A night drinking with the turks, and the old question - "Who do you like?"
Reeve smiled slightly as he sampled it, nodding. "I'm afraid I can't argue," he said with typical mildness. "How'd you find it?"
"He knew someone," said Rude, cutting off Reno's impending tale of perilous adventure.
"Hey!" snapped Reno, turning to him. "Do I cut off your stories? Do I?"
"He doesn't tell stories," Elena pointed out blandly, and sampled her own beer.
Reeve listened to the bickering with half an ear. It had been Reno's idea to drag him out of the office - of course - to accompany the able-bodied Turks for their weekly bar night. Reeve's attention was mostly on the other ear, with the little piece that looked like a hearing aid, listening to what Cait Sith could hear on the other side of the world. Avalanche was just waking up.
"Hey, hey," said Reno suddenly in his other ear. "What's with the spacy? Lovesick?"
Reeve discovered the hard way that beer wasn't meant to be drunk with the nose. A few sinus-clearing moments later, wiping his face off with a napkin to the chorus of Turk laughter, he asked, "What on earth gave you that idea?"
"Lovesick people often sigh and stare off into space and have no idea what a good time is happening all around them?" Elena noted sagely. "So who is it?"
Reeve stared at her, blinking. She was a woman. A Turk, yes, but also a woman and he had a kind of idea that she wouldn't take being told to go fuck herself in the same manner that, say, Reno might. And it was...rude. /And you're worried about being rude to a Turk, Reeve. The only nod they make to courtesy is wearing a tie. Or in Reno's case, keeping a noose around his neck for later strangulation jobs/. He was vaguely aware of making a very good fish impersonation.
"Elena?" Reno guessed. "You like Elena?"
"I'm taken/!" Elena snapped at Reno, before Reeve could get over the first question well enough to respond. She reached over and thumped Reno on the shoulder, /and does anyone besides me notice that the tiny blond woman is defending me? Reeve found himself blushing, and closed his eyes. /Turk, Reeve. She could be two feet tall and blue, she's still a Turk/. But just try telling that to the blush. Even Elena noticed it, long enough to stop thumping the laughing Reno. "It'd never work, Reeve. Really."
The phrase /I don't like you, Elena/, nearly got out of Reeve's mouth before censors kicked in and made clear how many Wrong ways that could be taken. Instead he said, "I'll live. It's okay. You...like Tseng, right?"
"Yeah, I heard -" but there was no telling what Reno had heard, because Elena - with precise aim - threw her beer in his face. Rude chuckled softly as he indignantly cleaned himself up.
"Rufus?" Rude hazarded, the sunglasses looking at Reeve. "Scarlet?"
Beer abandoned, Reeve hid his face in his hands, certain that those portions of his face which were not covered by hair were now lobster red. "Could we not talk about this?" he asked plaintively, as Elena and Reno had some kind of siblingish tussle involving a lot of aerial alcohol. "They're getting out of hand, anyway."
"They know us here," shrugged Rude, dismissive. "You blush a lot."
The observation didn't help said blush at all, and Reeve was almost certain that was why Rude had said it. "I don't - I'm not pining after anyone, Rude. All right? I'm just - conservative."
"You're a /virgin/?" Reno yelped from his defensive position under a nearby table, and almost whooped with laughter as he launched the contents of a pitcher at Elena.
Reeve would have given a lot, just then, to be invisible. The Turk version of a bar fight was quickly emptying the place, and he got to his feet. "I need to go," he said quickly, and all but fled the bar.
It was some time - most of the way to the train station - before he thought his blush might have faded. The Turks were probably now united in their belief that he was a starry-eyed virgin, which was embarrassing and would probably have Reno offering to 'cure' him. Thinking of the ways he might - in all seriousness - make such offers brought the blush right back.
I'm not a virgin. It's just that there's a right way to do those kinds of things. The train arrived, and he boarded and took a seat, hiding his face in his hands in a pose of exhaustion. I wouldn't...I wouldn't just....pounce on someone like a piece of meat. He'd hired the odd rentboy, here and there, and even then he didn't .../pounce/, it just wasn't the way to do things.
He was aware, as he listened to announced stops with one ear and Avalanche's morning bickering with the other, that there was pretty much no one in the world who felt that way besides himself. /There's a right way to go about things/. And Reeve was not given to idol worship, which....
Was the heart of the whole problem, really. It wasn't in Reeve to love from afar, to worship and have the object of it know nothing. That was to turn the loved one into nothing better than a thing. Reeve even treated things better than that. Which sort of blew all of Rude's theories out of the water - Elena, Scarlet, Rufus? They had no idea he was alive, in that sense. There was nothing in them that found Reeve worth their notice, never mind their affection, and Reeve was more or less content to leave it that way. And Avalanche saw a robotic cat on a stuffed mog and if any of them wanted to sleep with either, Reeve wished them the best of luck; he'd take the earpiece off if that happened.
He got off the train at his stop, and wended his way back to his apartment. There's a right way to go about things. There's just no one to go about that right way with.
Considering the environment he lived in, he mused as he put the key in the lock, it was just as well.