Break the Game


by nekojita


chapter one


Opening bleary eyes, Rufus stared at the alarm clock for several seconds before its bright red numbers made any sense to him. It was after nine in the morning, over an hour past the time that he’d wanted to be up today and so had set the clock for last night. Mumbling a curse, he tried to sit up in bed and find out why the alarm hadn’t gone off when he was jerked to a halt by a tight hold on his right hand. Once again, it took him a few seconds to make sense of the situation; a padded, locked cuff was on his right wrist, its length of chain - threaded with a strip of leather to quiet its clinks - attached to the headboard. The very solid, very strong headboard. Oh, and there wasn’t a damn key in sight.

What was in sight, however, was the sleeping form of his lover, curled up on the far side of the bed and appearing dead to the world. Interestingly enough, Reno *wasn’t* handcuffed or restrained in any manner. Rufus’ eyes narrowed in suspicion as he reached for his lover. "Reno, wake the hell up *now*." He had to repeat the sentence twice and give Reno a very strong shake to get the man to awaken.

"Leave me ‘lone, Rufus," Reno muttered as he curled up even more toward the edge of the large bed. "Go back ta sleep."

Grabbing a pillow, Rufus gave up on any sense of patience and hit his lover over the head. "Wake up, you bastard!" he shouted, the words echoing off the bedroom’s white and glass walls.

"For fuck’s sake, jus’ go back ta sleep!" In one smooth motion, Reno sat up and turned around so he could snatch away Rufus’ pillow and throw it across the room. "It’s our fuckin’ day off!"

"I don’t care if it’s New Year’s Day, Reno, I want to know why the hell I’m chained to the bed!" Rufus yelled back, growing angrier with every passing second. He held up his right hand and waved it around, causing the chain to smack against both the headboard and his right side. "What the hell are you up to now?" And where the hell was his gun? Rufus’ left hand searched beneath his remaining pillow for the weapon, but it seemed to have disappeared.

For someone who was currently sharing a bed with a very enraged person, Reno didn’t appear too bothered by the situation. He leaned against the headboard, the shorter lengths of his hair having escaped from the ponytail he’d pulled it back into last night and falling around his face. The sheets were pooled in his lap, leaving his upper body exposed as well as a patch of dark red hair low on his abdomen. Hair tousled, eyes heavy lidded, full lips curved in an amused smile and lithe body on display, Reno looked like the embodiment of temptation. As much as Rufus’ hormones shouted at him to do more than glare at his lover, he was all too familiar with that pleased expression; Reno was definitely up to something. "Reno…," Rufus growled, doing his best to stretch out his right arm enough so he could throttle the redhead.

"Don’t let your knickers get too twisted there, Rufus." Reno chuckled as he reached for his pack of cigarettes and lit one. "It’s our day off, dammit, which means we should spend half the day in bed. I just made sure that you couldn’t get out of it and go off to do something as stupid as work." He inhaled deeply and blew the smoke in Rufus’ direction. "So calm down and go back to sleep. I’m not gonna give you the key until it’s noon, at the earliest." He took another deep inhale and stubbed the cigarette out in the ashtray before lying back down.

Rufus couldn’t believe that his lover actually thought this… this *insane* plan would make him relax. "I’m going to kill you," he said as he reached for his lover, only to find the man too quick for him. Reno got his wish in that Rufus did lie back down, forced onto the mattress by Reno straddling him and putting all that wiry strength to use.

"Now, now, that’s too much damn effort on a day off, I’ll have you know." Reno grinned like a maniacal idiot as he pinned down Rufus’ hands. "Behave or I’ll leave you and go sleep in the spare bedroom." His long ponytail slid over his shoulder and pooled onto Rufus’ chest, a spill of crimson that tickled bare skin. The pleased grin was still on Reno’s face, his eyes still heavy lidded but from something other than sleep, now. They were both naked, and between Rufus’ anger, the feel of hair slithering against his chest, Reno straddling his hips and that utterly deviant grin, his body was beginning to react, dammit. This is what happened when fighting all too often led to sex, he supposed.

Knowing that he was at a disadvantage because of his cuffed wrist and the lack of weapons, as well as the fact that Reno had obviously planned things out and may have a few more surprises in store for him, Rufus decided that he needed a change in plan. "I am *not* going back to sleep," he informed his lover, his arousal growing as Reno leaned in closer and more hair fell onto him, faintly reeking of cigarettes. "I’ve already slept longer than I intended for the day." His plans to complete some work were quickly unraveling and being replaced with the thought of putting a certain redhead in his place.

Reno’s grin took on a sharp edge as he leaned even closer, revealing a flash of even teeth. "You’re not getting off this bed for another three hours, President. And don’t think to bitch to Tseng about this since he’s the one who complained about you working too hard lately." Oh yes, he was definitely pleased with himself, although Rufus would bet half his fortune that Tseng hadn’t meant for quite this to happen.

"I’m not sleeping." Taking advantage of Reno’s smug inattention, he managed to jerk his left hand free and in seconds had it firmly wrapped around strands of crimson. He’d meant to grab his lover’s throat, but something changed his mind at the last second. "And if you even *attempt* to leave this room, you won’t be allowed back in it for a month," he warned, his voice huskier than normal from the desire that slowly built inside of him.

"So, you’re not sleeping and I’m not allowed to go take a nap elsewhere. I can work with that." Reno’s chuckle just then was utterly decedent and only made Rufus’ cock even harder. He leaned forward for a kiss, his lips just brushing against Rufus’ before Rufus used the hold on his lover’s hair to yank Reno back. "What the hell?" Reno cried out, releasing Rufus’ right hand so he could try to pry the left one out of his hair. "Let go, you bastard."

"No." This time Rufus did reach for Reno’s throat, his fingers digging into pale skin just enough to hurt, but not enough to cut off air or do any damage. "We’re going to do things *my* way now; you had your chance for fun." His tone was a mix of desire and fury, his smile a frozen echo of Reno’s earlier pleased one. Reno may live here, may be allowed certain rights with Rufus that no one, not even Tseng, could claim, but there was a line that still remained between them. Namely, that Reno had to treat him with more respect than this. There might have been a very important reason why he’d wanted to get up early today, a day off or not, and Reno could have jeopardized something that he’d spent months working on.

Either his tone or expression convinced Reno that this wasn’t a game; the Turk was smart, if suicidal, and had to know that he’d pushed things too far today. That nonsense about Tseng was just that – nonsense, and Reno trying to cover his ass most likely. He stopped clawing at Rufus’ left hand, instead grabbing the pinky on Rufus’ right and held it as if he was ready to break it at any second. "What do you want?"

Ah, now that was more like it; Reno’s tone was a mix of sullenness and caution, a clear sign that he knew he’d overstepped himself and wasn’t happy to have to make amends to the situation. The iciness in Rufus’ expression thawed and his hand loosened a little from his lover’s neck. "Oh, now you’re ready to be a good boy." His pinky was forced back a little, a warning from Reno that he mostly ignored. "Do what I want and you’ll enjoy yourself a little, too. And I’ll stay in bed."

He didn’t ask for the key right now, not when his first priority was coming up with a very enjoyable way to get his point across on who was in charge. When Reno merely nodded in response, he used the grips on throat and hair to push his lover backwards. Being a smart boy, Reno seemed to get the hint after a few seconds and settled between Rufus’ spread thighs, a petulant pout on his lips that made him look so fucking sexy, especially with the dangerous light in his eyes that made them shine with an eerie manner.

Rufus snapped apart the band that held Reno’s hair mostly restrained, wanting to feel the thick strands fall around his groin and thighs. He inhaled sharply as it brushed against his skin, then again when Reno’s hot, calloused hand wrapped around his fully erect cock. "Next time, you can spend your fuckin’ day off in the office," Reno grumbled, always a sore loser.

"Make this good or you won’t have a day off for at least two months." Rufus smiled with victory and malice as he stroked his thumb over Reno’s tattoo, his left hand cupping his lover’s head and urging it forward. Reno grumbled again, something that most likely was an insult, and gave in with ill grace. His teeth scraped along the sides of Rufus’ cock for a couple of seconds, making Rufus’ back arch off the bed and him to do some swearing of his own, before Reno licked his way back up.

"I’ll… shoot you," Rufus warned, trying hard to breathe from that sudden jolt of almost pain when he’d least expected it, his nerves tingling and his heart pounding with adrenalin. He jerked on the chain restraining his right hand, wanting so much to hold onto his lover with both hands and unable to do so.

"Gotta find your gun first," was Reno’s smug reply before he got down to business. For all the smart-ass remarks, insults, spouting off the worst possible comment at the worst possible time and general nonsense that came out of it, Reno’s mouth did indeed have some uses. Oh yes, some incredibly pleasurable uses, Rufus thought as he thrust his hips upward with no warning. He shuddered when Reno gagged at his throat so suddenly being filled, hot flesh rippling around his cock in such a delightful way that he did it again. The look he got from his lover was one that was normally accompanied by a remark about how lucky he was not to have his dick bitten off, which only added to the pleasure of this moment. Reno was his, and Rufus could do things to him that the Turk had refused to *everyone* before him. All that defiant pride, barely controlled violence and nasty temper wrapped up in such a gorgeous, deadly package that Rufus alone got to enjoy.

Right now, Reno looked as if he’d much rather give in to some of his darker impulses than please Rufus, but he didn’t snap his jaw shut or do any other damage. Instead, he seemed to concentrate on the blowjob, right hand wrapped firmly around the base of Rufus’ cock while he used his left hand to alternately fondle Rufus’ balls and rub the sensitive area behind them. He took more and more of Rufus’ cock down his throat, no longer appearing to object to the hard thrusts into his mouth as his lips worked their way along its length. By the time his right hand had fallen away and he was deep-throating Rufus’ cock, Rufus was lost to the ecstasy and uncaring about his actions. His fingers were wrapped so tightly in his lover’s long hair that some of the strands had to be pulled free and he was losing circulation. His hips kept snapping forward as he tugged Reno closer, causing the redhead to hunch over him in what had to be an awkward as hell position. The dangerous light was even stronger in Reno’s eyes now, but there was desire there as well, such a breathtaking mixture which promised Rufus that the fun wouldn’t end any time soon.

Then Reno groaned, Rufus’ cock entirely engulfed by his mouth, and the strong vibrations were just too much sensation to take. Rufus cried out as he came, hips snapping forward a few more times even though he couldn’t go any deeper, ecstasy sizzling through his body as if a too-potent elixir. The burning from the pleasure was soon replaced by lethargy and satiation even as his hips eventually stilled, and he finally released Reno’s hair so his lover could pull away.

Reno sputtered and cursed as he did so, the bottom half of his face slick with saliva and semen that he tried to wipe away. "God-dammed asshole," he swore with a voice gone hoarse, his lips red and fuller than usual, swollen from Rufus’ frenetic thrusts. Rufus didn’t give him a chance to bitch some more, instead he pulled him upward into a passionate, sloppy kiss. He tasted himself on his lover, tasted his release and a hint of copper as well as cigarettes, a heady mixture that made him slide his tongue as deeply into Reno’s mouth as it would go. Reno was a squirming, hot, bony presence on top of him, his erection rubbing against Rufus’ hip as if he was desperate to come as well.

Not about to give up his fun right now, Rufus once again pushed his lover away, prompting Reno to squall like a furious cat. He smiled as he wiped his mouth and chin, amused at the sight of Reno’s flushed face, enraged expression and all that red hair clinging to pale, sweat-slick skin.

"What the hell was that for?" Reno demanded to know the same time as he began to fist his cock.

"The fun’s not over." Moving faster than he’d thought he could so soon after an intense orgasm, Rufus sat up and grabbed his lover’s left wrist. "No, you don’t come until I’m fucking you." Just the thought of it made his voice sound almost as hoarse as Reno’s.

His lover snorted in derision and tried to jerk his wrist free, but Rufus had always been the physically stronger one of them. "Then ya shouldn’a come with your cock shoved down my throa’," Reno croaked, the anger foremost of his emotions just then. A moment later, he was back to pouting and trying to break Rufus’ grip. "What ya want now?"

Using the hold on his lover, Rufus tugged him closer. "For starters, I want you to speak like the intelligent human you’re supposed to be," he replied, authority creeping into his tone even though he knew it would annoy the hell out of Reno. He swore that Reno used that gutter accent to get on his nerves at times, perhaps to make some twisted point that only Reno could fathom.

"Yeah, and?"

Rufus tugged Reno even closer, his right hand now able to grab the long earring mostly obscured by his lover’s hair. "Now it’s your responsibility to get me ready again if you want to come," he whispered next to his lover’s ear.

Reno shivered and tried to pull away, stopped by the holds on his wrist and earring. His eyes lost the dangerous light and dilated with desire, his breathing more ragged than it had been moments ago. "An’… and how do I do that?" he asked, his right hand stroking along Rufus’ chest. Such a strange creature he was, fighting until they both were bloody sometimes and giving in so ‘easily’ on others, Rufus thought. He’d expected more cursing and the threat of bodily harm, not Reno practically purring from eagerness. Then he thought about the last time either of them had a day off together, a chance to spend hours in bed either resting or seeking pleasure. It had to been almost a month ago, several long weeks where that pleasure had been stolen in quick sessions that had left him almost as frustrated as before they’d had sex. Still, that revelation didn’t make him want to forgive Reno anytime soon, not when he was about to have such fun.

Releasing his lover’s earring, Rufus stroked his fingers through his lover’s tousled hair. "Oh, I think you can guess." Following the strands down his lover’s back, he traced along the sharp edge of a hipbone and then caressed the top of Reno’s thigh. The same time, he trailed his mouth along Reno’s jaw, a soft, teasing brush of lips.

Reno shivered again and moaned, the sound wanton enough to make Rufus’ flaccid cock twitch. "That’s not much of a hint. You leaving things up to me?" He had the audacity to sound hopeful on that matter.

Rufus shook his right wrist to make the chain smack against the headboard. "No, there won’t be any more of your ‘bright ideas’ in the near future." He shifted back so he could lean against the headboard. "Let me make things a bit clearer – you’ll fetch the key and then you’ll… dress appropriately," he drawled.

He wasn’t sure if it was Reno having to give up on his idea to have Rufus chained to the bed all morning or that he’d have to dress up that bothered the redhead the most, not that Rufus really cared. This was about *his* desires right now, but maybe if Reno was good, he’d be in a giving mood later. So all he did in the face of Reno’s fierce glare was smile coolly and motioned with his left hand for his lover to move.

Once more cursing under his breath, Reno shoved himself off the bed and stalked over to his dresser. Yanking open a drawer, he seemed to fumble about for something that he flipped in Rufus’ direction before stalking into the closet.

If the bastard’s aim wasn’t so good, Rufus would have done some throwing of his own, but he managed to catch the key. Quietly cursing und his breath as well, he unlocked the cuff and set it and the key on his nightstand since he might feel the need to use the restraint later. Then he retrieved one or two things and worked on restoring his good mood, refusing to allow Reno to snatch control over the situation from him. He was now determined to enjoy himself this morning, would indulge enough to make up for the past month. While that hadn’t been how he’d expected to spend the day, he was thinking working late a few nights this week would be preferable to spending the day in his office now.

More then fifteen minutes had passed since Reno had gone into the closet, the only sounds emerging from the small room being more hushed swear words and possibly a coat hanger or two thrown about. Rufus idly stroked his cock as he waited with increasing impatience, wondering if he’d have to drag his lover out of there. He’d decided to give him three more minutes when Reno finally appeared, such a ravishing sight that his cock hardened in earnest.

While he’d left some leeway to his lover, Rufus was delighted to see that Reno must have guessed just what he’d wanted today. The long, fiery hair could do with some brushing, but it was appealing in its own mussed right as it fell down Reno’s shoulders and back. The black corset that gave the redhead an illusion of an actual waist and chest must have been what took him so long, and the black silk stockings were perfectly even on his lean thighs. The only thing missing were a pair of high heels, but considering the lacy garter-belt and panties, Rufus wasn’t going to complain. Oh no, Reno had definitely outdone himself.

"If you were hoping for a dress, you’re shit out of luck," Reno snapped as he made his way back to the bed, his hair flaring out around him and his eyes gleaming with annoyance. "I’d rather be hard all day than play the fucking girl for you." Moving with a furious grace that made Rufus recall Dark Nation, he knelt on the bed and approached on his hands and knees.

Now it was Rufus’ turn to moan as he savored the sight of Reno crawling toward him, angry and sexy enough to make him want to come right then. He had to grab the base of his cock and turn his thoughts away from what he’d do in the next few minutes, focusing on the verbal fight instead. "You come out here wearing something like that, let me fuck you all the time and suck my cock as if it was some sort of treat, yet you draw the line at a dress?" He reached out with his free hand and used some of that lovely hair to force Reno closer. "You’ll be a ‘fucking girl’ whenever I want you to be. I’ll make you dress up and take you out to dinner, and no one would be the wiser." He let go of the hair to grab Reno’s chin instead, their mouths now scant centimeters apart. "A little make-up, some padding, a quiet voice and everyone will be gossiping about the new woman who’s in my bed. As if I’d wait until we get back here to fuck you. How about in the ladies’ room, hmm?" he asked, his voice growing huskier as he visualized the ‘date’. "With the panties down around your ankles, the skirt of your dress hiked up over your ass and my cock buried in you as if you really were a ‘fucking girl’."

Reno was breathing so heavily that he was almost snorting, yet he didn’t try to pull his chin free. "I’ll walk out of there with your spunk running down my damn stockings, if you want, but don’t even for one second think of me as a woman." He rocked forward and downward, the erection trapped behind black lace rubbing against Rufus’ thigh. "Or you really will lose something the next time you shove it in my mouth." His eyes were still dilated with pleasure, but there was an edge to his hushed, hoarse voice, a crispiness to his words which conveyed that this wasn’t a joke. For whatever reason, he was truly bothered by the thought of Rufus treating him like a woman… or was it something else? Surely the idiot wasn’t that upset by Elena’s ‘girly’ comments.

"You’re whatever I want you to be." Rufus let go of his lover’s chin in favor for the dangling earring, the brand that made Reno his forever.

"No," Reno snapped, still not moving away from Rufus, still not touching him with his hands or bridging the space for a kiss. "I’ll do whatever you want, but I’m always *me*. Not some prissy ass bitch, not some weakling you can walk all over, not even just some Turk. You’re stuck with *me*."

The discussion had taken a turn that Rufus never would have expected, but Reno’s furious insistence didn’t provoke a similar temper from him. Oh no, instead it made him smile as he gave the earring a tug. "I never think of you as *anything* but an impossibly sexy, infuriating, insane, dangerous, inventive, redheaded bastard, I’ll have you know. I just like how you look while wearing a garter-belt," he crooned, his right hand now stroking the bared flesh of Reno’s upper thigh.

For the past few months, Rufus had struggled with the realization that he loved Reno, that he was trapped by emotions he’d never thought to feel for anyone. He’d done what he could to bind Reno even closer to him, had him living here and assigned to him as a bodyguard as much as possible. For his part, Reno had bitched about the living arrangement for the first week or so, complained that he didn’t get to kill enough people and otherwise acted much the same way he had before Rufus’ damned annoying epiphany. But now… now Rufus had some hope that he wasn’t the only one saddled with unwanted emotions. Now he was left with the impression that Reno was as stuck with him as he was the unpredictable Turk. The day was turning out to the best one he’d had in months, even with its shaky start.

"You better not think of me as anyone else. Call out someone else’s name one day, even if it’s Tseng’s, and that’ll be the last time you’re ever able to fuck anyone." Even though Reno was smiling as he spoke, that threatening edge remained in his voice. Rufus decided that he’d let the ‘warning’ pass.

"I’m not twisted enough to fantasize about the man who practically raised me," he murmured before moving close enough to kiss his idiot lover. Besides, only Reno had driven him to a relationship he knew he never should start, to change the dynamics between him and a person he relied upon with his life. Looking back, he should have had a clue about how much Reno would take from him right from the beginning, but had mistaken infatuation for mere lust.

Reno mumbled something against his lips, something that was probably much better off left un-deciphered, and crawled closer until he straddled Rufus’ hips. All that impossibly colored hair left unbound, the feel of tightly crossed laces, smooth satin and metal boning against his fingers, of flimsy lace warmed by the firm flesh beneath it…. Oh yes, Rufus was *very* pleased right now, not to mention hard as hell. He had to hiss in pleasure as his cock rubbed against the lace panties, his hands sliding beneath the panties and the garter-belt’s straps to cup Reno’s ass and squeeze. Reno gasped in response, his teeth latched on to Rufus’ bottom lip as he squirmed in place.

Pulling his lip free before it was bitten, Rufus blew aside some of his lover’s hair and nuzzled Reno’s neck. Next time he’d insist that Reno wore a black velvet choker, something elegant and thin, but he was very pleased with the outfit at the moment. The stockings were the slightest bit rough against his legs, the panties more so. Reno was left gasping for air because of the corset, his face growing more flushed the longer that Rufus nipped at and sucked on his neck. His hands moved from his lover’s ass to grasp Reno’s ‘waist’ instead, his thumbs brushing along the front of the corset while he kissed the artificial swell of breast.

"Gonna… gonna die… an’… haven’ even… fucked yet, dammit!" Reno struggled to get the words out, not helped in the least by the fact that Rufus was nibbling his way back up his lover’s neck at the time. Putting that gasping mouth to use, Rufus stole away what little breath his lover had left while his hand reached for the small knife he’d fetched from the nightstand while he’d waited for Reno. As much as he’d like to enjoy this moment a bit longer, the last thing he wanted was for Reno to pass out during sex so he cut the too tight laces.

While Reno took a deep breath, Rufus pulled the corset from his lover’s chest and chided the idiot. "Next time, don’t tie it so tightly or in knots." Oh well, what mattered most were the garter-belt and stockings, he supposed. Now to work on removing the panties in an equally fun manner.

Reno stretched out more on top of Rufus and wiggled his hips. "Okay, after this *you* can try putting one of the damned things on by yourself," he grumbled.

"You fail to remember that *you’re* the one who does the dressing up," Rufus reminded his lover. He didn’t get turned on by wearing some ridiculous costume and wouldn’t allow Reno such a perfect opportunity for blackmail pictures.

"Hmph." Reno dipped his head to lick along the edge of Rufus’ jaw. "Because you’ve got some weird stick up your ass about what’s acceptable and what isn’t for sex when it comes to you." He pushed up on his arms and looked down upon Rufus, his puckish face framed by brilliantly hued, tangled hair. "Sex is sex; it’s messy, often-times ridiculous, noisy and meant to be fun. As long as you get off, why does it matter who’s wearing the panties?" He sounded perfectly serious for once, as if this was a question he truly wanted answered.

Rufus pretended to give the matter some thought for a few seconds before shaking his head. "Because you’re the pretty one," he said, deflecting the question because he didn’t want to give it any serious consideration. So what if he had some hang-ups when it came to sex? Reno didn’t so he got stuck with the costumes. That should teach the man that there was some good to possessing morals and limits, though he didn’t expect Reno to ever pick up on that particular lesson.

Groaning out loud, Reno shook his head and once more bridged the distance between their mouths. "Do you still think I’m ‘pretty’ when I’m blowing out some guy’s brains, hmmm?"

No, Rufus thought his lover was unnaturally beautiful then, lithe body moving in a graceful dance of violence, crimson hair whipping around him like a splash of blood and those pale eyes glittering with malicious satisfaction. He combed his fingers through the hair falling onto his face and sighed. "I think that you’ve earned your place as an Ace, pretty or not."

Reno’s immediate response was an amused chuckle before he pressed his lips against Rufus’ for a couple of seconds then pulled back. "It’s like Elena said – I’m only ‘pretty’ when compared to big lugs like Rude or Tseng."

That wasn’t necessarily the truth, but Rufus gave up arguing in favor for a kiss ardent enough to provoke a moan of delight from him. Reno’s looks were androgynous and youthful, add to them those full, bowed lips, the intriguing tattoos and exotic coloring and he’d forever be someone who other people would underestimate as a ‘pretty boy’. That was part of the reason why he was so successful as a Turk, and Rufus was forever entranced by his lover’s sensual nature.

As the kiss dragged on, a weaving together of tongues interspersed with occasional nips to and sucking of lips, Rufus’s hands roamed along his lover’s back, fingers stroking along the sharp bumps of vertebrae. He adored the way Reno shivered against him at the caress, his hands fisting in the sheets on either side of Rufus’ head. Not stopping until he felt lace, Rufus grabbed the delicate material and ripped it apart without much effort.

"Ah! About time," Reno gasped as he ended the kiss, the pleased smile from before back on his lips and his eyes darkened with desire. "I know I got you hard enough, so now it’s time for me to have some fun." He reached down between their bodies to give Rufus’ cock a friendly squeeze before leaning back to sit on his heels.

Turned on even more by the sight of Reno dressed only in a black garter-belt and silk stockings while straddling his hips, Rufus scooted against the headboard and into a sitting position before reaching for the other object he’d fetched from the drawer earlier. "Come here," he commanded while he flipped open the cap to the lube, not caring in the least about the raw emotions that were audible in his voice.

For once quick to obey, Reno crawled forward until his ass was right in front of Rufus’ jutting cock, then sat down and arched his back. Rufus swore at the feel of hot flesh and cool hair around his cock, the strands brushing along its tip and Reno’s ass pressed against its front. The bastard always knew some way to tease him until he lost all control, yet bitched up a storm about being sore afterward. Just barely containing the impulse to grab bony hips, force them up and back enough so he could slam into that hot, tight body, Rufus poured the lube onto his right fingers. "Put your hands on my shoulders."


"Do it, Reno," he ordered, still determined to be the one in charge. With a very audible put-upon sigh, Reno did as he’d been told and was rewarded with slick fingers circling around his entrance. "I told you, you don’t get to come until I’m fucking you."

For such a deadly person, Reno could manage quite an impressive pout. "Look, I promise not to chain you to the bed again while you’re sleeping." His brows furrowed together and he tilted his hips back so Rufus had a better angle. "Though you have to admit it’s not good when you’re so tired you don’t even notice someone cuffing you."

He had a point. Rufus hated to admit that fact, but it was true. Though he felt that more than likely his lack of ‘attention’ was from who had cuffed him than a sense of utter exhaustion. "Did you really think I wouldn’t be upset by your foolish actions?" he had to ask, his two fingers sinking in slowly enough to even cause him some frustration.

His breath hitching and his skin flushed once more, Reno shook his head until his hair whipped about in a flurry of crimson. "Nah. But… but you’re still in bed, aren’t you?" he asked, his grin one of pure cockiness. "Besides, you get off… on proving you’re the boss." He stuttered out the last few words, just as Rufus spread his fingers apart.

"Yes, I’m supposed to be a manipulative, sadistic, power-hungry bastard, after all." With his left hand, he urged Reno to lower his head enough for a kiss.

"You said it, not me." Reno’s bottom lip glistened with saliva from him biting into it, so inviting and plump that Rufus had to suck on it.

Forgoing the comment ‘for once’, Rufus focused on what they both wanted – his cock in Reno’s ass. With each squirming movement from his lover, silk-clad legs rubbed against his own, lace garters itched against the inside of his right wrist. Added to that were Reno’s delicious moans and gasps into Rufus’ mouth, his fingers digging into Rufus’ shoulders as if he was fighting himself not to move his hands. When Rufus curled his fingers just enough, Reno broke off the kiss with a loud gasp and tossed back his head, his hair again falling onto Rufus’ arm and cock.

All of this – sight, sound, sensation – was Rufus’ to enjoy, to drink in with the knowledge that it was only for him. He had one of the deadliest Turks, a man renowned for indulging in pleasure and violence crying out his name and begging for more, for Rufus’ cock to thrust into him and make him scream.

"Please, oh please, Rufus. I’m so ready, so fucking ready." Reno wriggled his ass with each word, his lips parted as he panted and his eyes tightly closed.

Another time and Rufus might be willing to drag things out, to torture his impulsive lover, but not this morning. Reno had been right; it was too long since they could indulge like this, that fact robbing Rufus of his vaunted control. He could only prolong the moment enough to leave a new mark on his lover’s arched neck before pulling his fingers free and tugging on Reno’s hips.

His lover didn’t need any more encouragement than that. Long hair clinging to his upper body and eyes a glowing flash of color through lowered lashes, Reno bit into his bottom lip again as he sunk onto Rufus’ cock. The pace was faster than Rufus had expected, his cock sucked in to tight, gripping heat, that his head banged back against the headboard as he gasped in ecstasy.

Refusing to close his eyes, he forced his head upright again so he could see his lover, could watch Reno ride him with visible delight and need. That gorgeous body clenched tightly around him whenever Reno raised his hips, as if refusing to let go. Then it flowed around him with each descent, velvet warmth that made his body burn in pleasure and his heart race. He held on to Reno’s hips, forcing the man as far down as possible and snatching him back when his lover moved too far away.

Reno dared to move his left hand, shifting it from Rufus’ shoulder to his hard cock, pumping in time to Rufus’ thrusts into his body. He was the perfect picture of wantonness, so focused on pleasure that he seemed unaware of the encouragement and pleas that he constantly repeated. Voice broken by need and moans and hoarse once more, he stuttered Rufus’ name at a particularly sharp thrust.

For his part, Rufus was determined to enjoy this as much as possible before his body betrayed him. His fingers clenched Reno’s hips hard enough to leave bruises, his hips thrusting upward as much as possible in this position. Wanting things to be harder, faster, more *frantic*, he bent his knees and pushed upwards, sending Reno tumbling onto his back. While he didn’t feel his lover’s hair brushing against his skin in his position, Rufus was able to put more force behind his thrusts. Shoving Reno’s silk-clad legs onto his shoulders, he fucked as hard as he could, plunging into that clenching heat again and again while Reno cried out his name. The ecstasy was almost unbearable, a roaring blaze through his body that left him gasping for air.

There was a sharp flare of pain down his chest, Reno’s nails leaving reddened, bleeding trails as Reno cried out again and arched his back, thrusting hard against Rufus as he came. His lover’s body tightening even more around his cock was too much for Rufus, was the last sensation in a maelstrom of them that he could bear.

His entire body trembling from his release, he just managed to pull back a little and then fall to the side, crashing onto the bed beside his lover. The scratches on his chest protested being rubbed against the duvet like that, but overall he felt so incredibly good that he could ignore the slight flare of pain. Although he did promise to take a pair of nail clippers to his lover’s fingers before the end of the day.

They both simply laid there for several minutes, gasping and chuckling a little as their hearts slowed down and sense returned to their heads. Rufus forced himself up on one arm so he could lean over his lover, smiling at the entirely too-pleased smile on Reno’s face. "I think I know why you never learn anything," he croaked, then took a moment to clear his throat and wet his lips. "You enjoy your punishments too much."

"Hmm?" Reno stretched his arms above his head and rubbed a stocking-ed foot against Rufus’ right leg. "Oh, wait, that was supposed to be bad? Can’t fucking wait to be rewarded, then." He chuckled again before grimacing and sitting up enough to pull free all the hair trapped beneath his back.

Rufus felt ready to take a nap now, though it would be a good idea to wash off in the near future. Rolling onto his back, he pushed aside the hair clinging to his forehead and groaned in contentment. "So, what else did you have planned for today, other than keeping me in bed and being ‘punished’?" The shame of it was, at this point he probably wouldn’t get out of bed until at least noon.

"Let’s see, we have to eat at some point, and I was thinking of noodles for lunch." Reno shifted onto his side and stroked his fingers along the non-scratched part of Rufus’ chest. "A nice, long soak in the tub, us fighting over what type of movie to watch, a few bottles of wine consumed before dinner and then I was going to do something to get you pissed off enough that you fucked me against the windows. Another long soak and then passing out for the night should do it." His grin the most devilish that Rufus had ever seen, yet his tone was serious enough to make Rufus believe that the fool wasn’t kidding. "Care to add anything to the agenda?"

"I must admit that I’m curious as to what you’ll do later tonight to make me so angry." Rufus couldn’t resist twisting some of his lover’s hair around his fingers.

Reno’s smile took on a cruel edge. "I haven’t compared you to any of my old lovers in a while, have I? Figured that would be good for a rough fuck or two."

Just like that, Reno could twist the mood, could make the contentment Rufus felt turn into anger. He didn’t know why his lover did that, if it was just some perverse kink to Reno’s nature or what, but it was something he was *not* in the mood to indulge at this moment. Struggling with his temper for a few seconds, he narrowed his eyes and gave the hair wrapped around his fingers a harsh tug. "Then I’d have to mention how I’m giving serious consideration to arranging some dinner dates with various women. Tseng has already compiled a list of several candidates who pass a background check." He kept his tone bored and a little tired, unwilling to give Reno the satisfaction of any visible anger.

While he played it cool, Reno had no problem showing his true emotions. Spitting in fury, the Turk sat up and yanked his hair from Rufus’ grasp. "What, you think I’m gonna sit through some fancy dinner while a greedy high society bitch plays footsies with you under the table? The only question will be who do I shoot first, you or her."

Rufus smiled in the face of his lover’s temper. "I’ve already seen your act during dinner so I’d ask for different bodyguards that night." He folded his arms behind his head and stared up at the ceiling while waiting for Reno’s biting retort.

His lover didn’t disappoint. "I doubt any other Turk is going beneath the table to offer *you* a blowjob, *President*," Reno sneered. "What will you do for entertainment then?"

"Considering my net worth, I’d assumed it would be my dinner companion doing the honors." Still acting bored, Rufus moved his right arm so he could gently touch the damage down to his chest before looking at Reno. "Who knows, one of them might be better at oral sex than you."

"You’re a lying bastard. Like Tseng would arrange a chance for one of those bitches to sink their claws into you. They’re a security nightmare and he’s not about to babysit any of your fucking brats soon." Reno twisted his hair between his hands, as if needing to do something violent with them.

Rufus shrugged and decided that he could let the scratches heal on their own. "The press has been very curious with our ‘relationship’ for the past couple of months, so Tseng doesn’t object to anything that makes people think it’s nothing more than me using one of my employees as an outlet for certain… needs." He had the disturbing feeling that Tseng knew more about his emotions for Reno than he’d like, and they’d only idly talked about Rufus casually dating women so as to confuse the people watching him. As far as Rufus was concerned, the charade would be too much aggravation on his part to be taken seriously. Part of the reason he’d stayed with Reno for so long was to have a lover who wasn’t interested in him just for his power and money, and who was an interesting companion when not deliberately pissing him off. He just couldn’t resist throwing something similar to Reno’s past ‘lovers’ in the idiot’s face.

The laughter echoing through the room just then had little to do with amusement and more with bitterness. Reno shook his head and scooted away from Rufus. "’Relationship’? What the hell does that mean? I don’t fuck anyone else because of *this*." He tugged on the long earring hard enough that it had to hurt. "Guess you haven’t fucked anyone else because you’re too busy rebuilding your empire and can’t find anyone willing to be bent over your desk on a regular basis. Well, go ahead and date a few rich bitches – then I can get my own damn apartment again and you can yell at them for scratching up your back all time. I hope they claw out your spine with those talons most of ‘em sport." That said, he shoved himself off the bed and stormed into the bathroom.

Rufus watched him go and debated the wisdom of following. The bathroom wasn’t the best of places to pick a fight, not with all its hard surfaces, but something inside of him couldn’t let Reno have the last word. That and he was bothered a hell of a lot more than he’d like to admit by the fact that Reno still didn’t consider them to be in any sort of ‘relationship’. Dammit, they were living together now and Tseng was issuing threats against any media groups who tried to show the public pictures of him and Reno near each other, while Rufus knew it was only a matter of time before another enemy sought to use his lover against him. He’d really like to know what the hell Reno considered a ‘relationship’ after being able to deny the truth that was in front of his face for so long.

Leaving the bed as well, he went to the bathroom and cautiously opened the door that had been slammed shut moments before. By now he’d gotten in the habit of crouching a little in case something was thrown at his head, but there were no flying missiles this time. The shower’s water was running and Reno cursed while he shoved the stockings from his long legs. "Get the hell out, Rufus."

Ignoring the command, Rufus shut the door behind him and approached his lover. "What happened to you staying in bed all morning?" he asked, going for nonchalance to see if that stalled the upcoming fight or not.

The answer quickly became ‘not’. Reno held up one of the stockings as if he’d like nothing more than to wrap it around Rufus’ throat and strangle him. "I decided a shower was a hell of a lot better than staying near a fucking bastard any longer," he sneered as he snapped the length of silk between his fists. "Go play in your office."

"You’re not the one to issue orders, Reno." Rufus stalked toward his lover, stopping barely a foot away. "You certainly do not tell me what to do in my own home."

That prompted another bitter laugh from the Turk. "Right, I’m just here because you don’t want another security risk or something." Reno threw the stocking at Rufus and spun around, not quite quick enough to close the shower down in time. Having suspected that his lover might try something like this, Rufus was swift to move and shove Reno into the large stall, then pin him against the tiled wall.

"Why are you so bothered, Reno?" he asked, doing his best to keep Reno from shoving him away or turning around to attack. His hands pinned Reno’s to the wall, and he used his advantage of weight and height to prevent being kicked. "Like you said, it’s not as if we’re in a relationship. All you should be concerned about is having an excuse to take a long ‘lunch’ and a free place to crash." This wasn’t the wisest course he should take, but he was tired of his lover’s denials; he wanted something from Reno, some acknowledgement that they’d moved beyond ‘fuckbuddies’.

"Don’t tell me I can’t do something and then turn around and do it, dammit." Reno tried once more to push away from the mall and let out a blistering string of curses when he couldn’t. "You wanna fuck women? Go ahead then, but don’t expect to come back here and fuck me when you’re done. I’m your Turk, not the most convenient hole for you to stick your dick into." For once there was no mockery in his voice, just pure fury.

"I never made any promises," Rufus murmured in his lover’s ear, struggling with the impulse to follow the words with a kiss. Oh yes, definitely too much of a history of fighting then sex between them when all he could think about was making Reno exchange the insults for passion. "Is that what you want from me?"

Reno’s back went stiff when he heard that and he stopped struggling. "As if I can believe anything you say when it doesn’t cost me something. What is it you want this time? For me to dress up like a woman so you don’t have to bother finding one who’ll put up with all your bullshit?" he hissed, almost managing to swipe Rufus’ left foot out from under him.

His temper starting to fray, Rufus shoved his lover even harder against the wall. "I want you to understand that I don’t find it amusing when you throw your past lovers in my face." Or worse, tried to hide them from him like Reno and Tseng had done with Porter. "I want you to respect the fact that I can’t always ‘play’ whenever you’re in the mood because of important things like business and keeping the damn energy grid from failing." He wanted Reno to stop acting as if his lover could walk away from this… this *mess* anytime he felt like it. "I’m tired of you acting like an impulsive child who must always be indulged. If I’d wanted that, I would have stuck with those ‘high society bitches’," he snapped.

Neither of them spoke for a minute, the shower stall filling with steam from the falling hot water and the tiles growing slick from condensation. "Why the hell do you put up with me in the first place, then?" Reno asked, sounding the most forlorn that Rufus had ever heard.

Because he loved the bastard, but that wasn’t something Rufus could ever say. Admitting that would give Reno too much power over him, when the man already wielded so much. Because Reno infuriated him, drove him mad with desire, made him laugh and gave him the strongest sense of contentment that he’d ever felt in his life, all in the period of an hour. "Because as much of a pain in the ass that you can be, I dread to think of what my life would be like if you weren’t in it," Rufus finally said when the silence had stretched on for too long.

That prompted another laugh from Reno, the bitterness finally all gone. "It would be a hell of a lot more boring, that’s certain." He pushed back against Rufus and let out a slow breath. "You really have to work on your ‘sweet nothings’ there, Rufus. No wonder you can’t find a woman to date you."

"One would think that after having an idiot of a man as a lover for the past few years, it would sink into your thick head that I’m not after a woman." Rufus dared to let go of Reno’s right wrist so he could grab a handful of long hair and give it a playful tug. "If dressing up like you did this morning bothers you so much, we could try something else. Maybe we’ll play ‘doctor’ next time." He couldn’t stop from smiling as he said that.

Reno groaned as if he were sick and pushed away from the wall. "Great, like I don’t have enough of a problem dealing with Alim as it is right now," he bitched as he stepped under the falling water and slicked back his hair. "Last thing I need is getting a hard-on during my next physical."

Hoping that the fight was over for the time being and noticing that Reno hadn’t promised him anything, Rufus reached for the shampoo. "I can easily imagine having Alim storm into my office and turn in his resignation." He actually laughed at the scenario. "I’m not sure who would be more traumatized, you or him." Once the shampoo was a rich lather in his hands, he reached for his lover’s hair.

Reno turned around so he had an easier time cleaning all that long hair. "That would be me, so much so that we’re not gonna talk about this any longer." He snorted once and stretched his arms out in front of him to touch the wall, his head tilted back and some of the water streaming onto his face.

Rufus let the silence build between them over the next few minutes, broken only by Reno’s pleased moans as his scalp was massaged. "Rinse it off," he ordered, then waited until that was done to speak again. "So, what do we do now? Take a nap or order an early lunch?" It was a bit of a gamble, bringing up the fight when it had barely ended, but he’d rather not let it simmer between them all day.

To his surprise, Reno merely shrugged and offered to wash his hair for him. A little leery about turning his back to the Turk, Rufus did so after a moment’s hesitation.

"I vote that we go back to bed. Food tastes better when you’re really hungry." Reno finished massaging in the shampoo and let his soapy hands slide down Rufus’ chest. "I better get my hard fuck tonight, even if we don’t fight before it." He spoke the words quietly, as if for once cautious about starting an argument, then followed them with a lick to Rufus’ cheek.

Deciding that was the closest he’d get to a promise at the moment, Rufus did his best not to ruin the moment by smiling in victory. "I’m sure we can work something out. Besides, we haven’t figured out what we’re doing for dinner, so you may still get that fight after all." He made sure to keep his tone light, but got fingernails dragged along his scratches for his trouble. "Dammit, Reno-"

"I know, I’ll trim them once we’re out of the shower." Rufus got a wicked chuckle for his complaints. "But you don’t hear me bitching about the bruises on my hips, do you?"

"No, not when you’ll wait until tomorrow to complain about how hard it is to sit down for any length of time because of me." Rufus stepped back beneath the water so he could rinse off the shampoo and glare at his lover without the risk of soap in the eyes. "I highly doubt that anyone told you this before, but you shouldn’t complain incessantly about something that’s your own fault."

"Nah, Rude gives me hell whenever he has to find a cushion for me to sit on." Reno chuckled again and tucked aside the bangs clinging to Rufus’ forehead. "Hurry up and rinse off so we can go back to sleep. We’ll have that soak later." He radiated pure impatience as he stepped back and wrung out the water from his hair.

Mention of his lover’s partner made Rufus think about another Turk. "Tseng really didn’t tell you to make sure I got some ‘rest’ today, did he?" he asked, suspicion plain in his voice.

Reno’s smirk just then was smug enough to make Rufus’ teeth grind together. "He said that if I made sure you came into work tomorrow in a good mood, he’d let me spar with the rookies."

That translated into Reno having the paid opportunity to hurt other people, while teaching the new Turks that he wasn’t to be messed with at the same time. "So you thought handcuffing me to the bed, turning off my alarm and deliberately provoking at least one fight would put me in a good mood? I believe you’re overdue for another psychological evaluation," he sighed, wondering why the hell he had to fall for the craziest person around.

He got a tongue stuck out at him and a towel thrown in his face in way of an immediate response. "I told you, I knew you wouldn’t like it, but you have to admit making me scream your name for a good bit of the day qualifies as a way to cheer you up." Reno stopped drying his hair with a towel long enough to stick out his tongue again. "Puts you in a feisty mood, too, which means that Tseng gets to help tear down some poor unsuspecting company for the next few days. He’s just as twisted as you are, you know."

"I’ll be sure to tell him that tomorrow," Rufus replied, a bit fearful at how well Reno seemed to know him. The explanation certainly made him think differently about Tseng’s excuse to discuss the Duquesne Weaponry Corporation *after* Rufus’ day off. "I think it’s going to be a long day today."

"Best way to get through it is with sleep, sex and alcohol." Reno nodded as if he were a wise sage dispensing the wisdom of the ages.

"You’re definitely overdue for that psychological evaluation," Rufus informed his lover with all the solemnity he could manage while he hung up the towel he’d used.

Reno wrinkled his nose and grabbed Rufus’ wrist to drag him out of the bathroom. "Right. It’ll just be another report about my ‘sociopathic tendencies’ and bad habit of ‘using sex, violence and alcohol to escape reality’. Someday I’ll find a shrink who knows that those three things are a hell of a lot of fun," he grumbled as he made his way back to the bed. "And who realizes that I wouldn’t have the damn job I do if I wasn’t a little off in the head."

Not about to get into an argument about Reno’s precarious mental state – he certainly was more than a *little* ‘off’ – Rufus merely shook his head and crawled back into bed.


Reno got out of the limo first, even though Pamela and Tosh were standing right next to it. "Great, maybe now I won’t see anything more horrid than your face, Tosh, for the rest of the day," he grumbled while making sure that he didn’t ‘sense’ anything. There hadn’t been an attempt on Rufus’ life in the past few weeks so he felt that one was overdue.

Tosh made a rude noise and patted him on the shoulder. "You’re just overwhelmed by my manly good looks, Reno. I see the way you stare at me in the showers."

"Yeah, because your dick’s so small," Reno shot back, which made Pamela do her best to stifle a laugh and Tosh to shake his head. He was spared any comeback on the blond Turk’s part since Rufus chose that moment to get out of the limo, his left eyebrow arched over his eye in a look that could be either amusement or disapproval. Reno took it for the first since he wasn’t immediately bitched at.

Instead, Rufus smoothed his hand down his heavy overcoat and frowned at Tosh and Pamela. "You’re assigned to me for the day?" He didn’t sound too happy about that, though Reno immediately thought that things were looking up; if Tseng had the younger Turks watching Rufus, then Reno probably would have the chance to bash some heads in today.

"Yes, President." Pamela tried to straighten her spine even more than it already was, as always willing to make a good impression on the boss. "Reno is supposed to meet Tseng in his office in half an hour."

"Well, guess I shouldn’t keep the man waiting." Reno used his baton to give Rufus a jaunty salute, smiling all the while. "Have fun, President."

Rufus sighed as he shook his head. "Keep the damage to a minimum today, Reno." He gave his coat one more smooth before walking past Tosh and Pamela, clearly expecting the Turks to fall in step behind him like good little soldiers. Of course, that’s just what they did, and Reno waited until his lover was safely inside before he followed.

Since he had some time to kill, he went to the Turks’ locker room to fetch a few things he might need for an assignment today. Pleased as hell that he wouldn’t have to spend the shift standing outside of Rufus’ office – he knew his lover was going to be too busy after a day off to fool around any – he waved to several Turks along the way, even pausing to exchange an insult or two with Rod. Finally reaching his destination, he quietly opened the door and stepped inside.

The locker room was technically segregated into two parts, one for the women and one for the men, and there were separate showers for them as well. However, it wasn’t unusual to see women on the men’s side and vice versa; a good bit of the Turks had slept with each other, after all, and being stuck with someone in a small room during a stake-out that lasted several days was a good way to lose inhibitions. A new Turk learned quick which of their coworkers could be whistled at and teased while showing off a bit of flesh and which ones couldn’t; half the fun of breaking in the rookies was see them get decked on a regular basis or almost faint from blushing too much when a member of the opposite sex walked past their locker.

So, Reno wasn’t too surprised to see a woman standing not too far from his own locker, not even when she seemed determined to shove her tongue as far down Rude’s throat as possible. Kali was on the tips of her toes while she kissed Rude, and the bald man was slouched a little to help her out. A charitable soul might think that Rude’s large, gloved hands on her ass were to help with her balance, but Reno knew some serious groping when he saw it. Leaning against a locker, he put two fingers in his mouth and produced an ear-splitting whistle.

"Hold that pose a little longer! Let me get my phone out for a pic!" He pulled the device from the inside of his black coat and made a big production of holding it in various positions as if looking for the best angle. Of course, during this time Rude and Kali jumped apart and Reno’s partner stomped over to him.

"You’re such a pain in the ass," Rude muttered as he snatched the phone away, the object completely engulfed in his hand. Since there wasn’t the sound of plastic shattering, Reno assumed that he wouldn’t have to ask Tseng for a new phone just yet.

"Judging from the way you were giving it a massage, I’d say the pain was in Kali’s ass." He wrinkled his nose at the woman, who was busy trying to straighten her black suit. She smiled sweetly and gave him the finger.

Rude almost forgot that the phone was in his hand and tried to rub his temples as if he had a headache; he tossed the phone back to Reno and let out a very impressive long-suffering sigh. "Definitely a pain in *my* ass."

Reno patted his partner on the shoulder. "Aw, that’s why you love me, big guy. I give it to you so good." He had to laugh at the look of horror on his friend’s face, and even Kali joined in.

"At the least, you definitely know how to ruin the mood, Reno." Kali gave him a mock glare before leaning against Rude’s left side. "And what are you doing here so early?" She didn’t sound upset at having her ‘quality’ time with Rude interrupted, which was good considering where they’d chosen to make out. Reno could give them a long list of better places in the building, having spent the first few months in the new place searching them out and giving them a try with Rufus.

"Eh, the president decided that he had too much to do today and wanted an early start." Reno rolled his eyes to show what he thought about his lover’s diligent work ethic. "So to share the misery, he had to drag my ass out of bed." He leaned back against the locker and folded his arms over his chest.

Kali made a tsking sound and smiled. "Right, you get to wake up in a luxury penthouse each and every day, and your lover’s one of the sexiest as well as richest men alive. I so feel your pain." It was clear that she was struggling not to laugh while she spoke.

This time, it was Reno giving the finger. "Rude, I think it’s time you found a girlfriend who has a brain. It’s obvious that Kali really is a blonde."

Laughing even harder now while Rude adjusted his glasses and did his best to pretend that he wasn’t in the room, Kali reached into her pocket to toss a wrapped mint at Reno’s head. "Bastard. Just wait until I tell Elena about that comment." She gave Rude’s waist a quick hug and hopped onto her tiptoes to follow it with a more lingering kiss to the lips. "If you get a chance to shoot your partner today, do it as a favor for me."

"Sorry, but I’m sure Tseng would just assign me a rookie until Reno healed." Rude patted his girlfriend on the ass when Kali finally stepped away to leave the room.

"Always some excuse or another. Be good today, boys." Kali waved as she made her departure, the ends of her long hair swaying with each step she took. While Reno had slept with a few women in his lifetime, he much preferred guys; that said, he could understand why Rude had allowed himself to be ‘claimed’ by Kali. Hell, Reno was put in a good mood each time he thought about how she’d made it clear to the rookies that Rude was utterly *off-limits*. She must have borrowed the biggest gun in Elena’s collection to do it, and he swore that at least one of the newbies had shit their pants during that amusing ‘discussion’.

"’Be good’, ‘keep the damage to a minimum’, ‘don’t blow up the whole damn block, just the one building, Reno’. You’d think that people don’t trust me or something," he said with a pout.

Rude actually looked to the ceiling as if beseeching some god or another for a benediction. "Yes, because they know you too well." He muttered something else under his breath as he smoothed his hands over his bald head. "What I want to know is what the hell I’ve done to be stuck with you."

Reno pushed away from the locker to go give his partner a one-handed hug. "Maybe you were an even bigger hero than Strife in your past life." He had to be quick to dodge Rude’s attempt to smack him, but managed to not get hit.

"More like I was a bigger psychopath than Sephiroth." Rude had that particular edge to his voice that told Reno it would be a good idea to stop with the jokes for a few minutes. Who knew that he was so bothered with having his ‘fun time’ with Kali cut short?

Opening his locker, Reno fetched a spare Lightning materia in case Tseng had something really fun for them today. While he wasn’t happy to have his skin twitching from the sphere, it was better to be safe than sorry. "You have a good day off or what?" he asked in an effort to change the topic a little.

Amusingly enough, that seemed to do the trick. Rude actually smiled as he took off his sunglasses and cleaned them with a white cloth. "Got a few things done and then was able to spend the rest of the evening with Kali. What about you?" Rude put the glasses back on, but kept them low enough on his nose that he could look over their rims to stare intently at Reno. "I don’t see any new jewelry or scars so it must have been a quiet day for you." One would think that Rude was teasing, if they didn’t know the man so well; the tightness in his voice and around his eyes gave away his concern.

Reno slammed his locker shut with more force than he’d intended. He still wasn’t sure if he was bothered by what had happened yesterday or not, and that annoyed the hell out of him. "Long story short? Woke up, fought, had sex, put on some garters and stockings, had more sex, fought again, slept, ate, bitched about watching a boring ass movie, then another fight, had dinner, more sex, soaked in the tub, went to bed." His good mood was almost restored by the slight twitch from his friend at the mention of the garter-belt. "You know, a typical day at the ‘luxury penthouse’," he finished with a derisive snort.

Rude was quiet for a moment, which wasn’t that unusual for the man, then shook his head. "So why are you in a pissy mood right now?" he asked, his voice pitched low as if they weren’t the only two people in the locker room right now.

Dammit, Rude was Reno’s best friend, but it got annoying how well the bastard could read him at times. A hell of a lot better than Rufus on most occasions, a thought which made Reno feel depressed for some odd reason. "He told me that he might start dating some rich sluts so the press would get off his back," Reno admitted with grudging reluctance.

If Rude still possessed a hairline, his eyebrows would have shot up to meet it upon hearing that bit of news. "He’s joking, right?" His hands curled into fists, leather gloves creaking and joints cracking in response. "He hasn’t slept with anyone but you since before Meteor."

Reno shrugged as he reopened his locker and pretended to search through it for something. "Who the hell can tell with that man? He said that he’d even talked about it with Tseng to find someone who wouldn’t slit his throat at the first opportunity." There was such a strong impulse to hit something that Reno ended up slamming his locker door shut again with even more excessive force.

"Well, wouldn’t that be something you’d want?" Rude held up his right hand as a signal for Reno to let him finish when Reno whirled around to face him, fists up in the air. "Then you wouldn’t have to worry about the media following you around whenever you go out."

"I don’t give a damn what they do," Reno spat, pissed as hell at the thought of some gossipy assholes ruining shit for him. "But like hell will I sit around while some bitch gives Rufus a disease while trying to get knocked up by him."

The look Rude was giving him at the moment was one that Reno didn’t really know how to interpret, so he turned about until his back rested against his locker. "If I can’t fuck around, neither can he," he finished before he rubbed his hands over his face.

"Somehow, I doubt the president would do such a thing, Reno. If he’s stuck with you for this long and hasn’t killed you after you moved in with him, then I doubt he’s going to ‘fuck around’." Rude chuckled for a moment, although he didn’t sound happy. "I don’t think the Turks would let him do such a thing, even Tseng."

Right, because as long as Rufus was fucking Reno, the Turks were favored by their president or some shit like that, Reno thought with a sense of weariness. So he ‘took one for the team’, so to speak, and everyone was happy but him. Well, at least when Rufus was pulling shit like this, as if proving to Reno how he could fuck up things between them whenever he wanted. It was a relationship based solely on Rufus’ sufferance, and when he eventually grew bored, Reno would be kicked to the curb. "Yeah, well, you asked and I told you." Reno flipped his baton into his left hand and flicked it on and off a couple of times. "Aren’t we supposed to be meeting with Tseng right about now?" He was tired of this conversation and for once eager to work.

"Ah, yeah." Rude glanced at his watch and tugged his coat straight before motioning for Reno to lead the way. Feeling the need to do something, Reno pushed away from his locker and hurried from the room, desperately hoping that Tseng had a fun mission for them. Right now he really felt the need to kill or maim a few people, at the least blow up a building or two. Something loud and dangerous and *fun*, so he was in a good mood when he returned home tonight and put up with Rufus.

They made their way to Tseng’s office, and only Rude’s sharp ‘don’t’ kept Reno from zapping a few rookies as they walked past. Ah well, he’d have his opportunity to teach the newbies a few things in the next day or two since Tseng had promised. After he was finished smacking their heads against the floor, he could sit back and watch Rude terrify the shit out of them.

Tseng didn’t seem too upset that they were late by almost five minutes, but then again, that was pretty good by Reno’s standards. "What’s going on?" Reno asked as he and Rude fanned out around their boss’ desk.

Once he was finished sipping his coffee, Tseng set the black mug down and leaned back in his chair. He seemed to pay close attention to Reno, who had the impression that Rude wouldn’t be the only person to check him for new pieces of flash or injuries. What, did they seriously think he couldn’t hold his own against Rufus?

"I’ve had a few Turks check into a materia smuggling ring ever since it was used in the assassination attempt on the president two months ago." Tseng picked up a data cd and handed it to Rude. "They’ve found a couple of leads and I’d like for you two to narrow things down." His gaze lingered on Reno for a few seconds longer than it did on Rude.

"And how the hell are we supposed to do that?" Reno asked, pretty sure he already knew where this was going.

"Go to the locations on the disc and see if you sense any materia," Tseng explained, speaking slowly as if to a child.

Great, so Reno got to feel his skin itch all day, if things went well. If not, then he had to put up with Rude’s slow ass driving and not being able to pick the radio station. His partner had basically forgiven him for keeping the glowy sight thing a secret, but now Reno didn’t get to drive the car anymore. "What then?" There better be some fun in the assignment or he was about to plead a headache and go home.

Tseng’s smile took on a cruel edge. "Then you request back-up before going in and questioning the suspects." He looked back and forth between Rude and Reno as if waiting for some sort of complaint before picking up his mug again. "Just make sure not to level the entire neighborhood." His tone was so dry that it was difficult to tell if he was kidding or not.

Reno was growing tired of being treated as if he regularly left neighborhoods destroyed in his wake. Only on a good week did he get to blow things up, after all, and it wasn’t his fault if the bombs were planted by the targets.

"Understood, sir," Rude answered before Reno got a chance to, the suck up. "Hopefully this won’t take too long."

"No, hopefully not." Tseng stared at Reno as he answered Rude. "Be careful. I refuse to explain to the President how two of his best Turks got injured because of overconfidence or foolishness." His tone just then was more serious than Reno was used to hearing in regards to himself.

He was also getting tired of being told what to do and to behave himself. "Right, I’ll do my skin-twitching thing, we’ll beat the truth out of a few people and be back probably around lunchtime. I promise we’ll both behave, *Dad*."

Tseng didn’t appear to take the jab personally. "So much for no overconfidence," he said before drinking more coffee, which left Reno smiling despite himself. Trust the boss to get the last word in, so he decided to leave the office before he got his ass kicked.


Rude did that funny little growling noise of his, reached over to whap the glove compartment to make it open then grabbed the container of wipes that had been stashed inside. "Use ‘em, dammit," he snapped as he threw them at Reno.

Figuring that there’d been enough bloodshed today, Reno didn’t even stick his tongue out at his partner as he opened the container and pulled free a few wipes. "What, they already have to clean the upholstery so what’s the big deal if I wipe my hands on it?" One day he’d remember to wear gloves, like his partner did. Though there was an inherent thrill to feel an enemy’s warm blood splatter onto his hands and slowly cool.

"Because *I’m* the one who has to listen to Tseng bitch about the cleaning budget." For someone who had killed quite a few people in the last couple of hours, Rude didn’t sound as happy as he should. Then again, his suit was basically ruined; his coat was so soaked with blood that he’d actually removed it and tossed it in the trunk before getting into the car. That was going to be one hell of a dry cleaning bill.

"Yeah, but he’s gonna be thrilled that we tracked down two safe houses where they were storing materia," Reno pointed out, much preferring a happy Rude to an angry one when stuck with the strong bastard in close quarters. "And we didn’t blow anything up!" There had been the ‘small’ fire at the one apartment, which Rude had quickly handled. Twitchy skin aside, it had been a good day for Reno; he’d killed seven people, destroyed some property, found a shitload of materia that had already ‘vanished’ into Turk custody and recovered some information that should make Tseng a very happy man. And when Tseng was happy, Reno usually got the fun assignments and could kill more people.

Satisfied by that thought, he continued wiping the blood from his hands, chest and face. The wet cloths didn’t do much for getting the dried blood out of his hair and his clothes were almost as soaked as Rude’s, which meant that he’d have to shower and change once they got back to headquarters. Rufus’ apartment was too damn white for him to even think of going straight there after a torture and kill session, not when his lover bitched like mad at the smallest bloodstain.

The ride back to headquarters was mostly quiet, other than Rude muttering at Reno to put the bloody wipes into the bag that was conveniently stuffed into the glove compartment as well. While Reno wasn’t anywhere near the slob that people assumed him to be – he just liked dressing comfortably and in a manner that made people underestimate him – Rude could be such a fucking neat freak at times. The damn car was going to be cleaned anyway, so what did it matter if the wipes were left scattered about the floor and seats? "I’d tell you that you need to get laid if I didn’t see Kali walking around with a limp so much," he dared to say as they pulled into the garage.

"Hmm?" Rude actually looked aside and then smiled at Reno. "Asshole."

"Says the man who I swear gets off on being nice and tidy." This time Reno did stick out his tongue and got a rare chuckle from his partner. "I bet you make Kali dress up in a maid’s uniform all the time… or do it yourself."

"Trust me, they don’t make them in my size." Rude’s snit or whatever from earlier seemed completely vanished, which was good. Even if their shift was mostly over, Reno didn’t like working with a grumpy partner since it was boring as hell. "And I thought you were the one who liked to do the dressing up." Still smiling, Rude pulled into a marked parking space and stopped the black car’s engine.

Glad to get out of the car with its growing stench of blood, Reno shrugged and combed back the hair falling onto his face. "I don’t mind it, and I do like getting to Rufus." Things had been going so well, yesterday, after he’d put on the stockings and had sex with Rufus. His smile slipped away as he thought about the fight that had followed the fun. Why had Rufus brought up the women? Because Reno had mentioned his old lovers? That didn’t make any sense, not when it should have made Rufus gloat over how Reno had curtailed his fooling around in the last few years. Well, mostly curtailed that first year or two, but he’d been faithful to Rufus for a couple of them. A lot of Turks had lost serious money over that fact.

Rude snorted seemed to be trying not to chuckle again. "You like getting to *anyone*."

Reno merely smiled at that, not about to bitch about being told the truth. He so did love pushing other people’s buttons, to provoke a reaction out of them and twist things to his advantage. It was a habit he’d picked up while living on the streets and it had served him well in the Turks. Nothing like spending a few minutes with a target and figuring out how to get the reaction he wanted out of the unlucky asshole.

They walked through the Turks’ section of the garage and got in one of the elevators to take them to the floor devoted to their department. Reno was willing to bet that someone was already cleaning up the car since they’d phoned Tseng after they’d left the last target’s apartment to fill their boss in on the situation. Tseng had definitely sounded pleased with their actions today, and Reno had the sinking feeling he’d be ‘sniffing’ out more materia in the future. Ah well, it was a welcome change from all the bodyguard shit details he’d pulled since Alim had cleared him to work, and he knew that Rude was happy to be back in action once more. The glowing vision thing had even settled down a little, only bothering him a couple times a day now. That was, unless Rufus royally pissed him off or something.

The elevator arrived at their floor and opened its doors without any annoying ‘ping’ sound. Figuring that they’d check in with Tseng before heading to the showers, Reno tilted his head in the direction of the offices as he walked out, Rude grunting in agreement and falling in step beside him. They hadn’t gotten more than a few yards when they realized that they heard someone yelling. While that wasn’t a very unusual thing on this floor, what had Reno so surprised was the fact that it was Tseng’s voice raised in anger.

They turned around a the corner that led to the labyrinth of desks that preceded the higher ranked Turks’ offices to find what had to be most of the Turks who were currently on duty and in the building standing around. Everyone’s attention was on a furious Tseng – always a good thing to do, considering how lethal the man was even when he was *happy* - and the two Turks he was currently berating.

Tseng didn’t usually hold a bitch-out session in public like this, much preferring to make the subject of his wrath feel like an utter fuck-up who should have been aborted and flushed down the toilet in the privacy of his own office. Simply put, no one was perfect and so much of a Turk’s job was improvisation that all of them had screwed up a time or ten. To rate a public verbal flogging like this meant that the unlucky souls doing their best to sink into the floor had to have done something tremendously stupid.

"It’s a relatively simple procedure," Tseng said, easily enunciating the words even while speaking them so loudly and with venomous anger. "Even the security guards can follow it, let alone people handpicked for their intelligence to be a Turk." His face was composed as always, but his dark eyes burned as if they should belong to some demon or another. Some very pissed off, extremely deadly, wrath-filled demon who could make a mere mortal burst into flames from a glare alone. Right now, Reno was damn happy that he wasn’t the one in trouble.

He recognized the two Turks who were about to have their balls handed to them as newbies who’d gotten their suits a month or so before Earth First’s final attack on ShinRa. Kim and something that began with an ‘F’, Frank or Fred or something inane like that – Felix, that was the guy’s name. Reno hadn’t been too impressed with either of them and knew that they were doing a lot of grunt details until they proved themselves to Tseng. From the looks of it, they’d be on grunt details for a while longer, if they weren’t ‘fired’. Sharing an amused grin with Rude, he and his partner made their way closer to the center of the spectacle.

"Sir," Kim said, proving that she either had too much balls or too little brains because you sure as hell didn’t interrupt a pissed-off Tseng. "We’d heard that the visitor was someone important and he’d strongly insisted that his assistant accompany him to his meeting with the President. We… we assumed that since Mr. Porter was on the allowed list, that the assistant was, too."

Tseng said something in response just then, something that Reno knew was scathing and meant to verbally rip the newby to shreds, but he didn’t quite make it out. No, as soon as he deduced that those fucking morons had let someone without proper clearance into Rufus’ office, his blood began to pound in his ears and his vision shifted to myriad glowing colors. Focused on the unfamiliar glowing forms in front of him, he let off a stream of curses and stepped forward the same time that he powered on his baton and raised it to bash some heads in. "Motherfucking, shit for brains fuckups-" Unfortunately, someone grabbed him by the throat and the left wrist and yanked him back before he could start swinging his weapon.

"Thank you, Rude. I’ll deal with these two." Tseng only looked in Reno’s direction for a second before he turned back to the soon to be dead Turks in front of him. All the while, Rude literally dragged Reno into an empty office, telling him to calm down again and again.

He ended up slammed against the wall, Rude’s arm across his throat and his left arm pinned so he couldn’t use his baton. There was no way he could speak anything clearly enough to cast a spell, not with that hold, and Rude had too much experience with restraining him lately. "Reno, calm the hell down. Let Tseng handle it!"

Two more people entered the room, Elena and Kali from the looks of it. This time, Elena kept a safe distance from him and yanked Kali back when she stepped too close, probably to give Rude some help. "Shit, his eyes are glowing again. That’s not a good sign, right?"

"No, it means he’s pissed as hell, if you couldn’t guess that already," Rude snapped at his girlfriend while slowly cutting off Reno’s air. "You can calm down or pass out, okay? If you pass out, you’ll end up in Medical."

Reno did his best to curse out his partner and sputtered for a few seconds, his odd vision growing darker until he finally nodded. Rude only backed off a little, making sure to remove Reno’s baton and toss it at Elena. "You good now?"

"Nah, I’ve a fuckin’ sore throat an’ two shitheads ta kill!" Reno spat, but he knew better than to move away from the wall or else Rude would punch him through it.

Elena chuckled, the sound entirely without any humor to it, and tapped his baton against her shoulder. "Reno, believe me when I say that Tseng is going to do that for you. If those two aren’t terminated in the next hour, they’re going to wish Tseng had shown them some mercy and done just that."

"They shoulda been fuckin’ shot for screwin’ up that badly!" He took as deep a breath as his battered throat and burning lungs could manage and jerked his hands through his hair. The pain he felt from forcibly breaking apart some clots of dried blood helped to clear his head a little. "Tell me that someone caught their fuck-up in time." Common sense told him that if Rufus had been hurt that the newbies would be dead already, but the fear he felt for his lover refused to listen to reason.

Kali nodded and took a cautious step forward. "Tosh barred the door and refused to allow Porter or his assistant to see Rufus while Pam called Tseng. He explained to Porter that Rufus would only meet with him and straightened things out, then hauled Felix and Kim down here. Rufus was never in any danger, I swear. You don’t have to worry about him so much." She spoke slowly and quietly, as if dealing with a deranged person.

Reno laughed and tried to push the wall of muscle that was his partner away from him. "Of course he’s fine, that bastard’s like a cockroach since he can survive almost anything. I’m just pissed off that I have to work with two people who don’t have the intelligence of a piece of shit!" He didn’t need to be reassured about Rufus. Now if his eyes would just return to normal and Rude would get out of his way, he could go help Tseng deal with the newbies.

"Right, you’re practically frothing at the mouth because your work ethic’s been offended," Elena shot back, her voice rich with sarcasm. "Not the fact that your lover was put at risk by two morons. Keep up the attitude, Reno, and Tseng’s going to be taking you to task, too."

"I’m only pissed off because if anyone’s going to take out Rufus, it’s going to be me after all the shit I put up with from that bastard!" Dammit, Reno knew that Elena was giving him a dirty look even if he couldn’t make out her features, which just made him even madder. "That and the stupid training program’s clearly not working!"

Kali scoffed at that announcement, drawing Reno’s direction her way. "Look, we’re all a bit upset over the matter, but you’re the only one who’s acting like a raving maniac over it. Even if you love the president, you need to be a bit more professional about things like this."

Reno’s first impulse was to shout at the stupid bitch that he’d like to see how she reacted to Rude being in danger, and then all of what she’d said finally sunk in. He went still as his heart raced even more, denial the foremost emotion that he could identify. "I fuck the man, that’s it. Even a brainless cunt like you should be able to grasp the concept." What the hell was Kali thinking? He’d given Rufus his loyalty, nothing else. No way was he stupid enough to care for someone who was only interested in using him. Being fucked by Rude on a regular basis must have eroded away her brains or something.

As soon as the insult was uttered, Rude had to switch from restraining his partner to keeping his furious girlfriend from reaching Reno. "Don’t you fucking call me something like that, you damn moron! I’ll rip off whatever balls you have and shove them up down your throat!"


"Just because you’ve finally sunk your claws into Rude doesn’t mean I’m a stupid, emotional bitch like you!" All the anger, inexplicable pain and confusion that Reno felt was directed at Kali, someone he normally liked. Right now, though, he’d gladly pull out his gun and shoot her if Rude wasn’t in the way. Sure, Kali liked to tease him a bit about his relationship with Rufus, but that was taking things too far.

"Both of you, shut the hell up!" Rude yelled, loud enough that everyone gathered outside had to hear it. "Kali, you should know better than to let him piss you off like that. Reno, use that insult again and you *will* end up in Medical. That was uncalled for." Rude sounded just as pissed off as Tseng, though he quieted down a little.

Knowing that he was close to pushing his friend too far and not caring, Reno sneered at Rude. "I’m not gonna stand here and listen to her say shit like that."

Rude shook his head and shoved a still muttering Kali in Elena’s direction. "Both of you, get out of here." When Reno tried to follow, he got a large hand to the chest which kept him in place. "Not you, partner."

"What? Are you really that pissed off about me saying that to Kali? She hears it at least once a week from the targets, I bet," Reno huffed, not about to admit that he’d crossed a line with a fellow Turk even if it was true. "She shouldn’t say shit like that about me!"

Rude made a low, rumbling sound and shook his head, which made Reno hope that his eyesight returned to normal soon so he could see his friend’s expressions. "Why wouldn’t she? Look, I know you don’t like talking about Rufus unless it’s to bitch about him or give out too much information on your sex life, but just think for a damn minute. You nearly kill yourself protecting him when you admit that the enemy wanted him alive, you don’t kill him yourself after being forced to move in with him and you go even crazier than normal when you found out he was put at risk by an incredibly bad judgment call. What the hell do you expect people to think, hmmm?" That was quite the speech from Rude, and one that made Reno feel even more confused and uncomfortable.

"Will someone fucking listen to me and accept that I just have-"

"You don’t ‘just have sex’ with Rufus," Rude said, finishing the sentence that he’d just interrupted. "If that were the case, you wouldn’t have looked after him like you did at Healin Lodge. You would have told him to go fuck himself after all that shit over his shirts and you *definitely* wouldn’t let him put a damn brand on you." Rude’s other hand moved to tug on Reno’s earring, an action that made the image of Rufus’ face flash in Reno’s mind.

"It’s not a brand," Reno tried to explain, not sounding very convincing to himself but refusing to tell Rude the truth.

"Bullshit." Rude’s voice had gone even quieter, but was as resolved as Reno had ever heard it. "I see the way he plays with it, and he stopped treating me as if he expected you and me to start fooling around with each other after you got stuck with this thing. He’s done a bunch of shit to you that would have you ripping out anyone else’s heart, and you just end up more involved with him. That’s *not* a fuckbuddy relationship, Reno."

Not wanting to hear anymore of this utter nonsense, Reno did his best to push Rude’s hand from his chest – with little success. "He’s my boss; I’m just doing what I have to do to keep my job." There was no way he’d be foolish enough to fall in love with someone who only cared about his corporation and the wealth and power it brought him.

"If you don’t want to be involved with Rufus anymore, just tell Tseng. There’s no way he’d allow anyone, even the president, force a Turk to have sex with them. All you have to do is take off that earring and go talk to Tseng. I’ve told you that I’ll watch your back and make sure that Rufus can’t do anything to you." Rude sounded so fucking earnest and hopeful, so damn encouraging.

Yet all those hushed words did was make Reno cup his hand over the earring. There was no way he would take the thing off, even if it was possible to remove it. All he was to Rufus was an object, something to dress up and fuck, to order about and do all the things that the haughty bastard didn’t want to do, and Reno had accepted that years ago. Despite the difference in their backgrounds, social status – damn near *everything* - he’d made Rufus respect him to a degree and want to keep him near. Not to forget that the sex was usually fantastic, he didn’t have to pay rent or even many bills anymore, and normally he could kill a fun hour or two while at work enjoying himself. All he was doing was looking after himself.

"You can’t do it, can you?" Something that seemed too much like sorrow shaded Rude’s deep, warm voice. "Doesn’t that tell you anything?"

Reno stared at his best friend, still only able to see the colors that made up Rude’s unique energy signature since his emotions had become even more turbulent and powerful than before. He didn’t love Rufus, couldn’t be that damn stupid to fall for an egotistical, manipulative, sadistic and cold a bastard. Hell, he’d never loved *anyone*. So why did his chest feel so fucking tight and his heart race as if he had a pack of shadow wraiths behind him? Doing his best to deny everything, he shook his head and refused to look at Rude. "It’s all a bunch of bullshit," he whispered, unsure what exactly he meant.

There was a deep sigh and Rude’s hand moved from the center of Reno’s chest to pat his left shoulder as if to offer comfort. "Reno… if you need to… I’m sorry." It sounded as if Rude didn’t quite know what he was apologizing for, nor did Reno particularly care. All he did was fold his arms over his head and slide to the floor, wanting nothing more than to be able to erase the last ten minutes.

He couldn’t love Rufus. Couldn’t give so much of himself to someone who would replace him the second someone better came along. Reno was a lot of things, but not even he was that much of a masochist or a moron. So why was he sitting here completely stunned and more shook up than he could ever remember being? Why couldn’t he laugh off Rude and Kali’s absurd claims? And why did part of him want so desperately to see Rufus, to go to his lover and hold him tight, breathe in his scent and let the world fade away when it was all Rufus’ damn fault? He must have finally gone insane.

That realization still didn’t make the awful feelings go away.


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