#105 – Splash From the Past (part two)

Kuja: “You could steal him from that skank in fluorescent lighting, bargain bin make-up and head to toe in the K-mart special.” *grins* “So, quite obviously, there’s not a chance you won’t.”

Originally Published: 10/25/01 . 21 pages

Synopsis
While Algus makes himself at home, Noelle wonders if she will be able to win Reno back after all. Has she lost him forever?

Ramble Milestones
Nothing this time.

Some important character growth in this one, besides the obvious. Kuja actually makes friends with Tseng, beginning his progression as more of a member of the ramble gang, and less of a “loser”. When I first played FF9 I despised Kuja, but on subsequent playings he started to grow on me. That’s why you see this slow change begin to happen.

(sometime later that same day. kuja is in the ramble complex?!!? he goes up to tseng’s door and knocks, and then idly preens himself while he waits for tseng to answer. it takes some time, but tseng finally opens the door, looking none too happy, and in his underwear.)

Tseng: “You’re a little late, Kuja. We’re done already.”

Kuja: *looks to where reeve is trying to hide under the covers* “Ah. Don’t flatter yourself, sweetheart, that’s not why I’m here.” *mutters* “Though I might be slightly intrigued…” *calls out* “Hello, Reeve!”

Reeve: *under the covers mutters* “Hi…”

Tseng: *taps foot* “So why *are* you here? How did you even get in?”

Kuja: *shrugs* “Everyone else is distracted by one thing or another. The others won’t miss me, though they should. Hojo is developing his film and uploading it to the internet as we speak.”

Tseng: *hits himself in the head* “Ugh…”

Kuja: *pats him on the shoulder* “Don’t fret, pretty one. Perhaps I can distract him later and take them down. Now may I come in?” *he comes in anyway and sits down on the bed*

Reeve: *peers over the top of the sheet and whimpers* “Tseng…”

Tseng: “Kuja!” *slams the door shut* “Why are you here?”

Kuja: “I thought we might have a chat.”

Tseng: “About *what*?”

Kuja: “Noelle.”

Tseng: “Noelle?”

(he comes over and sits besides kuja. reeve watches them both cautiously.)

Tseng: “What about?”

Kuja: “We should help her get Reno back.”

Tseng: “….Since when do you want to help anyone other than yourself?”

Kuja: “I’m willing to help people who are willing to take my advice.”

Tseng: “Who says she’ll listen to you?”

Kuja: “She took make-up tips from me. Now she’s almost as pretty as me.”

Tseng: “…..Ooooooooookay…” *pause* “So…why me then?”

Kuja: “Because from what I’ve heard, you’ve been around the block about a hundred times.”

Tseng: *eyes narrowing* “Who told you tha–“

Reeve: *running off to the bathroom in a blur* “I only told him ’cause I was trying to scare him away from you!” *door slams shut*

Tseng: *sigh* “Okay.” *calls* “Yeah, thanks a lot, Reeve.” *pause* “Okay, fine. I agree it’s high time Noelle and Reno got back together. You gotta deal.” *they shake on it*

Reeve: *calls hesitantly from the bathroom* “…Tseng? Are you mad at me?”

Tseng: *smiles* “Just a minute.” *turns and heads towards the bathroom* “Sweetie, would you stop being so hard on yourself?” *he opens the door and goes in*

Kuja: *sigh* “I might be here awhile.” *takes out mirror*

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

(meanwhile, a short time later, poor Noelle is laying alone in the ramble room. in the next room she can hear reno, mandy, irvine, zidane and a few people laughing like they’re all having a great time. she frowns. then voices approaching drown out the laughter…)

Tseng: “I really don’t think the *mascara* was necessary.”

Kuja: “Yes it was. Look at you. You’re so much prettier now. You’re almost prettier than me.” *pause* “No, I wouldn’t go that far.”

(Noelle sits up, just as tseng and kuja enter)

Kuja: “How are you doing, darling?”

Noelle: *blink blink* “Kuja? What are you doing in the ramble room? With Tseng?”

Kuja: “We’ve come to talk to you.”

(they come over and sit on either side of her)

Noelle: “We? What, are you two friends now?”

Kuja and Tseng: *blink blink* “…..No…..”

Noelle: *blink* “…..Ookay then. What’s up? What do you want to talk about?”

Kuja: “You and Reno. You are so much prettier than that super skank. And her make up isn’t even name brand.”

Noelle: “…What makes you think I still like Reno? I hate him!”

(kuja and tseng exchange a look and then burst out laughing)

Tseng: “You can’t fool us with that line.”

Kuja: “Please. It’s written all over your face. Not only do you like him still, you’re in love with him.”

Noelle: *chin trembles* “…No…”

Tseng: “Oh, just admit it.”

Noelle: “FINE! I DO!” *frown* “But I hate it.”

Kuja: “But you want him back.”

Noelle: “Yes! Duh! The stupid jerk–I love him so much I want to slap him!”

Tseng: “Aw… That’s…oddly sweet.”

Kuja: “Don’t worry, dearie. We’ll help you reel him back in away from that discount store hooker before you know it.”

Tseng: “You really hate her.”

Kuja: “I’m sorry, but I see cheap make-up and it just makes my blood boil.”

Noelle: “You guys will help me? Really?! Thanks you guys!” *hugs them both* “You rock!”

Kuja: “I know.” *flips hair over shoulder* “Now. How about a sleepover? We could have one in that new pool building.”

Noelle: “Okay! Cool!”

Tseng: “All right… But can I bring Reeve? He can’t sleep by himself, and if I don’t let him come he’ll think I made this up so I could sleep with Kuja.”

Kuja: “Fine, bring your husband. We’ll have a nice girls night in.”

Tseng: “I’m not a girl. And neither are you.” *pause* “And you better not use that phrase around Reeve or he’ll get pissed off.”

Kuja: *sigh* “He needs to loosen up.”

Noelle: “I’m gonna get my stuff!” *she runs out of the room*

Kuja: “Well.” *raises an eyebrow* “I hope you’re ready to dispense ideas.”

Tseng: “Don’t worry about it.”

Kuja: “Just how many guys have you been with anyway?”

Tseng: “Guess.”

Kuja: “Twenty.”

Tseng: *laughs*

Kuja: “Ooh, you *are* a slut.” *tseng sighs and starts to leave the room* “Wait, Tseng.” *follows quickly* “You know I meant that as a compliment, right?”

…………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, in the tv room…zidane, irvine, reno, mandy, seifer, Ashley, squall and rinoa are in the tv room, laughing over something. even squall is laughing! apparently mandy has a good sense of humor. reno’s laughter seems somewhat forced however)

Ashley: “That was a good one, Mandy. I’m going to take that one.”

Mandy: “Be my guest.”

Seifer: “That was the funniest joke I ever heard!”

Rinoa: “It had to be, to make Squall laugh.”

Squall: “Whatever.” *chuckle*

Irvine: “Wow, Mandy, you’ve done a lot of crap even I haven’t done yet!”

Mandy: “Well, you’re young yet, Irvine. You’ll do them all eventually.”

Zidane: “Me too, I hope.”

Reno: “…I wonder where Noelle is. She would have gotten a kick out of that joke.”

Mandy: “Noelle? The girl who pushed you into the pool? Why are you still thinking about her?”

Reno: “I….” *shrugs and hangs head* “No reason.”

Mandy: “Just forget her.”

Reno: “……..”

Mandy: “Anyway, you guys want another joke?”

Everyone but Reno: *eagerly* “Yeah!”

Mandy: “Okay, so these two penguins walk into a bar…”

(and she continues with the joke, and at the end everyone laughs hysterically. reno, however, just sits there, looking spaced out. mandy nudges him, and he finally looks up, laughing fakely. that then trails off into a sigh, and he looks down again)

………………………………………………………………………………………….

(meanwhile, in one of the many other ramble room, uh, rooms, we have a round table. and round that table sit rufus, algus, sephiroth, vincent, lark, shell, steiner and laguna. rude stands against the wall, looking sour.)

Algus: “Yes, it seems now I have found those I can respect. Rufus, Sephiroth and Lark, as well as Shell, for her amazing wealth–“

Shell: “I do what a can.” *smile smile*

Algus: “Laguna for being President of Esthar–“

Laguna: “Hey hey! That’s me!”

Algus: “Steiner for his noble skills as a knight–“

Steiner: “You flatter me, sir. Master Vivi is far more skilled. When he awakens tomorrow, you can have the privilege of meeting him.”

Algus: “And Vincent, for he is such a close friend of Sephiroth’s.”

Vincent: *mutters* “Every other Wednesday.”

Sephiroth: “We’re like the ramble room royalty.”

Lark: *sweat drop* “I don’t really like excluding people…”

Rufus: “Nonsense, Lark! You’re among the elite!” *he claps his hands* “Rude! Will you get us some drinks?”

Rude: “Yes, Shell.”

Rufus: “I’m not Shell, Rude.”

Shell: “That’s me, Rude.”

Rude: “Right. Sorry. Force of habit.” *he leaves*

Algus: “He seems most loyal.”

Shell: “He is. He even got up in the middle of the night to kill a spider.”

Lark: “So what?”

Shell: “The spider was outside. And it was hailing.”

Lark: “….Oh.”

Sephiroth: “Tell Rude to get some cigars.”

Lark: “No cigars!”

Sephiroth: “Oh… But they’ll make me feel so much cooler.”

Algus: “You are all my official and only friends in this…ramble room.”

Sephiroth: “Hear that, Vincent? I have a friend.”

Vincent: *sigh* “I suppose I mean nothing.”

Sephiroth: “Hey, Algus, wait until you meet Twilight. He’ll have to be your friend too.”

Algus: “I trust your judgement.”

Lark and Shell: “You shouldn’t.”

(rude returns with the drinks. he puts them down)

Rude: “Anything else, Shell?”

Sephiroth: *whispers to lark* “Are you sure about the cigars?”

Lark: *hisses back* “Yes!”

Rufus: *raises his can of coke* “Let’s make a toast. To Algus! Our new friend!”

Laguna: “Hey hey! Here here!”

(they all drink.)

………………………………………………………………………………………….

(meanwhile, back out at the pool house, Noelle, kuja, tseng and reeve have just finished up their little sleepover arrangement. Noelle is wearing the same pj’s she has on in the ramble girls pic, reeve has on blue and green striped flannel pajamas, tseng is wearing black shorts and a black t-shirt, and kuja is wearing a pink satin nightie. yeah, you heard me.)

Kuja: “Tsengy, darling, tell your husband to stop staring at me.”

Tseng: “He is not–” *turns to see reeve is in fact staring* “Reeve!!!”

Reeve: “Huh? What?” *looks at tseng* “What?”

Tseng: “For the love of god– Kuja!?”

Reeve: *holds up his hands in defense* “I just like the pajamas! Really!” *mutters* “Why can’t you wear pajamas like that?”

Tseng: “Because I’m a guy!” *mumbles* “Maybe on Halloween.”

Reeve: *grin*

Kuja: “Anyway, we are here to help Noelle get Reno back.”

Noelle: “Yes.” *mumbles* “The bastard.”

Kuja: “And after that we can give one another make overs. I brought my case.”

Reeve: “No one is putting make up on me.”

Tseng: “Me neither.” *pause* “Much.”

Kuja: “Oh, nonsense. Everyone should wear a little make-up.”

(and with that he pulls out his case. this thing is huge. he opens it up, revealing a very large amount of various make-up)

Kuja: “Actually, perhaps it’s best to start with this. Most men are shallow, and are drawn to the most beautiful creature they see. Now, you’re already much prettier than that floozy, but it doesn’t hurt to widen the gap.” *takes out some foundation* “May I?”

Noelle: “Go right ahead.” *she closes her eyes*

(kuja starts to apply make-up to her carefully while reeve and tseng watch.)

Noelle: “So, come on, guys! Give me some advice. Tseng, you’ve known him a long time. Lay it on me!”

Tseng: “Well… You know, Noelle, I am almost positive he’s still in love with you too. You should just talk to him.”

Noelle: “No…. I can’t do that.”

Tseng: “Why not?”

Noelle: *sigh* “We were never good communicators.”

Tseng: “Well, you can’t have a good relationship without good communication. Right, Reeve?”

Reeve: “Huh?”

Tseng: “Reeve! I’m trying to make a point about communication, and you’re… you’re…” *blink* “What are you doing?”

Reeve: “Admiring your beauty, my love.” *smile smile*

Kuja: *without turning around* “He was staring at your ass.”

Tseng: *blush* “Well… Heh. Anyway…”

Noelle: “Well, not everyone can be as perfect as you and Reeve.”

Tseng and Reeve: *snort*

Reeve: “You think we’re perfect? Hardly.”

Tseng: “We fight a lot, especially lately, but the important thing is that we always tell one another we love each other. They’re little words, but they mean a lot and so many people take them for granted.”

Reeve: “I love you.” *kisses tseng behind the ear*

Tseng: *shrugging him away* “Honey, not now. But my point is, sooner or later, you have to tell him, straight out, ‘I love you’.”

Kuja: *putting eyeshadow on Noelle* “You might want to use those words yourself about now…”

Tseng: “Huh?” *turns to see reeve frowning at him* “Oh, sweetie, don’t get mad. You know I love you.” *kisses him*

Noelle: “Hurry up and finish with my eyes, Kuja! I’m missing the yaoi show!”

Kuja: “It’s nothing we all haven’t seen a million times. Now hold still. Don’t make me mess up your eye liner.”

Noelle: *sigh* “So you’re telling me all I need for a good relationship is to look pretty and say ‘I love you’ a lot?”

Tseng and Reeve: *laugh* “No…”

Noelle: “So what else?”

Tseng: “Well, I don’t think Reno ever had trouble with the other part.”

Kuja: “No one ever has trouble with the sex.”

Noelle: “Okay, okay, that’s all implied. Now what else??”

Tseng: “That’s about all I can think of. The important part is to stay open, and honest. The last thing you want to do is get in a relationship–any relationship, friend, lover etc.– with someone you don’t trust. After all, I’d trust Reeve with my life.”

Reeve: “Ditto.” *kisses tseng’s shoulder*

Tseng: “Would you trust Reno with yours, Noelle?”

Noelle: “………..Yeah…… I would….  ……. ….I really would…”

Kuja: *finishing up with the lipstick on Noelle* “All right, dearie. I want you to open your eyes in a moment, and gape at the wonder I have created.”

(he gets a mirror out and holds it up in front of Noelle)

Kuja: “Open your eyes.”

(she does, and gasps upon seeing her reflection. kuja really has made her look absolutely stunning.)

Noelle: “Oh-oh, my god… Kuja… You’re incredible.”

Kuja: “I know.”

Tseng: “Wow, Kuja. How do you do it?”

Kuja: “One of my many talents.”

Reeve: “You look beautiful, Noelle.”

Tseng: *smiles a little at him* “I thought I was beautiful.”

Reeve: “No… You’re drop dead gorgeous.” *leans in to kiss him*

Noelle: “Aw… You guys are the best.” *grins* “Now let’s play truth or dare!”

Guys: *sweat drops*

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

(meanwhile, back inside, mandy must know a lot of jokes, because they’re still laughing! hysterically, i might add. everyone that is, except reno. squall is wiping tears from his eyes)

Seifer: “No, no. Now *that* is the funniest joke I’ve ever heard.”

Zidane: “It’s so true!”

Ashley: “Do you ever run out?”

Mandy: *grins* “I have for tonight. I think it’s off to bed for everyone.”

Rinoa: “Aw, but I’m not tired.”

Ashley: “Yes, you are, crack whore. You just yawned.”

Rinoa: “Shut up, Ashley.”

Squall: “She’s right, Rin. I think it’s time for bed.”

Zidane: “Aw, but we were having so much fun.”

Irvine: “There’ll be more fun tomorrow, right, Mandy?”

Mandy: “Damn right, Irvine. Now off to cowboy slumber land for you.”

Irvine: *tips hat* “Don’t have to tell me twice.”

(rinoa, squall, Ashley and seifer all say their good nights and file out. zidane and irvine linger a bit longer)

Zidane: “Come on, Mandy. How about you come to bed with me?”

Mandy: “Sorry, Z. You’re cute, but I’ve got someone else in mind right now.” *looks at reno*

Zidane: *shrugs* “All right. But the offer stands.”

Irvine: “Come on, Zidane.”

Zidane: *following irvine out of the room* “Hey, Irvine–you wanna sleep with me?”

Irvine: “No, man.”

Zidane: “I swear you’ll like it!”

Irvine: “How many times do I have to tell you no?”

(their voices fade away. mandy turns to reno with a smile)

Mandy: “I figured you wanted them to go away. You were being so quiet.”

Reno: “Why did you leave?”

Mandy: “Huh?”

Reno: “The morning after. I woke up. You weren’t there. That’s usually something I pull.”

Mandy: *shrugs* “Why did you leave?”

Reno: “Because I don’t want to deal with the situation when she woke up.”

Mandy: “If you knew, you didn’t have to ask.”

Reno: “But it wasn’t a good situation–that’s why I left. I didn’t want a relationship, that’s why I left! I figured you wanted the same, yes, but now you’re back–you’re right here, and I don’t know what to think.”

Mandy: “Well, I didn’t want a relationship, Reno. But… I didn’t want one… Because… I had never really had one.” *she moves closer to him* “I came back because I changed my mind.”

Reno: *gulp*

Mandy: “I couldn’t get you out of my head, Reno. I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I had to come back and claim you for my own before some other lucky girl snatched you up.”

Reno: *slinking away* “Uh… Don’t rush into anything… I could be a totally different person.”

Mandy: *grabbing his collar* “But you’re not. You’re not. You don’t change, you never change.” *kisses him hard* “And now I’m going to take you to bed. And I swear I’ll be there when you get up.”

Reno: “……” *stares at her*

Mandy: “I love you, Reno. I do.”

Reno: “I… …. I….”

Mandy: “….Reno?”

Reno: *forces it out* “I love you.”

(she leans down to kiss him hard again, and then we shall fade out…)

………………………………………………………………………………………

(back to our boys and girl playing truth or dare…tseng is looking not too happily at kuja)

Tseng: “For the last time. No personal questions about my sex life with Reeve!”

Kuja: *shrugs* “Inquiring minds want to know.”

Tseng: “Well how would you like it if I asked you personal questions about you and Hojo?”

Kuja: *shrugs* “Not much to tell. But he does do this thing with his tongue–“

Tseng, Reeve and Noelle: *frantically* “Ugh! Don’t wanna know! Don’t wanna know!”

Kuja: *shrugs smugly* “You asked.”

Tseng: “I take it back.” *pause* “Fine.” *pause* “Eight.”

Kuja: *eyes widened* “I’m impressed.”

Noelle: “Okay! My turn!” *grins* “Reeve. Truth or dare.”

Reeve: “Uh….dare.”

Noelle: “Go skinny dipping in the pool.”

Reeve: “….Skinny dipping?” *blush*

Tseng: “Ooh. That sounds nice. I’ll join you.” *gets up and starts pulling his clothes off*

Reeve: *eagerly pulling off his clothes following* “Wait, baby, it’s my dare.”

(they both dive into the pool while Noelle and kuja watch, grinning)

Kuja: “Well, Hojo was right about his ass.”

Noelle: “I know!” *they high five*

Tseng: “What are you talking about over there?”

Kuja and Noelle: *innocently* “Nothing…”

Tseng: “Yeah, I’ll bet.” *he grins and ducks under water*

Noelle: *sigh* “You know, Kuja, I don’t know why so many people hate you.”

Kuja: “They envy my beauty.” *pause* “And it might have a little something to do with that whole trying to destroy the world thing.” *frowns*

Noelle: “Well, I like you.” *smiles at him*

Kuja: “As everyone should. Because *I* am the most beautiful creature to ever grace the planet.” *holds up a mirror and smiles at himself*

Reeve: *calls from the pool* “Maybe they’d like you better if you weren’t so pompous!”

Kuja: “Can I help it that I’m beautiful?”

Noelle: “Kuja, do you really think I’ll get Reno back?”

Kuja: “You could steal him from that skank in fluorescent lighting, bargain bin make-up and head to toe in the K-mart special.” *grins* “So, quite obviously, there’s not a chance you won’t.”

Noelle: *sighs and lays down* “We should all hang out more often.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

(meanwhile, a few hours later, Noelle has fallen asleep. so has reeve, and he has his head in tseng’s lap. tseng and kuja are still up. tseng is absently stroking reeve’s hair. kuja is painting tseng’s toenails with clear polish)

Tseng: “I don’t know why I’m letting you do that.”

Kuja: “Because you like it shiny.” *smiles* “I can see myself in them.”

Tseng: *chuckles* “I don’t think my toenails make the best mirror.”

Kuja: “But it makes a mirror all the same. And I always say that any obscure mirror is better than none at all.”

(they both laugh lightly and look at one another quickly before looking away again.)

Kuja: “Do you recall that stuff you said before, about being open?”

Tseng: “…Yeah.”

Kuja: “About…how even friends should be open with one another?”

Tseng: *looks up in surprise* “Yeah. Uh, yeah.”

Kuja: “So…do…you want to be….?”

Tseng: “Friends?”

Kuja: *quickly* “Yes. That.”

Tseng: “Sure.”

Kuja: *pause* “Good.” *pause* “Friendship is not something I give easily or often.”

Tseng: “I see that.”

Kuja: *very quietly* “Reeve’s lucky.”

Tseng: *he heard him* “Hm.”

Kuja: “Well then. To look this wonderful, I require much beauty sleep. I say we call it a night then.”

Tseng: “Agreed.”

(they lie down and tseng cuddles up to reeve, closing his eyes.)

Kuja: “…When you have your formal marriage ceremony, can I be your maid of honor?”

(tseng’s eyes pop open once more, and grow wide)

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

(meanwhile, back inside, mandy and reno are in bed. she’s frowning. he looks nervous)

Mandy: “….Well then.”

Reno: “Sorry. This has never happened to me before. Really. Never.”

Mandy: “I see.”

Reno: “Maybe because I’m tired, or, maybe it was the booze.”

Mandy: “I don’t think that’s the reason.”

Reno: “….I don’t know, whatever, it’s something. I just… This has never happened! Really!”

Mandy: “Are you sure you’re not just impotent and you’re trying to cover it up??”

Reno: “No!! Oh, no, I’m not. I’m not.”

Mandy: *sigh* “I see. Well, it’s okay. I guess it happens to every guy once and awhile.” *frowns* “I just… Never thought it would happen to you.”

(she shuts the light and lies down. reno looks down at his lap)

Reno: “Me neither.”

(with a sigh he gets out of bed, wraps a robe around himself and looks back at where mandy is sleeping. shaking his head, he leaves the room.)

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

(meanwhile, back at the pool house, everyone has finally fallen asleep. reeve is snoring very lightly. with a sigh, Noelle sits up suddenly, looking dazed. she rubs her arms.)

Noelle: “…Cold.”

(she gets up, grabs a blanket and puts it around her shoulders. she then leaves the pool area, going back inside to get a sweatshirt or something. back inside the ramble complex she goes to the ramble room and goes to unlock it, when she sees it is already unlocked. confused, she opens the door and sees reno sitting there, flipping through a photo album. she freezes. he looks up at her)

Noelle: “Oh.”

Reno: “Noelle?” *he freezes* “Oh. Hi.”

Noelle: “Hi.” *pause* “Look, Reno, I’m, um, sorry about before, with the pool and all.”

Reno: *shrugs* “Don’t worry about it. The kiss was worth any shove.” *he looks down*

Noelle: *frowns* “…Where’s Mandy?”

Reno: “In bed.”

Noelle: “Oh.”

Reno: “Nothing happened.”

Noelle: “What?”

Reno: “…Nothing….happened, I, couldn’t bring myself to do it.”

Noelle: “…Since when can’t you have sex with a gorgeous woman?”

Reno: *looks up and laughs fakely* “Ha ha! I don’t know. I don’t know, and… And I’m scared.”

(Noelle, still frowning comes and sits next to him)

Noelle: “There has to be some psychological reason.”

Reno: *quietly* “…Noelle?”

Noelle: “What?”

Reno: “I…I told her I loved her.”

Noelle: “…..”

Reno: “I didn’t mean it.”

Noelle: “…What? But you once said–“

Reno: “I once *did*. Once. A long time ago. At least I thought I did. But it couldn’t have been enough. Because she’s still beautiful, and she’s still incredible, and I don’t feel anything towards her. Nothing.”

Noelle: “That still doesn’t explain why you couldn’t screw her.”

Reno: “I… I think I do know.” *he hangs his head*

Noelle: *gently* “Why?” *she puts a hand on his shoulder*

Reno: “…Because she loves me. And I can’t give her what she wants.”

Noelle: “……”

Reno: “I feel like a big huge jerk.”

Noelle: “Don’t.” *pause* “…Reno… Why are you telling me all this?”

(reno looks up and laughs lightly. he turns to her and there are a few tears in her eyes. seeing those makes Noelle’s own eyes get teary)

Reno: “I don’t know. Maybe because I’m exhausted. Or maybe because I trust you.”

Noelle: “…I trust you too, Reno.” *she squeezes his shoulder* “I won’t tell anyone.”

Reno: *manages a shaky smile* “I was…looking at old pictures. They made me feel better.”

(Noelle looks down at the picture album he holds. there are several pictures on the pages, but the one she notices is one of her sitting on reno’s lap. she’s grinning at the camera as he leans over to kiss her, also looking at the camera. upon seeing the picture her chin trembles and she starts to cry.)

Noelle: *points to the picture* “I want that–again! I want that!”

(she knocks the book to the ground as she grabs reno around the neck and hugs him tight. his eyes widen in shock)

Noelle: “I’m glad you don’t love her, Reno! Because I love you! I love you and I want you back!”

Reno: *slowly embracing her back* “You… You know, geez… I never wanted to break up in the first place.” *smiles and breaks away takes her face in his hands* “Good, you look beautiful. You make Mandy look like Heidegger.”

Noelle: *laughs lightly despite the tears* “Kuja did my make-up.”

Reno: “You don’t need any make-up at all.” *rests his forehead against hers* “You can call me corny all you want, but I don’t love Mandy anymore because I learned what true love was when I met you.”

(and then they kiss…)

………………………………………………………………………………………..

(very very early the next morning, mandy, fully dressed walks into the ramble room to see reno and Noelle cuddled together tightly on the couch, embraced. mandy sighs, smiles and shakes her head, reaching into her pocket)

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

(the next morning, reno wakes up slowly, shifting slightly, and as he does he hears the jingle of coins. this makes him wake up fully, and he looks down at his lap where he sees money. he picks it up and counts it–two fifty. he looks at it, smiling. in the background there are the noises of the morning…someone’s blow dryer, a coffee maker, someone yelling about kuja. reno silently pockets the money. Noelle then stirs slightly, opening her eyes just a little as she looks up at reno, smiling slightly. reno smiles back)

Reno: “Good morning, sexy.”

THE END

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