick fingers. He looks back to her, with her tropically printed shirt and her distractingly short shorts, the pale length of her slender legs exposed to the sun. If he recalls correctly, her knee high boots with their frustrating amount of lacings, were tossed somewhere under his bed and his kitchen table along with her knee bracers and that silly little sleeveless zippered coat of hers. As if sensing his scrutiny, her little toes curl against the floor and she spins, turning to him and sticking out her tongue. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out another cigarette.
"Brat," he murmurs and flicks open his lighter, touching it to the nicotine and breathing in.
She turns, glancing inattentively at the streets below for a moment before tossing herself back into her chair and heaving a contented sigh. She snags the tall, fruity drink he had mixed for her, some abominable concoction of strawberry juice and cream soda that she insisted she'd kill for, and takes a huge, syrupy swig. Half of it winds up trickling over her lips and down her chin, staining them a deep pink before she smears it away with her wrist, and that's when he thinks he might be in love with her.
"Happy?" he asks, and he can sense a slight tremor of actual pleasure in his voice that unnerves him when she meets his eyes.
"Ecstatic!" she beams, before standing and circling the table. She throws herself across his lap with an abandonment of self he had only thought possible in children, and he tosses his cigarette onto the stones where it burns indignantly.
She scrabbles more comfortably into his lap, ending up facing him with her legs spread over the arms of his chair and her limbs securely around his neck. He eyes her position hungrily, his hands smoothing over her thighs and coming to rest at the juncture between her leg and her hip, his thumbs dangerously close to her center. Her eyes darken, the color black as sin and causing shivers of pure want to cleave through him. He's still sore from the extraordinary sex they'd had the night before against the back of his couch, on top of his table, on his kitchen counters, the bathroom door, the front door… His thoughts wander to sweat and skin and indulgence for a moment as he remembers the sound of her girlish voice chanting his name, before a pinch on his nose has his eyes refocusing on the pretty Wutain before him.
"I can't believe you have freckles," she chirps in a voice like lemon lime, hot summer days and strands of pearls, and he shrugs, absently wondering if she'd let him buy her some and how they'd look draped over her pale naked skin.
"Duh!" she rolls her eyes, "because I didn't think it was possible that your hair color was real!"
"You've got proof now, sweets," he grins wolfishly, pushing his hips into hers, and is rewarded with a shaky sigh and heavy lids.
Her fingers come up and cautiously tap along his cheekbones and over his narrow nose.
"There's like, a hundred!"
"They're only on my face," he says defensively, trying to distract her by catching one of her fingers in his teeth and sucking.
"Oh," she's breathless and disappointed, he knows it, "here I was hoping for like, billions once I had you out in the sun for a bit."
"I burn," he says around her finger, "but that's it."
The honest to god princess sitting in his lap chuckles at that and pulls her hand away. She leans forward, her chin poking sharply into his shoulder, and snatches his ponytail from behind him.
"You're such a girl, Reno," she says, fingering it gently, and he doesn't like the uncertainty he sees in her face because she's ahead at a step he didn't set up for her.
"I think I sufficiently proved to you this morning that I ain't a girl."
She blushes, turning to lick his neck in a decidedly distracting maneuver, and pushes herself against him. He wonders what her problem is.
"Yep," she says simply, and her mouth is following the path of her tongue and he's shivering before he can control himself.
"Jailbait," he mutters, "stop getting beneath my skin."
But she does him one better, her small hands deftly unbuttoning his shirt and slipping down across the heated skin of his chest. Her lips are tracing the orange jags of his tattoos, one by one along his cheekbones, and his own hands are sliding up her ribs and over her breasts.
When her mouth meets his own, he knows he tastes like smoke, but she tastes of strawberry juice and soda pop, and her sweetness only serves to engulf him in the hopelessness of his desires. He's young, but she's younger. She's strong, and he's stronger. He's wild, but she's wilder. She's lost, and he's losing. How had it come to this?
"Yuffie," he groans, and the evening sunlight is cooling down, and he wonders just how long they've been lost in one another's mouths. His only answer is a giggle, and when she pulls back, a few of his long red hairs are clinging to her sticky chin.
Looking at her, he wonders just how long they will have before she leaves him. He wonders how long it will take before she realizes he's no good for anyone. He wonders how long it will take before she has to go run her goddamn country. He wonders if she's even capable of loving; impetuous, brazen little thing that she is. He wonders how he'll bear it when she goes. The fact remains that she's eighteen, he's twenty five, she's the Wutain heir, and he's a Turk, and she's got a fuck of a lot of growing still to go and he's got nothing but more hell to raise.
Nothing has made that clearer to him than the night he had come home from a mission – a group of cocky citizens didn't like Rufus's attempts to revive Shin-Ra – tired and frustrated. She hadn't been where he left her that morning, still sleeping in his bed, but instead was on his balcony. He had dropped his gun carelessly on the floor, but he had no doubt she was aware of his presence long before the heavy thud of metal meeting carpet. His shirt was flecked and splattered with the red gore of a fifteen year old boy who had gotten caught in the crossfire and the enraged father that had followed. His EMR followed the guns descent, tossed aside because the crackle and flood of electricity still tingled over his skin and the memory was enough.
She had turned without a smile, street lights from below touching her back and edging her in milky gold.
"You okay?" she asked simply, moving from the shadows into the light of his apartment.
"Sure," he had replied, and he remembered the reluctant pull of his trigger as he took out the boy.
"You've got, you know, blood on you."
"Any of it yours?"
And she hadn't asked any other questions, though he could see her nearly biting through her lip to hold them back. Curiosity was her nature, and that she stilled her own tongue showed him that she was more serious about him than he had originally thought. She was trying so hard to be grown up, to be mature.
She had been careful to keep her hands away from the blood as she pushed off his coat and unbuttoned his shirt. He had been careful to keep his hands away from the blood when he touched her down turned face and tilted it up to see her eyes thankfully dry of tears. He had kissed her then, bare-chested, beside the clutter of his death trade, still feeling the dampness of blood against his skin and wondering why it had happened at all. They were supposed to be the good guys now.
Pulling away from his memories, Reno sees that she's smiling slightly and pulls a face at him when he tries to catch her eye. Her childishness is at odds with her body though, as she grinds her pelvis into his before pulling her leg back over one side of the chair and hopping off of him.
"Coming in?" she questions, and in her eyes is the look of a woman only he has discovered. Jealously, he decides he'll make damn sure it stays that way.
"What's in it for me, sweets?"
He reaches out across the tiny table and snags her glass, taking a cautious sip and finding his taste buds exploding with sweetness and fruit. He winces in longing for a warm rum, puts the glass back down, and admires her lanky body when she places a hand on her hip.
"Well," she seems to think, "I can bend my legs right behind my-"
And he's up and dragging her through the patio doors before she can finish her sentence.
"What? You just saving that trick for a rainy day?" he sounds almost offended that she hadn't shown him before.
"Reno, I'm a ninja. I bet I can bend ways you can't even think of."
"Sweets, I don't think you want to test that."
They enter his bedroom, his blue covers still rumpled from their morning tryst, and he tosses her onto it as she laughs.
"So I see," she hums speculatively as she drags up a set of handcuffs from the prison of his sheets.
"How'd those get there?" he frowns, but she has already tossed them aside and is lifting her hips so he can better pull off her shorts. She is surprisingly strong, and yanking him against her, she presses him down and slides herself on top of him.
Her voice is full of curiosity and desire, hesitation and confidence, emotions jangling like a jumble of rainbow marbles within her equally cluttered mind. She's looking down at him, all huge eyes and soft lips, and he's suddenly damned scared that she's going to leave him, tell him she loves him, or both.
"Should I get a tattoo?"
Is he disappointed or relieved? He doesn't know, but his hands are busy pulling her shirt over her head. It musses her hair, and he smoothes it back down. In retaliation she sneaks forward and pulls the goggles from his forehead, tossing them to the floor with one languorous movement.
"Uh, sure kid, why not? I like mine."
She laughs. "Maybe I'll get those too. You know, I'll be all scary and pointy and when people ask me what they're from, I'll tell them Reno of the Turks gave them to me, and people will be all freaked out and cry and stuff. It'll be classic…" she breaks off with a moan because his mouth is covering one of her nipples as the flat of his hand presses her down towards him.
She falls, bracing herself on her hands against the bedspread on either side of his shoulders so that her black hair falls around her face, and he continues to dote on her breasts.
"Reno," she whispers, and suddenly he knows that he wants to know everything about her, from her favorite color to her newest piece of Materia, to how she learned that wild wall scrambling move he's seen captured on the news cameras. She slides down, kisses him impishly on the nose, and undoes the fly of his pants.
"Yuffie," he says from between teeth clenched with anticipation, and then there is nothing but moist mouth, giggles, and the touch of her tongue.
Later, when they've sated themselves in one another and they're sprawled on his living room floor naked, he traces random patterns on her smooth back and imagines different tattoos for her. She sighs contentedly at the teasing brush of his red hair against her shoulder and the dim glow of his mako lit eyes in the darkness.
"The symbol for Wutai?" he snickers, and she snorts.
"I'd rather get the symbol for ass monkey."
"I'd hate to see that symbol," he shakes his head and his hair falls across her spine, pooling at the base of her back like blood.
"How about something wicked cool! Like a shuriken! Or a sword! Or a gun!"
"While you're at it you can get Valentine's claw tattooed on your ass."
"That's an appealing thought," she teases, "Vinnie's hand eternally groping my bum…"
Reno snarls slightly, startling her, and in the darkness of his apartment his eyes burn eerily.
"Okay, not," she snickers, and he presses his body against hers in a slide of warm, sweaty skin. He smells of cigarette smoke and spices, and she inhales his body like she would her last breath. He turns from her, lights another smoke and takes a deep drag, sitting up to better inhale. He gestures gracefully, glancing over his shoulder at her, and indicates his apartment.
"I got an extra key, you know, if you want it. It'd save me some time having to come get the door every time you want to talk or sleep with me."
She stops for a moment, thinking and wondering and realizing, because even she can see that him allowing her that kind of freedom in his world is staggering.
"Sure," she says flippantly, "that way I can show up without calling and make sure you aren't messing around on me."
"You know better then that," he chuckles, and she does. "'Sides. You threw out my numbers."
"That's because the only number you need on your PHS in mine."
"And Rude's," he mutters. "Damned if I can ever remember it. I get hell if I'm late for a meeting without calling."
"What about my name?" she asks suddenly, and it takes him a moment to realize that she's once again talking about tattoos.
"Yuffie? You really want that stuck to you for good?"
"Um, duh? It kind of already is. It's my name. Besides, what's wrong with Yuffie?"
"Nothing much," he turns to her and smiles, his teeth a white flash in the shadows.
"Well, think of something for me than!"
"Damn it! Think of something yourself! The damn things are supposed to be filled with meaning and crap. You know? Stuff you want to remember forever. Stuff that means the fucking world to you. Don't just choose some dumb shit, think it out and make sure you love it."
She ignores his flippant tone, the casual wave of his hand, the bitter smoke wafting through the pooled light just barely seeping from the streets onto his floor, and throws herself back down, dragging him with her as he hastily stubs out his cigarette against his carpet and goes.
Two days later, she would come to him in the evening, still wincing from the after burn of fresh tattoos and jumping with excitement, pressing her key into his lock and stumbling in to find him standing before her, stuffing his EMR back into his holster once he sees that it is only her.
"Going to take a bit of getting used to," he murmurs to her as he tugs her into his bedroom, because two days has been way to fucking long.
"Just don't fry me, Reno. I'd hate to have to peg you with my shuriken before I went down. I'd go down screaming, just so you know, and you'd have an icky pile of melted Yuffie on your carpet. Of course, you'd be a pile of blood and dead to. I never miss."
"I know," he mutters against the nape of her neck, and she tastes so damned good, like salt and sugar, and he doesn't think he'll ever let her out his door again.
When his hands shift to the small of her back and she winces, he draws away, eyeing her narrowly.
"Did you get into a fight?"
Damn but that scares him even though is shouldn't. He'd seen her on captured footage of the Bahamut fiasco, flipping recklessly around with her Shuriken, deftly avoiding the summons furious teeth, claws, and Valentine's bullets. Apparently, she hid that grace only for when she fought. He's seen her trip and flail more times than he's seen Elena miss a target.
"Nope!" she grins, and promptly turns in his arms, bending over in a swift move that has him immediately horny as hell.
He is confused at first, as to what he is looking at, but his sharp eyes take in the matching orange jags now decorating her lower back with dawning comprehension. They match his own perfectly, but stand back to back along her spine like little mandarin sentinels.
"Well shit…" he murmurs, finger gently tracing the still unhealed pattern.
She turns, looking a bit shy, a bit hesitant, and her eyes flicker up to meet his aquamarine.
"I couldn't really match the freckles," she murmurs, reaching up to trace his cheekbones, "so I figured these were the next best thing."
It isn't a confession of undying love, or a mark of unyielding obsession. In fact, he is sure it is a sign of her impetuous, unthinking youth, and a mark she will one day regret. But for now, knowing those orange stripes decorate her back is a more clear demonstration of ownership and loyalty than even his dragging her out onto the streets, firing off a few rounds and screaming to the world that she belongs to him would be. And for now, looking at her mischievous smile, feeling her dark eyes upon him, and hearing her sing song his name, it is enough.