After a long, boring day of patrolling the perimeter of Junon Harbor and checking in at security headquarters, Yuffie found herself heading toward home with Reno at her side, since he lived in the same general direction. It was bad enough that she'd had to work with him all day long, but now she couldn't seem to shake the annoying redhead even once their shifts had ended. He was smoking again, too, and the wind was blowing it right in her face. She coughed pointedly, but he didn't seem to notice… Or maybe he just didn't care. At least having something in his mouth seemed to shut him up, she thought with a smirk. Her relief, however, was premature.
"So, runt…" Reno began, intentionally walking a bit slower than normal to keep pace with her. "Who's your date to the Winter Solstice dance?"
Yuffie's brown eyes widened and she almost choked on her own spit, so surprised was she by the random question.
"Um… I er… nobody," she stammered, blushing and avoiding looking at him. Suddenly, the darkening sky above was quite fascinating. "But I don't care, I'm going by myself!"
In truth, she was a bit depressed that no one had asked her. Even Cal, the cute fellow guard she sometimes worked with, had already asked someone else. All of her friends were either married or involved with someone, except for Barret, and there was just no way she was going to settle for asking him. There was Red, too, but… he was a giant cat, and he wouldn't make the best of dance partners.
"Couldn't find anyone who could stand you, eh?" Reno asked. She could feel the cocky smirk on his face, and it took all of her self control not to turn and slap it away. "Well, me neither."
At that admission, Yuffie finally turned and looked at him, now wearing a smirk of her own. "Well, THAT doesn't surprise me!" She snickered, agilely hopping over a large pothole in the road. "You're not exactly Prince Charming, ya know."
"Heeeey…" Reno whined, his smirk instantly fading into an indignant frown. When she met his eyes, he looked genuinely offended. "That hurts."
"Why don't you ask Rude?" Yuffie asked with an evil grin, leaping sideways to avoid any potential retaliation. Instead, the ex-Turk stopped dead in his tracks, glaring at her in disbelief.
"What the fuck! Why does everyone always think…! Ugh. I am not… you know…! God dammit…"
Yuffie burst out laughing as he dropped his cigarette to the ground and angrily crushed it beneath the heel of his boot. "Sorry…" she offered, but the mischief in her voice said otherwise.
"Well, since neither of us has anyone else…" Reno said when he had recovered, beginning to walk again as if nothing had happened, "Why don't we just go together? Then neither of us will look like such a loser."
Now it was Yuffie's turn to stop on a dime, her mouth dropping open in shock. Did he just…? No. No way. There was no freaking way Reno had just asked her to the dance. He wasn't even drunk. Making sure he stayed sober was part of her job when they were assigned together, after all, and she'd made damn sure it was water in his canteen. She blinked a few times, staring as he waited expectantly for an answer. Holy shit, he was actually serious.
"Hahahaha!" she finally burst out, almost doubling over. "Oh my gods, gross! No way!"
Tears had begun to run down her face and she gasped for air before finally looking up, finding Reno standing quietly just ahead of her. He was trying his best to glare, but instead he looked like a kicked puppy, his blue eyes far more hurt than angry. He really did have pretty eyes, Yuffie noted, though she quickly banished the thought. Reno kicked a nearby rock and shrugged, then started to walk away from her.
"Fine," he called back to her over his shoulder, trying to sound as if he didn't care one way or the other. "Go alone then. Whatever…"
He quickened his step as he walked away, shoving his hands deep into the pockets of his baggy uniform pants. His long red ponytail trailed down his back like fire and he didn't turn again, heading for the corner where he would hang a left toward his apartment.
Suddenly, an unusual feeling swept over Yuffie. Guilt. She felt terrible, she realized, frowning to herself. Yes, Reno was annoying, and yes, he teased her mercilessly. All. Day. Long. He smoked, he drank, he swore, and he never looked clean. He was crude and perverted, always staring at women and pointing them out to whoever was close enough to listen. And he read those magazines. But he had his good points, too… sort of. He could be funny, she admitted, and occasionally almost charming. He was very loyal to his friends, and any time there was real danger he was reliable and trustworthy. The adoring way he talked about his pet cat was almost… cute, even if the poor creature was cursed with a vulgar name. And the guy wasn't bad looking, by any means, even if she didn't really think he was her type.
Sighing, Yuffie told herself she was only considering it because she didn't want to look lonely and single while everyone else had a partner. She didn't want to be left alone at the table during all the slow dances, feeling sorry for herself, letting the whole base know she hadn't been able to find anyone to go with her. And Reno looked really sad and pathetic. That was it. She felt sorry for him. That was the only reason she'd ever- Oh hell…
"Wait!" she heard herself call out to him, certain the stressful life of an outlaw had finally caught up with her sanity. There was no other explanation.
Reno paused and looked back over his shoulder, raising an eyebrow questioningly. Yuffie shook her head at what she was about to do, breaking into a jog until she had caught up with him. He still wore that wounded animal look, and she avoided looking in his eyes. Damn, that was effective, and he knew it!
"I'm sorry…" she said hesitantly, feeling her face grow hot again, shifting her weight every few seconds with nervous energy. She sighed heavily, then decided to blurt it out and get it over with. "Yeah, why the hell not? Let's just go together then."
Reno's expression magically changed, his eyes shining as a crooked grin crossed his face. "I knew you'd reconsider," he said, attempting to regain some of his lost cool factor. She rolled her eyes.
"But this is NOT a date!" Yuffie added, insistent. Reno only smirked at her as they continued walking side by side.
"Whatever you say, short stuff."
As they reached the corner where Reno would make his turn, he hesitated. Curious, Yuffie waited for a moment before continuing on her way. Finally, he turned to look at her again, his expression serious for once. It was almost bizarre, like when Sephiroth smiled.
"What color are you wearing?" he asked, completely stunning her. Reno thought about things like that? What other shocking information would she find out today… Did chocobos fly and shit rainbows as well?
"Light purple," she finally managed to reply. "It's the only dress I own, because Tifa insisted I buy one for Cid and Shera's wedding this past summer. I hate the stupid frilly thing, but whatever. Why…?"
"Awesome," was all he said before spinning on his heel and hurrying off toward his home, giving her no further time to pry. "Seeya later, punk!"
"What did I just get myself into…" Yuffie muttered to herself as she walked away, firmly slapping her forehead with an open palm. Part of her couldn't help but be secretly pleased, however, though she was not about to admit that to anyone. EVER. She finally had a 'date' to the dance next week! With a handsome older man at that!
Even if it was Reno.
((Author's Note: This is a quick attempt for me to 'feel out' whether or not I like writing these two together. The continuity would be perhaps a year or so after Battlegrounds. By this point in my story, Yuffie has recently turned 18, and I consider Reno around 26ish. So it's NOT pedo… lol. Anyway, reviews and opinions greatly appreciated!))