Break the Game

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chapter two

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"So, you invite me and Cyril out for drinks with the promise of picking up the tab for once, tell us not to invite Rude, Kali, or Elena and then you choose some awful little dive bar that doesn’t have a single waitress under the age of forty. What’s going on, Reno?" Rod had waited until his fellow Turk had quite a few shots of tequila in him before he started with the questions, and was wondering if he’d waited a little too long.

Dressed in what looked to be his own clothes for once, Reno merely shrugged and tossed back another shot of tequila. He’d stopped bothering with lime wedges and salt about four shots ago, as if only concerned about getting as smashed as possible in as short a time that he could manage. Ever since he’d run into Rod and Cyril in the locker room that afternoon, he’d been in an odd mood, especially since he hadn’t wanted Rude or anyone else to join in the night at the bar. Reno had barely said anything tonight, not even when Rod insulted him or Cyril asked for some good ways to torment Elena.

Rod knew that the redhead had been pissed off about the newbies fucking up over guarding Rufus and that Rude had dragged him away to get him to calm down. Something must have happened between the partners, which wasn’t a nice thing to consider since Rude was one of the very few people who could mostly control Reno. The last time they’d fought, Rude had wrecked a company vehicle and Reno destroyed most of a large apartment complex.

Ignored for another shot, Rod sighed and snatched the bottle away from his friend the same time that he motioned for Cyril to go to the bar. "I think we need a pitcher of water," he told his partner and had to smile when Cyril hurried to go fetch it. The kid was smart and eager to obey, which saved Rod a lot of aggravation. Jared had been a friend, but the unlucky asshole had a thing about ignoring Rod’s seniority which had led to them both getting into trouble. He also would have stuck around and teased Reno instead of allowing Rod a chance to find out what was bothering the redhead. "So, who are you fighting with this time? R or Rude?" he asked, about to send Cyril for some materia as well if Reno didn’t start talking soon.

Reno grunted and attempted to get the bottle back, his reflexes too affected by the alcohol to do him any good; he’d doubled the amount of shots that Rod had done, and Rod was feeling pretty drunk at the moment. "Gimme it back an’ fuck off," he slurred, his below-Plate accent another indicator of how smashed he had to be right now.

Rod had always felt that there was some sort of bond between him and Reno since they’d both lived below-Plate before joining the Turks. Reno had his respect for managing to survive there without being part of a gang, as well as for being an overall lethal bastard. You didn’t mess with someone who would do *anything*, be it drink an entire bottle of whiskey on a dare and go pinch Tseng on the ass or kill thousands of people with a few minutes’ work. He’d felt that they shared a mutual mindset – or at least outlook on life – and knew that Reno had helped him out a lot when he’d first joined ShinRa. They’d been friends ever since he’d proven himself as a decent Turk and the redheaded bastard was one of the few regrets in his life. To see Reno so upset about something and determined to drink himself into oblivion bothered Rod a hell of a lot.

"Not until ya tell me wha’s goin’ on," he drawled, playing up the ties between them in hopes of getting Reno to open up. "Ya steal one a Rude’s bombs or wha’?"

All he got for his troubles was Reno flipping him the finger as he shoved himself away from the table. "Na’ tha’ stupid." Reno wavered on his feet and pulled his mostly crushed pack of cigarettes out of his jeans’ pockets. "Need some air." His hand flopped up and down as if he was waving goodbye and then he was on his way, not managing anything remotely like a straight line to the door which led to the alley behind the bar.

Cursing under his breath, Rod went after his friend. He hadn’t meant to drive Reno away with the question and was growing very concerned over what had the man so upset. There was also the fact that if something happened to Reno, he’d be in a shitload of trouble. Crossing the mostly empty space between the table and the door, he got to it in time to prevent some guy wearing a battered leather jacket from going outside as well. Not caring if the guy just needed some fresh air or wanted something from Reno, he broke a few fingers and shoved the asshole aside. "Stay the hell away."

Then he was out the door and looking for his friend, only to find Reno a few feet away by the light of his cigarette. They were on the outskirts of the Edge where there weren’t too many streetlights, but there was a full moon above that cast a mixture of light and shadows on Reno’s face. He looked washed out by the moonlight, a strangely forlorn expression on his face as he stared upward while smoking.


Rod approached him, mindful that the odd behavior might mean a punch to his face for daring to break Reno’s solitude. "Okay, seriously, what the hell’s going on?" He kept his voice quiet and did his best not to shiver while standing out here in the cold without his coat.

Acting as if the cold didn’t bother him, Reno shrugged and slowly let out a stream of smoke. "Nothin’s wrong. I jus’ – I just wanted to get drunk tonight." He sounded a bit more lucid than he had in the bar, yet his eyes refused to focus on much of anything. "Go back inside an’ have another drink."

"No." Rod stepped closer until he was leaning against the wall next to Reno’s right side. "I think I’d rather stay out here and listen to whatever shit R’s pulled on you now." If Rude hadn’t been the one to piss Reno off this much, then it had to be Rufus. Not to mention that no one got to Reno to the extent that the president did.

Reno laughed at that remark, his eyes squinting shut as if he was plagued by bad thoughts. "Always gets back to R, don’ it? Bastard fucks up my life all the time without even tryin’." There was more laughter, just as humorless as before, and Reno flicked his half-finished cigarette into the air. "It’s all a bunch of shit," he spat, his eyes opening to glare in Rod’s direction, glowing in an eerie manner that made Rod want to step backwards.

"Hey, you’re the one who’s living with that ‘bastard’. Thought he made you happy for you to stick around for so long." Rod just barely managed to keep any bitterness out of his voice; Reno had a lot of opportunities to leave the man and quite a few Turks had suffered for his relationship with Rufus. While it was a good thing to have a president who saw the Turks as something other than expendable whores, a price had been paid over the years by more than just Reno.

Laughing again, Reno tilted his head back and banged it against the wall a couple of times. "Dammit, we’re jus’ fuckbuddies. Nothin’ more than that." He turned to look at Rod, his upper body moving back and forth as if he struggled to keep his balance. "Ya know, like we were."

About to tell the drunken idiot that ‘fuckbuddies’ didn’t live together, Rod was surprised to find himself grabbed by the front of his shirt and yanked forward into a rather sloppy kiss. Reno’s tongue flicked against his lips, wet and astringent from the cigarette, then pulled away after a moment’s pause.

Perhaps he had drank too much this evening, too, because Rod moaned in disappointment when the kiss was about to end then leaned forward and shifted about enough until he had pressed Reno against the brick wall. This time he was the one to initiate the kiss, and Reno parted his lips after just a couple of seconds.

It had to be the alcohol that made the blood rush through his veins and roar through his ears, his heart beating as quickly as it did during a fight. Now it didn’t seem so cold out here, not when he was pressed against Reno’s warm body. The redhead always had a higher temperature than most people, his skin almost feverish to the touch. Rod sought out that warm skin, his right hand sliding beneath Reno’s blue shirt and tugging the man’s tank top from his pants. Yes, it was just as warm as he’d remembered it, the simple touch triggering memories of feeling his friend’s naked body against his, the intoxicating contrast of Reno’s skin and cool sheets.

How many years had it been since they’d touched each other like this? Rod had missed those times with Reno, the way they hadn’t needed to hide anything from each other and had both been seeking a release through pleasure. He’d felt the lack of those things with other people, yet had been too afraid to approach another Turk in risk of ruining his friendships with his coworkers. Even though a voice inside his head screamed at him that he was being a suicidal idiot by doing this, he wanted to recapture the simple, untainted pleasure that he’d found with Reno years before.

Wanting to feel more of the redhead, he broke off the kiss to suck on the spot on Reno’s neck that had always gotten him such a wonderful response in the past. Reno did arch against him and gasp out his name, but he seemed oddly passive tonight, his hands falling from Rod’s shoulders to rest against the wall, his head turned to the side and his eyes tightly closed. There wasn’t any reaction from his body, either, no answering hardness to Rod’s, which Rod put down to a bit too much alcohol. He told himself that he’d get a reaction in a few more seconds, his hands now fumbling with Reno’s belt.

Then there were a series of flashes of light that caused Reno to push him away, followed by a loud grunt of pain and the sound repeated impacts. Letting go of his friend’s belt, Rod turned around to see Cyril kicking the shit out of some guy who lay on the ground, something clutched in his hands that he was trying to protect from the abuse. Cyril, normally quiet and friendly, muttered a curse and aimed a savage kick at the guy’s head then bent down to snatch the object from the poor bastard’s hands. It wasn’t until his partner had straightened up that Rod realized that the ‘poor bastard’ was a photographer.

"What the hell?" he asked as he approached his partner, whose face was flushed and lips set in a grim line. "Who- break that fuckin’ thing." Dammit, how could he have forgotten about the damn snoops who’d taken to following Reno about in an attempt to get something juicy for the tabloids? He’d been too caught up in Reno’s odd behavior tonight and used to having other Turks around to spot the nosy bastards.

"What do you think I’m doing?" Cyril snapped, his voice taking on an uncharacteristic rough edge as he yanked the memory card from the camera so he could crack it into pieces, then tossed the camera to the ground with enough force to shatter its lens and even stomped on it several times. "I want to know what the hell *you’re* doing!" Once the camera was a scattered pile of debris, he kicked the unconscious photographer onto his back then searched his pockets until he pulled out a camera phone. After pushing various buttons for a few seconds, he cursed again and destroyed the device as well.

The entire time Cyril was having his destructive fit, Reno was slumped against the wall laughing his ass off, sounding more like he was ready to cry than anything. In between sardonic barks of laughter he mumbled something that sounded like ‘Rufus’ and ‘bastard’, but it was hard to tell with the way his arms were covering his face. Rod glanced back and forth between the redhead as he slowly slid to the ground and his crazed partner, wondering just what had happened to ruin a fun night of drinking with friends.

His brain kicked back into gear when he saw Cyril pull out his phone. "Hey, who the hell are you calling?" he shouted in panic, overcome with a sudden bad feeling. He jumped at his partner and tried to grab the phone, but Cyril wasn’t half as drunk as him and a bit faster.

"The asshole snapped a couple of pics with his phone, but I can’t tell if he sent them to anyone," Cyril explained as he did his best to keep his back to Rod. "I’m calling Tseng." The kid was usually serious about his job, but this was carrying things too fucking far.

"You want me dead or something?" Dammit, why did Rod have to think about the consequences *now*? "Just keep your mouth shut about what happened, okay?" He meant to sound forceful, but the words came out as more of a plea than anything.

Stepping away from him, Cyril shook his head, a sorrowful expression on his face. "If those photos show up in the media tomorrow, Tseng will have *all* of our asses. Rod… I’m sorry, but he’ll go a hell of a lot easier on you if R isn’t publicly embarrassed, okay? Hate me if you want, but at least you’ll still be alive."

Oh, sure, now the kid had to show some spine and disobey orders. Rod tried one more time to get his partner’s phone, but Cyril seemed dead set on calling Tseng and pushed him out of the way. As much as he knew that his partner was right, he really didn’t want to deal with a pissed off Tseng or jealous Rufus. "I’m fucked," he mumbled as he finally left his partner alone.

Cyril paused in hitting keys to give him a sympathetic look. "Maybe… maybe it won’t be too bad." Then he grimaced and shook his head again, dark hair flapping onto his furrowed forehead. "I’ll tell him that you were both too drunk to use your brains and didn’t get very far." He glanced over Rod’s shoulder toward Reno before turning around and completing the call. "Tseng? It’s Cyril. I’m sorry to bother you, but we have a problem."

Leaving Cyril to explain things to Tseng and trusting the kid to not screw him over, Rod cursed at himself and went to stand beside Reno. It wasn’t Cyril’s fault that he’d been a massive idiot tonight, and the kid was right about Tseng finding things out this way rather than through some news report. However, he wasn’t sure how much of a reprieve he’d get in the end. If his superiors didn’t kill him for fooling around with Reno, then the rest of the Turks would for making Rufus furious and possibly upset with all of them.

Reno was still laughing and muttering as Rod joined him by the wall, busy tugging on his hair with his eyes tightly shut. "Shouldn’ feel like this for a fuckin’ bastard. He’s fuckin’ inside my head. Can’ get him out, can’ stop thinkin’ ‘bout him." Rod didn’t think his friend was talking about him.

How the hell had things turned to shit so quickly? Rod felt like some hair-pulling himself, just to try to get his brain working once more. There’d been an awful lot of alcohol involved, but that didn’t excuse him fooling around with someone in a committed relationship – a relationship with Rufus Shinra, at that. He’d known for years that Reno wasn’t going to leave the president, had accepted that fact and he’d thought that he’d moved on. Whatever Rufus had done to drive Reno out drinking and making passes at people must be pretty bad, but it didn’t change the fact that Reno would still be with the man when the dust settled.

Doing his best to ignore Reno and pay attention to Cyril’s side of the conversation with Tseng, Rod began to bounce his head against the wall and wondered just how much longer he had to live. The worst of it was, he hadn’t even really done anything worth being killed over – was one last fuck too much to ask for before Tseng got his hands on him?

*******

Rufus opened the door to let the Turks in, Reno a surly, unsteady on his feet presence between Ling and Michael. Stepping out of the way, Rufus motioned for them to enter the apartment, his face as carefully blank as he could manage while feeling possessed with fury. Reno was dressed in a pair of tight jeans with the leather belt partially undone, a white tank top that had been pulled out of his jeans on the left side and a dark blue shirt missing two buttons, a leather coat tucked beneath his left arm that he dropped to the floor. The thought that he was so disheveled because of another man’s attention made Rufus’ eyes narrow and his hands clench into fists before he could stop himself from reacting.

"Good night," he snapped at Ling and Michael, a warning for them to leave before his temper became even more frayed. Michael spared a worried look in Reno’s direction while leaving the apartment, but Ling stared straight ahead with a frown on his face as he led the way. Once the door was closed and locked, that left Rufus alone with his disobedient lover.

There was an obvious reek of alcohol about Reno as well as a glassiness to his eyes and a slight swaying motion as he leaned against the wall. He patted his hands against his jeans’ pockets as if searching for his cigarettes, the grim line of his mouth flattening even more when he came up with nothing. His unbound hair fell onto his face, hiding the left side of it almost completely while he stared at Rufus in silence. There were no smart remarks, no teasing jokes or an attempt to explain himself, just that unwavering stare.

Rufus’ temper finally got the better of him as he dwelled on that unexpected behavior. His anger growing stronger by the second, he lashed out with his right hand, putting as much force as possible behind the blow that slapped against Reno’s face.

Now he got a response; Reno slid against the wall a little as if it was the only thing keeping him on his feet, his hands braced against it while his head hung forward. The laughter filling the room just then was a mixture of amusement and madness, Reno making that awful sound until he began to hiccup. He then lifted his left hand to his upper lip, which dripped blood onto his shirt and the floor. However, he still didn’t say anything.

Needing more of a response than that, Rufus grabbed his lover by the shoulders and gave him a vicious shake. "What, no excuses or insults, Reno?" The fury he felt made him enunciate each word with an icy clarity. "Perhaps you truly have lost your mind."

Reno didn’t attempt to push him away or fight back, he merely continued to lean against the wall as if desperate for its support, his face even more obscured now by his tousled hair and his lips smeared with blood. "There’s no sense, right?" His usually cocksure and smooth voice was hushed and jagged, his eyes even glassier than before. "You told me ta… to never push too far." There was more of that bitter laughter and he made as if to grab Rufus’ arms before his hands once more pressed against the wall. "Go ahead and beat the shit outta me."

During the time it took for Tseng to inform Rufus of what had happened and for Reno to be dragged home, Rufus had imagined quite a few scenarios of how this confrontation would play out. He’d pictured Reno smug and hurtful, certain that he could get away with things, or even apologetic. What he hadn’t thought to find when the situation finally occurred was Reno acting like this, as if he hadn’t any fight left in him. So he slapped his lover again, this time with a little less force even though his anger had sharpened after hearing what the man had to say for himself.

"Was it intentional, Reno? Are you trying to see how far you can push me?" Rufus asked, his voice just as hushed as his lover’s. His right hand slid along Reno’s upper chest until his forearm pressed hard against bone. "Are you masochistic or delusional?" More than anything, he wanted to know *why* something that had been so promising the day before was now broken.

Reno finally stopped laughing, his head lifting to rest against the wall. "Both?" Very rarely did he ever sound unsure of himself, always unwilling to expose any weakness even if he was getting his assed kicked. That sureness was nowhere to be found in his voice or demeanor, his body possessed with a stillness that was equally unlike him. Reno was never this passive, not even when obeying orders or being reprimanded for gross insubordination. No, he would usually fidget or look around at everything or even light a cigarette in an act of utmost boredom, but he would do *something* to convey that he thought the situation as one of utter bullshit. Tonight, he merely stood there as if ready to accept whatever Rufus was willing to deal out.

That odd behavior worked its way past Rufus’ furious temper and made his brain regain some control over his emotions. Maybe this was a new ploy of Reno’s, a method to get away with breaking one of the few rules that Rufus had laid down. Maybe Reno was so drunk he didn’t know how he was acting or that he was very close to having his neck snapped. And maybe… maybe for once he wasn’t putting on some act or using a shield of bravado to hide his true emotions.

"So, both masochistic and delusional. Why am I not surprised to hear that, considering how you were caught making out in a parking lot?" Rufus pushed as much as his anger aside as possible and employed a mask of his own, one of iciness and distance. "Were you hoping to start a fight, too horny to wait until you got somewhere safe, or in an exhibitionist mood?" Despite his resolve, he ended up pushing his arm even harder against Reno’s chest, just barely resisting the impulse to shift it up a few inches until it pressed against his lover’s bruised throat.

Reno managed a weak chuckle and raised his arms to cover his eyes. "Wouldn’ believe me if I told ya," he slurred, as if too exhausted or broken to speak properly. He let his head loll back against the wall, seemingly unconcerned about the pressure against his chest or his split lip.

"Try me, it may be the only thing that will keep you from being tossed out on the street with no home or job," Rufus threatened, his tone as cold as he could make it. Simply being let go of like that wasn’t an option for Reno anymore, not when Rufus’ enemies had taken to targeting him, but Reno didn’t need to know that.

As a threat, it worked even better than Rufus had hoped. Reno immediately struggled to straighten up, his eyes going wide and his mouth opening several times as if he was trying to say something. When he could finally manage such a thing, his voice was higher pitched than normal from panic. "No, *no*! I’m a fuckin’ Turk, you can’t change that!" He clawed at Rufus’ chest, not trying to push aside the arm pressing against him, more like just making sure that Rufus didn’t walk away. "I’m your Turk!"

"A Turk knows how to obey orders." Rufus was surprised by his lover’s reaction and willing to use it to his advantage. "I told you that *no one* was supposed to touch you, and you agreed to it." He ran the fingers of his left hand down the chain dangling from Reno’s right ear. At the time he’d used the threat of Rude being fired to win that agreement, and he’d had the fear that Reno had never taken him seriously enough after the initial shock. Perhaps he should have threatened Reno’s job in the first place….

"I… I did." Reno shook his head as if attempting to marshal his thoughts. "But… dammit, I do listen to you." He stared at Rufus, his eyes glowing when strong emotions took over. "I’m still a Turk. I’ll always be a Turk!" The words echoed around the apartment, shouted with plain desperation.

"Why does that matter so much to you?" Rufus actually felt a stab of jealousy at the way that Reno was so damn worried about his job and not the fact that he’d betrayed Rufus. "You can find a job anywhere." Skills such as Reno’s were always in demand, even in the ‘better world’ after Meteor.

"No!" His fingers tangled in Rufus’ white silk shirt, Reno yanked him in close until their faces were a mere inch or two apart. "I work for *you*." Reno sighed and shut his eyes, then leaned forward until his forehead rested against Rufus’ left shoulder. "I stay here." The words were muffled and much too enigmatic for Rufus’ taste.

"You ‘stay here’ only if you tell me why the hell you were making out with another man tonight." Rufus combed his fingers through his lover’s hair as he struggled to control the impulse to track Rod down and ensure that the bastard would never be able to touch Reno again. When Reno didn’t say anything, merely shook his head the slightest bit, Rufus gave his hair a sharp tug. "Tell me or you’re gone." If he had to, he’d send his lover off to be ‘taught’ a proper amount of obedience.

"Dammit," Reno hissed, his face pressed against the crook of Rufus’ neck for a couple of seconds before he turned it the other way. "I jus’… I jus’ wanted ta prove ‘em wrong. Ta see… it wasn’ the same. Wasn’ you."

The quietly spoken words were much too cryptic for Rufus’ taste, even as they made his heart race with the potential message behind them. "What wasn’t the same?" he asked and used his hold on Reno’s hair to make his lover look at him. "And who are ‘they’?"

Reno laughed, the sound weak and broken, and attempted to lean back against the wall. "I can… it shoulda been so easy. Anyone shoulda done it for me. You can- I… it fel’ so fuckin’ weird."

"You’re making even less sense than usual." His patience wearing dangerously thin, Rufus stepped closer to his lover. "Did you want Rod?" He’d all but sworn to protect the Turks, to value them, and he’d break those unspoken promises depending on how Reno answered.

"No." For the first time in minutes, Reno’s voice was clear. Trying to brush aside the hair falling onto his face, he stared directly at Rufus. "He’s just a friend." To Rufus’ utter amazement, a hint of blush colored Reno’s tattooed cheeks and he glanced aside. "Anyone should have been good enough."

It was like attempting to piece together a puzzle when half of its components were missing. Reno had tried to prove someone wrong and that something wasn’t the ‘same’. Something that might possibly have to do with Rufus, a belief that was strengthened with the comment about ‘anyone being good enough’ - which was something that didn’t seem to have worked out for Reno. "But he wasn’t good enough, was he?" Rufus asked, doing his best to no longer sound so cold or furious. When Reno shook his head, he felt his lips curve into the tiniest of smiles. "I’m the only one who’s ‘good enough’, correct?" Again, his heartbeat started to race just by saying the words.

Reno did his best to look away, his eyes downcast and his posture one of defeat. Sensing victory, Rufus moved in even closer the same time he tilted Reno’s chin up for a kiss. Despite the insistent voice that whispered darkly for him to take his lover right here, to prove that Reno was his possession, he kept the kiss light, a mere brush of the lips. Reno sighed in response, his hands once more gripping Rufus’ shirt as if he needed help remaining on his feet.

"I’m the only one good enough," Rufus repeated, gloating over the fact that it seemed that Reno was stuck dealing with unwanted feelings as well. Something inside of him settled at the thought; as long as Reno could easily walk away from him, he’d felt weak, no longer in control and left scrambling to not be the one hurt. However, if what he suspected was true, then the power between them had shifted yet again, giving Rufus back that much needed control. "You want *me* too much."

"You bastard," Reno mumbled, his eyes tightly shut as if trying to deny the reality of the moment. "You crawl inside a person, twistin’ things. Always gotta have the upper hand, dammit. Always wan’ *everythin’*."

That was very true, and something that Reno should have realized long ago. In the redhead’s defense, he probably had never thought that things would get so serious between them. Neither had Rufus, and being the only one aware of the bonds between them had almost driven him mad with frustration and concern. He was still furious that Reno had kissed another man, but it was tempered with why he suspected his lover of having done such a thing. Part of him insisted that he push harder to get a clearer confession from his lover, yet something else told him that now wasn’t the time. If he pushed too far, Reno would do his best to prove Rufus completely wrong, even if that was the farthest thing from the truth.

Rufus wouldn’t allow tonight’s act to go unpunished, and he’d make sure this wasn’t a trick on Reno’s part. However, he no longer felt the need to break his lover into obedience, not when it appeared that he already had what he wanted. It would be just like Reno to realize that he cared for Rufus and then do his best to prove the emotion wrong. That he hadn’t grabbed the first person to walk past and have sex right then was very telling, in Rufus’ opinion.

"Then you should have known better than to even try anything so foolish." He brushed his lips along Reno’s almost feverishly warm forehead, trailing them down the right side of his lover’s face until he found that sensitive spot between Reno’s jaw and ear. Sucking gently, he pulled his lover closer, their bodies tight together with Reno offering no resistance.


"Did he make you feel like this?" he whispered in Reno’s ear after a minute, made smug with the way the Turk had started to respond to him.

"No." Reno’s arms slid around Rufus’ neck and held on almost desperately. "It was… empty." He managed to open his eyes and glare. "You’re not tha’ damn good, ya know. Or shouldn’ be."

That might be true, but just as Rufus no longer found his attention snared by anyone else, he was willing to bet a considerable part of his fortune that Reno suffered the same affliction.

"It doesn’t matter, not when I’m the only one allowed to do this to you." Just like that, his temper resurfaced and he shoved Reno back against the wall. "I told you not to push me too far. Everything you do has a consequence, Reno."

The glow that encompassed Reno’s eyes made it impossible to gauge his true emotions, especially when his face suddenly went blank. "Don’t fire me." There was so much pleading in his voice that he may as well have added a ‘please’. The bastard did have his pride, though.

So did Rufus; he let his lover suffer for a minute before saying anything. "No, I won’t fire you." He tucked back the hair falling onto Reno’s face then tilted up his chin once more. "I’ll decide on something tomorrow." The shame of it was, it would hurt too much to fire Reno, to not have him at his side or depend on him when the situation turned bad. He’d just come up with something to teach Reno a lesson and remind him about who was the one in charge, and hope that Reno’s temper, pride or crazy mindset didn’t lead to full-out hostilities between them. Although now he had hope that Reno wouldn’t be able to remain furious with him for too long.

As if that had been the assurance that he wanted, Reno slumped against the wall, his neck arched sharply so he could continue to stare at Rufus. "You’re a bastard." Oddly enough, there was no heat to the insult, just a weary acceptance.

Considering how Reno thought that curses were terms of affection, Rufus didn’t let it bother him. "Yes, I am, in all my sadistic, controlling, perverse, manipulative, insane, possessive glory. And if you *ever* do anything like you did tonight, you’ll find out just how much of an evil bastard I can be," he warned, a smile on his face despite the frosty tone of voice.

Reno sighed and did his best to nod. "I know." He closed his eyes and laughed with harsh bitterness. "Jus’ wanted ta prove ‘em wrong. Never shoulda said tha’ abou’ you an’ me." Laughing again, he forced his eyes open, clearly ready to succumb to the alcohol of which he reeked. "I was wrong, though." With a burst of energy that took Rufus completely by surprise, he pushed away from the wall and grabbed Rufus by the shoulders. "Don’ fuckin’ send me away. *Ever*."

"Then you’d better obey me from now on," Rufus shot back, hugging Reno against him for a demanding, possessive kiss. His lover tasted strongly of alcohol and cigarettes as well as blood, a heady mixture that made Rufus’ libido insist on a hell of a lot more than a kiss. However, judging from the way that Reno slumped against him, he doubted that he’d get much enjoyment out of fucking an over-inebriated lover.

No, whatever had kept Reno mostly on his feet up until that point vanished, and only Rufus’ tight hold on the man kept him from sliding to the floor once the kiss ended. More than a little annoyed at how there would be no sex after this fight, he half-carried Reno to their bedroom and dumped him onto the bed. Reno made a soft groan in complaint, his eyes fluttering open for a few seconds before closing once more. He didn’t move at all when Rufus stripped him to his boxers, wanting as little of the stench of tequila and cigarettes in his bed as possible. Once his lover was mostly tucked beneath the sheets, he emptied out Reno’s pockets then threw the dirty clothes in the laundry basket. That removing them had given him an opportunity to make sure that nothing other than kissing had happened tonight between Reno and Rod was merely an accidental bonus, he told himself as he left the bedroom.

He poured himself half a snifter of brandy and drank it while staring out the balcony door, taking the few minutes to ensure that he was in control of his temper. Once certain that he would think rationally and not be ruled by his emotions, he went into his office to call Tseng. The revelation of Reno’s true feelings for him meant that there wouldn’t be bloodshed tonight, but there would still be punishments meted out.

*******

Reno always hated waking up to a hangover, which was odd when he considered how it was his own fault that he’d drunken himself into a stupor. While he enjoyed a strong buzz as much as anyone – well, a hell of a lot more than most people – he didn’t usually drink himself to the point of helpless inebriation on purpose. No, that left his defenses down too far and meant that he was in shitty shape for work the next day. It usually had to be something really bad for him to drink too much, such as a fellow Turk’s wake or a spectacularly shitty assignment or….

Or realizing that he’d been stupid enough to fall in love with someone he shouldn’t even be fucking, to tell the truth. Someone who could ruin his life with a simple command, who could have him killed or much, much worse; Hojo might be gone, but Reno knew that Rufus had the special labs up and running again, eager for some poor sap to use for experiments. Reno was all too aware of the fact that he could lose everything he’d fought for over the years to some cruel whim on Rufus’ part, and he’d gone and fallen in love with the sadistic bastard. Fallen in love with a Shinra, which everyone knew was the height of sheer stupidity.

Then to make matters even worse, he had to go break one of the rules that Rufus had set up for their ‘relationship’. He could still remember staring at Rod while remembering how it had felt to fuck the man, the way they’d tumble into bed while laughing at each other and get up when they were done exchanging insults and jokes. It had been so simple with Rod, an outlet from the hell that Rufus’ bastard of a father had put him through, something so different from what he had with Rufus. No expectations or concerns because they were merely friends and coworkers looking for a bit of pleasure, along with an understanding that once the clothes were back on that they were Turks and would watch each other’s back as if nothing had happened. He’d needed something like that with a desperation that still surprised him to this day, the feel of a warm body beside him, a calloused hand stroking down his body, of stubble and dry lips against his neck to chase away the darkness that had him wondering what it must feel like to die. If things hadn’t been so fucked up back then, maybe he’d have realized the danger he was in when Rod gave him all of that and it still wasn’t enough. Only when it had been Rufus’ warmth, Rufus’ hands and lips on his body had he felt any peace. Fucking hell, he was such an idiot. And him doing his best to prove that fact wrong had only made him face something that scared him half to death and nearly to madness.

Rude’s words filled his head at that moment, making him finally accept that yes, he had allowed Rufus to get away with too damn much over the last couple of years. But he’d thought his concern for his lover while Rufus had suffered from the Geostigma to be based on losing someone he respected and counted on for a job, a job that he sought to protect by going along with all the insane twists that Rufus had insisted on in their little ‘game’. During all that time he’d laughed and prided himself on getting such severe reactions from his famously aloof lover and hadn’t thought to question his own.

"You’re such a fucking moron," he said aloud, throat dry and voice thick with misery. He couldn’t even blame most of how terrible he felt on the alcohol, not with the way his split lip throbbed with awakened pain. The fact that his mouth was the only abused part of him, other than his liver, helped to shake off the rest of the grogginess he felt. Sitting up in the bed, he moaned in abject misery and searched for the clock as a distraction while his stomach settled.

At first, he thought it might be an effect of the hangover that made the numbers read the way they did, and then he realized it truly was almost noon. That meant he was late as hell for work, and he didn’t understand why Rude hadn’t called to get him up or Tseng to bitch at him. Swearing out loud, he forced his aching body from the bed and looked about for his phone, which had been placed on his dresser. Well aware that he hadn’t put it there last night, Reno slouched forward while he did his best to comb his fingers through his hair the same time he dialed a very familiar number.

"Reno," Tseng replied once he answered the call, sounding almost as distant and cold as a truly pissed off Rufus.

"Look, I’m sorry, Tseng." Reno winced as his fingers hit a knotted section of hair, unsure if he was only apologizing for being late for work. "I can be there in about an hour."

There was a pause over the other end of the line, one that stretched on long enough to make Reno wonder if he still had a fucking job. Had Rufus lied to him last night? Dammit, if after all of that- "You won’t be reporting to work for the rest of this week and all of the next," Tseng said, some of that iciness melting under an emerging temper that made Reno damn glad he wasn’t talking to the man in person. "You’ve been suspended from duty without pay."

At first Reno was relieved that he hadn’t been lied to, and then the full impact of the words sank in. "Suspended? What the hell is that about?" Yes, he’d deliberately pissed off Rufus last night, but how the hell did that earn him a suspension?

Tseng cleared his throat, a sure sign that he wasn’t too happy at the moment, either. "You placed a fellow Turk in danger as well as created an incident that could hurt the company, Reno. Be lucky you’re not suspended for a month." The way that Tseng bit off the end of each word made it clear that this wasn’t a joke on his part, and that Reno would probably be sporting a few broken bones if they were face to face at the moment.

Still, Reno wasn’t about to let the matter drop so easily. "I was off-fucking-duty, and it’s not like I knew the damn snoop was there," he spat, furious that he was taking the blame for this. Then something occurred to him and made his burgeoning temper die out. "Ah, how’s Rod?"

More silence, stretching out over a few dozen frantic heartbeats on Reno’s part. "The president feels that the ShinRa headquarters in Wutai needs to be inspected for any potential security flaws. I fully expect Rod and Cyril to spend the next few weeks investigating the matter and compiling a report." The news made Reno let go of a breath he hadn’t been aware of holding as he slumped against the dresser. "Did you even think of what might happen to the man during your… lapse last night?" Oh yes, Tseng was furious as *hell*.

Reno chuckled weakly and tugged on his hair. "No, I didn’t, and it wasn’t like I wanted to get Rod in trouble." He hadn’t, either, hadn’t stopped to think that Rufus might turn some of that icy temper onto whoever it was Reno had fooled around with last night. "I just…." What the hell was he supposed to say now? He’d wanted to prove that he didn’t love Rufus, only to have things blow up in his face past the point of denial?

There was silence once again, enough to get on Reno’s nerves and almost make him start swearing at Tseng when his boss finally spoke again. "The suspension stands, Reno. Whether intentional or not, your actions could have caused a lot of damage last night. As it is, I’ve temporarily lost one half of my most experienced teams as well as a promising new one, and some of my best Turks are going to be relegated to making sure you don’t leave the penthouse at all during your suspension." The iciness from before returned, so sharp and emotionless that Reno didn’t even try to complain over his house arrest. "Behave yourself for the next two weeks, prove that you’ve learned some sort of lesson and I’ll assign you to train the rookies for the rest of the month. Cause me any more trouble and your new assignment will be to check the entire Edge sewer system for any signs of tampering - *if* you’re still alive at that point."

Reno nodded several times before he remembered that his boss couldn’t see him. Oh hell, Tseng was ready to rip off his balls, from the sounds of it. "Wouldn’t it just be easier if you told me to break things off with Rufus?" he couldn’t help but ask, proving yet again how suicidal he could be. After all, he was certain that Tseng was all pissy because of how Reno’s lovelife was fucking things up for everyone.

For once, Tseng didn’t wait before responding. "I think it’s quite obvious to everyone unfortunate enough to be involved with this mess that such a solution would only create more problems." Oddly enough, he didn’t sound angry at the moment, just tired as hell. "Use another Turk during a fight with the president again, and you’ll be fired by *me*. Accept the fact that you are involved in a serious, committed relationship with Rufus Shinra and all of the responsibilities that come with it if you want to avoid any negative consequences in the future."

As if having Kali and Rude tell him that he was in love with Rufus wasn’t bad enough, Tseng had to go ahead and basically say the same thing. If his head wasn’t already hurting him so much, Reno would bang it against the wall right now. "People keep telling me the weirdest shit," he mumbled, not sure what he was supposed to say in response. He could barely admit to himself his true feelings, how could he agree with Tseng?

The bastard actually snorted in amusement at the comment. "Sometimes, truth can be the ‘weirdest’ thing of all. After this conversation, your phone service will be cut off during your suspension. Don’t do anything that I would consider foolish unless you want the sewer systems to be your permanent assignment." Threat issued, Tseng disconnected the call.

Reno stared at his now dead phone, robbed of his chance of any snarky comeback since Tseng truly hadn’t been lying about it being shut off. Between that and Tseng’s comments about him being stuck in the apartment during his suspension, he went off to do some investigating.

Ten minutes later his head was throbbing in pain that was a mix of alcohol abuse and furious temper. All the liquor in the place was gone, as well the hard drive to his computer. If he had to guess where it might have gone, he’d say in Rufus’ now locked office, the very solid door to which he’d just given a kick in frustration. The new lock on the damn thing was one of the most sophisticated that he’d ever seen, and for a good minute he stared at it and went over in his mind the best way to crack it. Then Tseng’s warning reverberated in his sore head, which made him swear out loud and go back to the living room. At least the damn cable was still connected, probably for Rufus’ benefit. It looked to be a seriously long, very boring two weeks.

Never one to leave things alone when he should, he then went to the front door and gave it a try, a little surprised to find that it hadn’t been locked from either side. Not caring that he was only dressed in his boxers, he opened it all the way so he could see the two Turks stationed on the other side of it.

Becca moved in a blur, turning around while raising a tranquilizer gun to point at Reno’s chest. Beside her, Saint John went from lounging against the wall to bracing himself in front of most of the doorway. "Huh, guess Tseng wasn’t kidding about that." Reno cursed the man for being so damn thorough then cursed Rufus as well since it had probably been all his idea.

"Reno, do us a favor and close the damn door," Becca gritted out, her stance never wavering. "Because if you so much as step forward an inch, you’re going to be shot."


Rolling his eyes at the dramatic proclamation, Reno leaned against the door. "What if I’m here to tell ya there’s a fire in the kitchen, hmm?" If he had to be miserable right now, he might as well share the joy.

Saint John inhaled deeply as if to catch the scent of smoke while Becca gritted her teeth even more. "Then I shoot you before we go put it out." As Reno returned her cold stare, she sighed and shook her head an inch or two to either side. "Please, Reno, we’re not in the mood for any trouble." She relaxed her stance a little, the gun dipping a bit but not re-holstered.

"Trust me, as much as I’d love to have a bit of fun right now, I’m not about to spend the rest of my career in the damn sewers." He *knew* that Tseng hadn’t been kidding about that. "Just checking a few things. Am I at least allowed to order some fucking take-out?" he snapped, doing his best not to lose his temper over this ridiculous situation. Becca would just shoot him and he’d wake up to Tseng and Rufus vying to be the first one to kick his ass, he was willing to bet.

"As long as it’s just food. Let us know and we’ll place the order," Saint John replied, not as standoffish as he’d been moments before.

Reno waved aside the offer. "Fine." He felt a rush of exhaustion that made dealing with his fellow Turks too much of an effort right now. Not saying anything else, he closed the door and leaned against it for a few seconds, his fists rubbing his eyes as he did his best not to hear the hushed conversation out in the hallway. Tseng must have done some serious damage control if neither Saint John nor Becca knew that he was stuck in this damn apartment for a while because of fooling around with Rod.

Feeling the need for a long, hot shower, he made his way to the bathroom, barely resisting the urge to knock various expensive shit over along the way. He’d just get into more trouble and probably have to clean up the mess. Then he’d wake up to an empty apartment, more than likely. Rufus did so love making his points, after all. Reno was quick to shove anymore thoughts on his lover aside since he didn’t want to deal with that particular situation right now.

He took one hell of a long shower and felt human enough afterwards to make himself something to eat. Rufus had stashed the potions and elixirs as well, but not the headache medicine, so between that and some coffee, his stomach finally settled and his head stopped hurting. Well, mostly stopped, since it throbbed in pain each time he thought about his lover. Now that he was fully awake and sober, he had an easier time remembering what he’d said last night – what he’d barely managed *not* to say. That wasn’t much salve to his battered pride, however, when he had the feeling that Rufus had figured things out anyway. Nothing like letting a sadistic control freak know that you were practically desperate to stay with him because of some fucking stupid emotions.


Reno had just finished his egg sandwiches and poured himself more coffee when there was a knock on the front door. Pretty sure that he wouldn’t be allowed any visitors during the next two weeks, Reno sauntered his way over to it to find out what he was about to be subjected to now. When Saint John opened the door and thrust a cell phone in his face, he was more than a little surprised.

"I better get that back as soon as you’re done, and *don’t* tell anyone I lent it to you, okay?" Saint John was uncharacteristically ruffled, and Reno had to wonder why the Turk was breaking Tseng and Rufus’ rules like this. Then he put the phone to his ear. "Yeah?"

"So you’re still alive." He’d always enjoyed hearing Rude speak, the man had such a sexy, deep voice, and right now even that sarcastic jab made Reno smile as he closed the door on Saint John and leaned against it.

"Yeah, I guess so since this sure doesn’t look like heaven," he sniffed, resting against the door for a moment before going to retrieve his coffee. "What have you heard?"

Rude grunted once, maybe over the ‘heaven’ remark. "Cyril called me last night, not sure who was going to be killed first, you or Rod. I managed to catch Rod before he left for Wutai." The reproach was pretty thick in that deep voice and Reno knew Rude would be glaring at him if they were together.

Letting out a slow breath, Reno wrinkled his nose and made his way to the couch, cell phone in one hand, coffee mug in the other. "Look, I wasn’t thinking, okay? I didn’t mean to get him in trouble or anything." He’d just been desperate as hell and in some serious denial.

Rude grunted again. "I’d certainly hope you weren’t thinking, considering what happened. However, I’m more curious about why you’re still alive and Rod still has his balls."

"Rude, you’re my best friend but right now, I don’t want to talk about it, okay? My head hurts enough as it is," Reno complained, willing to end the call just to avoid the subject. All right, maybe he wasn’t that much past the denial stage, or just didn’t want anyone else to know how fucked up he was over Rufus.

"Tough shit. Either you talk to me *now* or I’m coming over there." The growling edge to Rude’s voice made it clear that he wasn’t bluffing on the threat.

Why the hell did Reno have to know so many stubborn-ass people? Really, why couldn’t his friends be pushovers and just leave him alone? "Fine," he snapped, then swallowed his coffee as if it had just transmuted into a mug of the strongest whiskey imaginable. No such luck on that, and Reno once again thought about how he could break that lock.

"Tseng had Ling and Michael drag me home to face Rufus, who wasn’t too happy with me." Reno touched his split lip and was grateful that he healed pretty quickly these days since it hadn’t cracked back open yet.

"Did he hurt you?" Rude asked, as if reading Reno’s mind or seeing him touch his mouth. The growl was even stronger in Rude’s voice, making Reno hope the crazy bastard wasn’t anywhere near Rufus right now.

"No. Well, not really. Two smacks to the mouth, which I consider not much of anything," he admitted to calm his excitable partner down. "I’d have thought that he’d break a few bones, at the least." He’d been warned, after all, never to push Rufus too far. Yet all that had happened to him was a sore mouth, no liquor and being trapped in the apartment for the next two weeks. The why’s of Rufus letting him off ‘easy’ made him shake his head and jump up from the couch.

"Reno… I hate to admit that you’re right over such a ridiculous point." The growl was gone from Rude’s voice, which was a relief. "Tseng told me that you’re suspended from work and confined to quarters. He’s not telling anyone exactly why you’re being punished, but the word is out that you’re to be left alone until you return to duty."

"Yet you’re talking to me," Reno pointed out, grinning for the first time that day at the way that Rude always looked out for him.

This time Rude sighed, the sound worn and humorless. "I wanted to make sure that Tseng wasn’t giving Rufus some extra time to hide your body."

"Thanks, partner." Reno headed for the balcony to see if some fresh air would put him in a better mood, pausing only to pick up the pack of cigarettes on the coffee table. "I love you, too."

"Now I can die a happy man," was Rude’s sarcastic retort, which sounded a little off to Reno. Before he could ask if anything was wrong, Rude continued in that ‘I’m serious now so you better talk to me or have your neck snapped’ tone of voice. "Why are you still alive?"


Fuck, the bastard always had to go for the difficult questions, didn’t he? Reno used lighting a cigarette as an excuse to not answer for a few seconds. "Because he thinks I’m too sexy to kill?"


He knew that Rude wouldn’t take that answer seriously, but the asshole didn’t have to laugh that hard. "Right. Did you blackmail him or something?" Rude asked once he could speak again.

"Asshole," Reno muttered. He stared out over the city, for a moment longing for the familiar view of Midgar. He’d shed so much blood in that city, his and others’, that it felt like a part of him, while the Edge was too motley, too new for him to give it much respect or fondness. Ah well, it was better than Healin fuckin’ Lodge. "We… talked." He couldn’t help but wince when he recalled about what and all the things he’d probably given away.

The line was quiet for a moment, then Rude let out a deep breath. "About what? I assume you’re still together since you’re stuck in the apartment for the time being."

"Yeah." Reno slumped against the stone balcony, uncaring about its roughness, the cold wind and the fact that he was dressed only in a pair of sweats and an old sweater. "Possessive bastard won’t let go of me." When in doubt, blame everything on Rufus. Reno did his best to hide the fact that he wasn’t really bothered about the possessive bit since he wanted to stay with Rufus.

However, Rude knew him too well, ditto for his diversionary tactics, too. "Seems to me that you were the one trying to ‘let go’ if you made out with Rod. What are you still doing there?"

Not liking how serious Rude had become, Reno really, *really* wished he had a bottle of something potent in his hands right now. "It was a mistake, okay? I just…." As much as he hated to admit the truth, he knew that Rude was serious about coming here if he thought Reno was being held against his will. "You were right, okay? You fucking asshole, you were right." Only the fact that it wasn’t his phone and that Saint John would have Becca shoot his ass if he threw it off the balcony kept him from doing just that. Instead, he clenched the phone in his hand and slouched down even more against the wall. Couldn’t the fucking universe allow him some sort of pride? Did everyone have to know how he felt about Rufus?

For someone who was normally too damn quiet, Rude wasn’t the type to be stunned into silence often. If he didn’t speak, it was because *he* didn’t want to, not that he’d been robbed of words. So the silence over the phone just then might have made Reno amused as hell if it wasn’t for the current situation.

"I see," Rude finally said after a few minutes. "So I’m to assume that me arriving at the apartment with half of the Turks’ arsenal to break you free wouldn’t be appreciated at the moment?"

It wasn’t the offer that stunned Reno, rather the mixture of sadness and regret in which it had been spoken. Did Rude really hate the fact that he was fooling around with Rufus that much? Over the years, he’d gotten the impression that his partner was more worried about the difference in their social standing and that Rufus had no problem hitting him than anything else about the fucked up relationship. So why would Rude be upset to know that Reno was sticking around until Rufus came to his senses? It couldn’t be jealousy since Rude had Kali.

"As much as I adore the thought of you, bombs and having some fun, I’m thinking it wouldn’t be a good idea for a party right about now." Reno folded his right arm over the balcony’s ledge and rested his chin on it. "That and Tseng would kill you and probably stick me with Elena as my partner," he joked, desperate to lighten the atmosphere of this conversation. He’d already had one hell of a serious talk in the past day, he wasn’t going to have another one for the next few years if he could help it.

Rude must have picked up on his efforts because the sadness, regret and seriousness from before were gone. "You’re an utter tease, Reno."

"Ya better believe it, partner." Pushing aside a strand of hair that had been blown across his face, he wrinkled his nose and closed his eyes. "Just plan one hell of a party for when I’m paroled, okay?" If Rufus did intend to keep him from alcohol the entire time of his punishment, he would truly need that party.

"As much of a party that it can be without Rod there," Rude remarked, and Reno knew that his friend was making it clear that he’d done a shitty thing to a fellow Turk. Yeah, well, it was easy for Rude to judge when he hadn’t been the one to realize that he was in love with Rufus fucking Shinra of all people.

"I’ll make it a point to drink for the both of us," Reno snapped, unwilling to listen to this shit for however long Rod and Cyril were in Wutai. While he shouldn’t have started anything with Rod, the man hadn’t exactly pushed him away, either. That made things both their faults, and Reno would much rather be in Wutai right now than stuck here.

Rude must have decided to cut him a break or something. "At least it wasn’t Tosh, or you’d have to take over his ‘king of the idiots’ crown during his absence," Rude joked, sounding a lot more like himself than he had for most of this conversation.

"I’m not that stupid," Reno grumbled and flicked his cigarette butt out into the air. Besides, he’d never felt any attraction for Tosh and knew the younger Turk wouldn’t keep his mouth shut if they fooled around. He was just a trophy fuck to Tosh, anyway.

"I think that’s my cue to end this conversation," Rude shot back, making Reno wish the bastard was here so he could smack Rude. "Give Saint John his phone back so I can talk to you again in a few days."

"You just want to know if you’re going to be stuck with a new partner or not." While he bitched out his partner, Reno left the balcony to do as he’d been told. The last thing he wanted was to get another Turk in trouble and himself into even more, especially since Rude was willing to charge to his ‘rescue’.

"You found me out," Rude laughed before he ended the call, just having to get the last word in. Since Saint John could find out if he made any extra calls, Reno promised to himself that he’d hit the bald bastard in two weeks’ time and opened the door to return the phone. Saint John appeared rather relieved to have it back, and Becca way too eager for an excuse to shoot Reno. He flipped her the finger before slamming the door shut.

Well, that had killed a little time, now he was faced with the rest of the day and almost two whole weeks of utter boredom. Reno decided to hell with it all and went back to the bedroom to take a nap.

*******

Reaching the door to his home, Rufus arched an eyebrow in inquiry when he saw Becca and Saint John. Both Turks suddenly stood to attention and he noticed that Becca’s coat was tucked back on the left side so her gun holster was exposed. "Has there been any trouble today?" he asked, even though he was fairly certain there would be signs of one hell of a fight if there had been.

"No, President." Saint John appeared to want to say something else, then shut his mouth and shook his head.

Rufus was under the impression that his Turks were currently torn between their loyalty to him and another Turk. They probably weren’t happy that Reno was being punished for something, although they seemed willing to obey the orders Tseng had given them in that respect. So Rufus decided he wasn’t going to push matters any further at this point. The main thing, after all, was Reno learning a lesson while not being driven too far away, and once things calmed down then the Turks should be at peace.

He told the Turks ‘good night’ and entered the apartment, his nerves on edge as he expected some sort of attack. Even with the almost-admission he’d gotten from his lover last night, he knew that Reno had to be upset over the suspension and confinement, and the last thing Rufus wanted right now was a nasty fight when they both were so on edge, temper-wise.

To his surprise, nothing was thrown at him nor did he find the place trashed when he stepped inside. The stereo was on, playing one of Reno’s favorite CDs, and something spicy was scenting the air in such a way that Rufus’ stomach rumbled in hunger. He’d eaten a quick lunch several hours ago, too busy with work to allow himself much of a break after all the time he’d taken to speak to Tseng and Rod that morning.

Following the delicious aroma, he expected to come across Reno in the kitchen with a huge take-out order, instead finding his lover standing in front of the stove and cooking something. Reno’s hair was pulled back in a high, messy ponytail and he was dressed in a pair of sweats and an old sweater of Rufus’. A set of large wooden chopsticks in hand, he was currently poking at what appeared to be slices of beef and vegetables being cooked in a large wok.

"Are you attempting to poison me?" Rufus voiced the first question that came into his head. As much as he hated to admit it, this seemingly domestic scene had him very confused and his nerves on edge even as he wanted to smile about it. Was this some sort of ploy of Reno’s to get back at him? Would the food make him sick or was it about to be thrown in his face in a few more seconds?

All Reno did was grunt as he picked up a huge bowl of noodles and added them to the wok. "Figures you’d show up now, right when it’s done." After mixing the food together for a minute, he dumped all of it back into the bowl then turned around to face Rufus, his arms folded across his chest. He didn’t look too happy and his bottom lip was still a little swollen from last night, but he didn’t appear to be going for any knives or other sharp weapons.

"What is ‘it’?" Rufus wasn’t sure why he wasn’t being yelled or cursed at, but was willing to accept the odd situation for what it was. Once again, Reno was being unpredictable, yet this time his unusual behavior was in Rufus’ favor.

"Whatever the hell I could make from what was in the kitchen," Reno grumbled as he picked up the large bowl filled with noodles, beef and vegetables to take it over to the kitchen’s island. "Hope you like drinking fuckin’ water since that’s all we have, other than coffee." He finally glared at Rufus, seemingly very put out by the lack of available alcohol. Rufus merely stared back, not about to start a fight over explaining how he hadn’t wanted to deal with an inebriated Turk upon coming home day. After all, look where Reno’s drinking last night had gotten them….

When Rufus grew bored of the staring contest, he shook his head and left the kitchen, which prompted Reno to mumble not very quietly about sadistic, controlling bastards who should have been drowned at birth. Smiling a little since he was sure that his father would have agreed with the Turk, Rufus shrugged off his white overcoat and the white jacket beneath that, leaving on the black vest and the layers of shirts. After draping the garments over the back of the couch, he went to the stereo to select some music that wouldn’t give him a headache after listening to it for more than twenty minutes then went to his office.

Deirdre had done a good job of installing the security system this morning, although at least half of the set-up had already been in place. Rufus was a bit surprised to not see any visible signs of tampering, but figured that Reno would have the lock broken soon enough since the bastard seemed to have a way with the things. Going into his now very crowded office, Rufus chose two bottles of merlot and left, carefully locking the door behind him.

He went back to the kitchen to find Reno slurping noodles, feeding the long strands into his mouth with a set of chopsticks. That left him to assume that the food couldn’t be too tainted, so he helped himself after fetching his own bowl and utensils, pausing to open the first bottle of wine. His lover didn’t give it any time to ‘breathe’, immediately dumping his glass of water in the sink and pouring about half the bottle into the now empty glass.

"Perhaps I wasn’t planning on sharing," Rufus remarked as he sat down on one of the stools at the island, directly across from Reno.

"Then you can fuck off and get your own dinner," Reno snapped, holding the glass against his chest in a protective manner and glaring for several seconds before drinking.

"I feel that I must point out the fact that I paid for the groceries you used in cooking dinner, so you’re the one who’ll go hungry tonight." Rufus kept his voice calm as he helped himself to the noodles, pausing to try a piece of meat and smiling at its spicy flavor.

Reno snorted and finally set the glass on the counter. "Like I have a choice of going anywhere else." For the first time that evening, there was an edge to his voice, one quiet and dangerous that made Rufus shiver the tiniest bit.

If he responded to that jab, most likely they would fight and that wasn’t something he was in the mood for right now. No, he was hungry and had a feeling that they were skirting too close to the edge of many things, about ready to tear into each other with a ferociousness that would be deadly in their attempt to hide their true emotions. Time for a change of topic. "Why do you insist on ordering noodles so often when you can make a decent meal of them on your own?" His tone was perfectly civil and he made a show of helping himself to more of the dinner.

The look he got from his lover was full of enough uncertainty to make him want to smile – finally, let *Reno* be the one caught off guard for once. "Eh, it’s easier to order out unless I’ve got nothing better to do," he mumbled, having more wine before he picked up his chopsticks and resumed eating.


Rufus nodded in understanding and had another bite of the tasty dinner; despite Reno’s chronically underfed appearance, he didn’t survive on a junk food and alcoholic diet. He’d confided in Rufus once after being forced to order some cheap take-out that scrounging for food most of his life before joining the Turks had burned him out on the stuff, back when vegetables and fresh meat were a luxury he couldn’t afford or even come across very often to steal.

They ate in silence after that, going through most of the noodles and the first bottle of wine. As much as Rufus wanted to relax, he knew there had to be a moment when they faced what had happened last night. That Reno was acting in a mostly civil manner meant that either his lover really did have feelings for him and didn’t want to strain things between them even more, or that Reno was trying to lull him into a false sense of security before an attack. So when Reno got up to dump the empty dishes in the sink, Rufus followed to pin his lover between the counter and his body to see what the reaction would be.

Bracing his arms on either side of Reno, Rufus dared to get in close enough to nuzzle the Turk’s neck. "I must admit, if we’re going to fight I’d rather get it out of the way sooner than later," he murmured against Reno’s right ear, his lips brushing against the platinum chain when he was finished speaking.

Reno’s body tensed and there was a muttered curse too faint to be understood, then Reno laughed and shook his head. "If you’d been here when I found out that you’d locked away my game console, you’d be down a liter or two of blood by now." He let out a slow breath and relaxed with a lazy shrug. "Can’t say that you didn’t warn me, and I’m not enough of an asshole to bitch about something that’s all my fault." From the sounds of it, he was striving for a casual tone of voice, but the tension that had left his body could now be heard if one listened carefully enough.

For a moment Rufus wanted to ask again why Reno had done such a thing, but he realized that the defenses that had been down last night were up and locked into place today. He doubted he’d ever hear a clear confession from his lover… and since it was something that he knew he couldn’t manage on his own part, he’d do his best not to push. Left with trying to figure out what to say next, he was surprised when Reno continued after a minute’s pause.

"So, what did you do to Rod?" he asked, the tension even clearer in his voice now. That sparked the jealousy that Rufus had thought to have under control.

He pressed against his lover, his left arm wrapping tightly around Reno’s waist and his right hand rising to stroke the back of his fingers along Reno’s neck where the chain brushed against it. "Why do you care?" Unlike his lover, he put enough effort into keeping any telling emotion from his voice.

Reno tensed again as if to burst into motion, then shrugged once more and slumped against Rufus. "Because he’s a friend and a fellow Turk, someone I shouldn’t have dragged into this mess," he admitted, sounding as if he was utterly exhausted.

"Do you care for him as anything more than a ‘Turk and a friend’?" Rufus asked, now that Reno was sober enough to give him a straight answer.

What he got was one that was reassuring on one hand, not so much on the other. Reno snorted and kicked him in the shin. "For the last fuckin’ time, *no*. If I really did care for the bastard, I wouldn’t have been kissing him in public like that and risk him being shot by you."

Giving his lover’s waist a warning squeeze, Rufus decided that he’d have to accept that twisted bit of logic and do his best to let go of his jealousy. "Then you’ll be happy to hear that your ‘friend’ is still alive, although stationed in Wutai for the time being." He’d listened to Tseng and done his best not to take his anger and jealousy out on a loyal Turk, but it was in Rod’s best interest to not be seen by him for a few weeks. Considering the Turk’s reaction when Rufus had calmly promised to shoot off his balls if he ever touched Reno again, he was sure that Rod much preferred being a continent away for the time being.

Letting out a slow breath, Reno shook his head, which made the earring smack against Rufus’ hand. "What, I’m the only one under house arrest, then? Lucky me." The sarcasm was heavy and sharp in his voice, and he attempted to push away from the counter.

Rufus kept his lover in place by tightening his hold. "As you said, you’d been warned, Reno. All in all, for the potential trouble and embarrassment you could have caused me, you’re getting off pretty damn lightly this time." *This time*. Only Reno’s almost confession last night kept the redhead from being handed over to the scientists in charge of ShinRa’s newly restarted ‘conditioning’ experiments. "Do such a thing again and you won’t be able to complain about your punishment," Rufus hissed. He’d do it, too, allow Reno to be tampered with until forced into obedience – that or killed. Reno belonged solely to him or to no one at all.

This time, Reno was successful in getting a bit of space by knocking his elbow perilously close to Rufus’ left kidney. When his hold on his lover loosened, Reno spun around and grabbed onto Rufus’ vest. "Don’t fuckin’ threaten me as if I was a damn pet," he hissed, his eyes glowing the brightest that Rufus had ever seen.

"If you don’t like it, then walk out that door." Rufus kept his voice perfectly cold as he took one of the biggest gambles in his life, needing proof that Reno was just as fucked up as he was by emotional entanglements. He’d shoot the bastard if Reno did walk away, but right now he wanted to see if that was still an option for at least one of them.

Cursing under his breath, Reno shoved Rufus aside yet remained by the counter, his hands tangled in his hair as he yanked on the crimson strands. His eyes snapped shut and he appeared to be fighting with himself, the cursing eventually giving way to a mad-sounding laughter.

Just like last night, Rufus *knew* then he had the Turk, that Reno couldn’t walk away or he’d have run the hell out of here. The same emotion that made him tie Reno to him as tightly as possible, that left him distracted and irritable whenever the Turk was away from his side on a mission, rendered Reno unable to leave. Oh, it wasn’t a perfect binding, not if Reno could make out with another person like he had last night, but any type of leash was preferable at this point. If Rufus had to be trapped by his emotions, then so did Reno.

Taking the risk of being hit, he closed the space between them, his hands reaching for his lover’s to hold them still and make Reno tilt up his face. He was expecting a knee to the groin or teeth biting into his lip when he initiated the kiss, unwilling to say anything else in case he revealed more than he wanted. Maybe that was why Reno kissed him back, because it meant he didn’t have to speak, either, and other than a sharp nip to Rufus’ tongue, there was no retaliation. The mad laughter stopped, replaced by one of the neediest groans that Rufus had ever heard.

He could clearly remember kissing Reno in the kitchen, their fingers entwining together as he gently pulled them from the redhead’s hair, the kiss deepening as his confidence and desire grew. Then they were in the bedroom minus most of their clothes, with Reno clinging to him in an almost desperate manner. What should have annoyed him only made the desire and confidence even stronger, made him laugh in delight as they tumbled onto the bed.

"Arrogant bastard," Reno muttered when he was rolled onto his back, his legs wrapped around Rufus’ hips and his hands – still holding onto Rufus’ – stretched out above his head. "Stop laughing."

"Why?" Rufus asked, more of a taunt than a question. He had Reno almost naked beneath him, hard and obviously willing, so he was going to indulge in this moment to the fullest extent possible.

Reno bucked his hips against Rufus’. "You’re too damn smug when you should be makin’ me want to stay," he said, his voice that husky, wicked whisper that always made Rufus shiver in yearning whenever he heard it.

Freeing his right hand, Rufus trailed the tips of his fingers along Reno’s body before sliding them beneath black silk to cup the hardness pressed against him. "It’s pretty clear to me that you want to stay." He made it sound like an insinuation for sex, the one safe area where they could admit just how much they wanted and needed each other.

"Then give me what I want," Reno moaned, his glowing eyes drifting shut as he tilted his head back. He looked so damn wanton – his bottom lip swollen from kisses and violence, his pale cheeks flushed, his unruly hair clinging to his face.

"Promise me that you’ll behave and I will." Even now, Rufus couldn’t let the matter entirely drop, not when there was so much on the line. Some part of him spurred him on despite the risk of pushing Reno too far; he’d rather that event happen at a time when he could control it.

He got an angry hiss and nails clawing down his back as an initial response, those same nails dragging their way back up and his hair grabbed as he was yanked forward for a savage kiss. Teeth smacked into teeth, lips caught between until pain and blood blossomed in his mouth. Then his head was pulled back again so Reno could glare at him with those unnatural eyes. "Dammit, I’m here now, right? Coulda jus’ beat you over the head with a pan and left." He spat the words out as if reminding an idiot of the most obvious point imaginable.

Even befuddled with lust and pride, Rufus understood the importance of those words and Reno’s actions today. Yes, his lover could have attempted to leave, but he hadn’t. Reno could have retaliated for being punished over his ‘lapse’ last night and wasn’t, as if he truly just had been trying to prove something to himself rather than willfully break Rufus’ orders.

That this was a turning point for them was so damn clear to Rufus that alarms went off in his head, warnings that he could mess things up with a moment’s carelessness. Even if he wasn’t entirely certain what was the worst course of action – driving Reno away or binding him even closer – he couldn’t do anything but shut up and bridge the space between them for another kiss.

Reno tried to grumble a bit more, hampered by Rufus’ tongue in his mouth, then relaxed his hold on Rufus’ hair. The nails were back, this time a teasing touch up and down his abused spine. His left hand still grasping Reno’s right, he brought it closer until he could feel cool silkiness beneath his fingers. Dammit, the redheaded bastard was such a plethora of wonderful, pleasurable sensations that Rufus had to have all of him.

Time sped up again, a hasty shedding of the remaining clothes made difficult by the fact that they only had one hand free each and Rufus wasn’t budging from his position on top. His pride demanded that much after he’d tempered his anger at his lover in the past day. Reno might be able to pull a disturbing amount of forgiveness from him, but he’d always be the one in charge.

Not that Reno appeared to want to get out from beneath him, not with the way his legs wrapped back around Rufus once their boxers were tossed aside. Oh no, certainly not with the way he began to slowly undulate, an erotic brush of skin and friction, teasing enough to make nerves sizzle and pop in pleasure but not yet burn. Rufus regretted having to tear his hand away from stroking along the sharp curve of his lover’s left hipbone long enough to snatch at the lubricant, but the pleased purr of his name made up for the sacrifice. Despite all the fighting, denial, mind games and testing of limits, there was at least one aspect of themselves that they had no trouble revealing to each other, as always laid bare once they were touching like this.

"I’d kill you if you cut me off from sex for two weeks," Reno stated, his voice an intriguing mix of anger and lust. He arched his back to press more of his body against Rufus, all that heat and hardness a wonderful distraction that made it very difficult to understand what was being said. Rufus shook his head and shoved his lover back onto the bed.

"I hate repeating myself," he said, a little surprised by how calm his voice sounded at the moment. "I’m the only one who gets to touch you like this." He made his lover unwrap the legs that were clamped around his waist then reached for the dangling earring. "Do anything like last night again, even if it’s just *one* damn kiss, and you won’t be enjoying anything for quite a while." He couldn’t say it any plainer than that, his attention focused on his lover to see how Reno reacted.

As was the theme for the night, Reno didn’t do what was expected of him. He shifted his left hand from the small of Rufus’ back to grip the one wrapped around the platinum chain, his eyes still glowing and his expression uncertain once again. "I thought it was just one of your control games, makin’ me swear that promise," he whispered, the words strained as if he was forced to speak them.

"This stopped being a ‘game’ a long time ago." Rufus detested the emotion that kept him from stating those words as coldly as he could, his voice rendered raw by the admission and what *wasn’t* being said. No, if all this was about was mutual pleasure and seeing how far they could push each other, Reno wouldn’t be here now.

Reno’s eyes were wide open as if he was shocked by that revelation. Rufus hated the fact that they were glowing even if he understood that it meant Reno was struggling to control his emotions. It was easier to guess what the redhead was thinking when his eyes were normal, but since Rufus wasn’t being killed at the moment was a positive sign.

Then those eyes closed as Reno tilted his head to the side and chuckled the same time his legs spread apart and bent at the knees to allow Rufus to better settle against him. "Coulda fuckin’ told me, ya know?" The uncertainty was gone, replaced by a pleased warmth that made Rufus smile.

"Idiot. You wouldn’t have noticed if I had," Rufus pointed out, refraining from mentioning that he *had* told Reno that very thing several times before just not as directly as he had now.

Reno grunted as an answer and turned his head back to look at Rufus. "Okay, enough with the talking. We keep on like this and we’ll just fuck things up to the point that Tseng will have to come here to stop us from killing each other." Even if his tone was light and teasing, what he said was true enough to be an uncomfortable fact. Despite how well they could get along together at times, heart to heart discussions weren’t exactly their forte.

"You’re the one talking." Rufus shifted forward enough to brush his lips against his lover’s the same time that he very noisily popped open the top of the bottle of lube. He stifled any smart comments or swearing on Reno’s part by initiating another kiss, this time less frenetic than the one before. No, enough had been said to push the bitterness and doubts aside, to assure them that it wasn’t wrong to want this contact so much. Rufus savored the moment, the way their fingers were still entwined, how Reno shifted about with eagerness when Rufus began to prepare him, the soft gasps as Reno’s body slowly opened up to him.

He was hard as hell and almost desperate to be inside his lover, to remind Reno just how well they fit together and to appease something that was almost disturbingly predatory and possessive inside of him. How Reno could ever think that Rufus would lose himself this far into a mere ‘game’ was a brief spot of annoyance that slowly was eroded by an ever sharpening sense of desire and need.

Breaking off the kiss so he could better hear those gasps, he smiled when Reno took to repeating his name in such a pleading manner. With great reluctance, he finally let go of his lover’s clasped hand so he could grasp Reno’s ass, tilting it enough so he could thrust inside with one smooth motion.

"Fuck, Rufus!" Reno tossed back his head, crimson hair fanning out across the bed and falling onto his flushed face. He moaned as Rufus slid further inside, the sound a low purr that made Rufus’ hands shake in anticipation and pleasure. After all this time - all the ways he’d had Reno over the years, the frenzied sex in his office or wherever else inspiration or lust struck – he shouldn’t be hit so strongly by how incredibly great and right this felt. It never came across as a repetitive act, the ecstasy dulled by foreknowledge and familiarity. Instead, those things only seemed to heighten the desire, to spur him on to trail his fingers just so along the crease at the top of Reno’s right thigh to hear the way his name was suddenly stuttered.

Or the way that Reno’s nails digging into the small of his back made him struggle to breathe evenly, a flash of pleasure/pain that caused the heat roiling inside the center of his body to spike in such an addictive manner. How leaning forward to trail his tongue along sharp collarbones earned him a pleading curse and Reno’s legs pressed harder against his sides, how shifting those legs onto his shoulders made his lover cry out and him shudder at how fucking *wonderful* it felt when the heat wrapped around him grew even tighter. There were so many things he knew; about the true power in this world, scientific equations, deadly secrets and boring facts, and none of it made him feel as alive as knowing that just tilting Reno’s hips upward a little more would make the rest of the world begin to vanish under an onslaught of ecstasy.

Everything came down to the feel of heat – that which gripped his cock with spasms of increasing tightness, the sweat-slick warmth beneath his hands and against the front of his thighs and chest, the sound of his name broken by moans and the slap of flesh against flesh, the scent of musky sweat, the taste of that sweat and an acrid tingle of cigarettes on his tongue. His chest began to hurt he was breathing so heavily, his body aching from the incessant, powerful snap of hips, the stinging bite of sweat in the scratches along his back. Over it all was that incredible pleasure, no longer a pure emotion but even more potent from the need and even love that had tainted it. When they were like this, Reno giving himself to Rufus and demanding more, Rufus taking it all and giving back whatever he could, it was the closest to peace that he’d ever felt.

He savored it for as long as he could, until one more snap of the hips, twist of fingers along hard, slick flesh, rake of nails down over-sensitized skin, did one of them in. This time it was Reno, Rufus’ name a harsh gasp struggling past his lips as he came, tightness and pain and satisfaction dragging Rufus along with him until they were both left utterly stunned by ecstasy and struggling to regain both breath and senses.

Rufus would hate how weak and unnaturally content a mere sexual release left him if it didn’t feel so damn good. Considering the precious time lost to Geostigma and how near he’d been to a crippled wreck helpless to stop his impending death, it was something that he couldn’t resist, something so perilously close to bliss that he was driven to seek it out over and over again. Reno wasn’t the only idiot in the bedroom just then since Rufus hadn’t thought to question why he never felt that way with any of his other numerous lovers. Perhaps there was one benefit to being in love, after all.

He forced himself to shift backwards and lose the intimate contact with his lover before he stretched out on the bed beside Reno, needing the slight bit of space to help center his mind on rational thoughts and not emotions. Reno grunted as if amused and rolled onto his side as well, facing away from Rufus as he started to pull free the long strands of hair that had been caught beneath him during the sex.

Rufus helped him with that, a small, satisfied smile on his face as he combed his fingers through such gorgeous hair. He wouldn’t exactly consider himself weak for redheads since no one got to him to the extent that Reno did, and he was equally turned on whenever his lover had to dye the almost garish color something else for a mission. "I think Tseng’s grown his hair out an inch or two since you’ve stopped cutting yours," he remarked, unwilling to discuss anything serious at the moment and ruin the good mood.

Reno grunted again, this time *definitely* amused. "Yeah, Elena was bitching a month or so ago about how her hair always gets in the way if she lets it get any longer, while Tseng’s doesn’t. She’s even searched through his bathroom and garbage to see if he’s hiding any secret Wutian hairspray or something. You know, whatever Strife uses to keep his hair all spiky." He sounded happy and tired, which matched the boneless way he lounged in bed.

Sliding his arm around his lover’s chest, Rufus enjoyed the feel of warm skin and the heart beating beneath it against his cooler palm. "I still remember how long it took you to spike your hair, you know."

There was a rude noise in response while Reno draped his now thankfully spike-free hair on the pillow above his head. "Least I don’t think slicking it back with a gallon of gel makes me look all serious and shit. You’ve been hanging out with Tseng too long or something," he grumbled.

Rufus chuckled at the jab, not about to explain how he had more important things to worry about than his hair. "Just admit that you like having that extra half an hour to sleep in each morning," he purred into his lover’s left ear.

Reno sighed as if exhausted and leaned back enough to press against Rufus’ chest. "Like I’ll really need that extra half an hour for the next two weeks. I’m already bored outta my mind, ya know," he complained, his breath catching when Rufus stroked his fingers along Reno’s left hip.

"You can always cook some more dinners," Rufus teased, refusing to acknowledge how much he enjoyed coming home to find Reno making a meal for them both. He just managed to keep from getting another kick to the shin.

"Right, I can hear the other Turks laughing at me already. They’ll ask when you’re gonna give me a ring and when’s the wedding date." The scorn in his voice couldn’t possibly be any thicker.

Rufus couldn’t resist a bit more teasing, even if it hit closer to home than he’d like. "I’d say you already got your platinum and diamonds." His hand slid along Reno’s collarbones to find the earring’s chain to give it a gentle tug.

"Yeah." Reno’s response was so quiet and calm that Rufus wished that he could see his lover’s face just then. He pulled Reno closer, worried that the good mood had come to a crashing halt, when Reno sighed again and reached back to tangle his fingers in Rufus’ hair. "Next time you’re in a ‘giving mood’, I’d rather have ten minutes to do whatever I want to Alim whenever he orders me to Medical for a bunch of new tests. Diamonds are way overrated."

"And finding a qualified doctor who’s willing to put up with you on what seems to be a monthly basis is something even rarer." Rufus couldn’t keep the amusement from his voice, even if Reno’s animosity to his Head of Medical wasn’t something that was very funny. "What did the man do to you to make you hate him so much?" He’d gone over his lover’s medical files several times to try to find an answer and only knew that the animosity had started when Reno had joined the Turks.

"Huh, get me drunk enough one night and maybe I’ll tell you." Reno let go of Rufus’ hair to rub his hand over his face.

Oh, that meant that Alim must have either embarrassed Reno or hit a sore spot. For a few seconds, Rufus seriously contemplated unleashing his lover on all the alcohol in his office before common sense kicked in. He’d save the mystery for another time. "I’ll keep that in mind."

"Bastard." Reno sat up and turned to face Rufus. "There’s still that bottle of wine left over from dinner," he reminded with a devilish grin on his face.

"Yes, there is." Rufus rolled onto his back and folded his arms beneath his head. "But it’s not enough to get you drunk."

Reno shrugged, the motion a study of elegance that clashed with his disheveled hair and naked appearance. His eyes were back to normal, at least, and sparkling with amusement. "Nah, but it still tastes good and who knows when you’ll fetch another bottle out of your office." He leaned forward to give Rufus a quick kiss. "How much shit will I be in for cracking the lock, hmm?"

"You’ll be required to train all new recruits on lock-breaking." Rufus allowed himself an evil smile at the way that Reno’s smug demeanor instantly deflated at the prospect of having to deal with the recruits in a manner that didn’t let him beat them up.

"Definitely not worth it," Reno muttered as he got off the bed and stomped out of the room, most likely to fetch the bottle of wine. Reno watched him go, enjoying the view and toying with the idea of telling his lover that he’d provide something alcoholic for each dinner that Reno cooked for him. The thought was very tempting, but something that would wait until morning. Right now, he wanted to enjoy as much of the wine he could snatch from Reno and then soak in the tub, not deal with his lover’s prickly temper. He could tell Reno about the arrangement tomorrow, when he’d be able to leave for work and give the redhead several hours to cool down.

*******

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