"Don't be mad, okay?"
And with that I was mad.
He didn't have the time to tell me why he was trying to pacify me, but still, I was angry. I knew he had said that on purpose - and he knew that just by saying those words I'd be angry. I guess he found some sort of sick fascination with making me mad. Besides, when you're angry you can't be sad, right? That's the philosophy of Reno.
It was 'friendly jousting', as he liked to call it. Yeah, like I ever wanted to 'joust' with anyone, least of all with him.
I grew even more mad. It was Elena, after all. "Don't call me that," I mumbled into my drink. It was coffee, but that's only because I was never really a fan of alcohol. I actually would have preferred tea... Two guesses as to what was in Reno's cup at that moment.
Reno didn't say anything else, which I found sort of funny. I even thought that he might've said that name again just to irritate me; in some sort of weird way I was looking forward to him saying it again, because then I'd have an excuse to throw my coffee in his face. Maybe he would've gotten angry, too - well, not if there was some kind of alcohol in it, I suppose.
He was moping, the nice social effects of alcohol. He missed him, too, I knew. But I was so damned convinced that I missed him more; it never occurred to me then that maybe this was how he grieved for him. He looked up at me. He wasn't going to say that again, was he? I never liked how he said my name. I never figured out why, either, but my flesh would always prickle and jump. The strange thing is that it wasn't a bad feeling, per se - I convinced myself that it was so I would have another reason to hate him.
It was always more easy to hate him then to actually try to like him.
"You make me so angry..." I think I whispered. If it wasn't those words that left my mouth, then it was something close to it. Maybe I even said that I hated him, too. I really didn't, but again, it seemed so much easier to.
He laughed at that. The bastard actually laughed. It sounded so... empty. He didn't find it funny, I knew, and perhaps those words hurt him. Good. At that moment, I wanted to make someone feel as bad as I did. Maybe I even succeeded, just a little bit. But it wasn't as if it mattered. What I couldn't appreciate then was that he already was hurting.
Tseng had left us. Had left me. And, damnit, he had promised to take me out to dinner... I blamed him for a while for that. It's almost funny now that I think about it, in the 'it's over and done with' sort of way. He promised me something that he knew would never happen; another little empty promise made by a Turk. I wonder why I was so surprised by that? Yet when he had said it, when he smiled as he said it, I didn't care that the promise meant absolutely nothing. But later on... How many days had it been since Tseng's death that night? And still, every word aimed towards me, and even the ones everyone thought I was oblivious to, felt like a personal vendetta against me - like the whole world was taking turns thrusting ice picks into my chest. Actually, I think an ice pick would have been wonderfully pleasant compared to how I was feeling then, sitting miserably in the pub at Icicle Village.
And he was looking at me still.
"Don't watch me like that, Reno."
I wasn't quite sure what to make of that look in his eyes, whether or not to like it. It wasn't the same as before - it wasn't that mischievous little edge he always had to him. Everything about him that was Reno seemed to change for just a moment, as if maybe it had never existed there in the first place. How was I to know that he could turn it off like a light switch? I think that frightened me a little. He could feel things like a normal person. I guess that meant I couldn't hate him anymore.
He was doing it on purpose again, I was sure.
"You're not mad at me, are you? 'Cause if you are..."
I was fairly certain that he didn't care whether I was angry with him or not. But if he didn't care, why did he keep asking me that?
Yes, I knew then. I didn't like that look in his eyes. I didn't like those scars on his cheekbones (or tattoos, or whatever those funny little things were), I didn't like that sympathetic twitch at the corners of his lips, I didn't like the way his face was strangely somber... And I especially didn't like the fact that I actually did like all those things.
He wanted me to answer him. I opened my mouth, but the very moment I did he looked away from me and back to his drink. I guess something more important was floating in there.
And he trapped me in a corner, yet again.
"Don't ask me that," I whispered.
He raised his eyebrows expectantly. Maybe he was waiting for me to throw my drink in his face. His grip on his cup tightened and what he said next made me jerk in my seat, like he had just taken that very cup and smacked the back of my head with it. "I miss him, too, Lena."
That hurt, and I never knew why, coming from him.
I didn't answer for a long time. Mostly because I couldn't find the right words to say to him. How could I? He didn't leave me much of an opening. I never had to comfort Reno of the Turks. I was pretty sure that no one ever had to, though. What was the point in stalling? I'd never really figure out what was the best thing to say to him, not at that time, anyway. So I bit my tongue and said the only thing I could.
That seemed good enough. Quick and to the point. Just like him.
And I thought that would be it. I thought he would stand up and leave to go look for Rude. My mind was practically screaming at him to leave, in some lame attempt to maybe will him to do what I wanted, because at that very moment something warm rolled down my cheek. I hadn't cried for Tseng yet and certainly didn't want to do it now, not in front of Reno of all people. I could have expected tears to come in front of Rude - honestly, I wouldn't have cared if it happened in front of that man. I was praying that Reno would somehow magically transform into Rude then, as ridiculous as that sounded.
I felt like such an idiot for crying in front of him.
Well, not so much crying. It was that strange thing that people do sometimes - what I trained myself to do, so no one would ever notice me when it did happen. I was crying without ever making a sound, crying with my face remaining sober. I think my bottom lip may have started to tremble the more I thought about how I should not cry in font of Reno. But I sucked my lip in quickly and bit down on it.
I might as well have just made a fist and swallowed it.
I couldn't breathe without making a noise like a wounded animal. He knew that, too.
God, why wouldn't he just leave?
I never turned my head to see, but I thought I saw him smiling from the corner of my eye. He was, of course. When I finally realized that he really was grinning like an idiot, this weird, almost proud smile spread wide across his face, I felt my cheeks turn red. It wasn't only because I was embarrassed, either. And I was a moment away from smacking him, or kicking him, or...
But then he had to go and do something so unpredictable. So... Reno.
And before I could cry out, because he moved so quickly towards me and I nearly fell backwards out of my seat, he caught me with his hands pressed firmly on my back. I think my skin really did jump from my bones then. In that ugly pale light of the pub, which made even his eyes sparkle, in the almost unbearable smoke filled air, his lips met with mine. I must have looked so incredibly stupid with my eyes nearly popping out of my head.
He whispered between my lips and his, "See? Now you really are mad."
I really was, too. But at least I wasn't sad anymore, and maybe that was his point. I pushed him back forcefully and smacked him as hard as I could.
He only laughed.
That beautiful bastard.