Of Chocolate and Otherwise
Certain thoughts are better left unvoiced, and certain words are better left forgotten. Certain realizations are better not made, and certain observations are better not noted. Certain matters are better not brought up, and certain people are better left undisturbed. After all, logic would dictate that problems are easier avoided than fixed. Hence, why cause them? Why stir up memories better left in the past? Why judge mistakes that can no longer be rectified? Ignorance really is bliss, and Reno taught himself the art of it very well. Whether it was through his iron will or the bitter liquor at the bottom of yet another colorful glass bottle, the ex-Turk wasn't sure. It wasn't even important how. The methods weren't ever important to him. The goal, however, was met satisfactorily well. He forgot, he ignored, and he resigned himself to starting over.
What a bittersweet and difficult process of rebuilding morals, principles, and world views. What a joke! Unfortunately, one can never fully erase what was once thought. Thus, the closest alternative Reno could really achieve was a more-than temporary dormancy of his past. He didn't think on it, and as long as it wasn't brought to his attention, it didn't exist. With years, it was brought to his attention less and less, until it almost fully disappeared from his periphery.
Truthfully, though, he wasn't quite sure himself what manner of sentiment he bore towards his past. Perhaps it was regret, perhaps it was envy, but that hardly mattered. What mattered was that he wasn't unhappy in his new skin. He was still Reno. He still drank, he still smoked, he still smirked, and he was still much more arrogant than his credentials would allow. He still had a fondness for innuendo and swearing. He still sported a messy head of red hair, cold aquamarine eyes, and twin scars. On the other hand, he was now a not-so proud owner of an official weapons permit and a not-so proud member of something that could be considered a semi-viable police force. Reeve's do-gooder squad.
It wasn't Reno who changed, per se; it was the world around him. He liked to think that he merely adapted. Having always been better suited to survive than to live, although he, himself, couldn't name the difference, Reno survived. He survived and fooled himself into calling his survival a poorly made collage of a life. A collage the red-head never quite knew how to look at: upside-down, sideways, back side up, or in the rhetoric fourth dimension.
That's neither here nor there.
What was here was a girl with orange sneakers. Cornea-damaging orange sneakers. What was there was his broken balcony window. The very expensive balcony window.
She looked happy, and he scowled. So used to the monotony of the gray scale that constantly surrounded him, Reno wasn't thankful for the colorful intrusion that was dripping drops of red, red, red upon his carpet. Blood. It swirled and cascaded down her injured arm, drawing morbid patterns of crimson streams along the snow color of her skin, and his scowl deepened. Damn it all. That frail body of hers, hardly strong enough to weather this sort of abuse, spoke of injury and pain. His window, no less attention-demanding, complained about costs and damages, breaking and entering, paperwork and bureaucracy.
There were shards of glass everywhere it seemed. Her sneakers and eyes and blood. And it was all a chaotic mess that the ex-Turk didn't want to deal with. His attention focused, and he couldn't turn away. Cold aquamarine followed the twisting string of red from the soiled carpet, to the pool of blood at her feet, up the zigzag to her arm, and over the splattered drops on her face.
Her expression seemed out of place to him. Completely out of place. Pure lunacy, given the situation, in fact. He'd be inclined not to believe his eyes, but, alas, she was smiling. Infectiously, no less. There was something incredibly soft in that smile, as well, something that drew him in and relaxed his tense muscles. It was telling him, without directly saying, that everything wasn't so bad.
Unfortunately, it never quite reached her eyes. And he was never good at looking at the bright side.
"And to what do I owe this honor, brat?" Reno didn't sound happy, but he wasn't up for admonishing her either. She wouldn't listen to him anyway.
The ex-Turk desperately wanted to blame this newfound benevolence on the late hour and lack of sleep, but a sour drop of truth was seeping unpleasantly into his mostly atrophied mind.
She broke his window and bled on his carpet. She scattered glass all over his living room floor. She woke him from the commodity of restful sleep. She not only had the audacity to smile, post fact, but also to wear those neon orange sneakers.
Those bloody sneakers really deserve to be listed under punishable offenses.
And there he was, calmly baiting her to banter.
Not only was Reno's night no longer fitting any loose definition of the term 'good,' but he was also starting to question his sanity. Sure, he was never all there to begin with, he could practically hear screws falling out of him with clangs and scratches as the years passed, but his blissful apathy towards the pure gull of this girl was worrying him.
He wondered idly if perhaps it was time to start looking for his marbles. He's apparently lost one too many of them.
Her voice was smooth, her speech was accented, and that was enough to distract Reno. He was lulled and in no hurry to understand what she said. Seriousness really was beyond her, and he was content to treat her one-word response as in one ear and out the other.
"You are graced with my oh-so wonderful presence, really, because I was sure you'd have some," she elaborated after an awkwardly long period of silence that didn't seem to make her uncomfortable in the least.
Ha-ha. That was what she originally said, wasn't it?
He supposed it wouldn't hurt to give her chocolate. But then, given her normal levels of energy, he'd expect her to go bouncing off the walls with the bit of extra sugar in her blood. Amusing as the idea was, however, he already had a window to replace; he didn't need the hassle of mending dented walls because the kid made out like a basketball on auto-pilot.
"I have none."
The certainty with which she accused him could only have come from extensive experience with being denied sweets for the sake of her company's sanity. He found the idea believable. He knew only a remote piece of what she was capable of without any sort of endorsement. That knowledge was more than enough reason to dread knowing what she was like on any alterations.
"Your point?" he smirked. There really was just no use denying her accusation. Hell, for him, there was no use denying a lot of accusations. The likelihood of him having done what he's being accused of doing was always very high. He wasn't a nice person. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
Then there was the matter of her injury. She was losing a lot of blood, and despite being an avid believer in never doing the 'right thing,' Reno supposed he could break his rules once. Besides, if Reeve found out that the kid was allowed to waltz out of Reno's apartment untreated, he would have the ex-Turk's head on a silver platter. No matter how child-like and obnoxious the girl was, she was technically a Princess and Reeve's semi-forcibly, and unofficially, adopted daughter. If Reno were to really think on it, the brat was unfortunate in having too many viable father figures. He wasn't going to be joining the list anytime soon, for he was much too young for such nonsense, but the compromise he used to interject her next response made him feel no less a guardian.
"Get your ass into the bathroom and fumble with the First Aid Kit until you're bandaged, brat, then I might consider the chocolate." He sounded annoyed, as he very well was. Unfortunately for his pride and lack of moral conviction, however, his gruff tone did nothing to hide the good intent.
He really was growing soft.
Awaiting a retort, Reno was surprised when she actually listened to him. Hell, she, herself, was probably surprised she listened to him. Nevertheless, however, she turned down the hall towards the ex-Turk's bedroom, and he turned in the opposite direction to rummage around for chocolate in the kitchen. It only struck Reno curiously a few minutes later, when he successfully located a box of expensive chocolates for her pleasure, that they were both acting as though this was all a very regular occurrence. A second realization struck him in a rather unpleasant manner a short moment after; she was fading quickly. It was nice that she didn't argue with his one masked good deed for the decade, but he found that he would have preferred her insanity to her silence.
If he were to take a guess, which could very well be considered a hypothesis due to his experience and familiarity with all sorts of unpleasant injuries in all sorts of mobility-hindering places, she got hurt a long while before she found his apartment. That would explain the lack of energy. The seemingly illogical time lapse, however, between the time she got hurt and the time she decided to seek help, he had no conjecture about. Besides, why his apartment, of all places? Assuming she found herself an adventure in Midgar, the ex-Turk was, admittedly, close enough on hand. He did live there, after all. Coincidentally, so did most of her friends.
Reno was always happy to take the extra opportunity to flatter himself, but somehow, he doubted his good looks and sharp wit had anything to do with her unexpected appearance through his, broken but far from forgotten, balcony window.
He also doubted chocolate had anything to do with it. Even if he did manage to procure quite a fine box of said delectable candy. He couldn't even fully remember why he had the damned thing. He never much fancied sweets. An unhealthy apatite for blood, granted, he did have but definitely not a sweet tooth.
On a very important and yet unrelated note, however, she was taking far longer than was strictly necessary to wash out that cut on her arm. Sure, he wasn't all that forthcoming with offering his assistance, but she'd have enough sense in asking him to bandage her arm for her, right? That'd be the logical assumption, right? He wasn't underestimating her bullheadedness, the only trait she seemed to share with all of Wutai, right?
She was a tangle of bloody limbs on his bathroom floor, and it took a lot out of Reno's almost nonexistent conscience to persuade him that to find the scene attractive, in any sense of the word, just wasn't right. Nor would it be right to just leave her where she was, artistically doused in red and sprawled out against the backdrop of white tiles. He wasn't sure when he started caring about, and correctly distinguishing between, right and wrong, but since he already made the connection, it'd be a decidedly un-post-Meteor-Reno thing to do to let her die.
"I heard that."
Her voice was muffled and weak, and her eyes remained closed, but Reno could see the tell-tale sign of a smirk tugging up at the left corner of her mouth. The ex-Turk felt his own lips twitch in response to that unparalleled audacity. He liked her. In fact, that worked out for the best. If he didn't begrudgingly admit to himself to admiring that obnoxious attitude of hers just in time, he'd tend towards the homicidal. But why go into the sticky, unpleasant details?
"And you object?"
Her features fell still, and Reno could only assume she was thinking over his particularly insensible proposition. Actually, he was willing to bet she was weighing her lacking energy against the rise she could probably get out of him.
Well, he walked right into that one.
"Don't even go there, kid," he muttered in fair warning.
Apparently, she took the hint, or lost consciousness, because she produced no response. That was also for the best, really. Offsetting the ex-Turk from committing that criminal act of something that could loosely be defined as charity wasn't a very difficult feat to accomplish. In her current state, she didn't want to chance achieving the aforementioned, Reno could only surmise.
Running a weary hand over his face and through his chaotic hair, the red-head took a few steps into the bathroom, finding a towel to wet and drop unceremoniously onto the girl's forehead. She scrunched up her nose in response, and he wordlessly hoisted her into his arms, bracing her against his frame on the short walk to his bed. Said bed was much too large for her, speaking of which, and the moment her body gently hit the mattress, it sank into the soft comforter and plethora of pillows.
She was small; the piece of furniture in question was engulfing. She was colorful; the sheets were black. She was bloody; the bedding was fresh out of a wash.
This was the private setting of his bedroom, and she had the audacity to fit. The apocalypse was nigh, and for the first time, Reno was, apparently, considering pedophilia. How old was she, anyway?
And what exactly happened to her?
Now leaning over the mostly sleeping teenager, Reno took a better look at her arm. It was mangled sufficiently to prevent movement and cause pain, but nothing vital was hit, and despite the worrying blood loss, she'd live, he was sure. Gently rotating the problem limb, Reno sighed. All he'd have to do is stop the bleeding, disinfect, and bandage. If he wasn't going to let her bleed to death on his bathroom floor, he might as well clean and wrap up her injury.
Actually, the endeavor didn't prove troublesome in the least, which was a good thing as far as the red-head's frayed nerves were concerned. The kid fell asleep somewhere halfway through the procedure, and what little squirming the ex-Turk put up with, for the first ten minutes of his playing doctor, stilled. She looked peaceful, surprisingly. Well, he supposed the fact wasn't technically all that surprising, but when taking into account those zealous tendencies of hers, it was a wonder she was able to sleep at all, due to blood loss or otherwise.
Against his better judgment, he let her sleep. In his bed.
What is going through that head of yours, kid?