AN: Hello my lovely readers! It's certainly been a while. While this story has been completed for some time, I'll admit I was never fully satisfied with the way I ended it. Reno dying in his sleep sometime in his eighties? Really? Come on. He's a Turk! So, for all the readers out there who thought the ending should have gone a little bit differently, this is for you.
Disclaimer: Still own nothing. Everything you recognize belongs to Square.
Yuffie's first few weeks in the Lifestream were fairly blissful, despite the aching gap that Reno's absence left in her heart. She got to catch up with Aeris and her mother and a bunch of her childhood friends who had been lost in the Wutai-Shinra war all those years ago. Everything was peaceful in the Lifestream, peaceful and calm and happy.
But she had still given up Reno. And it still hurt. A lot. It didn't matter how much time passed, Yuffie knew it would continue to hurt until she could finally be with him again. Hours had turned into days which had turned into weeks and those began to turn into months. And Yuffie began to worry, because she began to watch Reno more and more. And what she saw scared her.
A small band of terrorists had sprung up in the underbelly of Edge. And not the good, AVALANCHE-y type of terrorists either. AVALANCHE has wanted to save the planet; this group just wanted everyone to burn. With the new onslaught of bombings and raids and attacks, Cloud and Co., plus the Turks, had dusted off their weapons and returned to the illustrious business of being heroes.
But that wasn't what scared Yuffie. She knew that her friends, both AVALANCHE and Turk alike, could take on the terrorists and come out victorious, even without her trusty shuriken and throwing stars and general awesomeness to aid them. She knew that they could take on anyone and anything and come out stronger and victorious, especially if they stuck together. The incident with the Remnants and then again with DeepGround had proved that.
No, what terrified Yuffie was how reckless Reno was becoming. Granted, he'd always been wild and daring, throwing himself into battle with a fervor that seemed careless—yet Yuffie knew the nonchalance came from years of practice, experience and desensitization. Yet this new recklessness was not born from years of violence and fighting as a Turk. It was fueled by a wish to die. And it made Yuffie sick to her stomach to think about it.
She first noticed it on a raid of one of the terrorist bases, deep within the worst part of the slums. Cloud, Barrett, Rude and Reno had approached the dilapidated building in the dead of night, shrouded in darkness and silence, save for Barrett's occasional mumbled curse. When the time was right, when Cloud signaled for them to mosey on in (or, more accurately, burst in with guns blazing, swords slashing and EMRs beating, shocking, sizzling), they had all thrown themselves into a frenzy. Yuffie watched from the sparkling abyss of the Lifestream, cheering her friends, her love, on. She gasped when one of the radicals raised his gun to point at an occupied Rude's back. Reno noticed too, just in time to shove his friend and partner out of the way and take the bullet square in the chest.
It had missed his heart by an inch. To everyone else, it had seemed like any other battle wound, granted, a much more dangerous and life-threatening one than those normally sustained, but an accidental wound on Reno's part nonetheless.
Yuffie knew better. She had seen the relief in his eyes as the bullet ripped through him, so the disappointment and despair when he awoke in a hospital to a smiling doctor telling him he was going to be fine. She knew he had wanted that bullet to pierce his heart and rip it to pieces and send him reeling, bleeding, into the Lifestream and her waiting arms.
Still, Yuffie had thought of it as a phase, one that he would get over as his grief faded. Perhaps she was just deluding herself, thinking that he would ever fully move on from her. If the situation had been reversed and she had been the one left behind, the ninja most certainly would have ended her days as a childless spinster. So it was with a worried heart that Yuffie continued to spy on the ongoing battle between her friends and the terrorist organization.
At first Reno's constant wounds seemed, for all intents and purposes, like simple bad luck. More gunshot wounds to the chest, some pretty awful gashes that always seemed to end up extremely close to various arteries. All fighters went through their unlucky stages, where no matter how hard they tried, they always emerged bloodied and beaten. Yuffie still knew better than all her friends still back among the living. Reno was not having a stroke of major bad luck. He was trying to die.
Yuffie watched over him constantly, counting his breaths, counting the minutes, the hours, the days, the weeks, waiting… waiting for his suicidal behavior to stop. When weeks turned into months, seven to be exact, and his antics only seemed to be getting worse, Yuffie knew she had to do something, intervene somehow.
His tenth attempt was her final straw.
Tifa, Elena, Vincent and Reno had been tracking the resident explosions expert for a few weeks when they finally had an opening to terminate him. His house had been easy enough for them to find, but it was a minefield of the newest and best security systems. Yuffie felt a pang of guilt as she watched her friends struggle to develop ways to break in while avoiding detection; it would have been much easier had she been there to help them. While the systems were indeed complex, nothing short of Sephiroth armed with Knights of the Round could keep the shinobi out of anywhere she wanted to go. Yet even without her expertise, they managed. It took them ten times longer than it should have, but she was proud of them, especially Tif. She seemed to have a knack for the finer arts of ninja.
Once they figured out how to breach the explosives expert's house, the raid went off without a hitch—almost. The foursome burst in at three in the morning, catching him off-guard as he worked on wiring together a bomb. Tifa singlehandedly subdued him, still in top form even after her death and resurrection, while Elena, Vincent and Reno scanned the area for any other traps, alarms or otherwise dangerous and deadly objects. Reno had ended up in the man's bedroom, curiously investigating a safe tucked under the bedside table. He tapped on it a few times, ran his fingers along the edges and then finally placed his ear against the black metal. Yuffie could see his eyes widen, hear his heart begin to beat just a fraction faster than usual. He deftly spun the number-wheel, listening for the clicks that were off-pitch, signaling the correct number. When the safe finally swung open, Reno's aquamarine gaze was contemplative.
A bomb was set inside, counting down from one minute. Yuffie recognized the brand and system it ran on; it was a very rare kind, one that had been wired to the front door and had been tripped as her friends intruded without the help of the key that would have stayed the bomb's countdown. Reno simply stared at it, determination dominating his gaze.
Fifty seconds left and Yuffie willed him to get the others and get out of the room. He didn't move an inch.
Forty seconds left and Yuffie willed one of his teammates to burst in and drag him from the room. They were all occupied.
Thirty seconds left and Yuffie started screaming.
Twenty seconds left and Elena finally entered the bedroom. Her eyes took in the entire scene in the space of one second and she rushed to Reno's side.
"Reno! Either disarm the thing or let's get out of here!" Eighteen seconds.
His eyes didn't move from the little red numbers. "No, Laney. Get the others and go." Fifteen seconds.
Elena smacked him upside the head before grabbing his arm and pulling with all her might. Thirteen seconds.
Twelve seconds as he rounded on her. "I SAID NO, GODDAMMIT!"
Eleven seconds as Vincent rushed into the room. With his added strength they managed to pull the screaming, cursing Turk from the apartment. Ten seconds as Tifa slammed the door behind them.
Five seconds as they reached a safe distance. One second as Reno fell to his knees. Time was up as the building exploded, bathing them all in red light and sickeningly charred debris.
Time was up as Yuffie made up her mind to do something, once and for all.
She went to her mother to share her worries, and to Aeris to find a solution.
"Yuffie-chan," her mother's soft voice chided, "You can't keep looking out for him forever. He loves you and he misses you and he obviously wants to be with you. Wouldn't you be doing the same if you were in his position?"
Yuffie shook her head vehemently. "Mama! If our places were switched and he had asked me to live a full life and move on and be happy, I'd at least try and respect his final wishes!"
At this her mother had laughed, loud and full, her head thrown back. "'Respect his final wishes?' Yuffie, my darling daughter, are you hearing yourself? You, the most irritatingly stubborn person I know, would most certainly do what you thought was best for both of you, with no regard to his last wishes. You know that as well as I do."
While her mother's words may have been true, they were not what Yuffie wanted to hear. The thought of Reno killing himself, especially by willingly letting himself be blown to pieces, sickened her. So what if she would have been doing the same thing in his place? She was dead, so she allowed to be a hypocrite.
When she approached Aeris, the lovely flower girl had graced her with a knowing smile. "You're not going to be able to dissuade him, you know." Her voice was soft, tinkling and gentle.
Yuffie shook her head, frustrated. "I have to at least try, Aeris! You'd do it for any of us, wouldn't you?"
Green eyes dimmed slightly, before brightening again. "I already did, Yuffie. When everything with the Remnants started and Cloud was being…"
"Cloud." Yuffie finished the thought.
"Mm," Just one little affirmation before she continued, "I made contact a few times… Zack even came with me at the very end. Would you like me to teach you?"
Yuffie had accepted on the spot.
"It's really not that hard," Aeris explained, "You just have to… focus. Bring all your senses to believe that you're actually there with him. Create a place where you'd like the two of you to be, and then hear the sounds, smell the aromas, see the sights, feel it all on your skin. Feel himthere with you. Smell him, see him, feel him. Even taste him if you need to." She wiggled her eyebrows mischievously as she said that part and Yuffie rolled her eyes.
She wanted to try immediately, but it was late at night in the living world and Reno was sleeping fitfully. Yuffie wanted him awake when she talked to him, so that he'd know it was real and not just chalk her appearance up to a dream.
Reno dreamed of her often, and she knew it. It pleased and tormented her all at once to know that he still thought of her, even in his dreams. It meant that he still loved her, but it also meant he still ached for her. Yuffie hated seeing him in pain.
She impatiently waited until morning, impatiently waited until Reno had fully woken, had his usual huge cup of coffee and headed to the small training room he kept in his apartment. He kicked and punched and viciously attacked a punching bag hanging from the ceiling, and Yuffie knew her big opportunity was coming up. She began to focus, picking her place carefully, and trying to time everything just right. Just as Reno took a leaping roundhouse kick towards the punching bag, Yuffie grinned and finished focusing.
She opened her eyes to see Reno standing before her, confusion and disbelief waging war in his eyes.
They were in the Mythril Mines. She thought it fitting, seeing as that was where their whole journey together had really started. The blueish-greenish light danced around them, and she could even hear a bit of a tinkling from the Mythril that formed deep within the rocky caverns. Reno just stared at her, love and pain etched across his face. Yuffie, as much as she wanted to hurl herself into her Turk and cover him in kisses, chose instead to plant her hands on her hips and glower.
"Just what the Hell do you think you're doing?"
"Yuffie…" her name fell from his lips like a prayer he never got tired of saying. He took a small step forward, as if afraid any sudden movements would cause her to evaporate into thin air.
Gray eyes tightened in pain and longing as he got closer, but the ninja sharply reminded herself that she had a mission to accomplish. "Reno… I love you, but you can't keep doing this to me! I'm literally rolling over in my grave every time I try to watch over you. Stop trying to kill yourself!"
"Yuffie… I…" there was uncertainty in his voice, but as he spoke it grew stronger, more sure. "I can't do this. I can't move on, I can't move past, I can't do anything other than dream of your face and your smell and the way you feel. I hurt every second of every minute of every hour of every day. And I'm tired of hurting when I know I can make the pain go away." Haunted aquamarine eyes nearly bored holes in her as Yuffie listened to his pain-flecked voice. Still, she was adamant.
"Blowing yourself to smithereens is not going to make the pain go away, Reno! All it's gonna do is tear you apart and kill you!
But he shook his head, a hollow laugh echoing from his throat. "Yuffs, baby… You don't get it. You dying already tore me to pieces. Your death already killed me."
Yuffie crumbled a bit at that. "You were supposed to try and move on… or at least find some happiness…" But her voice had no authority, no power anymore.
Reno walked forward until there were only mere inches separating them. "Yuffie, how the hell can I move on when you're the only thing in this world I want? I love Rude and Laney and Tseng and all of your crackpot AVALANCHE friends… but they ain't you. They're family, but you're my home. They're friends, but you're my heart."
"I just… I don't want you to throw everything away, Reno!" There was anguish now, because as badly as she wanted to start her forever with her Turk right then and there, she didn't want to see his life end because of her.
"Yuffie, Princess, Brat, Baby… you're worth dying for." He smirked as she sighed irritably.
"You love it."
"I hate it!"
"Well… you love me."
"I'll be seeing you soon, Princess."
Yuffie stamped her foot, trying not to realize that she wasn't going to change his mind. "Reno! If you show up in the Lifestream anytime soon I'm gonna kick your dead butt so fucking hard!"
"Can't I just fuck you hard instead?" His Cheshire grin made her eye twitch, although his offer was far from repulsive.
"I have to go…" Yuffie sighed. Reno swore he almost felt her breath, as though she was real and solid and standing right in front of him. They were both wondering if they could touch without ruining the illusion, the vision, the meeting. "I'll miss you…" it was a tiny murmur, but it brought a smile to Reno's handsome face.
"You'll be seeing me soon, Yuffs."
"Again… you're impossible."
"I love you."
"I love you too, Turkey."
There was a tense moment where their eyes met, and Reno's heart began to pound out of rhythm. Yuffie's would have been too, if it could still beat. The distance between them disappeared as their lips molded together once more. Five seconds, and the moment shattered. Yuffie found herself back in the Lifestream, and Reno was back in his training room. Both were alone for the time being, but not for very long.
The next day was the final confrontation with the terrorist group. Reno went down in a hail of bullets, a grin on his face, fighting 'til the end.
Exactly the way a Turk should die.
All the other heroes made it out hardly worse for wear. The terrorists were either killed or taken into custody to be tried and found guilty and imprisoned for life. Yuffie sighed a huge breath of relief. Her friends were safe, and justice would be met.
She was turning to go find Aeris in order to share the good news when a pair of hungry, heated lips crashed onto hers. She didn't even need to look to know it was him. She had the feel of his mouth committed to memory, the smell of his skin familiar, the taste of him tongue comforting.
And when she finally did open her eyes, when she finally took in the smirking, cocky, handsome face that she had missed for so fucking long, when he playfully swatted her behind making a lewd comment about what he wanted to do with her now that they had forever, when he gazed at her with blazing, permanent, unconditional love, Yuffie knew she had finally come home.
Finally, finally, finally.
AN: Please let me know what you think in a review! I've made a promise that from this day forward, I will personally respond to any and all reviews I receive for my stories. I'm usually terrible at replying, which doesn't mean I don't appreciate the reviews, but I've finally just decided that I've got to start showing you all the love a little more XD
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