So I was writing a chapter for another one of my stories recently, and I realised something. I like Reeve, and if I had left a certain other dark-haired man of the equation, I could have easily started something… Alas, that was not the right scene for Reeve. So I thought, why not write one for him? I had intended this to be a one-shot- it may well be, but the way it's going right now, I could probably extend it.

Please enjoy this, and please leave a review and let me know what you thought.

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Where you'd least expect it

1. A special assignment

She'd never really gotten the chance to know him, like she had the others. Vincent, she knew marginally well enough to know to leave him to his own musings; Cid was a great companion, and soon after meteor, she would have considered him one of her closest friends. Yuffie was perhaps a little childish for her liking, though should couldn't help but be charmed by her at times; yes, her laugh was a little shrill, and her outlook on like a little rose-tinted, but she loved how her antics would always bring a smile to her face, even on those days where not even the sunshine could. The others, she had known well enough already before they had embarked upon their life changing journey….

…But Reeve, she'd only really met him after they'd left the crater. He'd tracked them down, and her first impression of him was that he seemed like the type of man who was tired of being stepped upon- a feeling she could perhaps relate to, in some ways. Taller than her easily by several inches, though his broad-set shoulders were not pulled back in the manner of a prouder man. She had raised a brow at his neatly trimmed beard at first, though upon seeing a picture of him without it, she had long decided privately that he suited it better.

Still, two years later, after the hubbub surrounding the events of Geostigma and the feared revival of Sephiroth had died away, she still didn't know him.; though it seemed he had finally taken the initiative to speak up for what he believed in, at last beginning to making amends as though ShinRa's sins were, in fact, his own. On one of their rare meetings in her bar in Edge, she'd remarked lightly that he was getting to become like Vincent; the dark haired man in the navy suit had flushed under her laughing gaze, though he had said nothing more on the subject.

A year later, Reeve founded the WRO. World Regenesis Organisation. A world-wide initiate whose goal was to restore the planet. No mean feat, though she admired him for his vision. A continent-wide recruitment programme had ensued in the months following, and soon, men and women were seen in all major towns and cities proudly wearing their navy uniforms. It stood for change; shedding the old ways, and searching for the new.

Barret was a key player all the way over in Corel- he had been campaigning to reopen the mines prior to the formation of the WRO, though with their support, he was able to make it happen. It would take decades before the world could be classed as stable, its resources sustainable, but each step forward was progress, he was well noted for saying.

Now Marlene and Denzel were living with Barret in his newly-built Corel home, she had a lot more time on her hands- more time to think about how her existence with Cloud (for that was all it really was) wasn't healthy for a young woman such as herself. Reeve often had a job or two for Cloud each month, which would send him away for sometimes days on end, though Tifa didn't mind. The pay was good, and it felt good to get real time alone. Time to think about what she was going to do about it.

In fact, Reeve had had tried to recruit her recently, though she had politely declined him, gesturing to the bar behind her. "I've got enough on my hands here, Reeve. But thanks for asking."

"I understand," He had replied, stood in the centre of her bar with the air of a man who would rather be elsewhere. Recently, she had little energy to keep people away from where they truly wanted to be (in Cloud's case, anywhere but here,) and so she made no other comment. She was surprised, though, when he was the one to continue speaking.

"I couldn't have done it without you," He said quietly. "Avalanche, I mean," he added, hurriedly correcting his mistake. "It was your vision, your enthusiasm for your goal that made me see the truth. If it weren't for you, I'd either still be working for them," (His knuckles had whitened at this). "Or I would have died in that godforsaken building when Meteor came down."

Taken aback by this sudden show of passion, she couldn't say anything right away, instead, she watched his face carefully, noting that his warm brown eyes were almost gleaming. "Reeve… I… Let me make you a drink." The landlady in her kicked into action, and before he could protest she had herded him into a seat, a barstool at the counter, and had coaxed out of him what he preferred to drink.

Smiling at his choice- a custom cocktail he preferred- she set to work. Coffee liqueur with hints of vanilla, poured over ice, then a fruit flavoured spirit that was known for its sweetness- Topped off with a dash of lemonade, and her own personal flourish, a wedge of orange. She made two, hoping to try it out for herself, and after sipping at the straw testily, she suddenly knew how to put a smile on his face, even if it were only temporary.

"This is going on my specials board." She announced, leaning on the counter top opposite him, her glass half-empty already. "And I'm calling it… The Reeve."

He gave a small, yet hearty chuckle, running his hand through his near-black hair to keep it out of his eyes. "I shall have to return to endorse it. It is such an honour to have a cocktail named after me- And might I add, a fantastic tasting one."

"Have you tried 'The Avalanche'?"

Over a rainbow of cocktails, Tifa managed to break through Reeve's exterior, and what she found only ignited her curiosity further. Stories about his mother, about life at ShinRa, after a little bit of coaxing, a few women he had dated- It had been three in the afternoon when he had entered, and when Cloud returned from a delivery at nine, he found them still sat at the bar top, though it was now littered with a vast array of different shaped glasses, laughing like they'd been friends for years.

"Did I miss something?" Cloud's mouth turned up at the corners, and he was invited enthusiastically to join them, a 'Reeve' placed eagerly in his unwilling hand.

"S'nothing. Just Reeve's uh… whadaya call it- a company, or-gan-is-a-tion thing." Her hand made a flippant, spasmodic gesture, and she laughed feebly. "is successful. So's we are celebrating!"

Cloud raised a brow. "You mean the WRO?" He gave a gentle laugh at his friend's verbal confusion. "Heard all about it on the news. Listen, Tifa I'm going to get on with the next job. Not feeling too tired, so may as well. I'll be back in a couple of days."

"Hm." She waved her hand dismissively, remaining in an unbroken silence until the front door closed shut behind Cloud once more, the drink she had made him still sitting untouched upon the counter.

"Did I-uh miss something?" Reeve shifted in his stool, all too aware that the previous mirth was long gone from the room, and from his companion, though he noted she was trying to fool him with a smile.

"No, it's nothing! Listen, I'd better clear these up and get on with prep for tonight-" He winced at the sound of several glasses clanging together as she clumsily tried to pick up several at once. Maybe it was the fact that they were slick with condensation, or maybe it was because she was a little more drunk that he had thought- it could have been her blurred vision- but the glasses slid from her grasp, shattering into hundreds of pieces on the tiles at her feet. He held his breath, eyes wide and unsure, trained upon her face. He was afraid that if water should start to leak from the cracks that were clearly showing in her façade, he wouldn't know what to say, or do.

"Here let me help you-" He started, the joviality in his voice almost sickening. She glanced up from the inevitable mess at her feet, trauma-wide eyes fixing upon him as though he had appeared out of thin air, her lips parted.

"I'm sorry, Reeve, I-"

"Don't apologise, just let's get this cleared up." He reached her side, not caring to sidestep the glass pool before her, placing a firm, supporting hand upon her shoulder. "Then if you want we could… talk?"

He winced inwardly at how hesitant his offer sounded. She needed to talk about it. She needed to be told to talk about it.

Though he hadn't known many of Avalanche by face when he had been controlling the creature, Cait Sith, he had gotten to know them as individuals. He knew that Barrett was brash, and impulsive, that Cid was blunt, yet he had a softer side. He didn't know a lot about Vincent at all, he had to admit. Nothing that he couldn't learn from files anyway. Tifa was someone he had known of for a long time- from her days in sector seven, until now. She was fiercely protective of those she loved, she gave everything to her friends, she made sure people were happy around her, all the while hiding what was really inside. He knew how she felt about Cloud, too, and he swallowed at the thought that she might talk about that with him. What could he say? He, who knew her least?

To his surprise, she gave a resolute, heavy breath, before straightening her shoulders and raising her chin. "I'll get the brush."

Together, they worked to brush the glass shards into a gleaming pile. Allowing her time alone to take the glass to the outdoor bins, he took it upon himself to begin loading the dirty glasses into the industrial dishwasher tray, sliding down the heavy lid just as she returned into the bar.

"Thanks Reeve." She sighed, flopping down into a booth.

"No problem. That's what friends do, right?"

"Right." She nodded, following him with her gaze as he traversed the network of tables, the stools still set upon them, taking a seat directly adjacent to hers.

"Are you going to tell me what this is about?" He rested his chin on his folded hands, surveying her carefully. To his surprise, she laughed, wiping her cheeks briskly and lifting her eyes to the ceiling fan that whirred above their heads.

"It's selfish really, but… ah... Cloud didn't even know it was my birthday tomorrow. Or if he does know, he doesn't care. He's going away on another job for a few days, and he's going to miss it."

Reeve felt something inside him drop. Was he guilty too, for having not known? "It's your birthday tomorrow?"

"Yes, Reeve," She gave an exasperated sigh, though smiled fondly at his pained expression. "There's no need to look so worried. I wouldn't really expect anyone to know. You know, we didn't find time to check what day it was, never mind celebrate birthdays when we were chasing Sephiroth across the globe."

"I understand that, but… Cloud is your… partner?"

She shook her head resolutely. "He has known me longest. My supposed best friend, I would expect to remember…" Tugging her hair over one shoulder, she ran her fingers through it idly. "Never mind. I just hoped that… Maybe this year, now things have calmed down…"

"Now that you are alone…?" He prompted.

"I'm stupid, I know. There's no way it's ever going to work between us. I've left it too long to say anything, and I doubt that if he felt something, he would have kept quiet."

"I feel a little out of my depth here, Tifa, but… Shall I tell you what I think?" She gave a soft smile, and a gentle nod.

"I've made myself look like a fool, and sat here complaining to you- I guess I deserve to hear your opinion. Go ahead."

"You are- I don't know how to say this without sounding generic, though I insist I say this with deep sincerity- you are a beautiful young woman. Smart, strong, funny…" She flushed prettily, hiding her mouth behind her hand. Her eyes seemed to dance, the reflection of the ceiling fan he thought.

"As a single man, I find myself wondering what the hell Cloud has done to deserve… you?" His shoulders sagged, and he suddenly felt a little foolish. Giving a self-conscious cough at her silent scrutinisation, he loosened his tie a little. "I'm just saying that… well you are still young. There's no reason why you can't take matter into your own hands. You know, get out there, meet new people. Falling in love doesn't have to be difficult, or hard. I certainly wouldn't look down on you if you decided to, uh… date different people. You have every right to. And Cloud… he shouldn't have monopoly on that, if he isn't going to open his mouth.

"In short Tifa… you need to take the time to be you. The real you. Not the Tifa everyone expects. Go ahead and shock us. All anyone wants is for you to be happy. Including me." He finished, spreading his palms upon the table top, resisting the urge to drum his fingertips at her progressing quiet. "Well, I suppose I'd better go. I still have some paperwork to do tonight."

He sidled awkwardly out of the booth, striding forward to retrieve his coat hung by the door. Halfway across the bar, she caught him by the arm, turning him around. She still said nothing, instead stepping forwards and wrapping her arms tight about his neck, her cheek pressed into his shoulder. Unsure of how to respond, he settled upon placing his hands flat upon her back. Her breaths were slow, steady, and most importantly, calm.

"Thank you so much Reeve. You are a good friend." She murmured her words against his hair before planting a chaste, dry kiss upon his cheek. She then withdrew, scooping her hair back behind her ears, she offered one last smile before he nodded to her, taking his coat and leaving the bar behind without bothering putting it on, though the night air carried a definite chill. He didn't feel it though.

He fumbled clumsily in the pockets, until he finally produced his PHS. His primary agent was on his speed dial settings, and in no time at all the dial tone was reverberating dully at his ear.

"Ah, yes. Sorry to call at this hour. I have a unique assignment for you."

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The morning came pretty much like any other, except she was positive that her alarm clock had never sounded like that before… Of course, it was her PHS! Groaning, she reached out blindly and fumbled around on her bedside table for the offending device.

"Hello?" She muttered rather grumpily, after having misjudging the distance and hitting herself in the side of the head with the damn thing. Upon hearing Yuffie's shrill greeting, she groaned, rolling onto her back and patting at her tousled hair with her free hand. "Wassamater?"

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY TIFA!" She grinned, holding the phone a good few inches from her ear. Ok, so she'd forgive the little Shinobi fool just this once for waking her a good half hour before her alarm.

"You remembered!" She laughed, her voice still a little thick from sleep. She kicked away the duvet, and hauled herself into a sitting position, groping blinding with her toes for her slippers. Shuffling into them, she got herself up on her feet, and made her way towards the window as her friend garbled on in her half-attentive ear.

"SO- I was thinking- You. Me. Dinner. Shopping. Manicure. And then- we should totally have a night of it!"

"Oh I dunno, Yuf, the bar needs-"

"Screw the bar! You know full well your staff can take care of it! Well, I'm on my way over now, so I have like, ALL DAY to convince you!"

"You're on your way over now?" She rubbed at her eyes with the heel of her hand, trying to shift the gritty residue of sleep from the corners.

"Yup. So get your ass in the shower. I'll stop by and get us some of those bagels you like. And a latte."

"You know I have a latte machine downstairs, right?"

"Yeah, yeah, well, you know the coffee guy at this place I go to is like, hot. Anything to keep him busy for a few minutes just so I can stare at his cute bu-"

"Yuffie! Jesus, alright! I'll take a cappuccino. Lots of sugar too." She had a feeling she was going to be needing it, as she squinted in the sudden burst of light admitted by the opening of the curtains.

"Ok, love- you-byeee!"

Tossing her phone across the room so it landed in the heap of her duvet with a delicate thump, she stretched out her arms above her head, grunting as her spine gave a few satisfying cracks. Feeling that today was going to be a good day, she felt that her morning shower should perhaps be accompanied by some music. She shoved her personal music device into her speakers and selected her playlist, before methodically stripping down. Humming along to the bright, chirpy tune that now filled her bedroom, she kicked her night clothes towards her washing hamper before grabbing a clean towel and stepping into her adjacent bathroom.

Leaving the door open so the sunlight and the music could enter through, she found herself singing along to some catchy pop song as she worked her fruity shampoo into a lather. Although she washed her hair with it every day, today it smelled fresher, and sharper. Her skin seemed to sing as she scoured at it with the lemon scented scrub one of her barmaids had given her a few weeks ago- some present she couldn't use because of her skin type or something. Even the pipes didn't seem to be as temperamental today, though even if they had been, she knew that somehow, it couldn't have ruined her day. Shutting off the water, she wrapped her hair in a towel, and shrugged herself into her bathrobe. Padding into her room, still humming along to the music, she set about teasing a comb through her hair. Glancing at the clock, she noted that Yuffie would most likely arrive in at least ten minutes- enough time to roughly dry her hair, dress, and even put on some lip balm and a touch of blush to the apples of her cheeks- something she didn't do often, but when she had done before, it had gotten her compliments.

She did this all in perfect time, already unlocking the front door of the bar when she spotted Yuffie on her way around the corner from the front step.

"Good morning my wonderful, gorgeous birthday girl!" Yuffie exclaimed, Giving her a fierce one armed hug, two steaming take-out cups balanced expertly in the other hand. "Where shall we sit?" Tifa left the doors open to encourage in the fresh morning breeze, taking the seat by the east windows, in the sun. "So, is Cloud at home?" Yuffie glanced toward the door, where usually his coat hung.

"He left last night when Reeve was here."

"That so?" She took a sip from her coffee, then a bite from her bagel. "Eshabashtart."

"Pardon?" Tifa raised a brow at her companion, unable to decipher her word through her mouthful of bagel.

"I said- he is a bastard- Cloud, not Reeve. But maybe he left to pick something up? A present perhaps." Tifa smiled at the hopeful note in her friend's voice.

"You and I both know the likelihood of that happening." She guffawed bitterly, before taking a bite from her breakfast. "So, that aside, where are we heading today?"

"Oh, only all the best stores! I know this bar's been raking in the gil! You can afford yourself some nice things. Plus, I gotta buy you a present while we're out. I've booked in for our nails doing around 3pm!"

"Nails?" Tifa glanced down at her hands. She'd had to keep her nails neat, clean and trimmed for her training as a teenager, and so had never really gotten into the habit of excessively decorating them. "I don't know about that Yuffie…"

"Come on! I'm going to get mine dark blue, to match my dress for later. They're going to be so cute!" The younger girl gave her a mock frown across the table. "And you are going to get yourself something hot to wear tonight. Everyone is gunna be looking at you."

"I doubt that." She chuckled.

"I don't. But we'll make it a challenge."

"I'm sorry?" She set down her coffee immediately after raising it to her lips.

"How many cute guy's numbers you can get!"

"Yuffie I'm not going to-"

"Shh! I won't hear it! What harm can it do? I didn't say you had to call them. And you never know…" She winked.

"Yuffie, you make me feel so old sometimes," She sighed, running her fingers gently across her scalp.

"Ah, now you see- you're meant to feel young. You'll see. I am not going to take no for an answer either. We are going to have a blast."

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"Are you kidding?" Yuffie scoffed from across the store loudly, capturing unwanted attention from the shop assistant who was now peering slyly over at them from across the counter, as well as a handful of other customers nearby.

"Um, no…" She answered, hushed, contemplating the garment she held up to eye level. There wasn't anything wrong with the dress, was there?

"Well, sure it's alright for say, a christening or something. I'm talking like…" The Shinobi routed through a nearby rail until she came up triumphant. The dress she dangled in front of Tifa's face was certainly wonderful, but she'd simply ignored it one first glance. "This one is super hot."

"Yellow? Isn't that a little… gaudy?"

"No colour is gaudy Tifa." Yuffie snorted with derision, setting the dress back upon the rail loudly. "You just gotta think plain."

"Can I help you ladies?" The shop assistant had arrived at their side, clearly unimpressed by their antics.

"Um, no. We're good thanks." Tifa replied politely, though her companion didn't seem impressed by the snotty woman's intrusion.

"Well, I am just concerned that perhaps the items in this store are outside of your… um, how can I put this?"

"You're gunna say price range aren't you?" Yuffie huffed, her hands going to her hips. Tifa smelled danger.

"Well, perhaps not so bluntly, but yes."

"Are you on commission?" Yuffie fired back at the shop assistant, who was now straightening her thick, fashionable glasses.

Quite taken aback, she replied: "Yes, I am."

"In that case, I'm not buying anything from you. I was going to buy two dresses for my friend for her birthday, but your presumptions have offended me." Yuffie was fumbling in her pocket, to produce a gil card that gleamed gold. Tifa knew enough to know that it was pretty much the highest interest account you could get.

"I… My apologies, ma'am, I…"

"Too late. These dresses are all a bag of shit anyways. Bye!"

They left the store, Tifa with her mouth open, emitting strangled laughter, and Yuffie with her jaw set firmly. Today was definitely a good day.

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The two shop-weary girls staggered in through the front door at approximately 6pm, laden with shopping bags. Tifa had never felt so frivolous as she had today, though she had to admit that Yuffie had been right. She could afford it, and why the hell not? Today was her birthday, and she was spending it with one her best friends.

Checking her PHS, she noted a message from Reeve. A simple, succinct note to wish her happy birthday, and to have a good day. Smiling, she glanced up to find Yuffie scrutinising her message from over her shoulder.

"So, uh, what was Reeve doing here last night exactly?" She asked slyly, tossing herself onto Tifa's made bed, legs dangling awkwardly off the edge. She had thrown one arm over her eyes, though her lips were pulled into a smirk.

"Well, he came by to ask me if I could or if I wanted to work for the WRO. I said no, but then he ended up staying a while. You know how much I enjoy prodding people who hide in shells." She rolled her eyes, rifling through one of her bags, still smiling as she caught sight of her newly manicured nails. Bright orange.

"Oh. What did you talk about?"

"Oh, well it was embarrassing actually. We were kind of drunk, and- no nothing like that!- Cloud came and left, and I got upset…" She rolled her eyes, gesticulating flippantly with her hands. "He just talked to me about, well… he said I was… I was beautiful, and young and smart…" Grinning, she seated herself next to Yuffie, easing the weight from her aching feet.

Yuffie was smiling, too, her eyes wide with mild excitement. "Wow! You say he was drunk?"

"Only a little." She admitted, rolling a kink out of her shoulder. "But he was really supportive. Kind of unexpected, from him."

"He's alright. I guess I know him better 'cause I work for him and all… But I sure haven't heard him call anyone beautiful before."

"I'm sure he was just being polite." She insisted, though she couldn't hide the glow from her face.

"Don't tell me you're crushing on him?"

"Well, he is handsome. A gentleman, too- But please don't say anything! I'd hate for it to be awkward between us." She pouted at her friend, who only shoved her shoulder playfully. "I'm sure he was just trying to be nice to me anyway."

"Sure, sure. Your secret is safe with me!" Yuffie started at the sudden shrill call of her PHS. "Ugh, dammit, bet this's my Dad. Let me take this downstairs, I'll probably end up yelling in Wutaiin."

"Ok, sure. I'll try on my dress again while you're downstairs."

Yuffie hastened out of the room, waiting until she was downstairs and had shut herself in the tiny downstairs toilet well out of accidental earshot before answering. "What the hell Reeve? You almost blew my cover! What if she'd seen who was calling?"

"Then you should have told her it was about work. Which, might I point out, isn't a lie."

"Yeah, yeah, what is it?"

"I'm just confirming whether or not you will be out of the bar, and if so, when?"

"Why the hell you care so much, Reeve?"

"I'm sorry?"

"It's not like you know her that well or anything."

"Would you rather her think that all her friends had forgotten her birthday?" He said sternly, making her feel suddenly ashamed. It wasn't like Tifa had said anything…

"No." She muttered glumly, leaning against the tiny sink.

"Then what time?"

"I can have her out by nine thirty. Then I can pull the move whenever you give the signal."

"Good. Place the spare key at the drop point."

"Jesus Reeve, you're taking this real serious aren't you?"

"Is there anything else?"

"Just one thing: Since when were you such a damn flirt?" She left him garbling for only a few seconds before she terminated the call, grinning smugly to herself. She was definitely going to keep an eye out from now on.

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Yes, I am definitely splitting this one up. Sorry. EEK! Please review, first time in any other ff7 pairing.