Reunion Chapter 15
By Janet Monstwillo
Raieyana was suddenly grabbed by a Turk on each side. She noticed she was being approached by Elena on the right, and Rude on the left. She only had two thoughts. (Where's Reno? Could this have been...a trap?)
Elena looked her over. "Tseng's daughter...you don't do his DNA justice. So, we meet again. This time, however, I have a few words for you."
"I'm sure you do, Elena," said Rude, "but we don't want to hear them."
A tall figure emerged from the shadows.
(Reno.) He had changed--greatly--since Raieyana had seen him last...he was different compared to when she had ever seen him. His hair had been cut and it left him with the red mess tamed into shorter spikes. His suit had never been in order like this. Perfect...there were even creases in the pant legs. He had...shined his boots... He removed his sunglasses and looked directly into her eyes. Even with all the changes, his eyes were no different...the same light, glowing, piercing combination between blue and green. His face betrayed not one emotion. Not anger, love, hatred, nor pity. He just sized up the situation, noting Raieyana's reactions.
Lest he eventually betray any of his feelings, he quickly spoke. "Take her to the helicopter. This is the easiest money we'll ever make."
(He lied. He lied! And I even hoped...albeit for only a split second...that he wasn't part of this. That he would save me. No, he's in charge of the Turks again... And I'm being... kidnapped for some reason. Somebody's paying them. Reno, I had contemplated, wondered, or maybe I just had imagined you cared for me. Was it something else? Did you only want sex from me? Did Reeve know you better than I thought I did?)
There was a crash as Dorn and Isabel went down under Cloud Strife's attack. Raieyana flinched. (A mixed blessing.)
Elena drew her gun. "Reno, Rude get the girl. We can handle this."
With little concern for comfort, Rude grabbed Raieyana by the wrist and pulled her to the helicopter. With one last straining look, she saw Cloud knock the gun out of Elena's hand. She felt oddly relieved. (But remember when Reno asked me why I didn't attack him? I don't want to see anyone die, not even a criminal. But what if Cloud kills the Turks? As long as I don't see it.)
Rude threw her to the floor of the helicopter. "Get us the hell outta here, Reno." Reno steered the helicopter away from Junon, but not towards Edinborough.
He stole a shy glance at Raieyana. She was staring straight ahead out the windshield. She was silent; he didn't know how hard she was trying to keep from crying. (I'll just take her somewhere. Apologize for trying...even considering the Shinra job. Rude'll understand. He still wants Tifa, and I never said we had to kidnap her or anything. I don't want to do this anymore. There isn't enough money available in the world to compensate for...her...) Then he felt the cold metal of a gun pressed to the back of his neck.
"Funny," said Rude, "I didn't want to go to Edinborough, anyway." He smiled. "Land it. In the grass. Now. Don't pull any fast moves. This girl here is my retirement money."
When the helicopter was safely on the ground, Reno turned to Rude. "What the hell are you going to do?" asked Reno.
"What were you going to do?" he replied.
Raieyana shook her head. "The only friend that you have in the world, Rude, and you have him at gunpoint. What a man! Let me tell you, a man has a couple of things you don't--loyalty and integrity! You can't even be good to the Turks? Where do you go when you have nothing left?"
Angered by her words, Rude hit her on the face. The blow knocked her out of her chair.
She looked up from where she was kneeling on the ground. "That all you got? I've had much worse," she taunted.
He moved towards her, but was attacked by Reno before he was anywhere near her. With a groan, Reno fell to the ground. Blood started soaking through his shirt. Rude wiped off his knife with a handkerchief and put it back into its hiding place.
"Reno," Raieyana gasped. She kneeled next to him.
"If you try any fast moves, I'll kill him," said Rude, then addressing Reno, "I didn't know you had a thing for Ancients. You said this kid was Reeve's chick. Or maybe you had a thing for Tseng and you want some of his."
Reno made another attempt at Rude.
Rude laughed. "I would stay right there unless I enjoyed being slashed with knives." He turned to the controls. "We're going to Gongaga. Rude's gonna make a fortune, let me tell you." Rude glanced behind him. Reno was bleeding steadily right onto the floor. (He could die from that. Oh, well. You gotta expect some casualties in a war.)
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Rude led them to a house in Gongaga. It was the middle of the night, so no one was up and about to see them. Rude unlocked the door. "Not the best of places, but it was the best I could get on my Turk salary. But you, my little lady, you're going to bring in some heavy dough. I'm auctioning you off to the highest bidder. And if it's Reeve, then you'll go back to him. If it's Shinra, there you go. If Reno has some secret fortune stashed away...he better spend it on some good curative materia. I have a cell in the basement for you. There's only one cot. I wasn't expecting to have to drag Reno here. But he probably doesn't mind sharing."
Rude locked the door after Raieyana and Reno made it inside. "Wait," she cried, banging on the door, "what am I supposed to do about Reno? He'll die if I don't do something! Give me some materia, anything!"
Rude opened the door again and handed her a bottle of iodine. "At least he won't die from infection," he said with a smile. Reno was leaning against the wall, with labored breathing.
"Lie down on the cot. I can't do much...but I can't let you die on me." Raieyana blushed. "You're going to have to take off your shirt for me. It's been slashed...and I can use it for bandages." He handed it to her. She tore it into long, thin strips. She winced. "This is going to hurt like hell, Reno. It's iodine. For the love of God, he had to give me iodine."
Reno just smiled weakly. "Like 'hell?' That's the closest I think I've ever heard you some to swearing. I'm a bad influence on you." He looked at her. "And you didn't bring your weapons? No materia?"
She shook her head, refusing to meet his eyes. (I...trusted you. It's not my fault...) "This will hurt. But it will prevent you from dying by way of germs. The cut isn't very deep; it's just really long." She poured the iodine over the cut, which reached from the lower part of his abdomen to across and up his right side. Reno gasped at the sting, but he didn't cry out. She wrapped the strips around him. Finally, it was all covered and the bleeding had stopped for the most part.
Raieyana wanted to make conversation, but she only had one topic in mind. "I really thought you were going to take me to the Shinra," she said softly.
Reno laughed bitterly. "Yeah, so did I. And I kept thinking that way, so set in my mission, until I saw you again. The way you were looking at me. After you realized I was running the deal, you looked so hurt, so...so... That hurt me more than this." He gestured to his wound.
"But," she said, "even though it may seem conceited, I can't help but think that I'm to blame for some...all of this. I shouldn't have let Reeve place all the blame on you..."
"Raieyana, he wanted to."
"...and I'm an adult and I am responsible for my own actions! Just because you had your lips and hands on me didn't mean I had to give up! I let you do it. And I...I..." Her face crumpled. "...and I liked it," she whispered.
Raieyana couldn't tell Reno all the things she had been wondering, asking herself. (Do I still love Reeve, now? I can't think of anything when I'm with Reno but Reno. How much I want to touch him...how much I want him to hold me...and...and...) She smiled weakly at him when she noticed he was looking at her with an amused expression. "What?"
He grinned. "I've never seen someone have an argument in their head before. Your eyes would look green, and then they would glow, and then they would be green, and then they would glow... Tell me, what can't you decide?"
(I can't tell him the truth...) "Oh," she said lightly, "I was just wondering if the myth about pregnant women craving pickles and ice cream was true just because I have the occasional craving for a bagel with cream cheese."
He gave her an incredulous look.
"What? Cream cheese is dairy and so is ice cream, and... Oh, never mind. How are you feeling?" she asked, changing the subject.
"I want an aspirin. I want some fucking morphine. I'm in pain. But..." (Nothing hurts me like this craving for you... What the hell was that? Some kind of thing a love-sick puppy would say in a country and western song after whining for four minutes about how his doggy ran away! I'm gonna have to keep my wits about me and not act like an idiot and look for a chance for escape and get her back to Reeve.)
"It's not fair," she said, "you don't deserve this. You only attacked him because he was going to hit me again. I could have handled it. I've been hit before."
"Raieyana. I've been a bad man. I think...I just think that maybe, just maybe--this is some sort of punishment for me. Retribution on my part. Because you see, a death would be so quick, no pain. But this, my stomach is throbbing, so is my head... This is some sick, twisted punishment." (And the other part of that punishment is you.)
"You're not a bad man, Reno..."
"Yes, I am. I watched Sector 7 fall. Hell, I set the fucking bomb that made the goddamn thing collapse."
She looked him straight in the eyes. "No! My father just sat and watched, too. He was not a bad man and neither are you. Because if you were, I couldn't...I couldn't..."
"Couldn't what?" he prompted her.
"I couldn't give a damn. I couldn't care about you. If you were just greedy and just mean and just a womanizer, I could let myself hate you."
"So what am I besides greedy?" Reno asked.
Raieyana sat, silent. (I've already said more than I wanted to say. But I care about him... There's nothing wrong with that! I've said I cared about Cloud before. But I didn't mean it like this.)
"What? What good is there in me? Christ, Raieyana, I want you to tell me what good you see. I've never wanted anyone's acceptance before, never needed anyone's approval. But if I didn't meet up to your standards for a good person...I would..."
(Tell me, Reno. You would what?)
"I never cared," he said, "about what someone thought about me before. There is nothing, nothing which would make me happier than for you to tell me why you have hope in my eternal soul. The reason why you think there's even a chance I might see the Promised Land."
Raieyana looked into his earnest face. The same eyes as before, yet he didn't--or he couldn't--restrain any emotions this time. She saw a little desperation, some warmth, and mostly hope. "A person who was truly evil couldn't care whether or not I thought he was evil. By virtue, that one thing makes you good. But you want a real reason. I don't have one. All I know is when I look in your eyes, and you're not making an effort to cover your feelings in that 'professional Turk' face, I see the real you. And the real you..." She paused. What she truly thought was that the "real Reno" cared about her. But she wouldn't say that. (I can't! Reno, look at me and...just know. Please.) He closed his eyes with a sad sigh.
(Raieyana doesn't have a reason because I'm not a good person. And however friendly she is to me, she can't change that! She can't accept it, but she can't change it! And...) He felt her hand close over his. She was kneeling on the ground beside the cot. She rested her head on his arm.
"Please don't take me the wrong way. I just can't explain it...how I know. But I do know."
He opened his eyes and found himself drawn to her hopeful ones. She had a piece of hair right in between them. Reno reached up and gently brushed it from her face. He felt her hand on his tighten as he touched her. "Don't make excuses," he said, "I know how I am. Don't feel bad that it's the way I am. I...I... Thanks for trying, though."
Raieyana had been paying attention to the entire conversation, really. Reno was of the belief that he was evil and doomed to hell. (And I'll be damned that I can't take my eyes off his body when he's in distress.) Reno had a nice body, though. Washboard abs, large muscles on his arms. She had only seen him fully clothed before. She was getting her eyes' worth now. She glanced at his face. He was looking at her sadly now. She tried to speak reassuringly, but the words refused to come out. So she did the thing that came natural.
Nothing physical between them had ever been initiated by Raieyana. But Reno felt her lips on his and enjoyed it, for the moment. Then he pulled away.
"What is it?" she asked.
"I... I..." (I want more than this. I want to be able to freely say what I feel.)
"You want something more," she said, with a half-smile.
(She read my mind.)
She leaned back and kissed him with a greater passion. After debating with himself, Reno separated himself from her yet again. "No, Raieyana. That's not what I want. I mean I want it, but..." (If I told her I loved her that would end everything. We can pretend it's just hormones or shit, but if I admit how I feel, I will lose her. I won't get to see her. And I've never been in love before.)
"Reno, I don't want to hurt you anymore than I already have."
"I treasure the pain." Judging by Raieyana's shocked expression, he really had said his last thought out loud that time. He paused, knowing the implications of confessing his feelings. He also realized the implications of remaining silent. (Tseng loved that Ancient, Aeris. He never told her before he died. She never knew... Do I want her to know, or do I want her to go?) "I love you, Raieyana."
There was silence. A tear slowly rolled down her cheek. "I think I knew that somehow, deep inside." She turned to him. "What do I say to Reeve? One time he said he owed his very sanity to me. What do I tell him?"
Reno shrugged. "You don't have to tell him what I just told you. Don't let it bother you, either. In this world, there are always some one-sided relationships. Now I have one."
She shook her head. "Reno. How can I say I don't want to be with him now that I've finally gotten him back? He told me he never thought of me as a child. So how do I explain to him that it feels now that a little child was the one waiting for him with undying love? It's been seven years, and I was alone for an awfully long time. And I was the one with the first words. I was the first one out of the two of us to say 'I still love you!' Was it because I had convinced myself that I really did? Was it because I thought my life had no worth if the reason I used to live for was now something that I hardly considered anymore? This is going to traumatize my kids..." She gave in to the tears and sobbed into her hands.
Reno watched her. He felt now that he was just a turning point in her life. A turning point in a life that had just begun to blossom. (After all, I'm nearly fifteen years older than her. I worked with her father. If he was still alive, I would have gotten a nice Turk gunshot from him by now for even considering a relationship with her. But at least she realized in time that she wasn't the sixteen year old kid who loved Reeve. She's right, though; this will hurt him too deeply.) "...Raieyana?"
His voice cracked on the second syllable of her name. She looked up.
"Oh, Reno, I'm sorry. I didn't even remember you were there, I was so upset... Reno, you okay?"
He had closed his eyes, mentally willing the pain away. He knew she didn't love him. He had always known. He had been a fool to hope.
"Reno? Are you in pain?"
(Just a little agony, and some anguish.) "No," he said, "I can handle it. My cut doesn't hurt that much...I had just nearly forgotten it. It was just because I moved, and then, boy, did I remember!"
Raieyana was at a loss for words. (Every time I've ever said "love" before in my life to someone, it seems as though it were too hasty. But now, I think that I have to tell him. I do love him. Why else would I go into a dangerous city after dark to meet him, alone, without weapons? I wanted to just go away and forget about my troubles for a little while. But I can't ignore this trouble. I can't make it go away. I've tried, God knows I have, but I can't pretend that I don't have feelings for him. That I don't...just want to make love to him right now, no matter if Rude sees or hears or not.) She had truly shocked herself with her thoughts. The first time she had slept with Reeve was a comfort for her. She was in agony over Ishmael's death, and wanted to forget. But Reno, she just wanted him. She refused Reeve but had now twice handed herself over to Reno. And he refused. Raieyana was Reeve's. "Not anymore," she whispered.
Reno was half asleep. "What's 'not anymore?'" he asked.
"I'm not going to deny the parts of me that scare me just because I don't want to hear what they have to say. I'm not going to lie to myself anymore."
He closed his eyes. "Good, Raieyana," he said. He was ready to fall asleep. She softly kissed his hand, which was the oddest thing she could have done at the moment. It really caught his attention.
"What are you doing? Raieyana?" he whispered.
"I love you," she said softly. Then she got up and walked to the other side of the cell. He sat up and squinted at her in the darkness. She wasn't crying, as he had thought she would.
"What did you say?"
"You, you," she stammered, "you heard me."
"I don't believe it."
"Then don't. It won't make me love you any less."
He struggled to get off the cot.
"Reno, what are you doing? You can't get up!"
"I can't...reach you over there. I can barely see you." Before he finished his last sentence, she was climbing into the cot beside him. He stopped her. "Just one last thing. Before... No regrets. About now, before, or later. Tell me now. Do you have any regrets?"
"The only regret I'll have is if you refuse me a third time."
"Raieyana, we hardly have any privacy..."
"I don't care," she said stubbornly, "what if we don't get out of here for a long time? I can't wait any longer. You didn't believe it when I said it before... I love you, Reno. I want to be with you. I want it to be like that day in the helicopter again."
He kissed her softly. "No," he whispered, "we were angry that time. Not now..." He kissed her again, more deeply. His entire body stiffened as a great pain went through him.
Raieyana was startled. "Reno? You okay?"
He tried to smile. "Just a throb." But he was sweating and his breathing was raspy. He lay his head down and a convulsion went through him. "I'm just fine, Raieyana... Just fine." He closed his eyes and she did not know whether he was asleep or comatose. Raieyana checked his watch for the time. 1 A.M. The night was far from being over.
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