AN: If you have read my other stories and are curious about my change in story, please head to my profile to read an explanation.
For new readers- Welcome! I'm extremely excited to return to fanfiction with a new story, and a change of categories. I have written really only anime stories in the past, so this is a big deal for me. I hope you like my story, and if you want an explanation on why I chose RenoOC, please look at my profile, I have a large explanation there.
Also- for those who are curious or fanatic about the love triangle and how I will be addressing it in my story, you can also find that explanation on my page. While I feel it really shouldn't matter, I know that some people are adamant about their views. However, I will note that the triangle does not hold a prominent role in this story as it is not a story about Cloud.
I love reviews, and have been around long enough on this site to know that flames are ridiculous and so shall not be tolerated. Send me a flame, and I shall know how pathetic your life is. Send me constructive criticism that is written in a polite way, and I will send back my thanks and all the good feels I can muster because you are helping me further my writing skills to great heights, and that's really all I want at this point in my life.
The light from the window next to her bed wakes her that morning, confusing her because she swears she would have shut the curtains the night before. She blinks rapidly, the sun blinding her temporarily before she notices that she has a headache, one bad enough to make her lay back down in her bed. She rubs a temple, and groans out before taking a deep breath in. Her room smells of sweat and her sheets are tangled around her naked legs, her blanket strewn on the floor beside the bed. She turns, sees the blanket on the ground and reaches an arm down to bring it back onto the bed. Her head hurts even more as she tugs the blanket over her, and that is when she see it; a bright red hair dangling from the blue and green thread of the blanket. A single red hair, contrasting brilliantly against the stripe of blue.
She becomes very aware that she is completely naked, and she sits up finally, taking in the rest of her room. She notices one of her socks in the doorway to her room, and her shorts and underwear at the bottom of the bed. Finally, she realizes, that she is very alone in her bed even though the other side is slightly warm, evidence that another body once shared her bed with her. Despite her throbbing headache, she stumbles out of her bed, trips over her sheets, and manages to make her way to her dresser. She pulls on a large t-shirt, tugging the fabric down to her thighs, but doesn't bother to put on any other clothes. She walks briskly to her door, down the hall, noticing her other sock and both of her boots, and into the living room area. Finding nothing, she heads into the kitchen. Again nothing. She takes a quick peek into the bathroom, then almost runs down into her shop below her flat, trying desperately to ignore her headache. When she finds that her house and even her shop are completely empty and notices her bra and shirt left by the stairs, she gives a whimper, then plops down onto the ground, leaning back against the counter in the main entrance to her shop. As she silently cries, one thought rings throughout her head.
He left. I was nothing.
Chapter 1: Little Bug
That night had been a slow night at the 7th Heaven, which wasn't too much of a surprise. It had been raining outside on the streets of Edge. Only regulars really showed up when it rained, and she was a regular; had been a regular for a year or so now. So Tifa wasn't very surprised when she walked in, her hair and jean jacket damp from the rain, the denim of her jacket a dark blue from the water, her hair a little bit more brown than usual. She removed the jacket and placed it on a rung next to the door then walked slowly into the bar, greeting another regular who sat in a booth on the side of the room. She finally made it to the bar and took a seat on one of the stools, smiling widely at Tifa as she tied her hair up, swiping at wet pieces that had stuck to her face.
"You're late, Bee," Tifa told her, in mock hurt, causing the two of them to laugh.
"In case you haven't noticed, it's raining," she retorted, gesturing to the window beside the bar, the grey clouds outside perfectly reflecting the grey eyes of the young woman at the bar, "Bees have a hard time flying around in the rain."
Tifa gave a small laugh and nodded. "Took longer to get to everybody today?"
"Yeah, but it wasn't horrible. I'm just more tired than usual because of it," Bee answered, smoothing out her frazzled hair, managing to tame it back, redoing her hair once more in its tie. "Just give me the usual, okay?"
"Sure thing," Tifa said with a smile. She walked away from Bee, grabbing a bottle from underneath the bar and swinging it upwards and onto the counter.
Bee turned her attention away from Tifa when she noticed a certain blonde male had entered the bar from the back staircase. She waved him over, catching his attention and earning herself a nod before the man began to move towards her. He paused as he passed Tifa, mumbling something to her that Bee didn't quite catch, before resuming walking to Bee and sitting down beside her. She lifted her right hand from her lap and placed it on the counter, depositing a small bouquet of white a yellow flowers.
"They're still growing just fine," Bee told him softly, thumbing the small petal of one of the yellow flowers and inhaling deeply, trying to memorize their scent, before pushing all of the flowers over to her friend beside her. "You should make the next trip, Cloud. You haven't gone in a while because of the whole Deepground affair, and I know that she would like to see you."
Cloud nodded then gently grabbed the group of flowers up, looking them over. He didn't look up as Tifa walked back over to Bee and placed a glass in front of the younger girl, earning a nod of thanks in return and a few gil. Bee took a sip of her drink, grimacing as the alcohol burned down her throat and settled in her stomach. The first sip was always the worst, in her opinion. She turned back to Cloud, waiting for him to say something.
"They're wet," he finally told her, fingering a few of the flowers, and sure enough his finger pulled away with several droplets of water clinging to his skin.
Bee ignored Tifa who gave a loud laugh, and scowled at Cloud. "Well of course they're wet, you spiky chocobo!" she defended herself, "It's raining out! I went all the way to Midgar and back for these. You could at least be grateful that I did it in the rain." She pouted a bit then took another swig of her drink, the burn less acidic this time as it went down.
"I am grateful," Cloud said quickly, turning to Bee, "I meant, you still went in the rain to get them. You didn't have to."
Bee shrugged nonchalantly. She poked Cloud in the side and said, "I said I would go. The last bunch is already almost dead. She would be upset to see them like that. It's time for a new bunch."
Cloud nodded, and gave Bee the slightest of smiles. "Yeah, you're right. Thank you."
Bee smiled back brightly and shrugged once more. "Of course, Cloud. But, like I said, it's your turn next, kay?"
"Right," he said with an affirmative nod. He bundled the flowers together in one hand, gave Bee a small pat on the shoulder with his other, then stood from his stool and headed back to the stairs behind the bar, the bundle of flowers clutched reverently in his hand the whole way. He again mumbled something to Tifa as he passed, this time with Bee making out the single name of Marlene, before he disappeared up the stairs entirely.
Bee turned back to her glass, taking another gulp from it. Tifa caught her attention after she had helped another customer, and the two began a comfortable conversation about Bee's day, then about Marlene and Denzel, and finally about Shelke, Vincent, and Yuffie. The former Tsviet had been living with Tifa and Cloud since the war with Deepground had ended. She was acclimating well, and had taken a liking to Marlene and Denzel. Vincent came and went as he pleased, visiting Shelke often enough that the girl didn't miss him all the time. Yuffie had yet to return to Wutai as her role in the WRO had not yet ended, though Bee was disappointed to hear that the ninja had gone off on a small mission to Gongaga and wouldn't be around for the next week or so. Yuffie was the only person to come to the bar that was the close to the same age as Bee. Not that Tifa and Cloud were too much older than her, but Bee had always felt a greater connection with Yuffie because of their similar age.
It was during this conversation and in the middle of Bee's third drink that he came strolling in, his hair drooping over his face because of the rain, and his shoulders hunched over in exhaustion. Bee turned around to look at him when she noticed Tifa give him the barest of nods and an amused smile. She witnessed him give her a nod in return and take a hand out of one of his blazer pockets to give a small wave. Bee's stare continued as he plopped down into the stool next to her, the one that Cloud had occupied only a half hour before. Getting a closer look, Bee realized that she knew this man, if only from distant memories and never from actually meeting him.
"Reno," Tifa greeted him, a hint of surprise in her voice, "Back from Wutai? You missed all the fun here."
"Yeah, I heard," he replied, placing his head on the counter of the bar, a small sigh escaping from his lips, "But, see, I had a lot of fun in Wutai."
Tifa frowned at this, tapping her fingers on the bar. "I thought you just went to protect Rufus while he negotiated with Godo?"
Reno moved his forehead to the counter this time, threading his fingers into his fire red hair. His voice was muffled as he answered, "I was. It was a normal Turk assignment, well normal now I guess. Protect Rufus. But, you know, not everybody in Wutai really likes Rufus because his father basically shit all over their country. So even though their princess is all buddy-buddy with the WRO, that doesn't mean everybody there likes the WRO. Which meant that Rufus had a total of fourteen assassination attempts on him while we were there. Though I guess that's really not as bad as going to war with that Deepground organization in Midgar is it?" He turned his head to the side again and looked up at Tifa.
Bee barely heard Tifa's response. She stared at the man next to her; Reno, she remembered Tifa saying. A Turk. Suddenly, the alcohol in her stomach started to burn again, and Bee felt very nauseous.
"You're one of the ones who captured Aerith four years ago," Bee interrupted, causing both Tifa and Reno to turn to her in mild shock. Reno sat up straight, smoothing out his hair and flinging his pony tail back over his shoulder. Bee stared back at Reno, her eyes narrowed and her knuckles white around her glass.
Quickly getting over his surprise, Reno relaxed and gave the girl next to him a smirk and replied cooly, "Actually, see, that wasn't me. My boss Tseng caught the Ancient."
"Aerith," Bee quickly corrected him, "Her name was Aerith. And regardless of who caught her, the Turks were after her for years. You caused her to constantly have to look over her shoulder all of her life! You're the reason she was always afraid!"
"Bee, Reno's not like that anym-," Tifa tried to defend the Turk but was cut off by Reno himself.
"No, she's right. I am the reason why Aerith was always afraid," Reno agreed, nodding slowly before taking a drink from the beer bottle Tifa had given him. "But, ya know, the Turks tried really damn hard to delay her capture. I'm pretty sure Tseng had a secret crush on that girl. He was always jealous of Zack, we all knew it, yo."
Bee was the one to show surprise at this. "You knew Zack?"
Reno quirked an eyebrow at her while taking another sip of his beer. He placed it on the counter, keeping it in his grasp, and turned completely sideways towards Bee. "He was a first-class soldier working for Shinra. Of course I knew him. You knew him?" Reno gave Tifa a questioning look, but never turned away from Bee. "Who is this girl? I came here to drink, not to be put on trial, yo."
"I'm right here!" Bee told him with a scowl, "You can ask me!"
"She's a friend, Reno," Tifa interjected, cutting of Reno's retort, "Cloud found her living in Aerith's church after the spring appeared there. She had the stigma, and went to be cured."
"I heard Aerith calling me there," Bee cut in indignantly, slightly annoyed at Tifa's interruption, "She was... a friend when I lived in the slums. We were close... until Zack died. When he disappeared, Aerith didn't have anyone to protect her anymore and she moved around the slums a lot, barely ever staying home. I was younger than her by a few years, and had family so I always stayed in Sector 4. Eventually, I stopped seeing her altogether. When I was old enough, I started visiting her church, hoping she would be there. That's where I was when on Meteorfall, it's how I survived. I left to find survivors to help, and got the stigma in the process. When I went back to the church, the spring was there. I felt Aerith there and didn't want to leave until Cloud found me and brought me here to Edge."
Reno snorted, and took a final swig of his beer, finishing the bottle off and asking Tifa for another one. She obliged, and as he waited for her to take the cap off he said, "I just asked who you were, I didn't ask for your whole life story, yo. A simple, 'I was a friend of Aerith's' would've been fine."
Tifa couldn't help but give a chuckle at this, but one look at Bee's slowly reddening face caused her to full out laugh. Bee looked at her and frowned, only causing Tifa to laugh even more. However, she did give Bee her next drink for free which the younger girl took with a grumble and almost finished in one gulp. She looked back up at Reno and her frown deepened when she realized that he had been staring at her.
"What?" she asked sharply. Tifa had moved on to other customers; the bar had gotten a bit busier as the hours had gotten later.
"You really knew Zack then?" Reno asked, finally turning back to his beer. Bee was glad; she had been slightly unnerved by his staring.
She shrugged at him and nodded. "Yeah, but not that well. Probably not as well as you did if you both worked for Shinra. I knew he was Aerith's boyfriend and I knew he protected her and helped her sell flowers. I met him when she passed by Sector 4 to show me her flower cart. He seemed really nice, I was really happy for Aerith. After that, I only ever saw him a few more times."
"I didn't really know him either," Reno said with a shake of his head and gulp of his beer, "He was just a first class soldier that I met in passing. Tseng was the one who actually knew him." He turned to his right, surveying all the new customers that were bugging Tifa. "Ya know... You don't really fit in with the other customers here... They're all older than you. You know they opened up a club a few blocks back."
Bee nodded, completely unperturbed. "I know. But Tifa and Cloud are my friends. Besides, I actually used to live here for a little while, working the bar on weeknights for Tifa, until I earned enough money to open up a shop of my own." She finished off her fourth drink, and placed it back on the counter with a small clink of glass on wood. "How old do you think I am? I'm not that much younger than the other people here. Look." She pointed to a couple that had just left the bar, both carrying a bottle of beer and their arms looped together. Bee watched as the woman laughed at something the man had said while the man looked a bit smug at his joke. "They're pretty young. Still in their twenties, at least."
"And still older than you," Reno pointed out, barely taking a glance at the couple. He too finished his drink, and then turned to look at Bee again. "I'm not good at guessing."
Bee pouted and continued to watch the couple as they took a seat at a booth on the far side of the room. She noticed another regular that she knew, and waved at him with a smile and a nod. Outside, the clouds grew thicker and the sound of rain could just barely be heard above the jostling and yells of the people of the bar. Reno watched Bee the whole time.
"Twenty-two, in two months."
Reno wasn't surprised. She was almost the same age as the ninja then, just a little over a year older. But Reno had noticed something; she had the eyes of a slum dweller. The people that lived in the slums always had hardened eyes, he had noticed. Tifa, Cloud, and Barrett had them too. But their eyes had nothing on this girl. Her eyes... were like Aerith's. The eyes of a woman who had lived her entire life in the slums.
"You lived in the slums up until Cloud found you?" Reno asked, just to be sure. He had remembered that the AVALANCHE members were not originally from the slums, only Aerith had been there since childhood.
Bee nodded in surprise. "Yeah," she said, pausing to swirl at an ice cube left over in her drink, "How did you know?"
Reno shrugged, not willing to offer the information that the girl's eyes were the eyes of someone much older than her, someone who had seen the worst in people and survived the harshest of conditions. It was easy for someone like him to see. The Turks had dealt with slum-dwellers for years. It was something they picked up on. Instead, he flagged Tifa down in order to get another drink.
"What're you drinkin'?" he asked Bee without looking at her.
"Are you hitting on me?" Bee asked, finally looking up from her glass. Men only wanted to know what a woman was drinking when they planned on buying more for them. Ask what they're drinking, start a conversation, and keep them there with a brand new drink. If the girl was lucky, she could sneak away with her drink after a few minutes, maybe a half hour. Not so lucky, and the girl ended up paying for the drink with her lips, and maybe her bed too. Reno looked at her then and smirked.
"If I am?" he asked, giving her a cocky grin that Bee was surprised to find wasn't as annoying as it should have been. Reno gave off an air of playfulness that Bee had not expected to find in a Turk. Though she figured she shouldn't have been surprised considering that Tifa had let this particular Turk into her bar without running to find Cloud who usually played bouncer on nights like this.
Bee went back to swirling her finger around in her drink and gave a shrug. "I would let you, if it got me a free drink. Or two." She smiled up at Reno, giving him a knowing look.
He laughed at that and when Tifa finally managed to get to him he told her, "Another beer, and whatever the hell it is that this one's drinking." He pointed at Bee next to him.
"Reno," Tifa said sternly, looking back and forth between the two, hesitating at getting the two drinks.
"Let him buy me a drink, Tifa," Bee told her.
"Yeah Tifa," Reno said in mock sweetness, "Let me buy the girl a drink." He rummaged through his pockets and pulled out a handful of gil and placed it on the counter. Tifa took it with a huff of breath and walked away, ignoring the jeers of other male customers that were lined up at the bar, down a little from Reno and Bee. He turned to Bee and gave her another smirk. "I swear she loves me."
Bee snorted at this. She stuck a finger into her empty glass again and scooped out an ice cube, plopping into her mouth where she proceeded to suck on it. She looked back out the window and watched the rain fall for a few seconds before saying, "Bee."
"What?" Reno asked, a little jarred by how random the word was. He had been watching her and her ice cube with interest. She was the best looking thing in the bar, he knew because he had looked earlier. While she was close in age to Yuffie, the girl beside him had a more mature looking face, with a high forehead and slim eye brows, sharp cheek bones, but a smooth jawline below the pinkest lips he had ever seen. Stray wisps of hair framed the sides of her face, and the pony tail she had made earlier went down her back in soft rolling waves.
"My name," she said, looking back at him after determining that it would probably rain all night and she would end up walking home with her jacket over her head. "My name is Bee."
"Bee?" Reno asked, a hint of disbelief in his voice. Tifa had come back with the beer and Bee's drink, and Reno thanked her, passing the other girl her drink before bringing his own to his lips and taking a long pull from the bottle. He turned back to Bee and watched as she took her own gulp and asked, "What kind of name is that?"
"For someone who is potentially trying to hit on me, you're doing a terrible job of it," she informed him, though her voice was indifferent. She frowned and explained, "Bee isn't actually my name. It's a nickname that Tifa and Marlene gave me when I was living here."
"They named you after a bug," Reno stated, only half questioning the nickname.
"Yeah," Bee answered with a nod and a smile. She looked over at Tifa who was trying to keep up with the demands of the customers surrounding the bar. So much for it having been a slow night. "I'm a healer. I sell potions out of my shop, and when I close up shop, I travel to people's houses who need more help than one of my potions can give them. Marlene said that I was like a bee spreading nectar to other flowers. Tifa liked the comparison and so the name stuck."
Reno looked at the girl again, for what he felt was the hundredth time that night. He thought there had been several things that had reminded him of Aerith. The brown hair, the slum-dweller eyes, and the calm air the girl seemed to give off. She was even a healer, like Aerith. Just one thing didn't add up.
"So what's a healer doing in a bar, using a fake name?" he asked her, almost accusingly. To his surprise, she smiled up at him over her drink.
"Just because I'm a healer doesn't mean I'm a saint," she told him slyly. The look she gave him made Reno pause, and rethink his decision to flirt with the girl. He had thought she was an innocent, despite having lived in the slums. She was young, naïve, he had thought. This assumption obviously wasn't true. He couldn't just play around with her, like he had originally intended, and it seemed like her drinks were finally starting to hit her. She would be drunk soon, he could tell, and now he had no idea where he wanted this conversation to go with her anymore.
"Now, now, little bug," Reno said in mock chastise, "Don't let Tifa hear you talk like that. She'll get all over protective and throw me out of the bar, and I don't want to deal with that."
Bee gave a breathy laugh and looked down the bar at Tifa who had finally managed to get rid of some of the more boisterous customers that had been hounding at her for the past half hour or so. "Tifa knows I'm a big girl," Bee informed the man next to her, leaning her head on her hand and resting her elbow on the bar counter. She took a deep breath, flooding her lungs with air, a futile attempt at trying to counter act the alcohol in her system. "It's not like I've never been hit on in her bar before ya know."
"Oh?" Reno asked, moving his face closer to Bee's. He heard her breath catch, and watched as her slate grey eyes widened slightly. He was close enough to smell to leftover rain that lingered in her hair, see the flecks of black in her eyes, and notice the blue eye shadow that had smudged a bit on her eyelids. "Well, I bet none of those other men have ever been like me, right?"
Bee quickly finished off her fifth drink, and pushed it away from her before turning back to Reno. She hadn't really noticed just how red his hair was. Almost as red as a fire hydrant, she determined. And the tattoos under his eyes were just as red, but his actual eyes were a beautiful greenish color.
"They've never been as beautiful as you," Bee answered. She looked away quickly and felt her face burn up. Suddenly the ice in her empty glass looked more appealing than anything else she had ever seen before and she immediately scooped it up, as she had earlier, and placed it in her mouth in order to suck on the water.
Reno couldn't help but give the smallest of laughs at the girl. Her face had been flushed before, a side effect of all the alcohol she had drank, but now her face was a bright red. He finished off his beer and flagged Tifa down for another one. When Tifa asked Bee if she wanted another drink as well, the younger girl shook her head and asked for a water instead, never looking up from the ice inside her leftover glass. Tifa gave Reno a pointed look, but the Turk just shrugged as if to say, "I didn't do anything." The bartender gave a sigh, but brought Reno another beer. He took a swig and turned back to Bee. Deciding to change tactics he asked, "So, tell me about your shop, little bug."
Bee frowned at this while nibbling on the straw of her water. "My name is Bee, not little bug."
"Actually, you said Bee was a nickname, yo," Reno pointed out, motioning with his beer bottle at her, "And you won't give me your real name, so that gives me permission to call you whatever I want."
"No it doesn't," Bee told him sourly. When Reno said nothing, only drank from his beer, Bee sighed in defeat. "I told you, I sell potions at my shop."
"Riiiiiight," Reno said with a nod. He waved his hand at Bee and continued, "What kind of potions? You don't just sell healing potions right? You'd never make money off of just that."
"No," Bee said with a shake of her head, her face brightening considerably. She sat up straighter and for the first time that night, turned to face Reno completely, mirroring his posture from earlier. "I sell healing potions, obviously. But I'm really good at making antidotes for various types of poisons, that's actually my specialty. But I also make tranquilizers, ethers, elixers, you know that kind of stuff. But you'll never find a better antidote maker than me." Bee beamed at this, overly proud of herself.
"Yeah, yeah, calm down, little bug," Reno said with a laugh, "Drink your water." He motioned to her water and Bee nodded and chugged the rest of it before basically slamming the glass back down on the counter, bits of left over water sprinkling onto the wood. "Jeez, slow down! You'll get sick."
Bee giggled at this and shook her head. "I'm fine," she told him with a smile, "Big girl remember?"
"Right..." Reno replied with a shake of his own head, "Then I guess you can handle another drink, huh?" He signaled to Tifa once Bee had nodded her head enthusiastically, and finished his beer before the martial artist had reach him. Ordering another drink for both of them, he turned back to Bee, and by the look she was giving him, he knew this would be an interesting night.
Bee for her part, didn't remember much of the rest of the night. She remembered grabbing her sixth drink from Reno, and their hands brushing together as she did so. She remembered thinking that despite his work, his hand felt soft and that she wanted to touch it again, so she did. Later on, after Reno had cut her off and only ordered her water while he continued to order beer, she remembered running her hands through his hair, claiming that she had never seen hair so red in her life. He had smiled at that, and caught her hand in his and stood, pulling her up with him. She thought she remembered him asking if she wanted to leave, and she definitely remembered answering yes, walking out the door with his hand in hers. They both tripped out the door, and that was how Bee realized that Reno was drunk too. She asked him how many he had had, and he answered, but the number was something that she didn't remember. He must have asked her to go back to her place, because she remembered that was where they ended up.
The rest was a complete blur, and only leftover clues helped fill in the rest of the night. It was still raining when they left, she had left her jacket at the bar, and her clothes were soaked by the time the two had reached her place. Reno's were too, and they obviously found it necessary to toss their clothes on the floor as they slowly made their way up to Bee's bedroom. Bee could only remember the bright red of Reno's hair, how green his eyes were as he lifted her up as they made their way to the stairs so that their eyes were level with each other, and how soft his lips had been on her mouth, her neck, her shoulders, her stomach. The smell of rain and sweat had overwhelmed her, and Reno had slipped on her sock in the hallway to her bedroom, and he had used the bedroom door frame to balance him. There were still nail marks from where he had grasped the frame. There were marks over Bee's shoulders and breasts from where Reno had nibbled playfully on her. A few stray strands of red hair adorned the pillow where Reno had landed after the two were finally sated and tired enough to sleep. And finally, the heat of the sheets where Reno had slept just that morning before he left without saying goodbye was enough proof for Bee to know that she had made the biggest mistake of her entire life.