Author's Note: Really... this is the end. I promise this time. :LOL:
As winter eased into spring in Midgar, it brought with it alternating bouts of sunshine and rain. It was on a day when the weather was pleasent that Tifa found herself humming absently, enjoying the sun, and for the first time in months, having absolutely nothing to do. The progress in Midgar had been remarkable... More than 90 of the city was fully built. The streets were paved, businesses had opened... All in all, it was fast becoming a thriving city. There was still quite a bit of construction going on in some areas, but life had largely returned to normal.
"What? Can't find anything productive to do?" a voice behind her drawled. She turned toward the sound, easily locating the source. Reno's red hair stood out in just about any environment. Rude was with him.
"You're one to talk," she snorted, "You've been doing nothing for weeks."
"Yeah, but I had an excuse," he replied with a grin, "I was nearly killed, remember?"
"So they finally let you out, huh?" Tifa said, strolling over toward the Turks. How Reno could joke so easily about something so serious, she would never understand, but she let it be.
"... They got tired of his whining," Rude interjected, and Reno stuck his tongue out at the other man. Tifa smothered a laugh at the childish response. Reno still looked pale... but that was probably largely due to the fact that he hadn't seen sunlight in more than three weeks, being confined to bed - when they doctors could actually KEEP him in bed, that is - while his injuries healed.
In truth, as Rude had told her earlier that morning, Reno was still supposed to be resting, but he'd gotten so stir-crazy that they'd finally decided to release him on the condition that he took it easy for a good long while. A condition that Rude was strictly enforcing. Elena, too, was up and about, but being a bit more sensible than Reno when it came to her health, she actually WAS taking it easy.
It was strange... It seemed like such a short time ago, Tifa wouldn't have said two words to Reno - or any of the Turks, for that matter - unless she had to. Now she found herself in their company more than she'd ever thought likely. She'd found that Rude, for instance, was a suprisingly insightful and sensative person now that she could finally get him to say more than two words to her. Elena, too, was a nice change of pace, as far as female companions were concerned, especially when Yuffie's natural hyperness began to grate on her nerves. And Reno... well, Reno was just Reno. Though her definition of "Reno" had changed substantially. Much of his arrogance and obnoxious nature, she'd discovered, was really just him being playful. She was quickly learning to only take him seriously when he was actually BEING serious.
"Hey Reno!" Yuffie's voice rang out from across the small park, "Look what I got!"
She was running toward them, carrying a large shoebox.
"If this is more materia, I really don't care," said Reno.
"Oh please... this is WAY better than materia," Yuffie replied. And with that she whipped the lid off the box. A blur of deep red streaked out, launching itself at Reno. The Turk's eyes widened in alarm as whatever it was smacked into his chest, and he fell backwards, more from the surprise than the impact, landing with a grunt on his backside. Two beady little eyes stared up at him and a long forked tongue flicked out, tasting the air around his chest.
"YUFFIE!" Reno growled, "What the HELL is that!"
The little creature hissed at him, revealing a row of tiny but decidedly sharp-looking teeth. Rude and Tifa were trying very hard not to laugh at the expression on his face.
"It's a miniature dragon! His name's Kaji Jr.!" Yuffie replied plucking the critter off of the Turk and petting it, "There, now... it's ok, Kaji. Reno didn't mean to yell at you."
The mini-dragon mewed and nuzzled it's head against her shoulder.
"The hell I didn't," Reno muttered as Rude helped him back up. The dragon's head whipped around and it hissed at him again, "Oh great... this one likes me just as much as it's oversized namesake did..."
"Well maybe if give him a chance to get to know you, he'd stop thinking you're such a big meanie," Yuffie said, grinning at him.
"Right," Reno muttered, dusting off his sleeves.
"Hey, it worked for me, didn't it?" Tifa replied, joining in the teasing. She nudged him gently in the ribs... not hard enough to hurt him, as she knew they were still tender... just enough to make her point.
Reno rolled his eyes dramatically... but he was smiling.