Disclaimer: I still own nothing… but I am thankful for Square not suing me for borrowing their characters every now and then.
Tifa is behind the bar, cleaning glasses when she hears the bells above the door chime. She doesn't look up from her task to say, "I'm sorry, but we're not open for another few hours." She finally spares a glance up towards the door and begins to smile in recognition when—
"Where is she? Where the hell is Yuffie?"
Yuffie is upstairs when she hears the raised voice. The sickeningly familiar voice that sends a jolt through her heart and her hand to her belly. She feels the blood drain from her face and her eyes grow wide. She knows that voice, would know it anywhere.
He has found her.
Her mind races, as it has always been apt to do, jumping from fear to anger to fear to . How did he find her? Why is he there? What can she do? She realizes that tears are pouring down her face and blames the hormones as she angrily swats them away.
Her sense of fight-or-flight is screaming at her to runawayrunawayrunaway but her heart is aching to see his face even if it ends her.
A decision must be made. Yuffie squeezes her eyes tight as she can, and makes it.
Downstairs, Tifa puts it together in less than a second. Her eyes are wide and surprised as she stares across the room.
Reno stares back, seething and tense. "Well?" He grinds the word out between gritted teeth, and Tifa comes to her senses.
"What makes you think Yuffie is here?" She asks carefully, unsure of how she should handle this situation. It's delicate like a hand grenade; one wrong tug and she'll have an explosion on her hands.
"Because she ain't in Wutai, Teef. And that means she's running. And you're who she comes to when she gets to running." He spits the words out like acid, bitterness dripping from each syllable. Tifa feels a wave of sympathy for him crash over her. She knows what it's like to have the one you love run to another.
Still. Yuffie is her friend, her sister and Reno… Reno is angry. Is threatening. Defensiveness shoves the sympathy out of the way, and Tifa feels her expression harden. No one threatens her family.
"What do you need with Yuffie?" The words are clipped, cold. No one threatens her family.
Reno seems exasperated. "To talk to her, Tifa. The brat just… I figured by now… I miss… Goddammit, I just want to talk to her. And she keeps fucking running."
"Not anymore." Her voice is tired as she trudges down the stairs. "I'm done with running. What do you need to talk about?" Yuffie doesn't say his name, because names have power. If she says his name, that's a step away from telling him she misses him, loves him, never wants to let him go. And she can't say those things… not safely.
His blue-green eyes focus on her, drink her in and then… he notices. He sees. His eyes go wide, and Yuffie winces but holds his gaze. Tifa suddenly feels like an intruder into a too-private moment. She sees the love in Yuffie's eyes as she looks at the redhead, sees disbelief on his face.
"Fuck…" It is whispered but oh-so loud in the silence of the bar. "Yuffs…?" Tifa thinks he might cross to the ninja then, scoop her in his arms and kiss her breathless. But this is real life, not a fictional romance, and he is Reno and she is Yuffie and they just don't do cliché.
"Now you get it. Why I ran." Her voice is small and her hand trembles as she splays it across the swell under her shirt.
"Yeah… I fucking get it." There is anger lacing his tone again, but hurt too. "Thought I'd be a shit dad, huh? Didn't want a Turk, a killer to be father to you kid, is that it?" And now Yuffie's eyes are wide and she's shaking her head but he just keeps spewing venom, like a champagne bottle uncorked.
"So you just fucking broke things off and took off, yeah? Couldn't bear the thought of having a family with me. Yeah, I fucking get why you ran, kid. I get it now. Couldn't even give me the fucking benefit of the doubt. Just fucking assumed… assumed… fuck you."
Yuffie hears the harsh words, hears the anger and the hatred and suddenly she knows. She knows. Those are Reno's fears, his insecurities and he is just as broken as she is.
"That's not why, you big… dumb… jerk." She has always been so eloquent, she snorts inwardly. "I ran because… because… We were broken up and I got scared that you wouldn't want it or that… You'd feel like you had to be with me out of some sort of… responsibility or obligation and, Gawd, we had broken up before I knew! You didn't want to be with me, and I wasn't gonna force you to just because I was…" Her voice trails away and she glances down at her swollen abdomen, eyes burning.
He crosses to her then, meets her at the bottom of the stairs but doesn't touch her. His hands are shaking, she notices. Tifa has somehow made herself scarce.
"Yuffie… we broke up and got back together all the damn time. It was never really the end for us…"
She meets his eyes, ferocity blazing in hers. "Well maybe I got sick of all the breaking up! Why couldn't we just stay together? Why couldn't you just stay with me? You keep telling me I'm the one running away, Turk, but you did just as much running! Gawd… like I'm some fucking lost cause…"
And Reno realizes too. Realizes that Yuffie is hurt and messed up and can't trust anyone farther than she can throw them and certainly not with something as big as a baby. Somewhere along the line, someone had made her feel like she wasn't worth it and all he wants to do is make her see that she is. God, she is.
He has always been a bit volatile, a bomb that could explode at any second. And Yuffie has always been able to match him, blow for blow, taunt for taunt. When they were enemies, they hated each other intensely and when they were lovers they went up in flames. He was a volcano, she a sandstorm and together they shone.
With her, he had love. Without her, all he had was anger and pain.
He wants to hit her. He wants to kiss her. He wants to make love to her again and again until she realizes just how much she means, has always meant, to him.
Reno has never been good with words, just the same as Yuffie. So instead of speaking, he reaches out a trembling, calloused hand and places it against Yuffie's stomach, as gently as he can.
"If you honestly think," He begins quietly, "that I was happy any of the times that we broke up… that I've been happy for the past three and a half months that you've been hiding from me… then you're quite possibly the biggest idiot I've ever met."
In the furrow of his brows, in the twist of his mouth, in the pain making his voice rough and scratchy, in the fingers against her baby-bump, Yuffie sees, hears, feels his love for her. Her head screams at her not to believe it, to reject anything that might get her hurt again but her heart drowns out those shouts, thumping against her ribs and swelling to an impossible size. She feels as though her heart may burst like a balloon, but the love she feels echoing back out of her thrusts that fear away.
One hand on Yuffie's belly, the other brushing tears from her cheeks, Reno leans down and covers her mouth with his. It has been far too long since they have kissed like this, Yuffie thinks, and she wants to drown in the feeling of being with him again.
They have a lot to discuss, many problems they still need to work through. But together, with neither of them running for once, their future looks better, easier. Happier.
From the shadowed stairs, Vincent watches them, concern etched onto his stoic features.
He was a Turk once, too… and Turks are not to be trusted.
AN: Well, kiddos, Happy Thanksgiving! And if you don't celebrate Turkey day then… Happy Almost End of November! Or something. This was a very Yuffie-centric chapter, but I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. All that raw emotion makes Bru a happy author XD I hope you enjoyed too! Thanks go out to my lovely reviewers: MsRainey, Miss Informed, marquis, kisuno, ForgottenReveries, forevermare, Alecto Nyx, Sith's Shadow, and JingYee! You guys rock, and I'm so sorry for the long wait… I hope it was worth it! Btw, quick question: Do you think these chapters are too short? I always feel like I end them in a good place, even though they aren't the longest chapters in the world but… for you, my lovely readers, I could try to make them longer if you wish. So let me know in a review. Your wish? My command XD
Til next time…