Title; Always something better.
warnings; language, angst, no canon timeline what so ever = AU, corny phrases.
Summary; Sometimes you just have to give up and give in, in order to restore what was lost.
I'm taking nothing for granted
Open up, just speak to me
We're not going anywhere like this
So would you rather clench your fists and fight it out?
It's just what we deserved
And for these two years of our lives
Not worth discussion, no excuses, not a word
There's always something better round the corner.
"I can't do this anymore, Reno." Cloud said softly, sitting on the edge of the bed, his back to his lover behind him under the covers.
Reno stretched and groaned, blinking confused, he popped up on an elbow and looked at Cloud's back. "Were you planning on just leaving?" He asked, knowing he shouldn't be angry or hurt, but feeling a whole range of unwelcome feelings none the less.
"Sorta." Cloud admitted, biting his lip before he twisted in his seat, so he sat with his side to Reno. "I wanted to, but.." He shrugged, "It just felt wrong."
"It would be very 'you'." Reno said, pulling the covers aside, sitting up, naked. His heart beating so fast he was sure it was on it's way out of his chest.
"Please!" Cloud rolled his eyes, "Like you never did it to me."
"Never said i didn't, just said it would be a very 'you' thing to do." Reno said with a calm voice, getting out of the bed. "How long have you been sitting there?"
Cloud shrugged, "A few hours."
Reno shook his head sadly and sautered past Cloud out of the bedroom, towards the balcony door in his living room. He reached for his cigarettes on the table, and stepped out in the cold morning air stark naked, lighting up, He leaned against the cold rail and exhaled. "What made this time different?" He asked, knowing that Cloud could hear him.
At first Cloud wouldn't answer, and then he came and stood in the balcony door openeing, staring at Reno. "I'm not coming back." he said softly.
Reno just rose an eyebrow, "Suit yourself Strife, it's not like we promised each other something we couldn't keep. And whatever we 'did' promise," He inhaled and paused till he exhaled again, "We forgot."
"Reno." Cloud sighed, "How like you to laugh this off as nothing." He crossed his arms over his chest, "I know it's not."
Reno's eyes narrowed, the tattoos giving a feline expression. "Don't flatter yourself."
Cloud turned his head and looked out over the city skyline, and ignored Reno.
Reno stared at Cloud, knowing that Cloud was right, it was a huge deal. But Reno was tired of fighting this war. He could feel his heart sting as he looked at Cloud in the summer morning sun. Of all the scars Cloud had dealt him, this was the one that hurt the most. "Why are you even still here?" Reno asked, and the second he had said it, he wished he could take it back, all his hurt and jealousy laced every word with deadly poison.
Cloud looked down at his shoes, as if he was ashamed. But Reno knew better, he knew it was just a thoughtful Cloud-stance, which just made it worse, not even Cloud knew why the hell he was still here. Did he really mean that little to him? And how had he come out on the losing side of this? Suppose he had always suspected it would end like this. Reno tossed his cigaret butt out over the balcony and walked past Cloud to get back into the living room.
Cloud grabbed Reno's wrist, staring into Reno's surprised, hurt, deep blue eyes. "You are very dear to me, Reno." Cloud said measured.
"Not dear enough." Reno pulled his wrist back angrily. Continuing his flight to the bedroom to find some clothes.
Cloud walked after him, "Reno." He said slightly pleading.
Reno had managed to pull some underwear on when Cloud made it to his bedroom. But gave up on finding more clothes and just sat down on the bed listlessly. "Why are you making this into something it's not, Cloud?" He said flatly, "Just leave." He looked up at Cloud who stood against the dresser, looking down at him. "It can't be that hard. You already made the decision."
"She needs me." Cloud said in a lame defence, "And I can't keep on being stretched between you two like this."
"As I said; what the hell are you still doing here?" Reno repeated slowly, fisting his hands, digging his nails down into the flesh so he would not cry, or ask what he really wanted to ask. A part of him knew that if he didn't ask now, he would never get another chance, but that pathetic question wouldn't make it past his lips. His pride wouldn't let it.
Cloud, on the other hand, had seen this before, and knew that Reno was upset, so he just sat down next to him on the bed, wrapping an arm around the tense redhead. "You'll be fine." Cloud whispered, leaning in, kissing Reno on his shoulder, resting his head against it afterwards.
"No, I won't." Reno whispered, he stopped himself, and just took a deep breath instead of voicing his thoughts. "You're right, I'm gonna be fine." He added, knowing that it was the most obvious lie, of all obvious lies in the world. He turned his head and smiled at Cloud that rested against him, "Don't worry about it."
"Can you blame me, that I do?" Cloud asked in all honesty.
Reno bit back any bitter remarks that burned on his lips and just stayed silent, letting his silence speak for him.
Reno was inwardly very proud of himself when Cloud finally left, true they had both hesitated, but in the end Cloud had left, leaving Reno alone. Reno sat down in the sofa and curled his legs up under him, and wrapped his arms over his head, as if to hide from the world; and he wept. He had been fighting it since he got up, but there was no way he would let Cloud know just how much he hurt, or anyone else for that matter. Reno's tears were Reno's alone. He knew that in time he would be able to smile and laugh about it, but not right now, it was like the dam burst and everything came out all at the same time. "You said you loved me." Reno cried softly... "Fuck!"
He would have to show up at work soon, dressed and smiling. Right now he just wanted to take a dive head first off the balcony.
– - -
It would be years till Reno's path crossed Cloud's again. And when it did, nothing could have prepared him for it. It had been Reno's day off, and he had chosen to spend it alone, in a bar. Like any other day off he had had in the last couple of years. He had been in the back playing snooker with some of the regulars, when he heard a voice that made him look up. He squinted, looking at the blond guy standing at the bar. Okay this was ridicolus, now he was starting to see things? "Yo Reno, you're up!" One of the other snooker players said, touching Reno's shoulder lightly. "Oh yeah. Sorry." He smiled at the other man, "Just thought I saw someone I knew." Taking the cue, and walked over to his ball.
A couple of drinks later, he had finished the game, and followed one of the other players to the bar to get the drink he won. He heard that voice again, and he almost dropped the drink he had just recieved. Reno looked to his left, only to see Cloud on his way to the bar, there was no doubt in his mind that this was indeed Cloud, and not a figment of his overactive imagination. He downed his drink in one go, and turned around, aiming directly for the exit, slipping outside into the cool night unnoticed, he lit a cigaret, and stuck his hands in his pockets as he started to walk slowly in the direction of his flat.
Reno heard it, but ignored it, and kept walking, while telling himself not to turn around like a mantra, over and over.
Reno heard fast footsteps running in the gravel to catch up. And finally the decicion was out of his hands, Cloud turned him around, staring at him with angry mako blue eyes. "Didn't you hear me?"
"Sure did." Reno stated, hoping Cloud couldn't hear how fast his heart beat.
"You just wanted me to run after you?" Cloud asked, frowning.
"No." Reno wasn't sure if he lied or not. Because a part of him didn't want to see Cloud at all, to be reminded of his own frail centre. But another, much more masochistic part of him wanted nothing more than to see Cloud, and never look away again.
Cloud let go of Reno's arm, and just looked at him with something that resembled pity. "You didn't have to leave."
"I was on my way home anyway." Reno was sure he lied this time. He shrugged with a little cattish smile.
Cloud just stood there and stared at him, knowing he lied. And with a sigh he resigned to the situation. "Alright." He said, "So how have you been, Reno? Attempting to Rebuild ShinRa as usual?"
Reno just blew smoke out his notrils and smiled, "And they say blonds are stupid."
"Jeesh." Cloud shook his head in regret. "Have a nice evening, year, life.. whatever." And then Cloud turned around to head back to the bar.
Reno closed his eyes, and maybe his concience got the better of him, but none the less he called out, "Wait Cloud. I'm sorry."
Cloud turned around, looking a little puzzled. As if he saw the mask crack on the redhead, and he thought he saw something he knew underneath. "It's okay." He just said, offering Reno the tiniest of smiles.
"How are you?" Reno asked, "How is Tifa?"
"I'm good, and so is she, thanks for asking." Cloud said, walking back to where Reno stood. "And so are the kids."
"Oh yeah the kids, forgot those." Reno admitted with a slightly bitter tone. But nodded, "Good, that's good. So.. uhm.. take care of them, and you, okay?" He didn't know what to say, he had no clue how to be civil with Cloud, he couldn't recall that they ever small-talked in their life. They fought, fucked, laughed, flirted, and occationally tried to kill eachother, and fucked some more. But never small-talked.
"And you?" Cloud asked, almost desperate to keep the conversation going. "How are you?"
"Just peachy." Reno smiled a little forced.
"I see that." Cloud said a little acidly.
"Good." Reno sighed, "Then all is fine. You have a good night you hear?" He smiled and had wanted to just place a friendly hand on Cloud's shoulder, but instead caressed the shorter man's cheek, as is they were still lovers. They both held their breath for a moment, until Reno hesitantly withdrew his hand. "Good night, Strife." He said with a husky voice.
"Reno?" Cloud asked, seeing as the other man made ready to leave. "Come." He held out his hand to Reno.
Reno just stared at the outstreched hand, "And go where?" He finally asked uncharactericsticly meek.
"You'll see." Cloud said, looking at his empty outstreched hand.
"Okay." Reno placed his hand in Cloud's, against his better judgement. And let Cloud drag him around the corner. "Fenir? Wow." Reno couldn't help but to laugh softly, he had not thought he'd see that bike again.
"Yeah." Cloud said, letting go of Reno's hand, and getting on the bike, "Come on."
Reno just got on the bike, and wrapped his arms around Cloud's waist, it felt good, it felt like home. And it felt wrong, like he was an imposter, mooching on something that wasn't his to have.
Cloud stopped the bike a little outside the city, and just sat there for a while staring at the stars, Reno let go and leaned back in his seat looking up at the stars too. "Remember when we were out here last?" Cloud asked.
"I do." Reno admitted, "And lets leave it at that." He said, no he begged. He didn't want to have this conversation at all. He just wanted to sit here in silence and watch the stars till they became a sunrise. "Can we just.. not talk?"
Cloud turned in his seat, looking over his shoulder at Reno. "I didn't know.."
Reno got off the bike with an angry huff. Sliding off the seat most ungracefully. "Cloud, don't." He just sneered, walking a little away from the bike, into the night cold dessert.
Cloud slid off the bike too, but stayed leaned against it. "I missed you." He admitted.
And in that way he was so much more brave than Reno. Reno that never had learned how to express what was inside, not really. Reno chose to kick a rock in response.
"Did you hear me?" Cloud asked pocketing his hand not to fidget, "Perhaps, uhm.. perhaps you missed me too?"
Reno kicked another rock, and another and another. Gaia! Why had he put himself in this situation?
"Could you perhaps answer me?" Cloud asked, silent anger in his voice.
"No!" Reno growled. "No! I didn't miss you! No! I didn't love you! And no! I don't want to talk about it!" He kicked another rocke with a frustrated whine.
"That's not true." Cloud said irritatingly calm.
"So what?" Reno admitted, turning away from Cloud and stared at the horizon, "You didn't care back then, so why should you care now?"
Cloud pushed off the bike, knowing that he had chipped away in Reno's defence now. And bravely he put his arms around Reno's waist from behind. "I did care. Whatever made you think I didn't?"
Reno tensed when Cloud embraced him, "Oh I don't know.." Reno huffed, "Maybe that you fucking left."
"I had to." Cloud argued, holding Reno tighter.
"Let me go." Reno snarled, pulling free of Cloud's arms. "Leave me the fuck alone." He finally turned and looked at Cloud, tears evident in his lashes, "You.." He said in a tone thick with tears and heartache, "You.. you said you loved me, and then you just took it back." Reno wiped his eyes angrily with his sleeve, "Shit!" He hissed at his own weakness. But before Cloud had a chance to answer, Reno continued, as if his embarassment and anger fuelled his rant. "No one ever told me that before, or after. No one Cloud!" His voice dropped to a defeated whisper, "And to think i fucking believed you. Of all the bullshit i have heard in my life, i chose to believe that." he shook his head, "What a fucking joke."
"For what it's worth, I did love you, I didn't lie." Cloud said softly, "And I do miss you."
"Don't fucking pity me because I am crying like a bitch." Reno spat, but none the less sat down unceremoniously where he stood.
"I don't pity you." Cloud said, coming over and sat down next to Reno, "I have been thinking, you know.. That maybe I made the wrong decision back then. I should have chosen with my heart, not my sense of duty. They would not have lost me, just because I didn't play family."
Reno turned his head and looked at Cloud, biting his lip.
Cloud sighed sadly, "When I saw you tonight, I knew I had to tell you. To confess."
Reno nodded, "So what do you want from me?" He asked, not really wanting to hear the answer.
"Your forgiveness." Cloud said without blinking.
Reno laid down on his back, staring up into the stars. And after a moment of thoughtful silence he finally answered. "I don't think I can do that."
"Okay." Cloud nodded, but looked deflated. "I understand."
Reno wasn't sure why, but he opened his arms to invite Cloud to lay down with him. And he could have sworn he could see a relieved smile on Cloud's lips in the dark as he took the invitation, melting against his former lover. They just lay like that for a long while, looking at the stars.
"What about your mother?" Cloud whispered suddenly, "Or any ex lover?"
Reno just cleared his throat in response, not sure what Cloud was talking about.
"I mean, no one but me ever said they loved you?" Cloud explained softly, running a finger up and down Reno's stomach.
"Nope." Reno whispered back.
"I'm sorry." Cloud breathed, his hand resting on Reno's stomach, too low for it to be chaste, and too high up for it to be an invitation. "You'll find someone, I'm sure."
Caught up in the moment, Reno turned his head and inhaled the scent in Cloud's hair, "I don't want someone." He whispered, his hand covering Cloud's on his stomach, smiling as Cloud laced their fingers.
"I can be someone." Cloud confessed, squeezing Reno's fingers. And when Reno didn't answer, but just inhaled sharply, like a tiny gasp, Cloud sat up, sliding on top of Reno, a knee on each side on the other man's waist, firmly planted in the dessert soil. "If you will let me." He added, staring down at the wide eyed Reno under him.