A/N: A Valentine-esque!Reno x Tifa for Anonymous. A. -- the goddess of Reti, I swear. If you think this is good you should check out her stuff. Her stories are simply amazing, that's all I can really say.
Oh and happy (early) Valentine's Day!!
Disclaimer: I own nothing. This was merely written for entertainment purposes only.
H e a r t s
Giftfic . for . Anonymous A .
Try as she might, she could never get herself wasted.
"All alone again," Tifa Lockhart muttered bitterly to herself, slamming the newly polished glass back down on the gleaming countertop with a bang that rattled the other glasses; she let out an airy sigh and crossed her long, pale legs while swiveling on a barstool, feet hanging innocently a few inches above the floor. It was late into the night, and the teeming crowds that were her usual customers had cleared out earlier. "Must be a record or something. I ought to make a toast to commemorate such a wondrous occasion."
She didn't mean to sound like a sarcastic bitch, honest.
Something bubbly and far too sweet was poured into a small, crystalline glass. The barmaid stared down through bleary, chocolate brown eyes at the amber-colored liquor that she held in question, expression distant and blank. She took it up with a flourish and mock saluted the ceiling with it before letting the liquid flow down her throat in a torrent of addicting sweetness. The bubbles seemed to pop rhythmically against her tongue, tickling the back of her throat.
"Happy Valentine's Day, Cloud," Tifa said aloud, not missing a single beat. A frown enveloped her red mouth and she lowered her head. "Wherever you are, I hope you're happy. You never were when you were home. Selfish, stupid bast --"
Her tongue stuck thickly to the roof of her mouth as she let out a freeing laugh like a butterfly. It almost sounded like a sob, and then she couldn't stop.
Maybe she was finally going crazy.
A rush of sickness swirled in her head, jumbling her emotions while her chest burned with emptiness.
Tifa poured herself another glass and downed it in rapid succession -- she barely noticed when a man donning a dark blue suit sat himself three seats down from her. The distance between them might as well have been oceans away. Gleaming viridian eyes dug into her skull silently, tempting her to look upwards and see what his matchless gaze was casting in her direction.
When she still didn't notice him, the man cleared his throat. It took a stab at conversation to bring Tifa back to reality and to the person at her bar.
"Hey, babe?" A purely male tone of voice called her out of her hazed reverie in a grating timbre. It sounded familiar in a way, which caused her heart to thump to a sputtering start as her misting eyes quickly swiveled upwards to eye the newcomer. She drew in a sharp gasp before she could stop herself.
Not a Turk, not in her bar, right now.
"Me?" the redhead mused, raising a brow at her incredulously as her mind desperately fumbled to put a name to that picturesque familiar face.
Damnit. What was his name again? Re - re - something?
Tifa slammed her drink down, resolving that it didn't really matter in the least anyway, and acknowledged the chink of glass with something akin to satisfaction.
"Yes?" Her mouth was set in a forced smile, voice less than friendly as she approached, hips swaying purposefully, because this was her bar. She would handle her customers however the hell she wanted to, including one of Shinra's measly lackeys. And she'd be damned if anyone else said otherwise.
The Turk looked bemused as he scratched the back of his head idly, dark scarlet mane tied back into a messy ponytail. He was discomfited in the face of her frown, but not afraid in the least, and Tifa had to cross her arms across her chest to keep from reacting too hastily. Her long, glossy black hair swung loosely at the small of her back, eclipsing the hidden menace she wanted him to see. "You look pissed," he drawled after awhile, the corners of his mouth quirking up into what he obviously thought was a roguish grin. "Tough night?"
"Enough with the formalities," Tifa snapped, tartly. "Just tell me what you want."
The redhead leered at her, green eyes roving over her curvy, leather-clad form like a pair of flashing neon lights. "What do I want?" Warm breath wafted sensually by her pale ear and made her round china cheeks stain a flustered shade of burgundy despite herself. Tifa's brow twitched, and she silently wished she'd chosen her words a bit more carefully. "Well, I have an idea."
"Oh?" she said simply. "What would that be?"
He smirked, his pale eyes clear and amused, then shrugged sheepishly and leaned in closer to her. She stopped breathing without even realizing it, acutely aware of the heat from his skin on her face. The smile that curved his lips was crooked in a way that made something tighten deep inside her.
"You're a smart girl," the man mused, moistening his lips with the tip of his long tongue before continuing. "You tell me."
When she leaned into his touch, it wasn't because she secretly liked it when people played with her hair, showing appreciation for her usually unkempt tresses. Far from it, actually. When she inhaled his distinctly masculine scent, noting how he smelled of rain, aftershave, and overused ashtrays, it wasn't because she thought it was sexy. Nope, not in the least.
"'Sides," he muttered, emerald irises never straying from her pouting mouth. His fingers ran through her silky strands, toying with a lock of it lazily, allowing it to curl delicately around his pinky finger, which was rather distracting, what with her trying to puff her bottom lip out in disdain and all. "You looked like you were a little down in your luck, and I sure as hell wouldn't mind some company from a pretty bartender such as yourself."
Just as he began to tilt his head just so, lips hovering dangerously close to her own, Tifa's brain finally caught up to her; she pulled away suddenly and he leaned back.
"You're a Turk! You work for Shinra, you kill people in cold blood everyday!"
Suddenly, she could feel her anger rising up inside her and she wondered why it hadn't come sooner. What was she doing, letting this stranger, a Turk no less, flirt with her, and flirting right back? Had her mind gone on vacation? Surely his occupation should be more important than what he was saying and doing now. She was so stupid to have forgotten something like that.
"Pfft, a guy's gotta eat doesn't he?" The redhead watched her calmly, that infuriating little smile still tugging at one corner of his mouth. Arranging himself more comfortably, he turned his head to the other side and examined her reddened face with blatant interest. "Heh, you're cute when you're mad. I should get you riled up more often."
Tifa glared daggers at him in response.
" . . . Besides, you didn't seem to care moments before. Tell me, what's a girl like you doing all alone on Valentine's Day?"
What's a girl like you doing all alone?
She wanted to say something, anything at all, but the words stuck bitterly in the back of her throat. She clenched her hands into tight fists at her sides instead, abruptly pulled away from him, and cuffed him. Hard.
The man -- Reno? -- rubbed his gradually reddening cheek gingerly. His eyes glittered like glowing embers beneath crimson lashes, and everything in his stance was of amusement and nothing of irate. "Damn, baby. You sure do know how to throw one hell of a punch!" He didn't even seem the least bit fazed that she'd slapped him. If anything he looked . . . amused.
Tifa narrowed her eyes. She hissed, turning her back, "Get out, now."
"If that's what you want," Reno replied evenly enough, chortling in a way that unnerved her for a long while.
When that guy who had hair that was reminiscent of a fierce bed of flames left, sprinting off without further ado into the night and leaving her life as fast as he had come, Tifa rubbed her forehead jadedly and took out the remainder of her wine from its secret hiding place. She spent the rest of the night cleaning up Seventh Heaven, wiping down all the tables, putting all the chairs up, washing all of the glasses, waiting for Cloud to come home. Reno forced himself into her head soon after though and she pondered over his musky scent of tobacco and the hint of aftershave floating in the pores of his ashen skin. Taking a swig of her drink, dark irises shone like stars as they scanned the bar one last time before heading off to bed, and she blinked delicately at the unexpected sight she was awarded.
Dawn broke. She found herself at the countertop and came across the single piece of heart-shaped candy: