Disclaimer: Not mine.
Mystic: Yeah, this one was inspired by my own husband's hospital trouble. I think I pick on Reeve too much. :D Oh, remember Luis and Harmony? They're baaaaack ...
It all began with "anime liquid".
That's what Yuffie Kisaragi called it anyway. The liquid in question was bright green, vile, and more vivid than her old tank-top. It also came accompanied with sharp stomach cramps and a weak constitution. The anime liquid happened to be troublesome vomit, and it, along with the other two ailments, struck not the ninja, but her elder boss.
Reeve Tuesti thought the situation began with bad take-out the night before. He had been pulling another late night at the office, surrounded by stacks of papers, and cast in the glow of his computer monitor. Feeling the effects of fatigue creeping up, he ordered a quick meal from the local Wutaiin restaurant; nothing fancy, just a hot dish of lo mein to prevent him from falling asleep. Energized once more, he turned back to his work, deciding to ignore the occasional twinge in his abdomen.
That twinge escalated through the night, continuing when he eventually headed home, and only getting worse as the morning hours progressed. His attempts to ignore it failed, but he manage to pull off a meeting with Tseng and Rufus with minor interruptions. After the two men's departure, Reeve attempted a quick nap, but the prone position on his office couch did not relax like it ought to have done. Nausea struck like a dull knife, rusty and painful. He was paying homage to the great porcelain throne in the men's bathroom when Vincent found him.
"Reeve?" Vincent quietly tapped on the stall door. "Are you alright?"
The voice that answered sounded weak and very unlike the professional leader of WRO. "Tell my secretary to clear my agenda."
Vincent hesitated. "It's her day off, Reeve," he finally responded.
"Then tell somebody, Vincent. I don't care."
The gunman nodded once, then turned on his heels to exit down the halls. He wasn't entirely sure who to speak to, as the young woman who sometimes replaced Reeve's assistant tended to be more dense than Yuffie in an advanced physics class. While contemplating who to alert, he managed to almost bump into the renegade ninja.
"Vinnie!" she exclaimed. "How are ya?"
He grabbed her by the shoulders. "Yuffie, do you know how to work Reeve's computer?"
"Yeeeaaaahhh..." Her grin was up-turned and shark-like.
"Can you clear off his agenda?"
"Huh?" She pushed off his hands, freeing her shoulders. "Why does he want to cancel everything?"
Shock took over; dark eyes grew wide, and a little mouth fell open. "What?" She made a running start to the men's restroom, only to be stopped by Vincent grabbing her elbow. "Hey, let go, buster!"
"You can't go in the men's room."
"Pfft," she scoffed. "Like that ever stopped me." After wrangling free once again, she looked back at her comrade. "You know, Vinnie, boxer briefs are not your best look."
Vincent scowled as she winked at him. He vaguely remembered being the victim of obscene phone calls after a certain someone wrote on the first stall, 'For a good time, call Vincent Valentine and his special claw.' Now that he really thought about it, the handwriting looked too familiar. This wasn't the time to dwell on that incident however, and he resigned himself to clearing Reeve's daily agenda since no one else seemed capable of it.
The commissioner slumped against the bathroom wall, not caring in the least about the amount of germs on the tile. The room spun much too fast, and he grimaced at the sound of the slamming door. He could make out a woman's bare middle, though the image was hazy and circled alongside everything else. When he attempted to glance at the face, it proved too much for his system, and he heaved into the toilet again.
"Ew!" Yuffie squealed. "It's bright green! That's an anime color! The hell?!"
Reeve groaned, partially because of his stomach, and partially because of the outburst. "Yuffie?" He didn't see her legs, but he did feel her brush his hair from his face.
"Okay, that cannot be healthy. You're going to the doctor, mister."
He tried to shake his head. "I'll be fine," came his forced whisper.
"I call bullshit on your ass." She pressed a palm to his forehead. "What the hell did you eat?"
"That Wutaiin place."
Yuffie facepalmed. "Forget the doctor; you're going to the ER!"
"I can't --"
"Shut up." Though her boss' frame was significantly larger than her own, she managed to bring him to his feet so he could lean against her. "Edge Good Samaritan is two blocks from here, right? That's where we're going."
"You are spewing an anime liquid. That is freakin' nasty." She lead him out into the hallway, not liking how pale his hands were. After seeing a familiar red cloak drift around the corner, she hollared, "Vincent! Help me to his car!"
He did so, asking, "Which hospital?"
"The one closest to here, you dumbass." Reeve stayed silent while his employees exchanged instructions. Knowing that Vincent could assist him with less difficulty, he freed Yuffie so she could walk around to the driver's side. "And why the hell didn't you offer to take him, Vincent? I know you fear doctors and all, but Reeve needs help here!"
Crimson eyes narrowed. "He didn't order me to do anything of the sort."
"It's common sense, Vincent!"
Reeve quietly lay in the back with his arm over his forehead. As amusing as an argument between Vincent and Yuffie could be, he didn't have the energy to enjoy it today. In fact, the combination of her shrill voice and his stern tone created a headache that pounded worse than a drunken homosexual at the HoneyBee Inn.
He blinked at his sudden brain analogy. "Yuffie," he ordered. "Get me to the damn hospital."
The emergency room lobby smelled of disinfectant, sterile and harsh on the nose. Yuffie choked back a cough for Reeve's sake, almost wishing she was as out of it as he was. Then she saw him slump down on one of the chairs and promptly changed her mind. His hair was tangled with sweat, face a pale white, and hands clenched onto his abdomen. Even his eyes that shone with each new invention looked glazed and dull. Reeve wasn't just sick; he was messed up. And Yuffie figured that the stench of disinfectant was minor compared to whatever ailed her boss.
A receptionist handed her a clipboard. "Name, please."
Yuffie leaned in close, and whispered, "Reeve Tuesti."
The clipboard clattered to the floor. "The commissioner?" the woman asked in a hushed voice.
"No, the can-can dancer," Yuffie answered, rolling her eyes. "Of course, the commissioner. He's not superman, yanno!"
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry." She handed Yuffie a pen. "Just fill this out and we'll bring him back as quickly as we can."
"Yeah, that's better."
One gruff and huff later found Yuffie sitting next to Reeve, who was still slumped, only now with shut eyes. "I really need to lie down," he said.
Many people didn't give Yuffie enough credit for her apparent street-smarts; she sensed what he wanted to do, and caught his arm before he could take the chance. "Oh, no. You can't lie on this floor." He lower lip quivered in a slight pout, one of sheer desperation, but it went unheeded. "Do you know what is on this floor? You'll get even sicker."
"I need to lie down."
"Mr. Tuesti." A male nurse walked over to the pair. "We're ready for you."
In this modern age, it wasn't unusual for men to choose a nursing career in lieu of being a physician. This nurse, however, though donned in black scrubs, also had a shaved head and several tattoos on his forearms. While he fitted Reeve with a blood pressure cuff, Yuffie decided to attempt her own examination. "Hellooooo, nurse!" She waggled her eyebrows.
He smirked. "I've heard that one before, ma'am."
"Hey, I'm just letting you know," she said, patting Reeve on his shoulder, "that if you have to give him a shot in the ass, I'm totally cool with it."
"We'll let the doctor make that call."
"Is the doctor a chick?"
" ... No." He let go of Reeve's arm. "Your blood pressure is up a bit, sir."
Yuffie rolled her eyes. "His blood pressure is always up. He puts up with Vincent on a regular basis."
"It's not always Vincent," Reeve mumbled.
An ear thermometer registered his temperature. "Low-grade fever," the nurse remarked. "What are your symptoms?"
"Anime vomit!" Yuffie exclaimed. "It's all bright green and icky."
"His stomach has been cramping like whoa."
"When did it start?"
Yuffie shugged. "I dunno."
"Last night," Reeve said. "I ate some bad take-out." He noticed that Yuffie's hand was still on his shoulder, but he voiced no complaints.
"Alright, we'll take you on back." The nurse helped him stand so to lead him down the hall. "Room three; Doctor Luis will be in shortly."
For most, a hospital bed meant pain and sickness; for Reeve, it meant a place to finally lay down and rest his head. Yuffie tossed his jacket over his shoulders, then brushed his hair back out of his eyes. "Looks like you'll get to see your old frat buddy."
A tiny smile broke through the pale and fatigue. "That was years ago."
"When are you going to tell me what and who you did when you were a frat boy?"
He didn't answer, though he wanted to spit a comeback about Ifrit figure-skating in a pink tutu. Instead, he motioned quickly for something -- anything -- as his stomach lurched with more bile. Yuffie caught his hint and rushed a tray over to him.
"Seriously," she grimaced. "If your head starts to spin, I'm getting a priest in here."
A knock on the door jarred them both. In walked a young woman with brunette waves, hazel eyes, and teal scrubs. Her identification badge listed her as the head nurse on the floor, but her name struck an immediate chord with Yuffie Kisaragi.
"Hey, it's Harmony! Where's Luis, and why aren't you under him?"
Harmony Miller, registered nurse and graduate of Junon's top medical facility, moved to Edge years ago as part of her nursing program. She quickly built a reputation for her care with the patients, energetic personality, and uncanny ability to smile at any given time. In a way, she reminded a few of Yuffie herself; only, more mature and with the license to practice medicine. She also knew when to speak and when to just shut up. Harmony's other reputation came from Luis himself, if the word 'came' was any indication. The two were lovers, all thanks to a feverish moment on the administrator's desk several years earlier.
"He's with a different patient right now." She placed her stethoscope over Reeve's heart. "What's going on, commissioner?"
Yuffie answered. "Look in that tray over there."
Harmony did so without the slightest grimace or shudder. "I'll send this over to the lab." She then handed Yuffie an empty plastic cup. "I need a urine sample, too."
"Try again, honey," Harmony smiled. "I'll wait outside, okay?" Grabbing the soiled tray, she left and closed the door.
Yuffie bit her lip, unsure of how to address the urine issue. The examining room did not have a toilet, and Reeve didn't have the strength to walk to the restroom down the hall. "Uh ... "
With a heavy breath, Reeve suggested, "Just help me sit up, please."
She cocked an eyebrow. "What? How's that going to help?"
"I can sit up and go."
"Oh." He braced himself against her outstretched hand and raised up to sit on the edge of bed. Yuffie took this as her cue to step back and turn around. At the sound of his zipper, she swallowed a shameless giggle. "Yanno, I'm not sure if I should be turned on or grossed out."
Reeve gruffed, "I'd prefer the former."
At that, Yuffie turned around. "What?!"
Too bad her eyes didn't match with his.
By the time Luis entered, Reeve had vomited twice more, and had a sample of his blood drawn. Like the commissioner, Luis was tall, with dark hair and even darker eyes. Tall, dark, and handsome could be a dangerous combination for a man, but in his college fraternity years, that trio of description drew the ladies like a moth to a hot, hot flame. Reeve had a faint memory of shining a blacklight in his old dorm room during a reunion a few years ago.
The sunglasses he wore didn't help the glare from the bedspread.
"Luis!" Yuffie squealed. "How's the coolest doctor ever in the history of existance? Been back to Costa del Sol recently? How's Harmony treating ya? I heard you two took a vacation to visit your village --"
"I'm not telling you about mine and Reeve's frat boy days, Yuffie."
"Aw, why not?"
Luis handed Harmony his clipboard. "Because my lovely nurse would kill me and the commissioner would arrange it so my body was never found."
"You flatter me, Luis," Reeve muttered through clenched teeth. It wasn't due to any hostility; Reeve's body suffered from the chills despite Yuffie grabbing a blanket from a closet and placing it up to his chin.
"You mentioned some bad take-out, Reeve?" Luis queried.
"Wutaiin," stated Yuffie. "Ya think that if he wanted Wutaiin cooking, he'd just come to my place."
Luis nodded, checking his friend's pulse. "The end results would've been more fun." He dropped Reeve's wrist. "His pulse is up, Harmony. Any diahhrea?"
"No," Reeve answered, his voice back to a whisper.
"Can you show me where your stomach is cramping?"
Yuffie started to bounce on her heels. "Yay! I get to see bossman's abs!"
With reluctance, the blanket was lowered and Reeve's shirt lifted up, revealing a sculpted midsection that rippled just so when he breathed. Much to Yuffie's happy eyes, a line of dark hair twisted down from his belly button into his pants. So that's what everyone meant by the pleasure trail.
Luis pressed down on Reeve's upper abdomen; his face contorted into a grimace.
Yuffie still smiled. "Should this be turning me on?"
Luis looked once at her, then back at Reeve. "Why haven't you married her yet?"
"She's young," he stated.
Harmony snorted. "That never stopped Luis."
"Never heard you complain, Harmony." Luis moved his hands to Reeve's right side. Instead of a harsh-sounding grunt or groan, this was a loud cry of pain. It near stabbed into his flesh with ferocity and deep pressure.
"Hey!" Yuffie protested. "You're hurting him!"
Luis straightened to his full height. "Refresh my memory, Reeve. Do you still have your appendix?" At Reeve's pained nod, he said, "Alright, let's get an I.V. line started; you're showing signs of dehydration. I'm also going to order a CT scan and an MRI."
"Right away," Harmony said.
"Is it his appendix?" Yuffie asked, standing closer to Reeve, and not protesting when his shirt smoothed back down.
"Possible. It could be simple food poisoning, but a lot of times, it's spewing both ways; he's not showing that. Also, that lovely colored vomit is from deep in the stomach, not just from trying to get rid of any food-borne parasite." He pulled the blanket back across Reeve's chest. "It could be the appendix, but it could also be the kidneys, or the gallbladder, or something with the intestines. We'll let the scans figure it out."
Yuffie gripped Reeve's hand. "Okay."
"Don't worry, commissioner; we'll take care of you."
Reeve nodded. "Thank you, Luis."
Yuffie sat alone in the room, more concerned than she thought she needed to be. She remembered what she said earlier to the receptionist; Reeve was not any sort of superhero, not in the long run. Not unless one counted his high I.Q. and ability to build a working computer in under thirty minutes -- with one hand behind his back. And blindfolded.
Okay, maybe that last part was stretching it a bit, but things weren't supposed to happen to Reeve Tuesti. He was too influential, too politically powerful, too cute, and ... wait, what? Yuffie dropped her head into her hands. Her mind started to wander into the brain file of her boss, her older boss. The man lying in pain on a hospital bed didn't look anything like the man normally stuck in front of business meetings. No reading glasses, no blue coat, no charming smile that always convinced her to grab a disguise and acquire top secret information. She didn't see that Reeve, and it began to frighten her.
Maybe she grew too used to seeing amazing, geeky, super-genius Reeve. The current reality brought back her old habit of nail-biting, something she hadn't done in freakin' forever.
A knock on the door caused her lift her head. Yuffie half-expected another nurse, but Tifa's warm smile greeted her instead.
"Vincent called," Tifa explained, walking over to wrap Yuffie in a hug. "He told us what happened. Is Reeve alright?"
Cloud was with her, though he stood back to give the women a bit of privacy.
"He's getting an MRI and CT scan done," Yuffie sniffled. She swallowed down any worry. "They're not quite sure yet what it is."
"Cait sends best wishes," Cloud interjected. "He's not allowed past the lobby."
"Because he's part animal?"
Cloud shook his head, slowly. "No, he apparantly screws up the equipment."
Tifa smiled. "Do you want us to get you something, Yuffie? I know you've been here awhile."
"Nah, I'm okay." She forced a grin of her own. "Unless you happen to have a mastered Cure materia in your pocket. Maybe it'd help Reevey."
"You've studied materia, Yuffie," stated Cloud. "Cure only helps with external injuries."
"An Esuna then? That'd lessen any food poisoning."
Yuffie sighed. "Where's Denzel and Marlene?"
"With Elmeyra," Tifa answered. "It was late when Vincent called, and she was already visiting, so she offered to keep an eye on them. Are you sure you don't want any coffee or anything? You look tired."
"I'm fine," Yuffie insisted. "It's just this damn hospital smell. I can't stand it." A lie, but it'd be unlike herself to admit that she didn't want anything caffeinated because she was too damn worried about Reeve.
Another knock on the door prompted Cloud to move closer to the two women. Harmony entered, followed by two specialists from Radiology. All three rolled a gurney and I.V stand into the room; Reeve now had two blankets over him.
"Why is he so cold for?"
Harmony straightened the I.V. bag. "It's common with a fever."
"What did the tests show?"
"Luis is looking at them right now. He should be here in a minute." She smiled down at Reeve. "I can see now why you and he got along so well, sir."
This was a surprise to Tifa. "What do you mean by that?"
Reeve, from beneath his blankets and messy hair, said, "It's not everyday a man gets to lie on his back and be fawned over by attractive women." He glanced over and noticed Cloud. "Hm, I guess you count because you dressed like one once."
Tifa giggled from behind her hand, while Yuffie ended up biting her own tongue. So many puns, so little time.
Cloud just scowled. "What's in that bag?" he asked, pointing to the I.V.
"A simple saline drip to hydrate his system. I also gave him an injection of an anti-nausea medication."
"Hmph," was Cloud's reply.
Reeve looked over to Yuffie and patted her hand. "Ah, the young one."
She blinked. "I'm sorry; what?"
"You're father should arrange a marriage for us," he mused. "Think of the political gains. It would benefit everybody, especially me."
"Oh, sure," she scoffed. "Like pops would choose you out of all the eligible bachelors in Wutai who would love to marry me."
"Name one, Yuffie, and I'll never bring it up again."
"Okay, there's -- no, I stole materia from him. Then there's -- no, I kicked his ass. Oh! No, he can't stand me; he thinks I'm annoying or something." She put her hands on her hips, then stomped her foot to make a point. One that was sharp and could cause tetanus. "I'll think of one, Reeve! I'm a catch and you know it!"
"I'll speak to your father, then."
Tifa was still giggling. Cloud decided that hospitals, although useful for the common man (including himself long ago), didn't create the perfect setting for a marriage proposal, even if it took place under the influence.
Luis entered, and he thought it would be the perfect time to ask a very redundant question. "How are we feeling, Reeve?"
"He just popped the question!" Yuffie yelled.
Tifa shrugged, her smile calm. "It'd be more romantic if he wasn't sick."
"Ah, he's a little loopy from the goop we made him drink for the MRI scan." Luis flashed a smile. "It happens; don't take offense at whatever he says."
"I am not loopy," Reeve protested, grabbing Yuffie's hand. She tried to wrangle it free, but his grip held firm. "I'm tired of being single and dealing with one-night stands. Marriage is the perfect solution for everybody. Especially me. We can't forget how well it'll affect me."
Cloud realized that this was his cue to leave. "I'll be in the cafeteria, Tifa."
"I'll join you in a minute," she said. Honestly, this was too funny of a situation to ignore.
Yuffie wondered why her boss' hand stuck to hers like glue all of a sudden. "Can't you just knock him out or something? Give him a tranq; he's freaking me out here!"
Luis shook his head. "Sorry, we needed him awake for the scans." He flicked the I.V. stand. "In a little while, we'll give him something for pain that might knock him out. Surely you can put up with him until then."
"Her name is Yuffie, Luis, not Shirley." Reeve's hand held fast.
"Just tell me what the hell's wrong with him then!"
"His gallbladder and pancreas look fine; it's his appendix were not sure of."
"Then cut him open and take it out!"
"It's not that simple, Yuffie," stated Luis, now in full-blown 'doctor' mode. "His appendix looked normal on all of the scans. That could mean several things; either it's still very early and the appendix hasn't started to swell yet, or it's something else going wrong in his lower torso. However, the fact remains that he is experiencing sharp pain right here." He pressed down on Reeve's right side to make his point.
"Luis!" Reeve grimaced. "Don't do that!"
Luis didn't apologize. "That's where his appendix is. Now, sometimes pain in the abdomen can migrate to different areas. It started in the center of the abdomen, near the belly button, correct?" Yuffie nodded. "We're going to admit him to the second floor, and put him under observation. If he is still feeling pain in that right side, we will schedule him for immediate surgery. If the pain has decreased, or moved somewhere else, then we will back up and punt, and run some different tests." He handed the orders to Harmony who took them to the front desk.
Yuffie stuck out her bottom lip, and gave up in trying to wrangle away her small hand from Reeve's larger one. Thanks to the blankets and medication, his palm felt warm and comfortable and no longer like an ice cube. His color was coming back too, which made her wonder why the hellfire she was even paying attention to the skin on his face and hands. Really, the man wasn't that interesting. Except the goatee. She could stare at that for hours.
"Then, what are we supposed to do all night?" Yuffie looked back at Reeve's flushed cheeks, hoping at one point he'd fall asleep and stop this whole mess.
Luis shrugged. "I'm sure you two ladies can keep him company."
"I choose the young one," Reeve said with a calm smile. He noticed Tifa standing awkwardly in the corner. "Nothing against you, Tifa."
"That's quite alright, Reeve." She walked forward and kissed his forehead. "I have Cloud and two children to watch over tonight. I'm not sure I could handle you and your genius mind."
"What makes you think I can?" Yuffie attempted to pry apart his fingers again.
"You deal with him at Headquarters," Tifa pointed out.
"But ... he's all loopy!"
Alas, her plea was ignored. "Call me if you need anything, okay?"
Reeve did indeed fall asleep after a couple of pain pills and a low dose tranquilizer. The second floor offered a larger room with a private bathroom and colored television set; Yuffie put both to immediate use once Reeve started to snore. His snores were actually rather cute considering who they originated from. They were soft and not as nasally as say, Cid's could be. (One of the many reasons why Yuffie stayed below deck on an airship in AVALANCHE's traveling days. Cid was freakin' loud.) Reeve's snores sort of ran together and weren't all choppy sounding. Not quite sawing logs, but still not a rippling brook either.
So, cute would have to suffice.
After a trip to the restroom, and another trip to finally grab that cup of coffee (may guilt be damned to the lowest pits of Ifrit's realm), Yuffie flicked on the T.V. to watch some mind-numbing cartoons.
Too bad all the good cartoons didn't air at midnight. What were those cable executives thinking?
Another perk to the second floor admittance was an actual place for a friend or loved one to sit down and be comfortable. Not that Yuffie counted as a "loved one", but that was another can of worms that she didn't want to open for fear that said worms would be covered in hearts or flowers or something all girly because she willingly stuck around to look after her older, sexy boss.
Why did he insist on holding her damn hand back in the emergency room? Look at all the problems it caused.
She leaned back against the cushion of the one-person couch and stared up at the ceiling. The tiles were certainly interesting, all dotty and whatnot, and her hand gripped the paper cup that held her oily, hospital brand coffee. Harmony told her to try and rest herself, but Yuffie didn't see it happening anytime soon. Reeve's loopy state of mind earlier struck her sharp in the gut. Her father once explained that ancient Wutaiin emperors smoked opium to free their mind and admit dark secrets that needed to be revealed. Could thick goop from an MRI scan do the same thing?
She wasn't sure if a 'yes' or 'no' answer would be best.
The coffee didn't taste all that great as it slid down her throat, but she drank the remainder anyway because she feared that going to sleep would spark her own mind into revealing strange secrets.
Reeve was old (though he didn't look forty at all); he was her boss (though he did enjoy the pulling occasional prank against her); he was her ally (his inventions were so kickass). But he also enjoyed taking her out to lunch at the local deli, or escorting her to the latest WRO fundraiser. That night had been fun; they danced for hours, drank too much champagne, and hid Vincent's cloak. They even found a way to pin all the evidence toward Reno.
He had kissed her cheek that night, right when he dropped her off at her apartment.
She sighed, threw her empty cup into the trashcan, and attempted to snuggle against his shirt. With his fever finally down, Reeve had discarded the many blankets over his chest, and managed to pry off his shirt. Yuffie quickly snatched it up before it could be lost in the hospital laundry shoot. For a dress shirt, it was surprisingly comfortable; not at all starchy like she thought it would be. It smelled like him too, strong coffee and electronics. Very nice.
Reeve groaned, and shifted to the side. Unfortunately, it was his right side. He gripped the sheets with a tight fist.
"Hey, hey," Yuffie said. "What are you doing up?"
"I don't feel like sleeping anymore." He straightened to take the pressure off his (presumably) inflamed appendix. "What time is it anyway?"
"Past midnight," she answered.
He saw his shirt hang off her shoulders, and it made him smile. "You look cute."
"Huh? Oh, thanks."
"You should be trying to sleep, Yuffie."
"Nah, I've been without sleep before. This is nothing."
He reached over and took her hand; this time, in control of his mind and body. "Thank you, Yuffie."
She fought a blush. "You're not going to try and propose again are you?"
"I'm old-fashioned, Yuffie. I'd have to request permission from your father, then order a ring and get down on one knee." He shook his head, kissing her palm. "I'm in no condition to do the latter."
"... Are you still under the influence?"
A scowl, and he dropped her hand. "Just in pain."
"We'll let Luis make that final call." The television screen glowed an eerie blue above his bed. "What are you watching?" It looked like a cooking show. A woman with fiery hair and a thick accent wrestled furiously with a lobster. Reeve flinched when she hacked off the creature's head.
Yuffie shrugged. "I dunno. I needed the noise."
"My mother used to watch this."
Reeve hated tension of any kind. He hated it when he worked at Shinra, he hated it at the WRO board meetings, and he really hated it when Yuffie was involved. Yet here they both were, attempting to make simple conversation while he lay hooked up to intravaneous lines and blood pressure monitors. He knew what he said down on the emergency room floor; what they made him drink caused him to be talkative, but not amnesiac. Hopefully, with any luck from the great dragon guardian, Yuffie would forget he ever said anything at all.
"Okay, spill about the one-night stands you promiscuous male whore."
At this exact and important moment, Bahamut chose to ignore him. Perhaps this was retribution for not paying any tithes in recent months.
"My promiscuous days were back in college," Reeve explained. "I don't have any desire to live that way again. It's not worth it."
"Then who did you recently fu --" She bit her tongue when he aimed a heated glare in her direction. "Why was I ignored?" This question was softer.
He relented and looked away. "It was several weeks ago and not worth mentioning again. A mistake on both our parts."
"Was it before or after you escorted me to the fundraiser?"
"Promiscuous male whore."
"Dammit, Yuffie!" He sat straight, despite the pain ripping down his side. "Why are you even concerned with it?"
She arched an eyebrow, then ruffled his hair. "D'awwww ... Reevey got laid!" Her laughter echoed throughout the room. "Seriously, you make it so easy to screw with your head. Ha, I said screw. Bossman has a masculine side! So, how would marrying me benefit you exactly? I know what they say about Wutaiin girls, but still."
His eyes narrowed, then he grumbled, "Maybe it wasn't a mistake afterall."
"Why are you tired of the one-night stands? Getting immune to penicillin?"
"I'm not stupid, Yuffie."
"Was the plural even accurate? It sounds like that was the first time you got lucky in ages."
Sigh. "It was."
"Are you done?"
She stopped laughing. "Nope, still a virgin!"
He contemplated pressing the "nurse call button". Another tranquilizer sounded very useful right now.
Six o'clock in the morning came early, too early. When Reeve awoke again, the first thing he noticed was a slumbering Yuffie all curled up on the little pull-out seat. Her hair hung lazily over her eyes, and his shirt wrapped tightly over her upper torso. Her knees were curled beneath her, and she shifted when she felt something stray across her cheek. That something happened to be Reeve's finger. She smiled.
"Hi," she said.
"It was a mistake," he admitted.
Her smile remained. "It's okay. Sorry I messed with your head."
"I'm used to it."
A knock resounded on the door. Expecting a nurse, Reeve prepared for another blood pressure and temperature check. He expected wrong however, as a middle-aged gentleman sauntered through the door. "Mr. Tuesti?"
Reeve nodded. "Yes."
The two shook hands. "I'm Doctor Robert; Luis' colleague. How are you feeling this morning?"
"My right side is letting me know it's there, loudly."
Yuffie groaned, sitting up. "Can you just take the damn thing out already?"
"How would describe that pain, Mr. Tuesti?" Robert took out his stethoscope and placed it on Reeve's bare chest.
"Painful," he answered. Without warning, Robert pressed down on the right abdominal wall. "Dammit!"
"Why do you guys keep doing that?! If he says it hurts, it hurts!"
"Are you hurting anywhere else?"
Reeve grimaced. "No."
"Alright," Robert said. "You are indeed showing a textbook case of appendicitis, sir. There's no need to wait any longer. I don't have any reason to believe that it's ruptured; you're still in the early stages. I'll alert the surgeon and we'll start the preparations."
A smile spawned on Yuffie's face, one of misgivings and mischief. She started to giggle. "Reevey's gonna have a scaaaar..."
Her smile dropped. "What? No cute scar like the little girl in the story?"
"I'm afraid not, ma'am. Appendectomies are performed with a laparoscope now. Instead of one large scar, he'll have three puncture wounds that are less invasive and heal quicker."
"Awwwwww ... but he'd look so cute with a scar!"
The doctor glanced down at Reeve. "Sir, is your wife always like this?"
"Whoa, wait a minute."
Reeve reached out and caressed her cheek with the back of his hand. "She is, but that's why I love her."
Let the record state that even while suffering from acute appendicitis, Reeve could also screw with his employee's mind. Payback was indeed the commissioner's friend.
"I'll see you in thirty minutes, Yuffie. Puncture wounds and all."
"Asshole; I'll bet you'll dream of me when you're unconcious."
"I'm sure I will," he said, cheeky grin and sleepy eyes present. "And you'll worry about me even though this is a simple surgery?"
"Yeah, yeah. I'll even say a special prayer to Leviathan just for you."
"A full rosary?"
"Don't push it, dear."
Yuffie was alone. Again.
Several phone calls alerted her allies and friends about Reeve's under-the-knife status. Now she sat in the waiting room, drinking bad coffee, and munching spicy chips from the vending machine. All of the magazines were expired, so reading was out of the question. Most happened to have articles pertaining to diabetes, high cholesterol, or hypertension -- oh, hey. That one might be useful.
Five minutes passed.
The room was too silent for her liking. No one else had a loved one in surgery this morning, and she completely forgot to swipe his iPod from the secret pocket in his coat. No company, no tunes, no Reevey.
She'd never admit in any court (or even to herself), but she did speak a few words to Leviathan. Her request was for her boss' well-being, and for the skillful hands of the surgeon. If Reeve ever decided to question her time in the waiting room, she'd instead change the subject and show him the high blood pressure article. "See? You should vacation more," she'd tell him. "Let's go to Costa del Sol and spy on Luis and Harmony."
Actually, that could be fun. Even if they didn't play voyeur.
Yuffie snapped her head away from the magazine to see Tifa standing in the doorway. "Oh, hey; you made it!"
Tifa handed her a cellophane-wrapped plate. "I figured you could use some real food. Hospitals aren't always the best in that department."
"Thanks." Yuffie lifted a corner, smiling at the aroma of an actual home-cooked meal. "Denny and Marly at school?"
Tifa smiled. "On delivery." She took at seat next to Yuffie. "Cid and Shera send their regards. As does Vincent and the rest of WRO."
Yuffie's eyes widened in realization. "Who's taking care of things over there?" In the rush of getting Reeve to the hospital, she'd forgotten about the entire organization.
"Tseng is," Tifa answered. "Not to worry." She saw Yuffie sigh and put the plate down on the tiny rectangular table. "Hey, what's going on?"
"What? Nothing," came Yuffie's too quick response. Her eyes focused on the heavy door.
"Yuffie, who else in our ragtag group would you stay overnight in the hospital for?"
"Heheh, what are you talking about?" The shifty eyes began immediately. "He's my boss; it's no big deal."
Tifa's frown paired with a raised eyebrow. "Yuffie ... "
"He's my friend!"
"We all are." A brief pause, then, "Let me speak as a bartender for a minute. I've seen you and Reeve flirt, and prank, and skirt around whatever emotions you two are feeling for each other. One of you needs to do something before you don't have another chance."
"Bastard said I was young." She met Tifa's own eyes with her confession. "He'd have to ask my father, arrange a contract ... "
"Give Reeve more credit than that," her friend advised. "He doesn't want to take advantage of you."
Thirty minutes passed.
When Reeve opened his eyes, he felt a flutter against his cheek. It registered immediately as a kiss, and he had a clear idea on the identity of the culprit. Even with the effects of anesthesia in his system, he could smell the apple-scented body spray and see the choppy, black hair hovering over him. "Yuffie." His voice was a forced whisper.
"Wakey, wakey, sleepyhead." She brushed a lock of damp hair off his forehead. "Did you dream of me?"
"Mm," he smiled. "Did you worry?"
He was back in his room, still tethered by intraveneous drips and antibiotics, and covered by a heavy blanket. His body felt drugged and foggy, like he had too much to drink and not enough coffee to wake him up. "What did they say" he whispered again.
"Everything went normal," she shrugged. "Your appendix didn't go ka-boom or anything, so it was pretty much in and out, and sew you back up. I asked if they could put in a jar so I could keep it, but they already disposed of it, the bastards."
He blinked. "... what?"
"Oh, great; you're loopy again." She sighed, frustrated, but pulled up a chair so to achieve a more desired comfort level. "Doc' says you can go home tomorrow; ya just gotta take it easy for a few days. Oh, and no sex until after your follow-up visit with the surgeon."
"You asked that?" Not that he was entirely surprised.
"Hey, I was curious, dammit!" Of course, at the mention of the great mystery called sex, Yuffie's naughty smile emerged. "By the way, the nurses want you to shower tonight, and since nobody else is here to help you, I get to!"
He groaned. "You want to see me in the buff."
"Damn skippy! Speaking of which, who's going to keep an eye on you once you go home?"
"I guess you can."
"Good answer, Reevey!" She ruffled his hair. "I'll take over your closet, but you'll like it 'cuz I wear short-shorts and tiny underwear."
A small grin, then, "I won't protest, Yuffie."
"Not like you can anyway right now."
Note to self: Make every possible attempt to spy on a naked Reeve Tuesti.
Extra note to self: Be willing to do just about anything to spy on a naked Reeve Tuesti if he is also wet and soapy.
Yuffie vowed to never again call Reeve 'old' or 'decrepid'. After forty-eight hours of either lying supline or hanging over a toilet, he was happy to stand and stretch his limbs. Naturally, his ninja-slash-nursemaid took advantage of those backless hospital gowns: "Hot damn, Reeve!"
He tried to turn around and achieve some sense of decency. "My eyes are up here, Yuffie."
"Hey, give me a peek!" She walked a circle around him.
"Start the shower water!"
"Only if you show me your ass," she teased, waggling her eyebrows. "Put a little dance into it if you can. Give me a shake."
"What?" He held the back of the gown firmly closed, fending her off with his opposite hand. "I just got out of surgery!"
"Then lift up your dress thing so I can see your puncture wounds."
"... You want me to flash you?"
She nodded vigorously. "Unleash the dragon, baby!"
He backed up several steps, thankfully not into his I.V. stand. "Start the shower water, Miss Kisaragi," he ordered. Crossing his arms was out of the question, so he went with intense, you-better-obey-my-command staredown instead.
Yuffie squirmed, and dug her toes into the ground. "Okay," she squeaked. "Do you want the water hot?"
"That would be preferred."
She swallowed, and dropped her head. "Sir."
Reeve noticed something about Edge Good Samaritan, something that warranted a necessary complaint. Their shower curtains were see-through, and Yuffie knew how to pick the lock on the bathroom door. Seeing her slip on the water that somehow landed on the floor, though, that made him smile. And he did decide that all those mornings spent in the training room were very much worth it. Knowing that a woman half his age went to the trouble of spying on him did make his ego swell to the point of unhealthy. He chuckled again as she sat on the floor, eyes twinkling.
"Don't get that hand wet, Reeve. Your I.V. will screw up."
He rolled his eyes. "Duly noted."
"And no jacking off either."
A handful of water splashed on her face.
"How's your head, Yuffie?" He sat on the edge of the hospital bed, wearing a pair of loose pants that Tifa had brought. "You conked it pretty hard."
"It's your fault," she retorted. "That puddle on the floor didn't just manifest itself, y'anno!"
"You're the one who insisted on spying on me."
"To make sure you didn't get your I.V. hand wet!"
"You're so cute when you lie." He reached forward and pinched her cheek. "I could almost spread you on a slice of bread like butter."
She snorted. "Then what would you do? Eat me?"
"With my morning coffee. Speaking of which." Reeve motioned for her to come close and sit on his lap. She balanced on the edge of his knee, away from the bandages on his stomach. "It's been awhile since I've been had a good, strong cup of coffee. And I know the nurses have some in their breakroom."
She heard his voice trail off, and she saw the knowing grin on his face -- small, yet hinting of a favor. His arm was around her waist, keeping her from falling onto the floor. "I don't think you're allowed," she pointed out.
"Plain coffee is permitted," a deeper voice corrected from the door. A knock echoed, and in walked Luis. Instead of chastising his former fraternity brother, Luis chuckled at the pair. "Really, Reeve," the man said, "why haven't you married her?"
Yuffie jumped up and tackled him in a hug. "LUIS!" She then paused, looking around. "Where's Harmony? Why aren't you rockin' the casbah?"
Reeve facepalmed. "They have lives, Yuffie."
"But the sex does take up a lot of it," chirped Harmony from the hallway. She entered shortly after, and jumped up on Luis in a piggy-back. "The ER is being slow tonight, so we thought we'd check up on the commissioner. How are you feeling, sir?"
"Much better," he said.
Harmony smiled, jumping down from her lover. "I'm sure it's because of your lovely nurse here." She patted Yuffie on the head. "She's been taking good care of you."
Luis snerked. "Yes, sitting on a man's lap does wonders for his well-being."
"Ha!" Yuffie laughed. "I wouldn't be caught dead in those scrub things."
"About that coffee, Yuffie..."
"Reeve," Luis said, "when you get well, we'll go out for drinks like old times, okay?"
Yuffie gasped. "And I can go clubbing with Harmony?"
"Sounds like a date!" the nurse agreed, shaking her hand. "Good seeing you again, commissioner."
"Same to you, Harmony. Luis."
"Get well," said Luis.
They left, and Yuffie turned back to Reeve with a giggle. "Five gil says they screw in the elevator."
"Ten gil says they already have on the way up here." He held open his palm. "Now, pay up and get my coffee already."
Thanks to the strong, black coffee, Reeve was now the one who couldn't sleep. The surgeon had visited him a few hours earlier, not long after Luis and Harmony left, and confirmed that he could indeed head home tomorrow as long as someone stayed with him for a few hours. Yuffie already volunteered (well, forced), but Reeve wondered if those few hours might turn into a few days, or even longer.
Cait Sith was going to be in for a big surprise come tomorrow morning.
Reeve owed Yuffie quite a bit, that much was true. She took time out of her schedule (thievery days) to watch him in the hospital, making sure he stayed warm, and pestering the medical staff. He wondered if any of his other friends would have done the same. Oh, he knew Tifa and Cloud stopped by to visit, but they had a family together and couldn't part for too long a period. Barret's out in Correl, Cid and Shera made their home in Rocket Town, and Vincent ... well, Vincent did manage to find somebody that could clear his boss' agenda. That counted for something.
Yuffie though, she happened to be right there and didn't make any effort to weasel out of it. True, he could question her motives (blackmail, free use of company materia, attempts to see him naked), but the end doesn't always justifies the means of getting there. She stayed, and that struck him.
A nurse came while he pondered these things, checking his temperature, blood pressure, and heart-rate, then began to remove his I.V. line. She commented on the "young girl" asleep on the quaint couch, saying, "she must be fond of you, sir." He thanked her with a smile, and watched her leave. Yuffie remained silent, half-hidden in the thin blanket.
Reeve had gotten into the habit of caressing Yuffie's cheek recently, and he found himself doing that same action again. It was easier to do so without that damned needle in his vein. This time, she didn't awaken, only shifted against him. His hand retreated.
Right now, his desire was to be at home; with his own blankets, his own bed, and his own coffee. The scars on his abdomen could heal, and a conniving, little ninja would get under his skin and get on his nerves. Like she always did. But, she made it worth going to work and dealing with uppity ambassadors. He ignored the shame of that one-night stand (though it did remove a great deal of stress at the time), and focused on the vivid memory of Yuffie laughing in his arms at the fundraiser. He had been her escort that evening, and the moments were many.
Maybe Luis had a point with his question.
And maybe, just possibly, the good doctor was right.
Mystic: Well, I think my dialog got a work-out there. ;) And writing Luis/Harmony again was such a joy. I heart.
Mystic: Well, I think my dialog got a work-out there. ;) And writing Luis/Harmony again was such a joy. I heart.