AN: I own nothing in this story. This is for koalababay so enjoy. Please R&R.
His bonds chafed against his skin and the wooden pole he was tied to didn't help matters. Reno tried to struggle but he was stuck fast to the pole, helpless before whatever fate awaited him.
"Of all the rotten luck..." he muttered to himself. He had just been passing through, minding his own business. Well maybe he had appreciated the shine on a particular gold piece and attempted to take it but that was still no reason to leave him in the middle of the woods. When he asked what was going to be waiting for him, all he got in reply were hushed words, something about a hideous witch and her beasts that would rip men apart. Reno didn't take much stock in witches but he would gladly take an ugly hag over a noose any day of the week.
The bushes to the left and right rustled suddenly and a loud roar sliced through the quiet. Reno's heart pounded a little bit faster and he hastened to undo his bonds. A pair of wolves burst through the bushes, moving closer to the tied up thief, noses sniffing the air. Closer and closer they came until Reno could feel the warm breath on his skin. Closing his eyes, he waited for their fangs to pierce his body and prayed he wouldn't feel much pain...
Tifa was watering her plants when Elena came flying up to her, her tiny moogle wings beating a mile a minute, nearly matching the speed of her mouth.
"Tifa, Fenrir and Lycan found some human guy tied to a pole in the middle of the woods, what are we going to do, huh?" Tifa raised a hand to silence the female moogle before replying.
"We'll take care of him, just like we do with all the others those ignorant villagers leave to die. Have them bring him here, okay?" Elena nodded and with a flurry of wings and white vanished into the trees. Tifa then returned to her cabin and began preparing for this new guest.
Reno's eyes opened slowly and then blinked rapidly, not expecting the harsh light. He soon realized that he was lying on a bed, the sheets cool against his skin. His ears then picked up the sound of someone humming and he sat up, trying to see who it was.
His answer came a few moments later when a woman appeared dressed in a black robe that covered her body completely, even her head was sheltered from view by a hood.
"Ah, you're awake," the woman said, her tone suggesting that of a young woman about Reno's own age.
"Where am I and who are you?"
"You're in my cabin. Some friends of mine found you and brought you here." She moved closer to the bedside then and Reno managed to see her face or at least half of it. An eye the color of mahogany stared into his eyes. Hair a shade shy of midnight masked the left half of her face and Reno found himself entranced.
"Something wrong?" Reno shook his head at her question and looked away.
"No, nothing. You still haven't told me your name by the way..."
"It's Tifa," Tifa replied.
"Well Tifa I'm Reno, treasure hunter extraordinary." Before she could reply, a moogle shoved it's way through the front door. As soon as it saw Tifa, it flew in her face, jabbering excitedly.
"Kupo, kupo, kupo kupo kupo!" Reno started to plug his ears from the incessant cry from the creature when he saw Tifa open her mouth.
"Kupo, kupo kupo!" The moogle looked mortified and looked at Reno then back to Tifa.
"Kupooo...." the moogle mumbled, exiting the room. Tifa turned her attention back to Reno and saw that his mouth was wide open in disbelief.
"You're going to catch a fly if you do that any longer," she remarked. At her voice, he closed his mouth but his eyes were still wide.
"Did you just talk to that moogle?"
"Yes I did. Does that frighten you?"
"No but now I know that those villagers were right about a witch in the woods," Reno said quickly. Tifa frowned at that and Reno held up a hand. "Now don't jump to any conclusions here, I'm not a bigot. Man, woman, or witch, got it? At least as long as you don't try to eat me." Tifa's eye gleamed at that and Reno gulped.
"You're rather thin so I doubt you'd taste good." Reno looked like he was about to pass out and Tifa chuckled. "That was a joke." Reno nodded a few moments later.
"Heh, heh, good one..."
"I need to go attend to something else so rest a bit longer. You had a high fever a few hours ago and I doubt it's gone away. If you need anything just call outside and I'll be able to hear you." Bowing, she then left out the front door.
Reno laid back and looked up at the ceiling, thoughts wandering.
"For a witch she's not bad...not bad at all..." Reno said aloud to the empty room.
From the cabin Tifa turned west, walking towards the setting sun. The shadows started to lengthen as she reached a secluded row of trees.
"I don't know about this guy Teef, seems kind of stupid if you ask me," a high pitched voice said, coming from one of the branches. Tifa glanced upward and saw the chipmunk perched overhead.
"Yuffie, there's something about this man, I think he might be the one..." but she left the rest unspoken. The chipmunk giggled then, leaping from the tree to land on Tifa's shoulder.
"Well first we have to work on your look."
"Is it so out of date?"
"Four or five centuries at the least," Yuffie said.
"And you're still as high spirited as ever."
"Have to look on the bright side of things and speaking of bright I found some awesome Materia acorns today!"
"Think you've found the last of them?" Tifa asked. Yuffie moved her head from side to side.
"Nope but I'll keep on stealing- but Tifa's glare cut her off then. The chipmunk laughed weakly and rubbed the back of her head. "I meant borrow, yeah that's it!"
"I don't want to hear complaints about you from any of the others. They already think I give you special treatment just because you've known me the longest."
"They can bite my furry backside and besides you're like my big sister, emphasis on big." Tifa just lifted her eyes heavenward at her friends lame attempt at humor. Some things would never change now matter how much time passed, including Yuffie's attitude.
"Well try to tone down your zeal for acorns, alright?" Yuffie just waved a paw back and forth.
"Yeah, yeah I got it." Tifa looked back towards her cabin, sighing.
"I might even grow to love him..."