Post AC Fluff. After wars and collapsing empires, people can still be brought together over the simplest of things...like beer.
She's gotten used to his presence by now to the point that if Thursday night rolls around and he doesn't push his way through the bar door, his heavy tread sounding across the floorboards, she gets worried. On those few occasions she gets up the next morning and contemplates calling him at work, just to be sure. She never does though. She always just waits a couple of days to see if he'll show up on his own and he always does, some excuse ready for why he's late.
She tells him it doesn't matter. After all, 7th Heaven is a fairly popular bar, more than popular enough to make certain that she and Marlene and Denzel and Cloud, when he's there, can all eat. One missed night isn't going to kill anything.
He always sits at the third bar stool from the wall. If there are other customers, he sits patiently until she's done with them. On other nights, though, the ones like tonight where he's beaten the crowd, he nods at her as he walks to his seat, knowing perfectly well that she'll respond with her usual smile.
"As always." He sticks his hand into his pocket and produced the prescribed amount of gil, plus a little bit extra for a tip.
She pulls a glass from the rack and fills it from the tap, the brew from Ice Town, not lighter stuff from Costa del Sol, and slides it over in front of him before scooping up her pay. "How was work?" She has work of her own to do, getting the bar ready for the crowds, but she always asks, the conversation helping to fill the emptiness of the room.
"Same old, same old. We're making progress though." He takes a sip of his beer and makes an appreciative noise in the back of his throat. "Reno's still testing everyone's patience on a daily basis. I think Tseng may finally be catching on to the fact Elena's completely stupid for him."
Her lips twitch. "That took him long enough."
"Yeah. President Shinra's going to have to rethink his entire approach to running the company if he wants people to accept him, but he's known that for awhile. I think he'll manage it though, having to restart the entire company from the ground up. Better to have the company built by someone who's had the world blow up in his face than someone with nothing but a lot of dreams and fire power to my way of thinking. He'll have to actually listen to the 'little people' and take them into consideration. Should make for a stronger company, I'd think."
"Ah, but if the company's too strong, where does that leave you?" She winks at him, a little playful but no more than she is with any of the regulars. Nothing out of bounds.
He smiles. "Thanks for the concern, but the Turks will always have a job. If nothing else, we make great bodyguards, at least as long as the enemy isn't a reincarnated clone of Hades himself."
"Then you call in Cloud."
He responds with another smile and an inarticulate, affirmative noise.
The conversation dies. She continues wiping down the counter, spraying it with sanitizer one last time, just in case she missed something the night before and again that morning. She checks all of the cooling systems and her drink supplies, just to be sure she won't have to send Marlene on a last minute run for more.
He sits and drinks his beer.
"Why do you always leave your sunglasses on?" She asks, scratching at a spot on one of the glasses. Brown eyes flit in his direction and she smiles again, teasing. "It always makes me think you're watching me."
He clears his throat and ducks his head a little before reaching up and pulling the dark glasses off. "That's probably because I am."
That's the last thing she expected him to say. She stares, completely off guard and not at all sure how to respond. Her cheeks feel slightly warm and she can't tell if she's blushing or not, although she's certainly been hit on enough times by the bar's patrons, drunk and otherwise. She just never expected it from him.
Almost apologetically he clears his throat again, his eyes dropping to his beer, and he adds, "I like the way you move." He frowns a little, a thoughtful expression. "It's graceful, but strong. You can really tell you're a fighter." He lifts his eyes again, brown meeting brown, and gives a small nod before turning almost resolutely back to his drink.
"I..." she blinks, still a little off balance. Of course, he'd be interested in her fighting ability. After all, she and the others have soundly beaten him and the other Turks how many times now? They're both fighters. It makes sense. "Thank you."
She turns back to inspecting the glasses. For a moment there's silence again, then she breaks it, talking almost compulsively as if to cover the momentary imbalance she felt. "Normally when people are watching me it's because of my chest or my...well. Yes." She laughs a little and rolls her eyes.
"Yeah, well, most people don't properly appreciate a woman," He replies in an off hand tone. "I mean, yes, you have a nice figure, but I've always preferred your eyes myself. They're very...expressive."
Glass still in hand, she turns to look at him. She still can't quite convince herself that he's saying what she's hearing.
He's not actually looking at her now. Instead his eyes are on his beer, one hand draped across his knee, the other holding the handle of the glass.
"Mm?" He looks up at that, his expression politely curious.
"Are you hitting on me?"
He opens his mouth, then stops, his gaze shifting from her to a spot on the wall about half a foot to her right. He shuts his mouth and drops his gaze again, this time just over the counter, letting go of the beer to gesture vaguely. "I don't know that I'd use exactly those terms. I'm..." he frowns a little again. She looks very closely, there's a slight blush reddening the dark skin of his cheeks. "I'm expressing my aesthetic appreciation of your physical appearance."
She smirks, translating all of his big words back into the short, common tongue of the streets. "So you're hitting on me."
He winces a little, the blush deepening, and shifts, bringing one hand up to rub at the back of his neck. "So. Um. Do...do you have any plans for next Thursday, by any chance?" His eyes keep making little darts up towards her, but he never quite makes full eye contact.
"No." With a slight snap, she hits the towel against the bar. "Why?"
"Well, I..." he pauses, making another of those lost, uncomfortable gestures with his hand. He shifts again, clears his throat one more time, "There's a new restaurant opening up in Sector Six. Sea food, Costa del Sol fare. I was wondering if you'd like to try it out." His tone is reluctantly hopeful. He finally makes eye contact, but his fingers twitch towards his sunglasses and she can tell he wants to put them back on.
She hesitates, thinking the offer through. So many times the two of them have stood on opposite sides of the battle. Even now, there are a lot of points where they don't see eye to eye. She drops her own eyes, studying the grain on the well sanitized counter. "Cloud's supposed to be coming home that day..."
"I see. I..." the bar stool scrapes a little.
She looks over and finds him in the process of standing, reaching for his glasses, still not meeting her eye. "That means he can keep an eye on the bar and Marlene."
He stops and turns, slowly, his expression cautious, questioning. Did you just say yes?
She smirks back, dropping her eyes for a second and giving a quick little nod of her head.
The glasses slide back onto his face and he straightens his tie, smoothes down the formal line of his jacket. "So, what time should I come by next week?"
"Same as always. Six, sharp."
He bows, a slight, formal bend of the waist. "I'll see you then."