Disclaimer: I don't own any of the FFVII characters, places, etc.
A/N: I just love Yuffie and Reno as a couple. Dunno why. They just seem to fit together pretty well 'cuz their personalities seem similar to me. Not the same, just similar. So this is my story! Thanks to all those who gave input and followed it through! You guys rock! Warm fuzzies to ya and if I had a glass of wine with me at this very moment I'd toast to your health and longevity! If you guys were feeling generous and really wanted to, or like the Legacy of Kain game series, I posted one other oneshot fic there, called Cider. Not nearly as warm and fluffy as this one but I like it. Give it a shot if you feel like humoring me one last time. Thanks a bajillion again!
Chapter 65: Silent Vows
Yuffie had always been about motion. She was a ball of energy, constantly changing. Reno hesitated in approaching her, watching from the relative safety of the shadowy courtyard. She was sitting in a vibrant slant of light, counting her winnings with rapid fingers, sorting and separating a collection of items that would have drawn every magpie in the country if she was any less possessive.
Reno had gotten used to seeing her elaborate hair and breathtaking kimonos on the television in press conferences, and was accustomed to her tomboy clothing and the dirt that often streaked her body and face. He wasn't prepared in his vulnerability for coming across her with mussed, loose hair and a bright, yellow, pink and orange yukata, or summer garb. For some reason, with the light and shadow playing off of her features, and the girlishness of her position, Reno wanted more then anything in the world to belong seated on that porch, right next to her.
Vincent Valentine stepped onto the veranda beside her, stooping so that they were closer to eye level. Some of the light caught in his red eyes, and Reno watched Yuffie's eyes flash up at him and her expression soften. He'd seen that look before on women, and it almost drove a knife through him. He stopped himself from moving, not sure if he'd have picked a fight with Valentine or gone the other way. Instead, he bunched his fists in his pockets, and just kept watching.
"What's your schedule tomorrow?" Vincent was asking.
"I'm headed down south, to mediate in some territorial disputes and legitimacy issues," Yuffie answered. She sighed deeply, and turned back to her organizing. "Never thought I'd be much of a negotiator, huh?" Her smile leaped to her face, sparkling in her eyes. Reno recalled the night at the bar when Yuffie had looked at him similarly, and smiled at his foolishness.
"Maybe yuki means purging snow," Vincent offered. Reno let the inside joke pass, as Yuffie laughed. He reminded himself they had a great deal of history together.
"Hope so," she answered. "You better get back to Shelk though. I think my face might melt off if she keeps looking at me like that." Yuffie put her hand behind her, and stuck out her tongue at someone in the room. "You better fix your face before it gets stuck! Hell, even I could beat you in a beauty pageant if you froze like that!" she teased.
"I am not jealous!" another woman shouted back, as roaring laughter ensued. Vincent's smile flickered for a moment, before he stood and returned back inside. Yuffie waited a moment, and then stood up. Reno thought for a moment he'd missed his chance, before Yuffie lifted one of the hanging lanterns and slung it over her shoulder, leaving her winnings behind and marching straight for him.
She stood taller then him on the veranda, smiling into his face, crisscrossed with leaf patterns where he stood half obscured by a bush. He gave her a wry grin, scratching the back of his head.
"I hate it when I get caught," he said sheepishly, looking up at her.
"What is it with you old men?" Yuffie demanded. Reno just had to look up and admire her, seemingly thousands of feet above him. He wondered if he smelled flowers or if she wore perfume. "Somethin' on my face?" She scrubbed at it.
"I just like it," Reno answered. That delicious blush started to surface, but she stamped it down determinedly.
"You wanna walk?" she asked, stepping down off the veranda. Her small feet touched the ground, and somewhere Reno recalled that was taboo.
"No shoes?" he looked down at her toes.
"Shoes are for wimps." She struck out through the courtyard, and Reno took two brisk strides to catch up with her. They walked side by side for a while, Yuffie still carrying the lantern over one shoulder. She hardly looked like an Empress with her hair tangled and her feet collecting dirt and flecks of mud leaping onto her shins.
"You have to go back to Edge soon, huh?" Yuffie said, and Reno just nodded. "That'll make things dull."
"Aw, I'm touched." Reno smiled, really delighted. "You kids are always so cute, wearin' your hearts on your sleeves."
"Yeah, that always seems to bite me in the ass," Yuffie groused. Reno didn't doubt it. He wondered where they were going as they emerged onto the main streets, still bustling with activity. It was just after dark, and the city was still lively as workers made their way to restaurants for food stipends or bought meals, depending on their situations. Yuffie didn't seem bothered as she wove through the crowds, her little frame fitting easily between the small gaps and tight spaces in the flow of things. Reno had a considerably more difficult time, bumping and brushing people.
"I got lots of things to thank you for," Yuffie suddenly appeared on his arm, and Reno adjusted it so her fingers would fit better in the crux of his arm.
"Don't play dumb, Turkey." Yuffie pulled him aside and flipped a few coins into the hands of a merchant, before collecting five sticks of incense. Reno looked ahead of them and saw Da Chao rising before them, and on the road to it, a host of shrines and temples. He had an idea of where they were going now, at least.
"I told ya, I'm always with the prettier girl," Reno shrugged. Yuffie laughed.
"You're sight's getting bad in your old age," she teased him, snaking her arm through his again.
"Respect your elders. Isn't that a main tenant of your society? Where have manners gone these days?" he sighed.
"I'm an Empress. It goes Empress before elders."
Silence stretched between them, and Reno enjoyed having Yuffie on his arm and their shadows leading the way, thrown onto the ground by the lantern over Yuffie's shoulder. Her feet made no noise, while Reno's shoes scraped a little on the pavement, the smells of the city falling into the background. She smelled like secondhand smoke and he realized she was wearing just a little perfume. Fireflies drifted lazily around them, something like an electrified snow globe as they moved farther away from civilization. Yuffie sure knew how to set a mood. He wondered if it was conscious or not.
She stopped at a massive, gnarled old tree. It rose high above them, and Yuffie let go of his arm. She stuck the pole into the ground, the lantern bobbing a little. Squatting before the writhing roots, she lit the incense sticks in the lantern's candle, before setting them in a stone basin jutting from between the roots.
"There was a shrine here a long time ago," Yuffie said absently. "Nobody believes in these gods anymore. I think I'm about the only one who ever drops by." Reno watched the embers of the incense fade, and the curling smoke rise and brush Yuffie's face. He smelled cedar. She stood up, and turned to face him, arms crossed. "You're very different from who I always thought you were. I bet I don't even know half the stuff about you. You're what, ten years older then me?"
"'Bout that," he nodded, amused by her statements. He had an itch to smoke, but squelched it. His nerves would not get the best of him.
"It seems like a long time, ten years…" Yuffie said. Her eyes lost track of their time and space. "Then again, it's been ten years since Meteor. Feels like yesterday I swiped everybody's stuff and ran off with it."
"What'd we come up here for?" Reno asked.
"The view," she pointed. Reno turned, and looked across the vast expanse of Wutai. Without ice and snow choking it, it glittered like a gem, the lights dancing in the evenings, the street expanding forever in gold, red, green, and white illumination. "Maybe you'll come back to see it some time. When the pagoda's finished, you'll have to come see it from the top floor. You can see forever, and stare right into Da Chao's eyes even."
"You know, I kinda like the view from sea," Reno said. He looked back at her, and saw the faint confusion and unease in her eyes. "When I was younger, I came in at night to Wutai. It was the first land I'd seen in two weeks, and it was about the prettiest thing in the world. 'Course, then it was all torn up from the war. Never forgot that view though, seein' the lights come up the hill. Somebody with magpie eyes like yours would like it. I'll show it to ya, next time I visit."
Yuffie tried to contain her smile, but couldn't. So she let it bloom across her face, exuding delight and anticipation. Reno felt strange for a moment watching her. Wutai felt suddenly like home, despite all the strife and chaos, all the fighting, the years of enmity.
There were complications to all of this, no way for it to be perfect. And yet somehow, standing with the fireflies and the shrine forgotten and devoured by an ancient tree, it was perfect anyway. Duty, society, and any number of other things divided them, but it wasn't enough to keep the distance between them, an easy stride so they were an inch apart.
That was all it took. Reno's fate was sealed, in a moment of perfect bliss. It wasn't long, not nearly enough. There were people waiting for both of them, lives that would inevitably separate and command them apart. But just for a moment, it didn't matter. It wouldn't matter ever again, as far as Reno was concerned. Not so long as she would have him when the boundaries of their lives could mesh and blur together.
Walking back was blissful, and dressed as they were, it allowed them in the chaos of reconstruction to lace fingers. Nothing was said, understanding and contentment needing no words. It wasn't until Yuffie climbed with muddy feet back onto the veranda that they released fingers, and Yuffie hesitated. She opened her mouth, distressed suddenly, and Reno shook his head.
"I know." They stood, staring at each other. Yuffie reached into her sleeve and pulled out a tattered wallet. Reno lifted his eyebrows, watching as she went through his credit cards and cash.
"No pictures at all, huh?" Yuffie asked. He shook his head. She smiled, and pulled something else out of her sleeve. She stuffed it in, and tossed him the wallet. "Elle sent that to me. I've got an extra copy in my secret stash." Reno looked at the picture of them sleeping from the bar. They looked like children.
"I think that's the most innocent expression I've ever seen on your face," he gave a low whistle. Yuffie smiled.
"I'd invite you in for a beer, but you'd better not drink and fly."
"Yuffie?" called Tifa. Yuffie rolled her eyes skyward, ducked down, and dropped a chaste kiss on his lips. She was too fast for him, and he cursed his recovering body.
"It's your own fault for bein' too sexy," she tossed over her shoulder, her spry feet carrying her inside. Reno didn't loiter, knowing better. He wasn't a mooning youth anymore, however much he wanted to go toss pebbles at her windowpanes. Well, there'd be time for that later. Plenty of time, he reassured himself.
Rude was snoozing in the car. Reno could tell by the relaxation in his partner's usually severe face. He tapped lightly at the window, and Rude came to. He unlocked the doors, and Reno slouched into his seat.
"So?" Rude asked. Reno didn't say anything, focusing intently on the inn. He wished he belonged, just so that he could sit next to her openly. That wasn't his place though. "Elena's going to have a field day."
"I could be in deep shit," Reno leaned back, feeling a sudden surge of glee. He was giddy. How long had it been since he was giddy? Rude glanced at his partner as he backed out onto the street.
"Good," Rude approved.
"Good?" Reno laughed.
Nothing else was said about it. It didn't need to be. For the first time, Reno felt like everything was right in the world.
- Fin -