Lyria felt something warm touch her face along with the sensation that bright light was shining through her eyelids. With a whimper she opened her eyes and was rewarded with a brilliant beam of sunshine, shining directly through the slit in the curtains of the hotel room she was in. Irritated she tried to move her arm and pull the blanket over her head, only to find her wrist stuck, pinned against her side. Now more puzzled than irritated, she tugged her arm again, attempting to get it free. "What on earth " She gave her arm a vicious jerk and heard someone sleepily mumble something behind her and pull her close, grip that held her arm to her side tightening as she registered the feeling of a hand on her stomach. "Never mind what, who on earth oh yeah " Lyria carefully rolled over to face the side of the bed still bathed in shadows, not wishing to wake Vincent. "He still looks so serious, even when hes sleeping poor thing, he must be exhausted." Lyria reached up with her now free hand and gently touched Vincents cheek, glancing over his shoulder at the glowing red digital numbers of the clock beside the bed. It was quarter after six. She closed her eyes and tried to go back to sleep, managing a sort of half doze until the sun started creeping across the bed again and shone in her eyes. With an irritated moan she snuggled closer to Vincent, laying her head against his chest. Even though the movement was very slight, Vincent winced and opened his eyes. "Lyria?"
"Im sorry, did I hurt you?"
"A little, just in the ribs a bit. Its all right."
"Im sorry. He was kicking you really hard last night; I wouldnt be surprised if he broke bone "
"Dont worry about it. Whats the time?"
"Umm about quarter to seven."
"Do you think anyone else is up yet?"
"Nope. You arent getting up either."
"Because it will be dreadfully cold in this bed without you."
"I need a hot shower, Im very stiff "
"There are other ways to get rid off stiffness," Lyria answered, gently moving her hands and massaging the tense muscles she could feel in his upper back and neck.
"Did you sleep ok? I was asleep before my head hit the pillow, so I wouldnt know "
Lyria fell silent, then asked a question that had been weighing on her mind. "Vincent, what are you going to do when we get back to Nibelheim?"
"I honestly dont know. There arent too many places I can go "
"Maybe only if you want to, that is maybe you could come live with me " Lyria hesitated, unsure of how she could expect Vincent to react. It was a very big step, having only met each other a few days ago, and even though there were mutual feelings of affection between them, Lyria didnt know that he would want their relationship to move as fast as it seemed to be.
"Id like that."
"Really? My apartment isnt exactly huge and I work nights, so Im not going to be there from about midnight to seven, but " Now that Vincent had accepted her idea, she was starting to think of various shortcomings.
"Its all right."
"The thing is, Ill be sleeping during most of the day unless you know I dont really enjoy working nights, I only do because no one teases me since Im like the only one on call "
"Why do people tease you?" Vincent interrupted, hugging Lyria protectively.
"No reason no good reason at least. Its just some of the senior doctors who think that just because Im a woman I cant handle the job as well as they do " Lyria sighed.
"You tell me if anyone is anything but civil to you and Ill "
"I dont think you need to do anything, its probably my fault for not asserting my rights "
"Well, you could start by working during the day."
"Im way too shy to tell any of the older doctors "
"If you dont, I will and I guarantee my methods are a little less passive then yours."
"Do you think I can do it?"
"Of course. Can I have my shower now?"
"Umm maybe how long are you gonna be?"
"No more than ten minutes."
"Only if I get a kiss for every minute," Lyria answered playfully.
"In that case Im taking a longer shower, but I dont think theres any clock that counts that high "
"Well give it a shot and see how far we get," Lyria suggested.
"May I help you?" a rather sleepy looking clerk at the front desk of Hotel Noir de Midgar asked the pair of blue suited men.
"Turks. I need to know what room I can find Vincent Valentine in." Reno flashed an ID badge at the man and Rude did likewise.
"Im afraid Im not allowed to divulge "
"Listen, were on special orders from President Reeve himself. Its imperative that we talk to Mr. Valentine "
"Well " the clerk said slowly. "I suppose its all right hes in room four thirty two."
"Thanks." Reno tossed a handful of slightly crumpled bills on the counter and jogged up the stairs with Rude close behind. Reaching the appropriate room, he knocked sharply on the door. A few moments later it opened and he was surprised to see Lyria, in a rather short red satin negligee with her hair tied back in a loose ponytail and a cup of coffee in one hand.
"Good morning, Reno," Lyria greeted the Turk pleasantly. "I didnt expect to see you back so soon."
"Sorry, I thought this was Vincents room," Reno apologized.
"Who says it isnt?" Lyria asked archly, impish smile lighting up her features.
"Ah could me and Rude talk to him?"
"I suppose come on in." Lyria opened the door and allowed Reno and Rude to enter the surprisingly neat hotel room. There was a pot of coffee bubbling in the coffee maker in the small kitchenette and the television was on and broadcasting the ShinRa news with the latest information on the death of Palmer.
"Youve got guests, Vincent!" Lyria called, sitting down on the leather sofa and pulling her dressing gown over her slender legs. "Youll have to excuse me, I havent yet taken a mind to get dressed yet want some coffee? Its rather early in the morning, you know "
"Not for Turks, Lyria," Vincent said, coming out of the bathroom. Even though it was only about seven in the morning, his hair was damp and he was fully dressed in black pants and a crisp white shirt.
"Morning, Vincent," Reno said, pouring himself a cup of coffee and sitting down. "Hows life?"
"Take a guess, Reno. Take a wild guess." Lyria smiled at the Turk and took another sip of her coffee.
"That reminds me " Reno reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, noticeably battered black device and handed it to Vincent. "Forgot to give this to you last night."
"What happened to it?"
"Me and Rude accidentally backed over it a couple times when we were getting out of the parking lot." Reno grinned. "Hope you dont mind."
"Not at all. Is that the only reason you came?" Vincent sat down next to Lyria.
"Actually, no. Reeve sent us. He wants to know if youd be interested in rejoining the Turks. Hes going to totally reform this company, fix up the slums and put ShinRas money where its mouth is, so to speak, but hes worried about resistance from some of the wealthier business men who make a living exploiting the common people."
"And he wants the Turks for protection?"
"Yeah. As a small force thats meant to be specialized, like we are. Hes got big plans and a surprising amount of support, but its not universal."
"Is this dream of his possible?" Lyria asked.
"I think it is. He started teams researching the possibilities of getting coal for power from Corel, harnessing solar energy, and perhaps looking into expanding Midgar so that the people of the slums can get out from under the plate and live in the area around the city. The area under the plate would be used for storing power producing equipment. Of course, all this new activity will create new jobs so people in the slums who have a rough time can sign up to work for ShinRa and get paid for building houses for their families and friends."
"He came up with all this in " Vincent glanced at the clock on the wall. "In eight and a half hours?"
"I believe hes been planning it for a long time. Some of his ideas are far too complex to have evolved in a single night."
"Back to the point," Rude said. "Are you rejoining?"
"Im not sure "
"Come on. Its a hell of a career," Reno said. "We need a leader. Its hard to find Turks that fit together properly and make a good team. Elena has been assigned the head of another group, so its just me and Rude. We were sorta passed from squad to squad after we were removed from storage and we only found one leader who fit. And he got killed. And now were on our own again. Youve got more experience we really need more people too "
"Ill get in touch with you when I get back to Nibelheim. All of a sudden theres a lot of my life that needs to be sorted out."
"He means me," Lyria giggled. "I need a lot of sorting."
"But youll think about it, right?" Reno asked.
"Yes, I will. Very seriously."
"You were a really good Turk."
"When are you going back to Nibelheim?"
"Were leaving later today. Ill have him call you when were all settled in again," Lyria said.
"We?" Rude asked.
"Hes living at my apartment. You dont really have anywhere else to go, do you darling?"
"Not really, no."
"Well be looking forward to hearing from you," Reno answered, standing up. "Been nice talking, but we really have to go hope you two are happy together "
"Dont worry, Reno, thats already taken care of," Lyria assured him, waving goodbye to the Turks. "See you later." Reno and Rude slipped out into the hallway and started to head back to the lobby.
"Well, that turned out rather " Reno was cut off as a strong arm grabbed him from behind and pinned him hard against the wall.
"Don move, Turk " Barret growled, pointing his gun arm at Renos head.
"%$! Easy there, big fella!" Reno yelled. "Rude?"
"Dont look at me for help, the little ninja freaks ready to cast Ultima " Rude muttered, holding his hands up and nervously eying Yuffie who was holding a bright green sphere in her palm.
"Now, jes what the hell do ye think yer doin, breakin into our hotel? Gonna slaughter Avalanche in their sleep? I don think so " Barret growled, leaning more of his weight into pinning Reno to the wall.
"Cut it the &$ out! God, youre breaking my ribs! Were here on business, not to exterminate your stupid little ragtag gang of terrorists!"
"Ooh, he just doesnt know when to quit, does he Barret?" Yuffie snickered. "Lemme at him, Ill teach him a lesson "
"Keep the shinobi brat away from me!" Reno protested, even though he knew it was probably just going to earn him a couple more broken ribs.
"Thats it!" Yuffie yelled, stomping her foot. In her momentary lapse of vigilance, Rude grabbed her arm and twisted it behind her back. She yelped, dropping the Ultima materia and it rolled under the door of the hotel room Lyria and Vincent shared. "Lemme go!"
"&%$! Yuffie, you little moron!" Barret swore. "Now we got a stalemate "
"Let Reno go," Rude ordered.
"Yeh, right," Barret snorted. "You let Yuffie go."
"Dont listen to him Rude!" Reno yelled and Barret smacked him in the back of the head with his gun arm, not hard, but enough to give him a warning. "Jesus Christ! Ok, never mind! You heard the man, Rude! Let the ninja freak go!"
"Not on your life, Reno," Rude shook his head.
"What?!" Reno exclaimed, slightly panicked at Rudes rather literal sounding statement.
"Sorry, figure of speech. Listen, tall, dark, and ugly, Im not letting Yuffie go until you let Reno go."
"Tch. I can have Cloud and the others here in a minute."
"Weve got a company of ShinRa soldiers waiting outside!" Reno put in.
"Didn think the two o ye could handle Avalanche alone? Well, you wuz right. Well whup your arses hardcore!"
"Yeah! You tell em Barret! When Im through with the two of you mangy Turks, youll kiss the moon!" Yuffie yelled and then swore as Rude twisted her arm a bit harder.
"You shut up, ninja-brat!" Reno yelled. "I could take you any day, but I dont fight schoolchildren!"
"What the #%!? You callin me a kid, freak ass?" Yuffie kicked and thrashed around and Barret smacked Reno in the head in response.
"Well this is just great " Rude sighed.
"Yeah, Im callin you a kid! Are you outta diapers yet Yuffie?"
"Youre damn lucky this big lug is holdin me or Id "
"Bring it on!"
"I would if I could!"
"Goddamnit stalemate, thats what this is and the others are all out fer breakfast " Barret muttered.
"Hah! You dont really have back up!" Reno shouted.
"Yeah, well neither do you, freak ass!" Yuffie yelled. "You think we believe that shit about ShinRa soldiers?"
Lyria poked her head into the hallway. "Hey, keep it down oh umm oh dear Vincent! We have a small problem "
"Yes?" Vincent joined Lyria at the door. "What are you four doing?"
"Hah! Yer outnumbered, Turk! Let Yuffie go!" Barret instructed triumphantly.
"No way! Youre the ones who are outnumbered! Vincent, arrest those two! ShinRa Charter, section four, paragraph six A. Assault of high ranking ShinRa employees!" Reno interjected.
"What in the hellre ya talkin about? Did I hit you too hard or somethin?" Barret growled, smacking Reno again. "There. Izzat better?"
"Precisely why are you holding each other hostage?" Vincent asked mildly.
"Precisely why didn you come out until now!? We been shoutin like hell!" Barret answered angrily.
"I was in the shower and the TV was on. We couldnt hear over the noise," Lyria explained, pointing to her damp brown hair.
"Theyre tryin t kill Avalanche!" Barret accused, leaning harder on Reno.
"For the love of stop it, I cant breathe, you goddamn ox " Reno pleaded, starting to see stars.
"Barret, lay off. Rude, let Yuffie go," Vincent directed.
Barret sullenly shoved Reno once more before backing off and letting him slump against the wall, gasping. Rude sighed and shoved Yuffie forward, sending her sprawling and landing flat on her face in front of Reno. Despite his lack of oxygen, Reno laughed and jabbed Yuffie in the small of her back with his nightstick.
"Frickin hell!" Yuffie swore, pulling out another chunk of materia as Reno started to stand up. "Lets try this, freak ass! See how you like Bio 2!" Yuffie squeezed the orb and suddenly a thick cloud of purplish green smoke erupted from it and engulfed Reno.
"G-god " Reno choked. As quickly as it had appeared the smoke dissipated, leaving the hallway clear and the only remnants of the poison lingering in the form of a very ill looking Reno.
"Yuffie!" Lyria scolded, crouching down beside Reno as he slumped to the ground again. "That was a terrible thing to do!"
"Yeah, well he deserved it " Yuffie growled.
"Do you have a healing materia?" Lyria asked.
"Yeah but Im not using it on scum like him!"
Lyria held out her hand. "Give it to me, Yuffie," she ordered sternly.
"Aww " Yuffie grudgingly tossed the materia to Lyria who promptly pressed it against Renos chest and squeezed it. A fragrant smelling cloud of whitish blue smoke flowed out of the materia and floated down the hallway.
"Thanks god, I hate Bio spells " Reno glared at Yuffie as Lyria helped him to his feet. "I feel like Ive been turned inside out."
"Itll get better pretty soon," Lyria promised.
"Youre meanin t say theyre on our side now?" Barret asked incredulously as Vincent finished his brief account of the previous evenings events.
"Sort of Reeves president of ShinRa now, so they arent working for an enemy "
"Too much talk, me and Yuffie were jes gonna ask ye if you two wanted to join us for breakfast explain it again upstairs because I didn understand any o that "
"Sort of like how you didnt understand the concept of the Cetra?"
"What in the hell is Cetra? Is it like ShinRa?"
"Never mind," Vincent sighed.
"I have to get dressed first. Will you wait for me, Vincent?" Lyria asked.
"Of course. Would you and Rude like to join us for breakfast, Reno?"
"I guess if we arent going to get your whole posse trying to kill us "
"Well explain it to them; Ill just be a minute getting changed " Lyria ducked back into her room and reemerged moments later, dressed in jeans and the halter-top shed bought upon their arrival in Midgar. "Ok, all ready!" Lyria hurried down the hallway to catch up with Yuffie and Barret.
"Damn " Reno murmured, appraising Lyrias exposed back with poorly concealed interest.
"Reno " Vincent threatened in a warning tone.
"I know, I know, but damn you lucked out, shes got a hell of a figure "
"Reno, Im not kidding."
"Yeah, I heard you; even so you know who she sorta reminds me of? You met Lucrecia, right? She was a scientist who worked for Hojo I guess you musta met her eh? You were working with them in Nibelheim anyway, shes a doctor, shes got a similar hair color, green eyes, and the cutest little "
Before Vincent had the chance, Rude smacked Reno in the back of the head. "Shut up now."
"Hey! I was just saying " Reno rubbed the back of his head ruefully.
"You keep up your just saying and Vincents gonna shoot you."
"All right, already you guys are no fun " Reno grumbled as they reached the elevators where Lyria, Yuffie and Barret waited.
"Did you know they had a restaurant on the top floor, Vincent?" Lyria asked. "Yuffie was just telling me about it, she says its really nice "
"I didnt know that." Vincent casually slipped an arm around Lyrias waist, casting a threatening glance at Reno.
"Its a revolving restaurant; Ive never been to one of those "
"Me either!" Yuffie piped up. "I didnt think I could ever handle it, what with my motion sickness and all, I probably couldnt even be on this elevator if it werent for those pills you gave me "
Reno rolled his eyes and glanced at Rude with an exasperated expression.
"It was no problem Yuffie." Lyria stepped out of the elevator as a soft chime sounded, still with Vincent holding her close.
"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen," a well-dressed man with several menus greeted them. "Are you with the Highwind-Strife party?"
"Yes," Vincent answered.
"They said they were expecting four more, but there are six of you would you like two extra chairs?"
"Very good, sir. Please follow me." The man wove his way through various tables and to the revolving ring that surrounded the stable middle part of the restaurant to the long table where Cloud, Shera, and Cid were sitting with Red curled up on the floor beside Clouds chair.
"Good morning!" Cloud called. "Hey! Look out you guys! Theres a pair of Turks behind you!"
"Oh, very funny," Reno said sarcastically, sitting down next to Shera who sat beside Cid. Cloud was at the head of the table and there was an empty space to his right, between him and Cid.
"When did you get back, Cid?" Vincent asked, sitting down across from the pilot.
"At &$#$ four in the morning! Ever walked eight blocks at four in the morning?" Cid growled, glaring at him.
"Cid!" Shera scolded. "Be a little more sensitive! How did it go last night, dear?" Shera asked Vincent in a kind tone.
"It was terrifying!" Lyria interrupted, taking the chair beside Vincent.
"What happened?" Shera asked. "Oh, wait, maybe you shouldnt start quite yet, Tifas just in the washroom "
"Shell be back in a minute. In the meantime, you four order something to eat," Cloud directed. "Yuffie and Barret ordered before they went down."
"Ok " Lyria scanned the menu quickly. "Umm Shera, what are you having?"
"I thought the Eggs Benedict looked good "
"Ok, what are you getting, Vincent?"
"Ill have what youre having."
"I dunno hey! Wine list!"
"Reno its only eight thirty!"
"So? Ill have something light."
"That actually doesnt sound like too bad an idea you wanna split a bottle, Turk?" Cid asked.
"Tifa!" Cloud yelled, noticing his wife creeping up behind Reno, holding a chair above her head and poised to break it over his back.
Reno spun around to face Tifa. "Eagh! Cloud, call off your dog!"
Cid and Barret laughed while Tifa set her chair down and thumped Reno hard on the top of his head with a fist. "Whats the bastard doing here?"
"Im joining you for breakfast, thats what," Reno answered indignantly.
"Whats the world coming to?" Tifa sighed, sitting down beside Cloud. "Oh. Hello, Vincent. Hello, Lyria."
"Good morning," Lyria answered pleasantly, smiling and giving Tifa the tiniest wink when her eyes flickered between her and Vincent.
"Excuse me, sirs and madams, are you ready to order?" a smartly dressed waiter with a pad and paper asked.
When everyone had given their orders and the waiter had left, Cloud spoke up. "So what happened last night and why are two of our archenemies joining us for breakfast?"
"Cheers, Cloud!" Reno grinned and held up his wine glass.
"Whatever. Whos gonna tell?"
"I will," Lyria volunteered, launching into an account of the previous nights events, with small interruptions by Rude, Reno, and Vincent, stopping for a bit as the waiter came and gave everyone their food, and glossing over the more personal details. " and then we came back to the hotel after we remembered we forgot Cid "
There was a silence as everyone took in the story and Lyria took the opportunity to lightly lay her hand on Vincents knee. He glanced at her briefly, then pulled out a pen and grabbed one of the brochures that sat at the edge of the table, promoting the ShinRa hotel. Is that your hand?
Lyria smiled and took the pen from him, admiring his handwriting for a moment, it was bold but at the same time neat and elegant. Yes would you like me to move it?
She saw it took him a few moments longer to read her writing, as it was a bit messy and uneven. If you wouldnt mind.
Lyria smiled and moved her hand. Is that better?
I actually meant "off", not "around", but yeah, this is better.
Lyria giggled. Oh good.
"What are you giggling about?" Yuffie asked, snatching the paper from Lyria.
"Hey! Give that back!" Lyria protested, reaching for the note.
Yuffie held it out of her reach and quickly skimmed it then burst out laughing. "Oh jeez "
Lyria blushed as Yuffie waved the note around.
"Lemme see!" Reno asked, trying to snatch the paper from Yuffie.
Lyria flushed a deeper pink as Vincent leaned over and quietly whispered something. A wicked grin suddenly spread over her features. "Hey Yuffie?"
"You know those pills I gave you? For motion sickness? Theyre fake."
"W-what?" Yuffie paled slightly. "Whatre you talking about?
"You heard me, theyre placebos. They arent real. And you know what? Right now, you spinning around about twenty-three stories in the air and you just finished a southwestern omelet. How do you feel?"
Yuffie didnt answer and clamped a hand over her mouth, eyes bulging and ran out of the restaurant.
"L-Lyria? D-does that mean the little white pills you gave me are " Cloud was turning even paler than Yuffie had.
"Cloud, its psychosomatic! If you dont think youll get motion sickness you wont!" Lyria explained as Cloud stood up and ran after Yuffie.
"Its all in your head, Cloud!" Tifa called after her husband.
"Oh well, I tried " Lyria shrugged her shoulders. "Can we go home soon, Cid?"
"Sure, why not? O course, well have a hell of a time gettin Cloud an Yuffie on the airship "
At Cids comment everyone laughed, even Vincent. Lyria smiled and squeezed his hand, feeling that the happiness he expressed was genuine for once.