Reno and the Butterfly
For bassguitargirl, for the Easter Egg exchange. She has a wonderful fic where Reno has a caterpillar, but sadly it later gets trampled by Tseng. So I thought as a gift, I could write something which had a happier ending. This started off as crack, but became a little serious towards the end.
Warnings: Cuteness, references to bugs being squished, Reno being a little childish
Reno sat at his desk, entirely tired of his work. He didn't know what he was doing. He was extremely bored, completely fed up with paperwork. In his mind, Tseng was a monster. Not only had a smushed Reno Junior, but he'd also got bored of his puppet drama. He felt quite upset.
He'd had some other bugs, but Rude had let them go when the two of them had been sent on a week long mission. He knew that it was right, but it still upset him. He looked at the huge pile of paperwork still waiting for him.
Maybe he could ask Tseng to fold him a little paper crane, and that could be his pet. He searched through the online files, finding Reeve's information. Just as he had expected, the other had information about different paper folding shapes. One in particular stood out. A little paper butterfly. He picked up the closest sheet of paper.
Underneath, was nestled a tiny green caterpillar. He gasped, feeling that it was a sign, but he knew that his previous caterpillars hadn't done well. He bit his lip nervously, watching the tiny thing. He decided to persuade it to go onto a piece of paper, and then take it down to a garden. He put the paper down, cupping his hands around the caterpillar. If he did that, the little guy should climb onto the sheet.
The caterpillar began to move, but it didn't shuffle towards the paper. It instead climbed up onto his hand. Reno gasped, staring at the little creature. His face split into a grin.
"You like me, don't you!" He squealed. "I'm going to look after you. You can stay with me."
He let the creature climb over his hands, humming to himself, making a little song about squiggling caterpillars.
"I need to find you a home don't I?" He asked the creature, a little surprised he hadn't thought of it earlier. He put the caterpillar on one hand, using the other to search through his desk. He beamed, finding the jar that had been Reno Junior's home. He opened it carefully, putting the caterpillar in place. He ran over to the fridge, finding Elena's salad. He picked out a few leaves of lettuce, and returned to his desk, putting them in with the new caterpillar.
"There you go, you've got a nice yummy dinner, and a nice comfy house, that's good right?" He smiled and petted the lid of the jar, checking all the air holes were alright.
"You need a name..." He tilted his head. "You remind me of Reno Junior, but Reno Junior Junior is a silly name, I think I'm just going to call you Junior Junior!" He bounced a little, wiggling from side to side in joy.
For the next few days, Reno and Junior Junior were inseparable. He kept the jar on his desk, kept him beside his pillow when he slept. They ate lunch together, and Elena even brought in extra salad for him.
Tseng came into the office when Reno had run off to the toilet, promising Junior Junior that he'd be back soon. He snuck up to the jar, picking it up, examining it. He fiddled with it, put it down and left. When Reno came back, he found that there was a name label stuck on the jar, with the ShinRa logo on.
Reno cuddled the little jar close, wondering who had done it. Having checked the CCTV, he knew it was Tseng who had done this. Suddenly he didn't blame the other quite so much for smushing Reno Junior. He paused, then went to sign out, carrying the jar. He ran back to his room, performing for him the sock puppet show he had designed for Reno Junior and shown to Tseng.
Reno even drew a little butterfly on the label of the jar, a sign to tiny Junior Junior as to what he should aim to be. Though as the days passed, Junior Junior stopped being tiny and instead became quite large for a caterpillar.
Reno didn't think anything about his caterpillar's change in size until he headed down one morning and couldn't see Junior Junior anywhere within his jar. He panicked, looking at it more carefully, and eventually noticed a small brown leaf hanging down from the lid. He put the jar down, searching his bedroom, calling out.
"Here Junior Junior, come back, I'll even give you dandelion leaves." Dandelion leaves were Junior Junior's favourite, but he'd been put on a diet because he was getting so big.
He searched for almost an hour before sitting down on the floor, close to tears. Junior Junior was the oldest caterpillar he had ever managed to keep, and he'd still lost him. He wondered if he'd run away because he'd not given him dandelion leaves.
He pulled his phone out of his pocket, looking over his contacts. Not Tseng, he'd only step on him again, Rude was on a mission, and Elena would be jealous of little Junior Junior for eating his salad. That left him with only one real option. He dialled Reeve, trying to persuade himself that he could handle this and that he wasn't upset.
"Hello, Reeve Tuesti speaking, who is it?"
"Reno... Will you come over please?"
There was the noise of Reeve putting down whatever part of a robot he was currently tinkering with.
"Right away Reno. Are you alright?"
"No." Reno muttered, voice getting slightly choked up. He hung up the call.
Reeve raced through to Reno, and embraced him when he saw him, mothering him the same way he looked after anyone who was upset.
"It's okay Reno, I'm here, now what's happened."
"I lost Junior Junior."
Reeve scrunched his face up slightly. He knew that Reno had a habit of keeping bugs, and just hoped that this wasn't a spider of some kind.
"Okay, well I'll help you look... What does he look like."
"He's this little green caterpillar...well, he was a little green caterpillar, he's quite a big green caterpillar now."
"Okay, that's good, I'm sure we'll find him, now where was he when you saw him last?"
"He was in his jar... there's no space for him to get out but now he's gone and there's just this ugly little leaf! Tseng's probably squashed him again." Reno glared angrily at the jar, pointing. "And I was taking such good care of him and he was getting so big!"
Reeve picked up the jar, examining it, then chuckling lightly.
"Reno, you did a very good job looking after Junior Junior. So well that he's going to turn into a butterfly." Seeing how nonplussed the other looked, he made himself explain, trying not to be too amused. He should have guessed Reno wouldn't know. "This ugly little leaf is Junior Junior. He's in...like, a sleeping bag, so that he can take his body apart and then put it back together." Reno's expression had gone from confused to horrified, and Reeve tried to repair the damage he was doing. "It doesn't hurt him. It's just so that he can become a butterfly, because you looked after him so well."
"I... Junior Junior's going to be a butterfly?" Reno asked, bouncing up and down where he stood, then reaching out to cuddle the jar. "He's not much fun in a sleeping bag."
"I know... how about I set up a little camera, so you can watch when he comes out? He'll be there for about ten days, so if you leave him on the windowsill he'll get lots of light. As time passes, it will become more transparent, and you'll see the colours."
Reno nodded, absorbing the information, carrying the jar with extreme tenderness and resting it upon the windowsill. Reeve left, returning with a tiny camera that he aimed at the chrysalis.
"This will take images of the chrysalis, then record when he hatches."
"Okay!" Reno embraced him, then skipped off to tell the entirety of the Turks that he was going to have a baby butterfly.
Ten days passed, and Reno maintained a constant vigil over the jar, keeping it in sunlight, marking out a space on the floor around it into which Tseng was not allowed to step, and even buying a small novelty hat to put on top of the jar at night, to keep the little guy warm.
As the days passed, Reno didn't notice any change in the cocoon, but when he compared the first image the camera had taken with the last, he could see it lightening. By the ninth day he could see little Junior Junior nestled inside his now-clear sleeping bag, wings around himself like a small and brightly coloured bat.
The next morning, he had just begun his latest report when the camera made a small beep. He ran over, gasping at the tiny crack that had occurred. His initial response was panic; he'd worked so hard on looking after Junior Junior, he couldn't lose him now, but then he realised that he was hatching.
He grabbed his PHS, beginning to make calls.
"Junior Junior is hatching! I'm going to be a butterfly daddy!" He was practically squealing in excitement.
Elena mirrored his delight, rushing over from her coffee break. Tseng had promised to come down as soon as the meeting he was in finished, but reminded him that he was only meant to be interrupted for urgent issues, of which this was not one. Reeve promised he was heading up.
Rude's phone rang, and he turned to Reno.
"Reno, you aren't actually calling me when I'm sat next to you are you?"
Reno blushed, paused, hung up and shook his head.
"I'm not calling you now, no."
Rude walked over, ruffled his hair, then set up seats around the desk to watch the butterfly emerging.
Three Turks, including one proud 'father', and Reeve watched as the butterfly slowly pushed its shell apart, climbing painfully slowly from the shell.
"I want to help it."
"You'd hurt it Reno. Junior Junior has to do this for himself." Reeve spoke softly, but firmly, not wanting the little creature hurt now. Not when Reno had done so well.
Finally the butterfly crawled out from its shell. Reno blinked.
"It looks all smushed."
"Give it time." Rude spoke gently, watching as the creature slowly stretched its wings, clinging onto a branch. Elena stared at it.
"I never thought you'd manage this Reno!"
"Well I did. I'm smart!"
The assembled others began to laugh, and Reno opened his mouth to ask what was so funny, stopped by Tseng returning. He sat down in the free seat.
"Welcome to the world Junior Junior." He spoke calmly to the butterfly. Then he turned to Reno.
"Am I forgiven yet?"
"I suppose so." Reno muttered grumpily.
Tseng nodded, acknowledging the other's forgiveness, then closing his eyes, knowing what he was about to say would upset Reno all over again.
"Reno, he needs to go outside. He needs to be free to fly, and find flowers."
"But he's mine." Reno protested, reaching out for the jar. "He can live in the office and I'll buy him flowers."
"He needs a chance to make friends..." It was Rude who spoke, able to sense the potential argument brewing. "Let him go. There will be more caterpillars."
"Oh that would be so cute! Junior Junior Juniors!" Elena's excited squeal cut off Reno's protest, and made him stop for a moment to consider the implications.
"Alright." He stared at the little fellow in the jar, as he slowly flapped his wings, beginning to beat them, fluttering against the glass walls of his prison. "But we're doing this properly."
Reno lead the procession up to the rooftop, kneeling on the helipad with the jar in front of him, the other four surrounding him. He blinked back tears. He'd raised Junior Junior, got him through so many little caterpillar hardships, stolen Elena's salad for him, made plays and songs for him, and now he was saying goodbye.
"Have a good life little Junior Junior." Reno spoke, unscrewing the jar and opening it.
Junior Junior made a dash for freedom, escaping through the hole in the top of the jar, stretching his wings in the slight breeze. He flapped, gaining height and becoming air born, before diving down towards Reno, landing on his nose and flapping his wings for a few moments. Reno began to laugh and Junior Junior moved on, fluttering up against each of the assembled party before flying into the sky.
Rude placed a gentle hand on Reno's shoulder, and lead him in.
From that point onwards, Reno would often find a butterfly on his paperwork when he had had a tough day at work. He'd be exhausted, and turn to his work only to find the little guy there. It would flap its wings lazily a couple of times, then fly away without looking back.
Reno wasn't a fool, no matter how much his friends thought it. He knew butterflies only lived a few months. Yet this one kept returning, year after year. He asked Reeve about it.
"Butterflies are very special animals. They return to the place they think of as home, and their children do to."
Reno felt his heart swell at the knowledge that Junior Junior had told his little baby caterpillars about him. He was a butterfly granddaddy!