Reno woke up in a haze that - the instant he tasted the roof of his own mouth - he recognised as a hangover. There was also a semi-self-satisfied feeling and a second source of heat in the bed with him.
Therefore, once again he had gotten drunk, then gotten laid. Once again, he had no idea who he was in bed with, why he was in bed with them, or when they would wake up so that he could tell them to get lost.
Hang on… Reno looked up around the room, just in case they had gone to a hotel or their place rather than his this time. Ah, not his place, he could steal some of their hot water and hopefully be gone before they woke up. Good.
He honestly didn't care who he had slept with, but he had to check the face anyway – after all, he had a reputation to keep up. If he was going to share somebody's bed, they had better be hot. It didn't really matter what sex they were, but they had to be on par with all his other one-night stands, and that meant that he had to make people jealous to know that he'd been with them.
A brief examination of the blonde, and very curvy, woman – as much as he knew he wouldn't remember this chick in a week's time – satisfied his criteria and he left her still sleeping while he went to find his clothes and the bathroom.
His clothes were easy to find – they were everywhere. The bathroom a little harder, but when he did, he was glad to find that towels were in there already. They were very fluffy towels, and a sort of off-cream/yellow colour that really clashed with his hair, but did their part in drying him none the less.
When he finally re-emerged from the bathroom, dressed, he smirked to find the chick still sleeping. She was even smiling and holding her pillow close to her naked, and very full, chest. The smirk grew with satisfaction as she threw a long, smooth leg over that same pillow and burrowed deeper into it. She had certainly enjoyed his attentions.
That, as far as he was concerned, entitled him to a free breakfast – or at least a raid of her kitchen cupboard for something he could much on his way to work.
Reno grinned in almost childish delight as he found the box of muesli bars in the very first cupboard he opened. Taking two, he took one last, very satisfied look at the blonde he'd spent the night with, then left for work.
When the doors to the ShinRa building opened to admit him, Reno gave a sly and saucy smile to one of the secretaries. She was a prude, but she was an attractive prude, and if he could just get her over that prudishness, he was sure she'd be a great shag.
Elena looked up when he walked out of the elevator and onto the Turk's floor of the high-rise building.
"This must be a new record for you Reno, almost on time to work all week," she said, her tone laced with sarcasm as much as she knew what she said was probably true.
"Not all of us are naturally morning people, Laney," Reno answered, raising an eyebrow in an almost bored fashion. He'd tried Elena, but she had been so busy swooning over Tseng that she hadn't even noticed his roving hand except to break his pinkie finger.
Normally he'd label that a challenge rather than back off, but Rude had convinced him that it would be a bad idea. In retrospect, his partner had been absolutely right. Reno now knew that if he had actually gotten that far with the rookie, she'd have treated it like a relationship and that he did not need. It would have made coming to work hell too.
"You mean you woke up with a hangover and have ever since your first paycheck," Elena retorted, disgusted. "Anyway, after you left last night Tseng asked me to send you to his office as soon as you got in."
Reno waved a hand in acknowledgment rather than thanks, and deviated from the path he had been taking to his own office to head instead towards that of his boss.
"What's up, yo?" he asked, letting himself in without knocking and standing at anything but attention, hands in his pockets as he looked at his boss, already surrounded by files so early in the day. "Apart from the stick up your arse of course," he added.
"Emperor Godo has respectfully requested that ShinRa find, capture, and return his daughter to him. She seems to have run away from Wutai again, and into our territory," Tseng said, ignoring the stick-up-his-arse comment.
"What's my allowable arsenal for this one?" Reno asked, not bothering to wonder about the former enemy-of-ShinRa asking, politely no less, for their help. The war was over. Now it was all politics, and he had no interest in politics, since it only meant paperwork, which he hated.
"If you need more than your EMR and a couple of materia then I will personally see to it that you are re-attached to the Turk training program. The princess is a ninja with eleven years experience, so try and be subtle if you can Reno. Apart from that, details on her are in a folder on your desk. I don't care what methods you use, but subtlety is key on this one," Tseng said, one last pointed glare at his most obnoxious Turk. The only Turk who actually was qualified to take this mission since Cissnei had left, with the exception of himself and Rude, but both were busy with something else at the moment. "Dismissed."
Reno threw a lackadaisical salute and let himself out, smirking privately as he went.
As opposed to the days where watching the flower girl had been a priority assignment, this was much more preferable and way more active than hacking into the systems of a rival company or subversive group – fun though that was. Besides, if the girl had been a ninja for eleven years, and a princess to boot, there was the high possibility that she was a looker and he did have leave to catch her anyway he saw fit.
Opening the folder on his desk, all thoughts of capturing this princess via seduction left his head. There was no way she was more than fifteen years old, and he didn't do children. Oh, it was an older picture, from the last time she was seen in Midgar. According to the file, she was nineteen. Princess Yuffie Kisaragi, aka: The White Rose of Wutai; so called for her purity and her prowess as a ninja. Judging by the picture, she would have grown up to be pretty good looking by now, and his mission was to go into the depths of Midgar to find and capture her… and she was legal.
Reno's smirk returned. Oh, this mission was shaping up to be fun.
When Yuffie had shown up at Seventh Heaven, Tifa had been overjoyed to see her. When Yuffie had told her why she was there, Tifa had face-palmed and groaned in frustration. Yuffie had predicted both reactions, and only smiled in her cheeky way as she watched her friend slowly become frustrated before sighing and giving up before even starting the argument. They'd had it so many times before that there really wasn't any point to it now.
This time, it had been because she had been told that she had to wed soon, and it would almost invariably be an arranged marriage with one of her father's advisers.
A part of her had known, in an abstract sort of way, that because she was a princess it was unlikely that she would marry for anything other than political reasons, but why did all her suitors have to be passing fifty?
Tifa's argument of 'you're a princess, and you have a duty to your people to be a princess of Wutai in Wutai' wasn't going to hold up against that. She wasn't sure that she wanted it to really. Marrying someone more than twice as old as she was, let alone Yuffie, did not appeal to the buxom bar tender one bit.
Even Cid, foul-mouthed and nearing forty, would have been better, if only because he genuinely cared for Yuffie, no matter how often he called her 'the wonder brat'. Not that it would happen of course, since he had hooked up with Vincent. Tifa didn't want to know how that had happened, but Cloud hadn't been so much as surprised when they had let everybody know about it. As for Tifa, she'd passed out in shock.
"So can I hide out here Tifa? Please?" Yuffie wheedled. She did have her own apartment in Midgar, but she couldn't go there immediately. It would be the first place anyone would look for her after all. She'd go after her visit from whoever her father had sent/asked/bribed to look for her.
"Two nights only, and you're watching the kids while you're here," Tifa agreed.
"Thanks Teef," Yuffie said, genuinely relieved that Tifa hadn't had to be talked around by Cloud this time. Reaching into her bag, the young ninja removed a pair of thick glass bottles shaped to look like large gourds. "Brought you a present too," she said, setting the bottles down on the counter of the bar.
"I'm pouring some of that right now," Tifa said, her ruby-brown eyes fixed on the clear-but-possibly-green liquid inside.
The liquid was like a cross between sake and absinth, but was basically Yuffie's own brand of moonshine. Before she had perfected the mix, AVALANCHE had dubbed the liquid "hangman" – one drop, and you were dead. At least, for the next twelve hours anyway. This stuff was just as potent, but a lot less deadly somehow.
The recipe was Yuffie's most closely guarded secret, but that didn't mean she stingy sharing the end result. It was actually one of her guilty pleasures – seeing how different people reacted to her 'White Rose Nectar', as she had dubbed it.
Cid had been something of a guineapig throughout the perfecting of WRN, and had, once it was perfected, sworn off it permanently. He'd said he preferred to get drunk slowly, so he could enjoy it, and remember most of it. If he wanted to forget a whole week in a night, then he would drink "the wonder-brat's damn moonshine".
It was an exaggeration of course, but it still had made Yuffie pout for a while. When Vincent had pointed out that almost every time she'd slipped the pilot her brew, it had been without him noticing, or wanting any, and therefore he was justified, she'd smiled again and let it go. That much was true.
Tifa pulled out two of the small cups that she served sake in and half-filled them, a sip each. If Tifa was any judge, they both were ready for it.
"Well," Tifa said, raising her small up in a toast. "Here's to younger men."
"And escaping arranged marriages," Yuffie added, clinking the edge of her cup to her friend's before sipping the liquid carefully.
"I was going to ask for a drink, but I heard you mention 'younger men' and the 'M' word, so I'm outta here before I get roped into something," Cloud said, standing in the door.
"Hey, welcome back Cloud," Tifa said, fetching out another sake cup. "And don't worry, you won't. Yuffie's just running away from potential arranged marriages with men over fifty."
Cloud relaxed and moved to take a seat at the bar. He accepted the small sake cup, only to toss back the entire contents in one go. He found the best approach to Yuffie's version of home brew was to not let it touch his tongue.
"Godo's being an emperor rather than a father again, huh?" he asked sympathetically.
"Yeah," Yuffie moaned, sipping a very little more of her brew. "But Tifa's agreed to let me hide out here for a couple of days before I go around to my own place."
Cloud looked over his shoulder at the bar. It was early in the day still, barely noon, so it was closed unless you knew Tifa personally. The blonde warrior was checking for signs of a fight, since he knew the sort of damage that could be done when Tifa was getting mad at Yuffie for shirking her princess responsibilities again.
He was surprised that there weren't even any new cracks in the tables.
"I'm actually on Yuffie's side on this one," Tifa ground out. "I don't like the idea of her marrying someone twice as old as me, who she doesn't even know, just for political reasons."
Cloud pulled a face.
"So, how was the last delivery?" Tifa asked, changing the subject.
"Nothing too unusual, there were a couple of low-ranking monsters hovering by the road, but now there are just two monster corpses. About five miles off it at that, I didn't want carrion eaters near the road next time I had to travel it," Cloud said, shrugging his shoulders.
"Modest in his greatness," Yuffie said, patting his back. "That's our Cloudy-boy!"
Tifa couldn't help but laugh, even as Cloud scowled at the nickname.
Reno had swung by her apartment first, just in case the royal ninja was as lacking in the brain department as the fairy-tale princesses always had been.
Her complete absence, and the appearance of it looking like she hadn't been there since she was last reported in Midgar, led him to the logical conclusion that she was laying even lower than her apartment.
According to her file, that really only meant one place. Seventh Heaven.
Reno grinned at the idea of seeing the very busty bar maid, Tifa. He hadn't bedded her yet, but that was largely due, he was sure, to her fixation on the depressed blonde who lived with her.
If pressed, the red head could remember Cloud from basic training, before the exams and all. Before the poor kid had flunked out, only to become a grunt and then one of Hojo's 'test subjects'. He'd been the kind of kid that had 'target' written all over him, through no fault of his own, and Reno had pitied him for it. Having grown up in the slums himself, he was labelled 'target', but he knew how to deal with it, where as Cloud hadn't, not really.
The only problem with going around at this time of day… Reno checked his watch. It was, strictly speaking, too early to go to the pub, and he was technically on duty until he'd returned to HQ with the foreign princess.
Besides, Rude was the one with a crush on Tifa, and he wouldn't do that sort of thing to his partner. No matter how aroused he got just watching her at her bar-craft.
Rather than going down to a bar that he and his fellow Turks generally avoided – conspicuous enough – in the middle of the day – obvious – Reno decided to rather let himself into the princess's home away from home and make himself comfortable while he waited for her.
She'd come around eventually, he was fairly sure. Otherwise, she wouldn't have actually bought the apartment.
Personally, he thought buying the place was a mistake – it was traceable. The Turk office had a photocopy of the deed in their file on her. If she had rented different places around the city every time she came, it would make tracking the little ninja that much harder.
Reno made up his mind to tell her that once he'd caught her.
Once he'd started poking around, however, he could see why she had bought the place, rather than renting and moving around.
The number of skimpy shorts, tiny shirts, short vests and huge boots astounded him. To say nothing of the million or so headbands, all of them almost identical, or the giant shurikens, or the five-hundred odd balls of materia – all at different levels of mastery or nearing mastery.
This… was not in her file. Kleptomania was mentioned regarding materia, but only in passing. If she had stolen all of these… Reno pulled out his cell and called HQ.
"Elena," came the voice at the other end of the phone.
"Hey Laney," Reno said, still looking around the apartment. "I was wondering if you could bring my laptop to my current location, yo. I'm knee-deep in info that needs to be recorded, and I need my hard drive."
"Sure. Leave your phone on for GPS," she said, hanging up.
Reno smiled as he considered gathering all the data that was in those materia orbs. It would be a boring task to do, but the files would sure make a good read.
"Damn but I love my job, yo," he sighed to himself, picking one up and watching the red glow dancing around inside.
Elena was twenty minutes, and Reno had, by that time, found that the kitchen was completely bare except for a little bit of chocolate and that while there were a couple of interesting shaped empty bottles, there was absolutely no booze in the house.
He'd have to stock the kitchen himself for the length of his stakeout. Still, the power was on, so he'd be able to use the fridge and other appliances.
"Raiding someone's long-abandoned apartment is your mission?" Elena asked as she handed Reno his laptop.
"No, the princess who lives in this apartment is my mission, yo," Reno answered, setting up on the kitchen table and laying out as many materia as his computer could scan at once. "The file was detailed, but not this detailed," he said as he started the scanning process.
"Those are some nice materia," Elena commented. "This princess has some skill."
"There's more than just these in her room, yo," Reno said, smirking. "You'd like this girl, Laney, she might be a little younger than you, but still… An' hey, thanks for bringing this round, I owe you one," he added. "Damn I love my job."
"Then explain to me why you're hardly ever on ti—Oh wow," Elena said, cutting herself off.
Reno smirked again and left the laptop to its task. He had to see the look on the rookie's face right now. She'd either found the boots or the materia, and he wanted to know which had set her off.
It was neither, which surprised him. It was a small cupboard he hadn't investigated yet, but which she had opened.
There were so many different tools in that little space… knives, darts, stars, a small box full of pins which confused them, bottles of poison and a small string of what Elena had instantly recognised as bombs, just waiting to be set.
The rookie turned to look at him.
"Find, capture and return the princess to Wutai with minimal damage to her, or myself," Reno said, answering Elena's unspoken question about exactly what his mission was.
Elena nodded in mute understanding. Mute, because she was mostly speechless.
"You have fun with that," she said, eyes still wide as she waved goodbye and left.
Reno grinned to himself. He would.
"Tifa, I've got to tell you something," Cloud said, as he watched the bar tender sway slightly after her third shot of the Wutaian Princess's 'nectar'.
"An' whut migh' tha' be Cloooouuuuud?" she asked, slurring badly. Tifa could hold her drink fairly well, but one helping of Yuffie's mix was nearly equivalent to five standard drinks, and Tifa had imbibed three in only just an hour.
"Make that two things," he said, not holding up fingers simply because he knew that trying to count them would give his friend a headache. "One – you are drunk, and two – I am gay. I'll tell you that again when you're sober, but for now, I want you to stop feeling me up and go to bed. Yuffie will take care of the kids and I'll mind the bar," Cloud said, now trying to carefully pry the drunken woman off him.
Yuffie had quietly been sipping the same drink in the time Tifa had put away three, so she was still fairly fine and would be able to take the brunette up to her bed and take care of the kids. Cloud couldn't really get drunk because of the mako, but Yuffie's stuff always managed to get him tipsy, and he'd stopped after tossing back his first as well.
The ninja accepted her friend as gracefully as humanly possible, and proceeded to drag her up the stairs to where her bed and the kids were. Stopping two steps up, Yuffie turned and eyeballed Cloud.
"Gay, huh?" she asked. "When you sober up, Teef, you owe me ten Gil," she muttered, continuing to haul her stumbling, inebriated friend up the stairs.
Cloud chuckled to himself before putting away the 'White Rose Nectar' in one of the cabinets and opening the bar for the first early customers.
It was slow for a few hours, and Cloud used that time to make sure that everything was as clean as he had been drilled into keeping things during his days as a cadet.
Business in Seventh Heaven didn't really start until about five-thirty, when the first of the men just off work came to have a drink. Most of them, somehow, were wearing suits rather than the clothes of an average worker.
It wasn't his business of course. These men in their pressed suits bought better alcohol, and at the prices that Tifa had set. Let them drown their day in a glass for a while. He wasn't going to begrudge them.
He didn't really pay any of the suited figures much notice beyond getting their drinks, until he noticed one that he recognised.
A Hispanic bald man who wore shades everywhere like they were part of his face – Rude of the Turks. He ordered, and then proceeded to nurse, a whisky.
It only took two sighs and what might have been a series of mournful looks (it was hard to tell, with those glasses he wore) into the glass he held for Cloud to become curious enough to ask what was bothering the Turk.
Rude shook his head.
"Mission completed," he said in a monotone. "Needed a stiff drink after, is all."
Cloud nodded his understanding. Soldiers had the standard, front line jobs, killing monsters and enemy troops in basic confrontation. Turks, when they killed things, killed them before they became big enough to warrant Soldier attention, or sometimes just for political reasons. Sometimes, that meant killing somebody's wife and kids as well.
"Tell you what, I'll make you a bite to eat as well. Won't be much, but after what you've been through, I reckon you could probably use something a bit more solid than just whisky," Cloud offered.
Rude smiled. "Thanks Strife. Miss Lockheart usually throws me out when I come around here."
"Yeah, well," Cloud said with a shrug. "Tifa can't see past her prejudice to sympathise sometimes."
Rude chuckled humourlessly, and Cloud ducked out into the kitchen to whip up a ham and cheese sandwich.
"Thanks Strife," Rude said again, accepting the 'culinary masterpiece'.
Cloud half-smiled and nodded, then left to serve someone else.
Upstairs, Yuffie had a hell of a time trying to get Tifa to stay in bed. Once Marlene and Denzel had decided to help – and turn it into a game – it became a lot easier though.
Eventually though, Yuffie wound up straddling her friend while the kids tied her to the bed.
"And that," Yuffie said, as she climbed off Tifa and turned to the bordering on pubescent children, "Is why you aren't allowed any of my 'White Rose Nectar', and should never, ever have more than one drink a night even when you are old enough."
All the activity had it out of her system by now, but Tifa would have one hell of a hangover in the morning.
Yuffie spent the rest of the night before their bedtime explaining to them, haltingly, the changes their bodies had just started going through. She hadn't particularly wanted to, but Denzel's voice had decided to break, and Marlene had asked why.
Last time she'd seen them, they had only been seven and eight years old. Why was it that they suddenly had to be twelve and thirteen?
Still, she'd glossed over a lot of it, suggesting that, despite her superiority in everything, Denzel was better off asking Cloud about some things. Likewise, that Marlene would probably be able to get a better explanation from Tifa. Not first thing in the morning though, as that would scare the grown-ups.
If she had been paying closer attention, she would have seen the small, conspiratorial smiles of the children. Scare the grown-ups? Sounds good…
Yuffie untied Tifa once she was sure the older woman was actually asleep, then tucked the kids in before turning in herself.
Reno was no more of a morning person without a hangover than he was with one, and he was glad that Elena had the chance to witness the proof for herself when she arrived with provisions for him – Tseng's orders.
There was still no booze, but there was a lot of coffee – his other favourite drink – and even a packet of cigs in amongst the boxes, cans and packets of food.
He let the rookie start the coffee for him while he had a shower. When he got out, the princess's percolator was doing its thing and Elena had left.
Probably just as well, since he'd walked out in only a towel. His long red hair was still wet and untied, clinging to his skull and back in red rivulets.
Once he'd poured a cup of coffee for himself, Reno changed over the materia in his computer's scanning system, and carefully withdrew a dart from the little cupboard Elena had found the day before.
He started typing.
He still hadn't gotten dressed, or even moved, when his hair had dried naturally, so when the door to the apartment burst open with a curse, he was still sitting on the couch in only a towel.
Back at Seventh Heaven, the morning was greeted with groaning from Tifa, who was more hung over than she usually allowed herself to be.
Marlene was standing over her smiling.
In Cloud's room, his alarm clock sounded. He rolled over in an attempt to block out the sound while an arm reached absently for it. He still hadn't found it when the noise stopped.
Looking up in surprise, he saw Denzel holding the offensive piece of machinery.
An hour later, Yuffie – and her White Rose Nectar – had been kicked out of Seventh Heaven.
Grumbling the whole way, she had headed towards her apartment, knowing that there was a distinct possibility that she would be facing whoever her father had sent after her some time during the day.
She bought a breakfast bagel and a bottle of juice on her way, and was still cursing when she reached her door.
Once she'd opened her door, she cursed some more.
"What in the name of Gaia and Cloud's hair are you doing in my apartment?" Yuffie demanded, glaring. "Nude?" she added, making sure her glare was focused on his face.
As soon as he'd gotten over his initial shock, Reno had started taking in the Princess of Wutai. For someone who could easily afford the most glamorous clothes available, she sure went for simple. Not to mention skimpy. Then again, those huge boots of hers… makes sense she'd wear shorts with them.
"For that matter," she said, taking a deep breath. "Who the hell are you?"
"Reno of the Turks, yo," he said. "Nice place you got here, though the cupboards were a bit bare, and there's a rather disgusting lack of alcohol, but I suppose some things can't be helped."
Yuffie glowered menacingly. At least, it would have been menacingly, if she didn't have such a cute face to start with.
"What does ShinRa's turkey-brained dog want with me?" she demanded.
"Me personally, or the company? Since I got here the two don't quite line up any more, yo," he added with a sly smile. The girl had miles of leg, and he was one to appreciate that.
"Start with why you're here in the first place."
"Emperor Godo asked ShinRa to retrieve his daughter, and I got the assignment," Reno answered, an easy and only fakely apologetic smile on his face.
"Bastard," Yuffie said, thinking of her father, but also of this intruder who dared sit around in her apartment and wearing nothing but one of her towels.
"Hmm? Me or your darling daddy?"
"Both of you, but mostly him," Yuffie sighed. "I want a full explanation Turkey," she said, pointing a finger at him. "But first, I think I need a drink, even if it is still early in the day."
That said, Yuffie unslung the small pack she had, and withdrew the bottles she had gifted to Tifa the night before. The substance clearly wasn't good for the woman, and the fight had left Yuffie feeling less charitable about leaving it for Cloud as well, so she'd taken it back before leaving.
"Booze?" Reno asked, suddenly a lot less lecherous and ten times thirstier.
"My own brew," Yuffie confirmed, deigning even to pour two small cups, hiding her own smirk before she turned to hand him a cup.
"Reeeaaally? Well, thank you very much. Didn't think a princess would be the kind to make her own booze, yo," Reno said, accepting the small vessel. Pausing before he brought it to his lips, he considered. "Then again, I didn't think a princess would be the kind to hoard mastered materia and have a far-from-modest arsenal hidden in the back of her only slightly more modest wardrobe."
"I try and down-play the 'princess' as much as possible thanks," Yuffie said. "A title like that only ends up in trouble."
"Arranged marriages with men over fifty."
Reno winced in sympathy. "Ouch, I feel for you." He remembered the time he'd met Scarlet. That had not been fun.
"Yeah, so I prefer to stick with the ninja profession over the princess one," Yuffie said, taking a tiny sip of her brew.
"Apart from the neon-coloured clothes in your wardrobe, I'd hazard to say you're pretty good too."
Yuffie basked in the praise, and watched as Reno tried some of the 'nectar'. A grin spread over her face as she watched him sputter.
"Cloud prefers to not let it touch his tongue," the young ninja advised.
"No shit, yo," Reno said, gasping. "What's the alcoholic content of this stuff?"
"Nearly five standard to that little cup you're holding there," she said with a more restrained smile as she took another sip of her share.
"I'll take a bottle, if you're selling," he said, staring at the cup now from all angles in wonderment.
She couldn't help herself. She laughed.
"What do you intend to do with a whole bottle of White Rose Nectar?" she asked. "When you can barely handle one small cup?"
Reno grinned. "I can get the rookie and my boss drunk enough to wake up together without remembering how they got that way. Laney's too shy and Tseng has a stick up his arse so deep he's talking crap when he says he doesn't have any feelings for the girl."
The two smiled conspiratorially.
"You actually have a heart under that navy suit of yours, huh Turkey?" she said, tapping his chest. "Can I help?"
"Well, my mission was to find and capture you, so we can get you into the ShinRa building that way, yo," Reno suggested.
Yuffie's smile instantly dropped.
"I am not going back to Wutai to marry some old politician to appease my father!" she snapped.
"Some reason a ninja would be unable to escape from a rookie Turk drunk on moonshine?" Reno asked, one red eyebrow raised.
The smile returned with an "Aaahhh," of understanding.
Elena was surprised when Reno walked into the Turk office with a girl, kicking madly and swearing worse than the redhead, slung over his shoulder and with two odd-shaped glass bottles dangling from his other hand.
"Where's the boss-man, yo?" he asked. "I've got the princess he asked for," he added with a smirk, receiving a boot to the thigh for his jibe.
"That's the princess of Wutai?" Elena asked, but then remembered the veritable arsenal that had been hidden away in the young royals' apartment.
"Yep," Reno said. "Hey, can I give her to you to keep an eye on for a while? I have to make my report to Tseng. I'll even leave you with one of her jugs of booze if ya do," he offered, holding up the clear glass containers as he got another kick aimed at him, and a stream of Wutaian curses flew over his head.
Elena nodded, though mildly dubious.
Reno grinned and unceremoniously dumped the princess off his shoulder and onto the floor. Her arms were bound behind her back, but she was up on her bum in a matter of seconds and lashed a leg out at him, scowling.
Reno hopped over the leg and smirked.
"If she gets too much for ya rookie, try subduing her with her own drink, okay?" Reno suggested as he handed over a bottle and headed toward Tseng's office, the other bottle still hanging from his hand.
He rapped his knuckles on Tseng's door before letting himself in.
"Princess acquired and mostly subdued, yo," he reported, smirking at his boss, who hadn't looked up at him.
"Also, retrieved from said princess some fine Wutaian alcohol," the redhead added. "Couldn't really keep it to myself, I know you prefer your native country's booze to the stuff we have here, yo."
Tseng looked up.
"Tried some myself actually, can see why you like it so much," Reno continued, his cerulean eyes catching the way Tseng's had twitched towards the small, almost stupidly small, sake cup that sat on his desk like an ornament.
"Rude is back from his mission as well," Tseng said.
"I know, I saw him down in the lobby. Good thing he's back too, I needed some help moving a bit of furniture around, and he said he'd give me a hand when we both had a little bit of spare time," Reno answered.
Tseng's hand twitched again, and Reno knew he was debating taking a drink while on duty, even if it was half an hour til clock-off time. Hell, that was probably half the problem.
"Tell ya what boss, how's about I just leave ya the bottle and go check back on the princess. Laney's got her right now," Reno said, depositing the container and its liquid bounty on Tseng's desk beside the small sake cup before waving and heading out the door.
In a room that was all the exact same shade of ever-so-slightly-off sterile white, and was something like a combination between an interrogation room and a containment cell, Elena was staring at Yuffie.
Yuffie, of course, was staring back.
She was also refusing to speak anything but Wutaian, and Elena had the feeling that most of what was being said was curses on ShinRa and the Turks anyway.
Elena was relieved when Reno showed up again. Not that she'd tell him that, but even just twenty minutes of being stared and cursed at by a foreign princess was beginning to really get to her. She wanted sooooooo much to be allowed to hit the younger woman, but unlike other people that had been put in this room, no damage was to be done to her.
Reno smiled a little at the sight of Elena, looking as frustrated as she was.
"You're off duty now rookie," Reno said almost kindly. "If you want to take a belt of the booze, you're safe to now, yo."
"Thank Gaia," she said and brought the bottle to her lips, taking a huge swig. She started coughing when she took the bottle away.
"Rookie, ya gotta take this stuff easy, yo. It burns," Reno advised.
"I noticed…" Elena said, swaying before passing out.
"Nightie night rookie," Reno said as he caught her and the bottle.
Yuffie stood up from her chair and hopped over her tied arms like they were a skipping rope before untying herself. The knots that had restrained her had been completely bogus – she'd tied them herself.
"You have somewhere in mind for those two to wake up?" she asked.
"I was thinking if we took them back to Tseng's place, or maybe Laney's since she'll be the more insecure one…" Reno said.
"I have a better idea," said a voice at the door.
Turning, Yuffie saw the Hispanic they had met in the lobby, with Tseng over his shoulder.
"So spill Rude. Where we takin' 'em, yo?" Reno asked.
Rude smiled as he handed Yuffie the bottle that had been left in Tseng's office. She couldn't help but notice that there was rather a lot gone from this bottle, as well as the one Elena had swigged from.
Tifa was, in the understatement of the century, less than pleased to see Yuffie showing up at her bar with four Turks and a smirk on her face.
Luckily for all involved, Cloud was also in the main bar area and Tifa had too many customers at that moment to toss out all five of them.
"Hey Cloud, would you be able to help Reno and Rude get these two a room for the night? Just one bed," Yuffie asked, pulling the puppy-dog-eyes as best she could.
The introverted blonde just nodded and waved for the Turks to follow him.
Tifa was about to fly off the handles despite having customers, but Yuffie grabbed her first.
"I'm sorry about the kids, and you owe me ten Gil, 'cause Cloud's gay," she said straight up, her face completely serious, and not letting go of the other woman's wrist.
Tifa scowled, but handed over the money.
"Why are Turks staying in my guest rooms?" she demanded in a hiss.
"Cause I'm doing Reno a favour so I get a little extra time away from Daddy, and those two had even more of my White Rose Nectar than you did," Yuffie explained. "So be nice."
Cloud came back down, Reno and Rude in tow, and all three of them wearing smiles of slightly different varieties. Cloud was struggling not to laugh, Rude's smile was self-satisfied, and Reno was smirking in a decidedly malicious way.
"How are they?" Yuffie asked, sounding almost concerned.
"Asleep and very nicely arranged, yo," Reno said, still smirking.
"Clothes all over the place," Rude added.
"That was really quite fun," Cloud said, smiling like he hadn't in years, tears beginning to form in the corners of his mako blue eyes.
"No fair, now I've just got to see!" Yuffie said, running up the stairs.
Tifa had her hands on her hips and was glaring at all three of them, but mostly at Cloud. The question 'how can you be okay with this?' was written all over her face.
"Aw, come on Teef," Cloud said. "They just do their job, no one said that they always liked it."
Rude nodded, and Reno was privately agreeing that there were definitely times when he didn't like being a Turk. Admittedly, most of those times involved paperwork, but there were other occasions too.
When Yuffie came down, she was fanning her face, which was very red.
"You guys sure were thorough," she said.
Yuffie invited Reno and Rude to both stay at her place that night, so that they could wake up early and be at Seventh Heaven when Tseng and Elena woke up.
Rude had politely turned the offer down, saying that he just wanted his own bed, but thank you.
Reno, on the other hand, had grinned and slid a hand around Yuffie's waist, more than happy to take her up on the offer.
"No Reno, you're not getting laid tonight," Yuffie had admonished, gently slapping his hand away. "My chastity is strictly reserved for my husband, and you're not the type for monogamy if I'm any judge."
"You're probably right about me," Reno admitted, though the smile didn't leave his face. "But I can still make love to you without 'besmirching your honour', yo."
He started applying butterfly kisses down her neck, as if trying to prove his point or further persuade her.
Yuffie rolled her eyes and whacked at his head.
"You are sleeping on the couch," she said. "No where near me, because we are getting up at seven to be here at seven-thirty and watch those two wake up."
Reno dropped the smirk.
"You're a morning person, aren't you?" he said, suddenly depressed.
"No Reno, I'm not, but I want to see the faces of those two when they wake up to hickeys they didn't actually experience," Yuffie said. "How did you do those, anyway?"
Reno waggled his eyebrows.
"Manipulation and the power of suggestion. Elena really did do all that to Tseng, and vice-versa. Just so happens that Cloud and I were the ones controlling their hands and mouths for the experience, since they were both out cold," Reno explained, a devious grin on his face.
"You are an evil, conniving, bastard of a genius," Yuffie said. "Would you marry me? I promise to make it worth your while."
"You mean it gets better than having the hottest and potentially most dangerous babe on the planet for keeps?" Reno asked with a chuckle.
Yuffie had laughed too, and Reno had slept on the couch.
Despite that neither of them wanted to get up in the morning, Yuffie and Reno had taken a healthy dose of coffee before heading off to Seventh Heaven – hopefully before Tifa was up.
They were in luck. The pair managed to sneak into the bar, and then upstairs into the room Tseng and Elena had been deposited in, before hiding in the cupboard, which had a perfect view of the still sleeping pair.
Tseng was the first to wake up.
"Great leviathan, what happened?" he groaned, rubbing what must have been a splitting headache.
His movement roused the person he was sharing the bed with though, and he looked down sharply at the sound of a female moan of pain, similar to the one he had just expressed.
"Elena?" he asked, disbelieving. Then he noticed the slightly sticky pool around his groin area and the various bite marks over himself and the woman he was in bed with. "I must be dreaming…" he mumbled.
"Ooh, my head," Elena complained, waking up a bit more. Enough to finally notice that she was pressed against another body and they had their legs wrapped around each other. Following the toned body up, she swallowed when she realised that she was in bed with her boss.
Her first action of the morning was to pinch herself.
"So neither of us is dreaming," Tseng said, having witnessed the action.
"Guess not," Elena answered. "Sir, what happened? Where are we?"
"I don't know Elena," Tseng answered.
Reno knew exactly how much Tseng hated it when that was the truth. It was a frequent lie, and that was fine, but when he honestly didn't know something, it really bugged Tseng.
"Any suggestions? Since it seems neither of us actually remember how we got like this?" Tseng said.
"Covered in bite marks, entangled and sticky, and I know at least one of us is suffering from a hangover," Elena said. "Though I don't remember drinking at all."
"Neither do I, and I have a killer as well," Tseng admitted, rubbing his temple again.
"I'm sorry sir, but the only thing I can come up with is the Reno scenario," Elena said.
In the cupboard, Reno stiffened, and Yuffie gave him a 'look'.
"Getting stupidly drunk, followed by sex," Tseng sighed, moving from rubbing his temples to his eyes.
"I just wish I knew where we were. I do not feel secure, waking up in an unfamiliar –" Elena was interrupted when a knock came from the bedroom door, followed by the door opening.
"Morning," Cloud said, entering the room with a tray. "Sorry about the low quality, but Tifa says she refuses to cook for Turks, even if they are hung over and deserve a little kindness and sympathy."
Yuffie and Reno both grinned inside the cupboard, covering their mouths to prevent the sound of laughter escaping.
"She actually didn't want to let you even have a room, but with a little, I suppose you would call it persuasion, she agreed," Cloud continued, setting down the tray for them. There were two helpings only-slightly-crispy bacon and eggs, as well as a two glasses of water and a couple of different pill-bottles.
Cloud (as well as Reno and Yuffie) noticed that the two bedded Turks were focused on the pill bottles.
"One for general pain relief," the blond said, pointing to one of the bottles. "One for morning after," he added with a pointed look at Elena. "Don't get me wrong, I didn't mind hearing you two proclaim your love for one another through the wall, but I don't think you having a kid right now is going to be helpful for either of your careers."
Reno and Yuffie could barely contain their glee at how thick Cloud was laying it on, though Yuffie was wondering what had happened to the old 'emo' Cloud. Perhaps coming out of the closet had helped him to come out of his shell as well.
"Thank you, Strife," Tseng said, slightly stiffly. Elena was too busy blushing to say anything.
Cloud just nodded and left the two alone again.
Reno had been quietly smug when he got into work earlier than Tseng and Elena. Once they'd gathered their slightly abused uniforms – giving each other silent, unsure glances the whole time – they had gone to their respective homes to clean themselves and change.
He, in their absence, had booked a first class cell for Yuffie to be transported back to Wutai. She wouldn't actually be going, but she was booked and would make an appearance, so that it looked like she was on her way back to Godo.
Once on board the independent transport, she was no longer a ShinRa issue, so she could disappear without any trouble to the company and be free to escape for a while.
Tseng was surprised to see his most obnoxious Turk at work before he was, particularly since this Turk was supposed to be on assignment.
"Eh? Don't you remember boss? I brought the princess in yesterday, yo. She's on board an independent transport headed for Wutai right now actually. Mission complete, so I'm writing the damn report, yo," Reno explained, seeming to be genuinely surprised that his boss didn't remember him bringing Yuffie in.
Tseng didn't want to admit to not remembering any of the previous day to Reno, simply because it was the sort of thing the redhead did and would use this accident to continue his bad habits.
Reno, on the other hand, was tapping his chin thoughtfully.
"Then again, you did drink a bit the other night, once Rude and I finally managed to get you and the rookie down to the pub. Hell, you two were still drinking when I called it a night," Reno's thoughtful expression turned lecherous as he leant over his desk to examine his boss, knowing full well he wouldn't be able to actually see any of the hickeys on him.
"Some reason for the leer, Reno?" Tseng asked tightly.
"Ah, you're no fun, yo. I'd have thought that for sure all that liquor would have done something to loosen that stick up your arse, or at least gotten you loosened up enough to try putting your stick up Laney's."
"Permission requested to shoot Senior Officer Reno, sir," Elena's voice said from the door, a scowl on her face and a hickey only mostly covered by her collar. Her gun was pointed at Reno.
"Denied. Put it away Elena," Tseng said calmly. "Get on with your report Reno. As for you Elena, see me in my office at once."
Reno's smirk was smug as Elena walked passed him. Fifteen minutes later when he saw her emerge from Tseng's office with a look on her face like she'd just received the best news in the world along with a fantastic orgasm, he couldn't help but chuckle.
In Yuffie's apartment, the pair of troublemakers were toasting the success of their first joint mission, but with a glass of red wine, rather than Yuffie's home brew.
"So, what should we do next?" Yuffie asked, grinning from ear to ear.
"Well," Reno said, reclining in his chair and wearing a matching grin. "We could always revive old Sephiroth and set him an' Cloudy-boy up together, yo."
"We'd have to convince Sephiroth, but Cloud let out that he first realised he was gay because of Sephiroth," she said. "Hang on, how would we revive the stiff any way, and make sure he stayed sane?"
"Not involve Hojo for a start yo," Reno said.
Yuffie clinked her glass to his in a toast to that sentiment.
"If you don't feel like bringing back the stiff of course, we could always work on setting us up a bit more yo…" Reno suggested, leaning a little closer to the ninja princess.
Yuffie surprised the redhead by finishing closing the small amount of distance he had left between them and giving him a quick peck on the lips.
"Now how on earth did you think that would work?" she asked.
"Well now, see Turk's get paid quite well yo, and I picked this up on the way here from work today," Reno said, pulling a small velvet box from his uniform jacket pocket. "Appreciating that we hardly know each other, I still think we'd have a helluva lot more fun if you said yes than if you did what your daddy wanted yo."
Yuffie grinned, lifted the box from Reno's hand and slipped the ring that was inside onto her finger.
"You book the priest, and I'll drag Cloud along to be the witness," she said.
Reno laughed his head off before pulling out his cell and making a couple of phone calls. It was hardly an hour before the two of them plus Cloud were headed to a small office where a recognised official was waiting for them with a marriage licence.
Cloud, having known both of them for some time, was laughing as he walked down the street with the newly wed couple, pitying Wutai most of the way. When he pointed out that Reno, a Turk, was now a prince of Wutai, all three of them had cracked up, but Cloud was the only one who still couldn't get over it. Even when the newlyweds left him at Seventh Heaven, he was still laughing as he stumbled up the stairs to his room.
Alone again, Reno and Yuffie walked back to her apartment, and this time, he had no intention of sleeping on her couch.