Rules of Possession

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chapter two

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Reno’s consciousness snapped into awareness when the mattress he slept on shifted, his eyes flying open even as his muddled brain tried to start working. There was a moment of silence and then a large hand brushed aside the hair that fell onto his face. "Go back to sleep, you’re not working today." He was so tired that it took him a moment to realize that the sleepy, pleased-sounding voice belonged to Rufus.

So, he was in Rufus’ bed and just told to go back to sleep. Needing no more conviction than that, he did as he was told.

He next woke some time later, the room no longer dark but flooded with light. He lay on his left side, his left arm curled beneath the pillow and his right arm stretched out over the bed as if he reached for something. A quick glance at the clock revealed that it was past noon and he still felt a little tired. Closing his eyes, he rolled onto his back and was ready to sleep some more when he felt something heavy and rough slide along his jaw.

Memory of last night rushed back, along with a faint ache from the tip of his right ear that somehow eclipsed the more protesting soreness from various muscles and his raw throat. Cursing under his breath, he sat up in bed and held his head in his hands, the rough heaviness hitting his neck a few times before the chain stopped swinging.

Even if it wasn’t morning any more, it was too damn early to think about this, Reno told himself as he forced his protesting body from the bed. He could sleep later, right now he had to access the damage and figure a few things out. His legs were wobbly and his ass distinctly sore as he limped toward the bathroom. Of course the arrogant bastard had to take him at his word to have sex all damn night, he thought with real venom, more than willing to be distracted by the main issue for a few more minutes. Rufus always had a very healthy sexual appetite but ever since he’d healed from the Geostigma, it had damn near seemed stuck in ‘overdrive’. Which could be a good thing, depending on the situation but not last night, Reno thought.

He made it to the bathroom without his legs giving out, something he took as a good sign. Refusing to look in the mirrors that covered an entire wall, he quickly turned the taps on at the tub to fill it with hot water. Not waiting for the huge basin to fill, he groaned as he climbed into the tub, every muscle in his body seeming to protest.

Closing his eyes, he leaned back and let the water slowly submerge his aching body. Only when the water level bumped at the bottom of his chin did he use his foot to turn the taps off. Surrounded by liquid warmth, he took a deep breath and tried to relax.

He could feel the sting where Rufus’ nails and teeth had broken skin, the dull ache of strained muscles and new bruises. His right arm didn’t hurt anymore, something he was thankful for since his brace had been lost at some point during the night, and while his ass protested all that hard use it wasn’t as sore as it had been on some occasions. All in all, he should consider himself very lucky.

However, the slight burn in his right ear and the heavy metal that rested on his shoulder was a reminder that he hadn’t gotten off scot-free last night. What the hell had possessed him to give Rufus fucking Shinra carte blanche to demand something from him? The only explanation was that the explosion must have damaged Reno’s brain.

Sitting sullenly in a tub of hot water, he frowned and slid down a little more until the water level was right below his nose. Dammit, it was all Rude’s fault. Somehow his partner had managed to piss Rufus off in the past few months. How, Reno had no fucking clue as Rude always did his job right and to the best of his abilities. All he knew was that Rude seemed rather wary whenever he was around Rufus, and Rufus’ voice often took on that particular cold edge that spoke of strong dislike when he addressed the Turk.

"Fuck Rufus and whatever bug crawled up his ass," Reno muttered under the water, air bubbles rippling the liquid’s surface and splashing drops into his nose. Sitting up again, he crossed his arms over his chest, tilted his head back and glared at the ceiling. "He gets all pissy with Rude for some damn reason and *I’m* the one stuck paying for it." With each movement of his jaw, the earring’s dangle hit his neck, an unwelcome reminder of just what he had to pay.

Even submerged in hot water, he felt a chill settle in his chest. While injured by the explosion and lying in the hospital bed, he’d caught that cold note in Rufus’ voice when Rude was mentioned and felt an irrational fear that something would happen to his partner. He was well aware of how much time, effort and money that Rufus had put into the new power plant and how much ShinRa needed it to work if the company was to recover. While he personally wanted to kick Rude in the head for falling for the Tifa wannabe’s act for even a second, he knew his friend didn’t deserve what an enraged Rufus could dish out. Especially not when Rufus seemed to have it in for Rude in the first place, so Reno had made that stupid bargain. That was why he hadn’t decked his lover when he’d been told what the earring meant last night.

Go ahead and believe that, a tiny, amused voice whispered in his head. Annoyed by that comment, he frowned and slid under the water until he rested against the bottom of the tub. He scrubbed at his hair until he felt his lungs ache from lack of oxygen and let himself drift upward. Gulping for air, he brushed back the wet strands that clung to his face and called himself an idiot.

"As if I had any chance of turning the bastard down," he told the soaked redhead who scowled back at him from the mirror on the opposite wall. "He’s Rufus Shinra, one of the richest men on the planet and all I am is the employee he’s fucking." His image’s mouth took a bitter downturn and stared at him with eyes surrounded by dark circles of exhaustion. "Not quite ready to die just yet," he mumbled and leaned against the side of the tub. Not quite ready to be tossed aside and replaced as Rufus’ lover.

What the hell had happened, Reno attempted to figure out as he rubbed his hands over his face. Barely two months ago he’d been prepared for the relationship to come to an end over a fucking shirt. Now he was fucking *branded*, the ShinRa logo stuck to his damn ear. Rufus had set down under no uncertain terms what he could and couldn’t do anymore and he’d just allowed it to happen.

Was Rude’s life really worth this? Reno’s mind didn’t hesitate to answer that it was. Even if Rufus was just bluffing, something that Reno suspected might be the case because Rude had been there for the bastard for the last few years, he couldn’t take the chance. Rufus could be so incredibly ruthless when he put his mind to it, after all. Considering all the times that Rude had been there for Reno, he couldn’t let his partner down now.

Still…. Reno tugged on the earring, the ShinRa logo grasped between his fingers. There was an overwhelming impulse to get up from the tub, look in Rufus’ medicine cabinet for a sharp razor and cut the fucking thing off, even if he lost part of his ear. He could leave the bloody thing on Rufus’ bed and be well on his way… oh, to Wutai or someplace, before his lover came home.

Yet he stayed in the tub. The prospect of pain and mutilation didn’t really bother him, not after what he’d already done to himself and what he faced as a Turk. He didn’t move just because of the threat to Rude, either, if he ‘broke’ his word to Rufus. No, something painful and centered in his chest kept Reno still, unable to do anything but stare at his reflection as the water around him slowly cooled.

"What the hell went wrong?" he asked the other Reno, not really expecting an answer. Weeks ago he’d been bragging to Rude that he was on top of the ‘game’ between him and Rufus, that he held the upper-hand because he’d made his lover change tactics. Now Rufus had done that again and utterly pulled the rug out from under his feet. He had no fucking idea why things had changed and what to do now, a fact that deeply disturbed him. He was Reno of the Turks, was supposed to be able to land on his feet no matter what the circumstance and kick some serious ass.

Instead, he was figuratively sprawled out on the floor like a dazed idiot. Or some poor stray that found itself suddenly neutered, tagged and shoved into a cage, he thought with real bitterness as he once more toyed with the earring.

He could find some metal cutters, snip the damn chain off, go to work and shove the thing down Rufus’ throat. His chance of surviving that was literally nil but he’d have some satisfaction before he died. He could grab a few things from here and run, mostly confident in his ability to keep ahead of his fellow Turks and whoever else Rufus sent after him. He could tell Rufus that he wasn’t going to carry on with the… ‘relationship’ any more and hope that he was correct in believing that his lover was not a rapist. However, none of those possible actions made him feel very good. Well, the first one did but he wasn’t willing to commit suicide just yet.

So that left him stuck with a ridiculous bit of jewelry that was going to get in his way during fights and whatnot and a Rufus who had done the unexpected. There had *never* been any talk of commitment between them in the years since this mess had started. Reno knew that Rufus had continued to sleep around after they got together and had done so himself, albeit in a much more discreet manner. When had that changed?

He knew that he’d been more than satisfied with the sex and soon didn’t consider it worth the effort to fool around on the side, not when Rufus was so easily ‘swayed’ into having some fun. Things had been pretty busy around that time, too, with AVALANCHE regrouping so he just… settled. The lack of other partners hadn’t really bothered him and then Meteor had happened. There’d been no way he was going to fool around with other people when everyone he cared about was fighting for their lives, and just when things had gotten better, Rufus came down with Geostigma.

Unwilling to think about things any more, Reno climbed out of the tub, water splashing to the floor from his sudden movements. He grabbed a towel to dry off, wrapped another one around his hair in a turban and approached the sink. Looking into the mirror, he first checked to see if he needed to bother to shave before the earring caught his attention.

He had to admit, it was an impressive bit of flash. The chain was a complex design of knot work that would be a lot more practical if it was at least three inches shorter. The company logo was created with cut stones and Reno had the impression he wasn’t looking at glass or glue there. Tapping the nail of his right forefinger against the stones, he was willing to bet they were real. Nice to know that if he ever needed some gil he had something on hand to pawn.

"Sorry, Rufus, I was behind on rent this past month and had to do something," he said aloud, his voice bright with faked cheer. "Didn’t think you’d mind at all." A tired laugh escaped him as he scrutinized his image in the mirror. The bruises from the other day were gone but his bangs really needed to be cut, he looked tired as hell and the earring was too damn shiny. The first person who saw him was going to assume that he stole the damn earring and try to arrest him, he was willing to bet. Then Rufus would get a chance to tell everyone that no, Reno was his permanent fucktoy and that since he couldn’t find a suitable collar, he’d used the earring to mark his property instead.

Wallowing in dark thoughts, Reno opened the medicine cabinet and searched for the toothbrush he’d hidden in it months ago, too tired to go to the other bathroom that he usually used to get ready in the mornings. He looked past the thing several times before he realized that the old red toothbrush was gone and a new blue one was in its place. Staring at the new brush, he wondered when it had been changed and why Rufus hadn’t pitched a fit when he found it.

Reno had the growing suspicion that things had been changing for longer than he realized and he was a fucking idiot for not noticing them sooner. He’d let too much slip by without question, like Rude and Rufus not getting along, Rufus flipping out over a damn shirt and the way he’d spent practically all of his spare time here and not at his own apartment. Maybe if he’d been doing something other than working and fucking around, he’d have realized that things weren’t normal. Hell, he *had* sorta recognized that and hadn’t bothered to care. Now the situation was biting him on the ass.

He once more tried to put all thoughts on hold while he brushed his teeth. Then he let the towels drop to the floor and returned to the bedroom. His jeans he could wear again and for once Rufus hasn’t ripped his shirt but he just tossed the garment aside. Going into the walk-in closet, he appropriated a clean pair of boxes and a thin black sweater he’d always liked. Rufus couldn’t complain if property borrowed other belongings, now could he? Even if he did, he could go to a hell of his choice and complain there, Reno thought, a nasty smile on his face as he dressed.

Clothed once more, he wandered to the kitchen in search of coffee and food. Since it was his day off, he was in no hurry to return to a dusty apartment bereft of anything to eat. Hell, if Rufus wanted him to stick around so much, maybe he wouldn’t leave the apartment all day. Reno figured it would be pretty interesting to see how his anal lover reacted to him mooching food and liquor, using the computer in the office to look up porn and putting his feet on the couch while he watched some movies.

There were some cold dregs of coffee in the pot that he stared at wistfully for a few seconds before he poured them down the drain. As fresh coffee brewed, he opened the fridge and was pleased to see several nice thick steaks sitting on a plate. Grinning from ear to ear, he grabbed the plate and set it on the counter. He ignored the bowl of salad but grabbed some twice-baked potatoes that just needed to be heated up. Setting a large iron skillet on the stove, he began to make himself something to eat.

They hadn’t bothered with dinner last night so his stomach rumbled loudly as the steaks cooked. He enjoyed some coffee while he waited for them and the potatoes to be ready, his world slowly growing better as caffeine worked its magic. By the time he finished his second cup, everything was done. Good thing he liked his meat bloody or he’d have fainted from hunger before the things were cooked.

Fetching a knife and fork, Reno transferred the food onto a plate and planned on eating in the living room. About to leave the kitchen, he went back to the fridge for a couple of bottles of beer he’d seen in there. Rufus liked some expensive, prissy brand but beer was beer and Reno desperately needed some alcohol in his system. There was no way he was going to keep thinking about things while he was completely sober.

Of course there was not much on the television when he turned it on, eventually setting for some insipid talk show as he hoped that Midgar quickly recovered enough to produce some decent programs very soon.

The food didn’t last for very long and made his stomach feel almost uncomfortably full. Setting the empty plate on the coffee table, Reno burped loudly and sprawled out on the couch with a bottle of beer in hand. Not distracted enough by the show’s stupid chatter, his right hand drifted to the new earring. Why hadn’t he put up more of a fight last night, he wondered. There was no way he could really kick Rufus’ ass unless he was looking for a death sentence but still, he could have knocked the bastard out and left. But that would probably have meant Rude’s job if not his life.

No matter how much of a legitimate excuse that was, Reno felt it ring a bit hollow. Maybe it was because Rufus really hadn’t asked for much from him. After all, he fucked Rufus almost every day, practically lived here and hadn’t intended on putting an end to their relationship any time soon. He could even admit that he felt some affection for the man - sadistic, domineering asshole that Rufus was. There was a huge thrill to be involved with someone that powerful, someone who could destroy Reno’s world if the thought ever crossed his mind. Reno enjoyed the thrill of pleasure associated to that danger, enjoyed knowing he could insult and push Rufus far past what anyone else could. Then there were the facts that Rufus was pretty damn hot and great in the sack so why bother looking elsewhere for a lover?

"Great, next you’ll be saying that he’s your true love or some other silly shit," Reno grumbled to the empty beer bottle in his hand. The truth was, he could do a lot worse than Rufus. Hell, he *had* done a lot worse than Rufus. And at some point over the years, maybe when Rufus had been practically bedridden by that fucking disease, he couldn’t imagine wasting his time on anyone else.

"My body, time and loyalty," he said as he flicked the logo on the end of the earring. Rufus was right, he already possessed those things, had been given them willingly by Reno years ago. Reno had never begrudged him any of them, other than during their few fights. Why was he bothered by it now?

Because Rufus had taken any and all choice in the matter away from him and changed the rules that Reno had always been able to twist to his advantage. Now things were different and Rufus held all of the power… until Reno figured out how to regain the upper hand. There was some niggling doubt that he might not be able to do that but hell, he was a lot of nasty things but never a quitter. He might run from a fight on occasion but only with the intention of finishing it another day.

Returning to the kitchen for another beer, he smiled in contentment for the first time that day. Nothing better than a challenge, he thought as he leaned against the counter and had a swallow of cold, crisp beer. Okay, it would probably take some time but he could figure out how to end up in charge of things again – at least most of the time. Well, enough for it to matter.

Feeling encouraged, Reno returned to the couch. No more sulking on what had been done, he learned long ago that he couldn’t change the past. Even if he wasn’t very happy with Rufus’ price he would honor his word and that was that. Now to figure out just how much things had changed and how much power he really had left. For someone like Rufus to do something so… permanent, Reno had to wonder if his lover hadn’t revealed more than he should have. He wasn’t foolish enough to consider it love but Rufus clearly felt something for him to come up with this stupid scheme, he thought as he played with the earring.

Either that or the bastard was trying to drive him mad.

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Reno awoke for a third time that day, sprawled out on the couch with his left hand clenched around Rufus’ right, his lover’s fingertips brushing against his forehead. His brain not fully functioning just yet, he snarled the first thing that popped into it. "Can’t you fucking knock?"

Rufus arched his elegantly shaped left eyebrow, a distinctively peevish expression on his face. "Why would I knock on my own door?" he asked, the emotion echoed in his chilled voice.

Oh shit. Reno’s brain kicked into gear at last and he remembered the fact that he’d spent the day at his lover’s apartment. Glad that he hadn’t had more than a few beers before he’d fallen asleep, he stifled a yawn as he struggled to sit up on the couch, Rufus’ hand still clutched by his. "What time is it?" he mumbled as he forced his fingers to open.

"A little after six o’clock." Rufus didn’t move his hand away, instead it shot forward to wrap around Reno’s new earring. "What are you doing here?"

The furious tone to the question made Reno try to put some space between him and Rufus but a sharp pull on the earring made him curse under his breath and go still. "Didn’t feel like going home. Besides," he said, his eyes narrowing in anger as he fought the urge to smack Rufus’ hand aside, "figured you wouldn’t mind if I stuck around. Don’t you like all your property to be in one place, hmmm?"

Rufus glared for a moment and then his expression smoothed while he used his hold in the earring’s chain to force Reno off the couch. "I don’t appreciate coming home to a mess. If I’d thought that you would remain here all day then I would have prepared a nice, cozy kennel for you to sleep in."

Angered both by the words Rufus said and the insulting tone in which they were spoken, Reno’s temper finally got the best of him and he did grab the hand wrapped around the jewelry’s chain and dig his fingers between taut tendons. "If that’s the case then why the hell don’t you fucking exchange me for some prissy and better behaved breed, eh?" he spat as he forced Rufus’ hand from the chain.

His eyebrows drawing together as he scowled, Rufus grasped Reno’s chin instead. His grip was so tight that Reno wanted to wince when strong fingers pressed forcefully against skin and bone but he refused to show any weakness. The pain soon faded beneath anger, anyway.

"Because mongrels make excellent guard dogs," Rufus replied, his voice betraying none of the growing temper displayed on his face. "You just have to be more attentive during their training." He leaned closer and his left hand settled on Reno’s right hip in a possessive manner. "You have to ensure that they are thoroughly broken so no undesirable traits surface at a later date."

Staring into his lover’s blue eyes, Reno bared his teeth in an attempt at a humorless smirk. "Gonna break me, eh? Then you should have fucking bought me a collar, that would be a hell of a lot more fun to shove up your ass." He began to raise his left fist to punch the bastard but found himself shoved off balance by the hand on his hip, turned partially around from the force and by the time he got his bearings, Rufus was behind him with an arm tight around his throat and the other wrapped around his chest to pin his own arms to his side.

"Fucking ba-" He sputtered as the press of Rufus’ right arm against his windpipe cut off his air.

"Mongrels are supposed to be very loyal and never think of turning on their masters’," Rufus crooned in his left ear. "Good thing you’re not a dog or I’d have to put you down as too unreliable to trust." His lover’s teeth tugged on the hoop earring he wore and despite his anger, Reno felt a jolt of lust shoot through his body to his cock. "You wonder why I bothered to do this to you." Rufus’s right hand tugged on the other earring. "I am a very important man, Reno, too busy to waste my time on a partner who I would have to woo or placate by some means just so I can enjoy sexual release. You are ideal in that you are almost always willing, seem to have no personal agenda other than your own pleasure and have proven yourself reliable in protecting my life. I even enjoy your little displays of temper and bad manners," he crooned, his voice taking on a soft edge that made the hair on the back of Reno’s neck stand up from the sense of danger. "But not all the time, and not when they inconvenience me."

Reno found himself released and spun around. He managed to get a glancing blow against the side of Rufus’ head but the bastard had kept his right hand near Reno’s neck and grasped it now, hard enough to cause intense pain as well as once more cut off oxygen to his lungs. "I won’t allow you to embarrass or take advantage of me, Reno," Rufus informed him with a voice gone frigid with controlled fury. "Your first lesson as my pet will be that while I can be amazingly lenient with it, my property is *not* your property. The next time you find yourself alone in my apartment, you will ascertain if you have permission to remain here or not. I know you have experience operating a phone so you will call me should I show you the courtesy of allowing you a bit of rest."

Reno stared at his lover, at Rufus’ now tousled hair and the hint of red that spread across his right cheek. The hand around Reno’s neck loosened enough to allow him a little air but still gripped him hard enough to leave bruises but he couldn’t care less about the burning in his lungs. No, his attention was mainly focused on Rufus’ face, the look of boredom at odds with the anger that caused blue eyes to glow. He knew that he was being talked down to, that he was being treated little better than a pet and that pushed his temper over the edge. Maybe he couldn’t curse the bastard like he should but he had enough saliva in his mouth to spit in Rufus’ face to show his own contempt.

Rufus was still for a moment, his eyes widening for a couple of seconds before they narrowed once more. His right hand tightened around Reno’s throat again as he reached for a handkerchief to wipe the spit away.

Gasping for air, Reno again swung his left fist at Rufus while his right hand scratched at Rufus’ in an attempt to get it off his throat. The blow was deflected but Rufus finally released him. As he stood there on unsteady feet, Reno eyed his lover warily, both arms held up to ward off or strike a blow. He was certain that he was going to be punched at best, shot at worst. The last time he’d seen Rufus this furious was when his lover’s father had still been alive and had either ignored Rufus’ advice to ShinRa’s detriment or belittled him earlier in front of witnesses. Someone had usually paid for the man’s loss of temper and right now, Reno was the idiot who had dared to provoke it.

Braced for the worst, he let out a startled breath when he found himself shoved onto the couch. Even though he tried his best to push Rufus away, he ended sitting haphazardly on the furniture with Rufus straddling his lap and his lover’s tongue shoved down his throat. He began to wonder if Rufus was trying to kill him by making him choke to death. Raising his hands to shove the bastard away, he was also about to clamp his jaws shut on that invading tongue when the kiss just as suddenly stopped.

Rufus grabbed his hands and slammed them against the back of the couch. "The more you piss me off," Rufus hissed, his calm demeanor utterly shattered, "the less chance there is of you ever being freed. I will keep you at heel like a broken mongrel just for spite."

Reno tried to toss the bastard off but Rufus was both heavier and stronger. "You say the most romantic things," he shot back, a bitter smile on his face. "Why would I want to leave such a sweet fellow like you?"

Opening his mouth for a retort, Rufus seemed to think better of it and simply exhaled a slow breath instead. "Leaving is no longer an option," he said after a few seconds, his tone the imperturbable one that Reno recognized as a dangerous warning. "I thought that was made clear last night."

Taking a moment as well to try and cool down his temper before they killed each other, Reno stared at his lover, his body tense and breath rapid in response to the very potential threat against his life – or at least his immediate well-being. "No, you made it clear that I wasn’t supposed to fuck around on you." Was that what this was all about? He couldn’t believe that it could come down to something that simple. Rufus not wanting to be embarrassed by him screwing around, yes, that was a concept that was pretty easy to grasp but the man was a fucking idiot if he thought this was a good way to get him to not walk away.

"Then let me explain it slowly enough that someone of your questionable mental capability will understand," Rufus sneered. "You will not have sex with anyone else – and do not even *think* to push me by arguing about the definition of sex or I will shoot your balls off, Reno. You will continue to do your job to the best of your abilities and you will obey my orders without question. You will go wherever I want you to go, be it here, work or a hell of my choice." He leaned in close, his eyes shining with anger. "But you will *not* leave without my express permission. I own you now, and if you think this earring is bad, I really will brand you until you learn that very important lesson."

He was perfectly serious, Reno thought with growing confusion. Whatever had possessed Rufus to go through with this crazy scheme was important enough that he could very well imagine being held down while the crazy bastard burned ShinRa’s logo onto his flesh. "You’re nuts," he whispered, his abused throat suddenly dry and tight.

Rufus gave him an implacable smile. "I don’t see how that matters right now. Insane or not, I have complete and utter control over you and *you* were the one who gave it to me, Reno." He released Reno’s left hand to caress the side of his face. "Now, do you understand the rules I have just described or do I need to draw a diagram?" The anger was gone from Rufus’ voice but some of the chilliness remained.

Shaking his head, Reno couldn’t look away from his lover. "I’m yours, it’s not that difficult a concept to grasp." The mere fact of it made him furious and thrilled at the same time. Had anyone else managed to push Rufus Shinra this far before, he couldn’t help but think with a begrudging sense of pride. Rufus might have almost complete control over him but he had hope that he had some over the bastard after all if he could survive his actions of the past few minutes. At least enough control to make Rufus utterly miserable if the asshole believed he could order him about like some well-trained dog. "Couldn’t you have just said it with flowers or something?" he quipped, intrigued to see how much farther he could push his lover without resorting to violence again.

There was a few more seconds of that cold, cruel smile and then it twitched into something warmer, something amused. "And you have the gall to tell me that I’m insane," Rufus murmured, his temper seemingly defused.

"Hey, you’re the one who wants me so badly," Reno shot back – and instantly regretted it when Rufus’ expression once more turned stormy. Yet he refused to back down now or he might as well really be Rufus’ slave for the rest of his life. "I don’t see me forcing you to wear some ridiculous jewelry."

Rufus released his other hand and tugged gently on the chain. "This is *not* ridiculous." He actually sounded offended rather than furious. "You merely do not possess any good taste."

Not being an utter idiot, Reno bit back on the question if that lack of taste pertained to his choice of lovers. Instead, he wrinkled his nose and sniffed. "You try to fight with a pound of metal and stones stuck on your ear and swinging about."

"You’ll get used to it." Coldness crept back into Rufus’ voice. "I’m not joking, Reno. Do not think to test how far I’m willing to bend those rules because the answer is *not at all*. You made a bargain and I expect you to live up to it." He let go of the earring to slide the fingers of his left hand beneath Reno’s chin and force it upward. "I am a very busy man doing my best to ensure that my company is once again the most powerful one on this planet and I will *not* allow myself to be distracted by your hair-brained antics. You will behave and you will be there for me when I have need for you. Honor your word and you will find that your life hasn’t changed that much. Break your word…." He didn’t complete the statement.

"Break my word and you’ll break me." And probably Rude as well but Reno didn’t think it would be a good idea to bring his partner into the fight. That might give Rufus even more ammunition to use against him. More than anything he wanted to know why Rufus was so insistent on ‘keeping’ him if he was such a fucking distraction but he had the feeling he’d pushed as much as he could tonight. There would be better times to get the answers he wanted and he’d gotten more than he’d expected just now. He did know when it was best to quit fighting so he’d have hopes of winning the next round.

"I’m not sleeping in a fucking kennel," he informed his lover as he deliberately brought up a different fight, anger creeping back into his voice. "And I didn’t call because you never said shit about me not being able to stay here today." Rufus hadn’t said he could, either, but he was still testing the waters, so to speak. Hell, he’d even taken his plate and the empty beer bottles back to the kitchen before he’d laid down for a nap. There was no reason for the uptight bastard to yell at him about leaving a mess.

Rufus began to glare, and when he spoke his words were made curt by that obvious anger. "You must be the most suicidal idiot I’ve ever had the misfortune to know. You truly need to learn your limits, Reno." Then his mood quickly changed as he sighed in exasperation, closed his eyes and leaned forward until his forehead rested against Reno’s. "If you weren’t a damn good Turk I’d shoot you myself to save me future annoyance. However, you have your uses and occasionally can make a valid point. I can tell that I’m going to need a better lock for the liquor cabinet," he said before he tilted his head to the side and initiated another kiss.

Since that hadn’t been the answer he’d expected, Reno didn’t resist this time. If anything, he got the impression he’d just received approval to hang out here more often. Pushing all thoughts of how he could take advantage of that aside for the moment, he threaded his fingers through Rufus’ hair and kissed back. His lover’s hair was also so soft and silky, usually so well-kept that he just delighted in tousling the blond strands. There was something so incredibly sexy to a mussed Rufus. If only he could get the man to lay off the hair gel and wear fewer layers of clothes, he’d be very happy and horny. Well, hornier.

Dammit, no matter how angry he got – in fact that seemed to just amp things up even more – he always wanted the bastard. Rufus could do such things to him with a mere look or an arched eyebrow or simple tone of voice. Maybe because Rufus was so powerful or almost always in control, or because Reno got such a thrill in knowing he could make someone like him break down so easily but it took so damn little to go weak in the knees at times. He’d never been this infatuated with anyone before and the emotion showed no signs of abating. He was well and truly fucked, literally and figuratively – or would be shortly.

Rufus seemed to have the same fetish about hair, not that Reno minded at all. He shivered and uttered a low moan as fingers combed through the tangled strands to slowly coax the knots out and massaged his scalp. As long as Rufus did things like that he could be as much of an asshole as he wanted, Reno dazedly thought. Every inch of his skin tingled at caresses that provided as much pleasure as the feel of his lover’s hard cock pressed against his belly.

"Grow all your hair out," Rufus whispered into his ear as he was maneuvered to lie down on the couch, Rufus naturally on top.

"Is that an order?" he couldn’t help but ask, even though a voice inside his head screamed at him to just shut up until after the sex was over. "Cause it’s short for a reason." Well, mostly short. "Not a good idea to have it long all over during a fight." He got into enough trouble with the tail but he was too stubborn to cut it off like Veld had always been after him to do.

Pulling away slightly, Rufus brushed aside the hair that clung to Reno’s forehead. "It’s… a suggestion," he said, proving that he wasn’t going to be a total asshole about everything - for once.

Reaching for the lapels of his lover’s white jacket, Reno tugged the man closer. "Maybe," was all he said, grateful for a little more ammunition to use against Rufus. As they kissed, his hands slid beneath the jacket to push it from broad shoulders. Dammit, what was his lover’s obsession with layers? You’d think the man was constantly freezing or something but his body was always delightfully warm to the touch. Once you fought through the two coats, a vest, shirt and whatever else the idiot had thought to wear that day. "Why the hell do you have to wear your entire closet?" he muttered against his lover’s lips. "Surprised you have any clothes left for me to borrow."

Rufus surprised him by chuckling at the question and shifted away just enough to shed the top jacket and the one beneath it as well. "Because I want to," was all Rufus said, the explanation he gave for most things. Reno grumbled a little over the lack of an answer but decided not to tease his lover any more over the matter. Rufus would just get that stick up his ass again which meant that there would be another fight and no sex. That would lead Reno to clobber the bastard and make things even more strained between them.

So all he did was bitch about there still being too many damn layers as his fingers fumbled with the buttons on the black vest Rufus wore over a white turtleneck. Preoccupied with stripping his lover naked, he didn’t pay much attention to what Rufus’ hands were doing… until they slid behind his back and pushed into the waistband of his jeans. "Oh… yeah…," he murmured and his back arched in response – only to have the breath suddenly leave his body when cool, dry fingers pressed against his hole. Damn, maybe he should have soaked longer in the tub, he thought as his muscles briefly clenched in pain.

"Still a little sore, are we?" Rufus chuckled, the sound evil and much too pleased. "I think you should be more careful in the future when you suggest having sex all night." A cruel smile curved his lips but his eyes sparkled with lust.

Reno bared his teeth at his lover and resumed unbuttoning the vest. "Someone didn’t have to fuck me so hard that last time," he complained, even though his body shivered to remember the feel of Rufus’ cock driving into his ass so hard and fast as he crouched on top of the bed, his face pressed against the silk duvet. The entire bed had shook from the force of those thrusts and afterwards, he’d remained in the same position as come dripped down his thighs, exhausted and sore and so very sated. He closed his eyes and groaned in delight at the memory.

The feel of Rufus’ mouth along the side of his neck made him groan again and tug desperately at the mostly undone vest. Even though it was going to hurt, he wanted Rufus to fuck him like that again, wanted that searing mix of pain/ecstasy that his lover did so damn well. "But I won’t complain if you do it again," he stuttered as teeth grazed along the sensitive skin just below his jaw.

"Oh, I couldn’t care less if you did," Rufus murmured against his throat and pulled back enough to stare down at him, the cruel smile still in place. "But I think it can wait for a little while longer. There are a few things I want to do first." As he spoke, his voice a dangerous velvet purr that made Reno’s body ache with lust, his hands pushed the black sweater up to reveal Reno’s chest.

"And… what would that be?" Reno asked, his mind awhirl with all the delightful things that Rufus had done to him in the past. "A bit of kink, maybe?" he asked and had to lick his dry lips. His vision was cut off when the sweater was pulled over his face and he had to sit up a bit so it could be removed, his hair tangled with the material for a moment. Rufus freed the long tail and combed his fingers through it before he draped it over Reno’s chest.

The jeans were the next to go, the buttons roughly popped by Rufus’ strong fingers. "I think I want to watch you," he said. When the jeans and boxers were pulled from his body, Rufus settled at the opposite end of the couch. "Make it good. I want you to come while you think about that hard fuck. I want to hear you beg again." There was a roughness to his voice, a lack of the famous Rufus Shinra iron control that always made Reno smile.

"You’re the boss," Reno informed his lover and wiggled about until he was more comfortable on the couch. Rufus certainly had a thing for hearing him beg but he could live with it because he always got what he wanted in the end. He wasn’t some macho idiot hung up on stupid pride, not where pleasure was concerned.

About to spit in his hand, he barely managed to catch something small that was thrown his way. Glaring at Rufus who had somehow hidden the small tube of lubricant until now, Reno debated throwing it back before his hormones got the better of him. He had the feeling that the bastard had planned everything out already, yet another show of control and dominance that made him itch to start a fight. Barely remembering the ‘order’ about insults in time, he merely grunted in annoyance before he opened the tube. This would work better than saliva, after all. "You gonna stay in those clothes all night long?" he asked, very well aware of how those control issues stretched to him being buck-ass naked and Rufus barely disheveled.

"Shut up and begin," was Rufus’ cool reply but he did shrug out of his vest and pulled the turtleneck off in one smooth motion while Reno slicked his fingers. Waiting to see if there was any more of a strip tease, Reno snorted after a minute of no movement and got to work. He was hard, horny and sick of the games, right now a bit of pleasure would be good.

Sliding down a little more on the couch, he spread his legs wide as his right hand wrapped around his cock. His hips gave an involuntary twitch forward at the contact and a sigh slipped past his lips. How long had it been since he’d put on a show like this? He certainly had little reason to jack off any more, not when he had a mostly willing participant to liven things up.

"It’s not as good as when you jerk me off," he informed his watching lover, his eyes heavy lidded but open to see the effect he had on Rufus. "You’ve got bigger hands… and they’re so smooth." He moaned in the back of his throat as he thought about the feel of them on his body and cock, the strength they contained. For a rich boy, Rufus did enjoy working out. "I like how they’re always a little bit cool, feels so good." His skin began to tingle and grow warm, pleasure coiling in his stomach as his hand slid up and down sensitive flesh. "I really like how it feels when you put your fingers *in* me." As he spoke, his left hand crept downward, toward his sore ass.

He tossed his head back for a moment when his slick fingers circled his hole, no longer seeing what was before him but the weave of the bed’s silk duvet instead, the white threads centimeters from his eyes. "Long and thick, just like your cock but not as good or hot," he moaned, his voice becoming ragged and deep. "Oh fuck, but I love it when they move inside of me because I know what’s next." Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath and pushed his left forefinger inside and felt a slight burn that lasted only for a few seconds. He forced his eyes back open and moved his head to look at his lover again.

Rufus’ skin was flushed and glistened with sweat, his nipples erect and his eyes darkened by passion. His hair fell onto his forehead and was hastily shoved aside, his lips were parted as he began to pant the slightest bit. The rich fabric of his pants was tented over his crotch and his hand hovered over the area but didn’t quite touch.

How many other people got to see Rufus like this, Reno crowed to himself as a pleased smile formed on his lips. How many people got under the man’s barely marred skin and lived to tell about it? "You’ve got a great cock," he groaned, his hips moving forward as his hand slid to the base of his own cock to grip it firmly and then back as he added another finger inside. "The way it feels in my ass…." He paused for effect and scissored his fingers open as wide as they could go, the burn back but not enough to ruin the pleasure. "So damn good," he panted, and had to swallow a chuckle when he realized that Rufus wasn’t staring at his face any more.

"Love the way you don’t stop until it’s all the way in," he continued, his breath growing ragged from what he was doing to his body and the memories of last night. "Makes a jolt of pleasure race up my spine when I feel it go in like that. Want it again and again and *again*." Feeling a little dizzy, he closed his eyes and rested his head against the arm of the couch, his hands seeming to move of their own will along his body. His hips constantly rocked back and forth, his left fingers twisting inside and his right wrapped so tight around his cock that the thin skin was pinched occasionally, a shot of pain that made the ecstasy even more powerful. "Fuck, I want it. Don’t care how damn sore I am I *want* it. Please…." He’d begged a couple of times last night and just saying the word made his breath catch in his throat and his body tremble.

"Oh god, please don’t be a teasing bastard." He couldn’t speak properly, not with his breathing all messed up and his tongue thick in his mouth. Even with his eyes closed he knew that Rufus was watching the way he fucked himself with his fingers and how his cock was slick with more than just lube. Pre-come dribbled from it, dripped across his fingers as they continued to slide along his cock and the occasional brush along his balls. His chest was tight from the ecstasy, his nerves burned from the emotion and the fact that he could hear Rufus panting on the other side of the couch. "Want you to fuck me. Just push in and do me hard." His voice rose on each word and he writhed on the couch as his fingers flicked against that spot inside of him, a pale imitation of Rufus’ cock hitting it with such delicious force. "Just fucking do it! Please."

After that point he heard his voice so he knew that he spoke but he was too lost in the pleasure and the images in his mind of Rufus sprawled out on top of him and thrusting in hard and deep to understand what was said. He stroked that spot again and yelled, his back arching from the couch and his left leg sliding off it. His right hand moved furiously over his cock as he began to shudder, his body wracked with bolts of bliss that raced faster and faster along through his overloaded nerves until he came, Rufus’ name on his lips.

Warmth splattered over his chest as he cried out, his body clamped around the fingers in his ass while his shaking hand fell away from his cock. He twitched along with the waves of the orgasm, his chest burning for oxygen and lights bursting in the darkness behind his eyelids.

Maybe he was a slut like everyone said but that was the *best* feeling he’d ever experienced, an addictive rush of bliss that always left him craving more. A weak chuckle escaped him as his right arm flopped onto his head. What he wouldn’t do for good sex, he thought ruefully and forced his eyes to open.

"Fuck!" he muttered when he found Rufus hunched over him, one hand braced on the back of the couch for support. His lover’s face was red and his breathing ragged, his gaze intent on Reno as he leaned closer. Any other comments were lost to a brief but fervent kiss that made Reno dizzy all over again.

Rufus pulled away and knelt at the other end of the couch, his right hand cupped over his erection and his expression so serious that Reno was worried he’d have a damn aneurism or something. "How was that?" he asked his silent lover, his voice uneven as he fought to slow down his frantically beating heart.

"There could have been more begging," was Rufus’ calm reply, his voice only slightly hitched with need.

"Can always work on that some more, I guess," Reno snapped and struggled to sit upright, his body protesting having to move so soon. "So sorry to disappoint ya."

That serious expression faded into a small yet pleased smile. "No you’re not, but you’ll make it up to me all the same," Rufus stated and dipped his head slightly, toward his crotch.

Reno smiled as well and grabbed the closest garment on hand – Rufus’ turtleneck - to wipe his stomach clean before he crawled toward his lover. "Remember this the next time you tell me to keep my mouth shut. Can’t blow you that way, now can I?"

Rufus’ fingers tangled in his hair and pulled him forward with a little more force than was necessary but the pain only made him shiver and moan in anticipation. "Then put your mouth to productive use more often," was Rufus’ reply, his tone no longer so smooth and in control. "And *perhaps* you won’t find your lips permanently sealed shut one day." Reno bowed his head to hide his smirk as he fought with the zipper of Rufus’ pants.

Finally undoing the damn pants, he reached in with his left hand to reveal his lover’s arousal. He hadn’t been lying when he said that Rufus had a great cock. Not the biggest or the thickest he’d ever seen but larger than average, which was more than enough in his opinion. There was huge difference in being sore from having something too big shoved into his ass than receiving a good, hard fuck, and he enjoyed giving blow jobs more when it didn’t feel like he was being choked by cock. No, just like in everything else, Rufus had to be damn near perfect.

Reno licked his lips once before he dipped his head toward his lover’s cock, paused to blow on its sensitive head as his hand wrapped more firmly around its base. The way Rufus twitched and let out a sudden breath of air made him smile, the expression ruined when he parted his lips and wrapped them around the cock’s tip. Rufus’ skin was already wet with pre-come that Reno lapped up with delight, his tongue curling around smooth, hot skin. His lover’s hands clenched tighter in his hair, a little more pain that he didn’t mind too much.

He’d been doing this since he was twelve and hadn’t had too many complaints other than the first few times. Oral sex had been an easy way to earn some gil that left him more in charge than if he allowed himself to be fucked, and he always got off on seeing his partner’s expression during the act. Rufus Shinra was just like all the others, a bad-ass who was no longer in control once he was being sucked. Reno could do a hell of a lot of irreparable damage to the bastard if he was so inclined – more than a couple of guys below the Plates had learned that fact the hard way – but he easily resisted the destructive impulse. He’d play by the new rules of the game for a while, see if he couldn’t twist them to his benefit and give Rufus a chance to stop being such an asshole. There was no reason to toss aside the life he’d worked so hard for in a moment of revenge.

Besides, he thought as he took Rufus’ cock deeper into his mouth, his right hand cupped around his lover’s balls to give them the occasional squeeze or tug, he was enjoying himself. He had Rufus Shinra panting out his name as he pulled back slightly and dragged his teeth along the man’s cock. One of the most powerful men on the planet and he was *Reno’s* at the moment. The stupid bastard wanted or trusted him enough to allow him close enough to see what Rufus looked like when that brilliant mind was consumed with lust and pleasure.

That was a heady rush of power and delight that made him squirm a little on the couch and produce a renewed sense in desire. He moved his mouth away from Rufus’ cock and ignored both the disappointed cry and rather forceful tug on his hair that action provoked as he merely licked along the cock’s length as if it were a candy treat. His tongue glided over the smooth skin and pushed it back and forth near the top, flicked along the slit a couple of times until Rufus groaned in what sounded to be pain and jerked his hips forward. Reno chuckled softly and moved downward to do the same torment to his lover’s balls, his tongue curling around the right one as he sucked it into his mouth.

"God… Reno…," Rufus moaned, never the most articulate person during oral sex but Reno enjoyed that about him. Sometimes it was nice to know all he had to do to win an argument was to wrap his mouth around the bastard’s cock. And when he deep-throated it, like now…. He winced a little at a particular sharp tug to his hair but didn’t stop humming, determined as he was force Rufus to give in to him on something. Gently squeezing his lover’s balls again, he shifted forward until his nose was buried in rough, pale brown curls. He couldn’t take this much of Rufus’ cock down his throat for long but he didn’t think he needed to do so for more than a few more seconds. Thankfully, he was quickly proven correct, right after he pressed his teeth ever so faintly against the base of his lover’s cock.

Rufus practically screamed Reno’s name as he came, body jerking and hands clenching even tighter. Reno tried to pull away but couldn’t because of the grip to his hair so he did his best to swallow instead of gag. Saliva and come ran down his chin but he didn’t care as he stared at his lover’s face. Rufus was also so on guard, so determined to be in control that to see him appear on the verge of crying, face flushed and twisted by potent emotion…. Reno swallowed again and shifted back as much as he could while his hands rubbed soothingly along Rufus’ thighs.

The fingers tangled in his hair finally relaxed enough that he could pull away enough that Rufus’ cock slipped from his mouth. He wiped the mess on his face off with the back of his left hand and then licked it clean, his attention focused on his lover the entire time. Rufus’ eyes were heavy lidded and closed for a second when Reno’s tongue swiped along his hand.

"So, would you consider that appropriate use of my oral cavity?" Reno asked, choosing his words with care so as to make Rufus’ eyes cross as he tried to think well enough to decipher them. "Or should I endeavor to improve my abilities?"

"You definitely need to shut up more often," Rufus mumbled and gave Reno’s tail a weak tug. He closed his eyes and slumped against the side of the couch, his face unusually serene. Draped over his lap, Reno chuckled but didn’t come back with a snappy reply, for once.

Resting his head on Rufus’ upper right thigh, Reno rubbed his cheek against the soft fabric of his lover’s pants. He could feel the pull on his upper right ear from the earring’s weight but chose to ignore it, for the moment mostly content. Rufus’s fingers stroked through his hair, a soothing touch that made him feel a little sleepy despite all the rest he’d had in the last two days. Quiet moments like these were meant to be savored, especially since he couldn’t seem to go very long without picking an argument of sorts with his lover. Right now… he felt more than physically exhausted. He still believed that Rufus was being an idiot in regards to their agreement and the damn earring but he wasn’t willing to let everything between them come down to a battle for dominance. First off, he wasn’t entirely certain that he would win against someone like Rufus and secondly, that would get very boring very quickly. Not to mention would be more hazardous than his job.

Rufus was the first to speak. "Should I even ask what happened to the steaks from last night?" His voice was unusually quiet and lacking in cold disapproval.

Reno shifted about so he could look at his lover. "I had a couple for lunch today. The salad’s still there, can always cook up what’s left of the steak and have them with that." He began to feel a little hungry with the mention of food and figured that a meal would be a good thing considering what had happened last night.

Rufus continued to play with Reno’s hair as he seemed to contemplate something. "I think… take-out sounds very good right now. That way we don’t have to worry about having enough food." He frowned slightly as he stared pointedly at Reno. "Someone can be quite the glutton at times, even though he never looks the part." His left hand poked Reno in the ribs.

Batting the hand aside, Reno turned until he lay stretched out on his back, his head in his lover’s lap. "Sounds fine to me. What about that place that does the fish dishes? They have a really good curry and I know you like that one steamed dish." The feeling of contentment strengthened at the thought of a nice dinner followed by some more sex. He deliberately ignored the emotion, not willing to let his guard down just yet.

"Yes, that’s an excellent suggestion." Rufus nodded twice as his hand moved from Reno’s hair to the earring’s chain. His fingers ran up and down the metal a few times before he let it go. "Of course, my phone is in my coat pocket… which just so happens to be out of reach." He pulled harshly on a lock of Reno’s bangs. "You wouldn’t happen to have your phone on hand, would you?"

Smiling at the joke, Reno wrinkled his nose and stuck his tongue out as he sat up. "If I did, I’d highly doubt you’d want to use it right now. But I’d appreciate you calling me on it as it would be set to vibrate." He waggled his brows for added effect and smiled to hear his lover’s exasperated sigh.

"Why do I even bother to expect a straight answer from you?" Rufus asked, and even though it was a rhetorical question, Reno opened his mouth to answer. However, Rufus quickly silenced him with a kiss that was oddly sweet and left him sighing when it was done. The happiness Reno felt didn’t last for long as he suddenly found himself dumped unceremoniously onto the floor.

"Your reflexes are atrocious. I seriously hope you spend the next few days getting back into shape before you return to active duty," Rufus sniffed as he reached for his phone.

His hands busy rubbing his sore head and even sorer ass, Reno glared at his lover and decided that contentment was over-rated. Making an arrogant bastard sorry that he was ever born was a hell of a lot more fun, and he was just the man for the job.

*******

Reno stalked through ShinRa Electrical Company’s hallways with a scowl on his face and baton clutched in hand. He drew a lot of odd looks but a quick glance at both his expression and then weapon had the people clearing a path out of his way. As he headed toward Tseng’s office, his right hand once more hitched the waistband of the pants he wore up. He’d barely had time to assemble the basics of his uniform and hadn’t been able to grab a belt before he had to leave for work so Rufus’ pants kept sliding from his hips.

His temper was seriously frayed by the punishment he’d been warned about if he damaged any of Rufus’ clothes today. The jacket was one he’d left at the apartment last week and was even more wrinkled than normal but he’d had to borrow everything else. And a certain smug bastard would only be too pleased to make Reno lick his shoes clean during the morning board meeting for an entire week if the shirt and pants were ruined in any way.

"The fucking bastard is *gonna* let me keep some clothes there after this," he muttered as he swiped his baton at some idiot who didn’t get out of his way in time. Ignoring the smell of ozone and burnt flesh as the man screamed and fell to the floor in convulsions, he turned the charge off and continued on his way. "Damn pansy, the thing was on the lowest setting," he sneered and entered an elevator that was suddenly emptied of everyone but himself.

He was tired, sore and in a truly foul mood. Rufus had to be gulping potions or something to have the energy to fuck him all night long *again* and then appear perfectly rested in the morning. The fact that he’d been amused at Reno’s rumpled appearance and blandly commented that another lesson had been taught hadn’t helped things, either. Reno knew he was Rufus’ damn fuck toy - hell, that was part of the reason he’d stayed so long with the man but if this kept up, the next lesson was going to be if Rufus could learn to fly when he was thrown out of one of the windows of his apartment.

The elevator stopped at the appropriate floor so Reno wrestled to control his anger. He was on his way to see Tseng and find out what his assignment was for the day, and Tseng had no reason at all to allow him to live if he got all snarky with his supervisor. Besides, the man didn’t deserve to be treated like that.

He tapped his baton twice against the door of Tseng’s office before he entered. He found the Head of Turks sitting behind a desk, a pen in hand as he signed papers. Tseng looked at him with a calm expression, his eyes only the slightest bit narrowed.

"Reno, I really must insist that you conform somewhat the uniform code," Tseng said with a tired tone of voice. As he continued to look at Reno, his eyes narrowed some more and his expression became slightly troubled. "That earring is not acceptable."

Reno sighed and gingerly sprawled out in the padded chair set in front of Tseng’s desk. "Yeah, well, I didn’t have much choice in either the uniform or the earring," he muttered as he tried to smooth one of the many wrinkles on his jacket out. He damn well knew that he looked like a mess; pants and shirt a bit too big, jacket wrinkled as if he’d used the thing for a pillow last night and a band of dark bruises around his throat and jaw. Considering all of that, he was surprised that Tseng noticed the earring so quickly. Well… mostly surprised. "And the earring stays. You don’t like it, go bitch at Rufus."

Tseng set his pen aside and rose from his chair to circle his desk and sit on its front edge. He reached for the earring and when Reno didn’t shove his hand aside, pulled gently on its cuff. When it didn’t move at all, he held the end of the jewelry up, stared at its design for a moment and released it. "What have you done now?" he inquired, his tone not accusatory at all but even more tired than before.

Slumping down in the chair some more, Reno refused to look at his supervisor. He respected Tseng but he was very well aware of the fact that the man had practically raised Rufus and was first and foremost loyal to the bastard. "It’s not so much what I did than what I offered." At Tseng’s stern look, he sighed and explained the events of the last few days, minus the sex, since he knew better than to think he could get away with hiding the truth.

Tseng merely listened silently the entire time, only moving to occasionally nod his head as if in understanding. When Reno finished, he closed his eyes and tilted his head to the side as if contemplating the situation. After a few seconds, he opened his eyes, his expression grave.

"So you foolishly offered Rufus something and he took you at your word." When Reno opened his mouth to yell that he’d been trying to save a friend’s career, Tseng held his hand up in an elegant gesture that immediately cut him short. Shit, Tseng’s fancy airs should drive him up the wall but he respected the man too much. That and he didn’t seem to deliberately try and piss people off on a regular basis like Rufus did.

"Let me continue, Reno." Tseng folded his arms over his chest, for all the world looking like some sage priest about to hand out advice. Past experience taught Reno that now was the time to shut up and listened as Tseng’s advice usually managed to keep him from being killed or fired. "I am grateful for your sacrifice since I was worried for Rude myself. The new power station is critical to ShinRa’s future well-being and he did allow himself to be distracted during the attack."

"Because those Earth First assholes used dirty tactics," Reno muttered.

Tseng arched an eyebrow and stared evenly at him until he settled in the chair once more, his mouth firmly shut. "Never the less, Rude made an error in judgment, one that I feel will not be repeated as he has always been quick to learn from past mistakes. That doesn’t change the fact that it was only thanks to your quick thinking that the bomb didn’t detonate where it could cause the maximum amount of damage, so not only did Rude screw up but two Turks were injured in the process."

"But that’s not enough excuse to fire him," Reno couldn’t help but add. "Tseng, why the hell does Rufus have it in for Rude lately?" he asked, certain that his boss knew the answer. Not much of anything got past Tseng’s attention and he’d admitted that he was worried for Rude as well.

He wasn’t prepared to see an utterly amazed expression cross Tseng’s face and make his eyes go wide and both eyebrows arch. "You really don’t know?" Tseng murmured, his expression quickly changing to one of pity before it became his usual calm mask once more. "If that’s the case then I am *not* going to be the person to enlighten you," he informed Reno, who glowered in response at the evasive answer. Tseng cut him off again before he could complain. "All I will say is that I think steps have been taken to resolve the situation." The look he gave Reno brooked no more argument.

Grumbling under his breath, Reno glared at Tseng to let the man know he wasn’t happy with the evasion but knew better than to push matters. Unlike Rufus, Tseng wouldn’t allow himself to be distracted by sex and really would kick Reno’s ass if pushed too far. "So, what are you gonna do about this?" he asked as he toyed with the chain earring.

Tseng shook his head and returned to his chair. "Nothing, Reno. I’m afraid the matter is out of my hands. I refuse to mutilate a person for the sake of a dress code when the person didn’t willingly break it. Besides, I won’t go against the President’s wishes." He gave Reno a warning look. "You should not play games with the man, Reno. He is not one to lose."

Pushing up from the chair, Reno took a step toward the desk and slapped his hands down on its surface. "Dammit, you think I asked for this? You inhale too much smoke lately or what?" he asked as he motioned toward the small altar in the corner of Tseng’s office where several stalks of incense waited to be burned.

Unruffled at being yelled at, Tseng leaned back in his chair and continued to give Reno an infuriatingly calm look. "I know you, Reno. You love nothing more than to see how far you can push things. Sometimes I think you do it because you’re bored and sometimes because you can’t help yourself." He folded his fingers together and held them in front of his chest, the picture of perfect serenity. "I warned you when you began your relationship with Rufus that he was not someone who would appreciate being treated like a toy."

"Yet I am?" Reno’s throat was still a little sore from last night and anger only made his voice even more raw. "I serve no other purpose than for that spoiled brat to fuck with me to his heart’s content?" He knew that Tseng would always support Rufus but he hadn’t expected his boss and friend to so thoroughly take sides.

Looking down at his desk, Tseng’s expression was no longer calm but was now troubled. "No, I don’t think you appreciate it either which is why I tried to warn you." He placed his clasped hands on the desk and let out a slow breath as he gaze evenly at Reno. "To be perfectly honest I had hoped that it was mere infatuation on both your parts and would end soon when you began your… relationship, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. For whatever reason, you two are still attracted to each other even when you’re trying to kill or dominate one another and I realize that will never change." Something akin to sorrow crossed his face for a quick moment. "Also, it was largely thanks to your influence that Rufus found the strength to persevere during his incapacitation." A slight smile twitched at the corners of his lips. "He had to live so he could keep you in line a little longer."

Reno snorted in weary amusement as he gingerly sat on the corner of Tseng’s desk. Great, he hoped that his assignment for the day didn’t involve sitting in a chair. "Thanks. I’m getting really sick and tired of being referred to as if I was his pet or something."

"No, not his pet," Tseng said with a graceful shake of his head. "I think that’s part of the problem." When Reno arched an eyebrow in inquiry, he shook his head again. "No. I refuse to discuss your and Rufus’ relationship any more. The two of you are relatively intelligent men so it’s up to you to figure out the solution to the mess you’ve both made." His dark eyes became guarded and his expression impassive, a sure sign that he was finished with the conversation.

Sighing, Reno ran both his hands through his hair until they rested against the silver clasp at the back of his neck. "Thought you Wutians loved nothing better than dispensing indecipherable advice. You’re such a disappointment, Tseng."

"Because I know you’re not serious I won’t assign you to cleaning every toilet in this building with your bare hands for the day," Tseng smoothly replied as he handed Reno a piece of paper. "However, I no longer feel very guilty about what you will be doing instead."

Reading the document, Reno groaned in misery when he realized that he was going to spend the day in the cockpit. Normally he loved to fly but his ass was definitely too sore to be sitting on it for several hours while he ferried various shit about. "Maybe I can get one of those inflatable tubes from Medical," he mumbled as he folded the paper and slipped it inside his jacket.

"Whatever it takes for you to complete the assignments," Tseng replied as he resumed doing his paperwork. After a few seconds he gave Reno a sympathetic look. "Once you’re finished with that list, you can consider yourself done for the day. Just do me a favor and don’t show up with any more… jewelry for the next few months, all right?"

"Not like I tried to do that for this bit of flash." Reno flicked the earring as he complained and stood to his feet. "Tseng… thanks." He gave his boss a wave as he made his way to the door. Once there, something occurred to him that he wanted answer. "Do you really wish that Rufus and I weren’t screwing around?" Not that Tseng’s opinion would change things – especially after the other night – but he hadn’t sensed any disapproval from the man in the past couple of years.

Tseng tilted his head to the side as he regarded Reno with something that looked very much like amusement. "As I said, you two seem attracted to each other regardless of the endless fighting. While I would appreciate not having a front row seat to your sex life on a constant basis, you and Rufus seem to be too occupied with each other to cause me much grief." Then his expression turned serious. "I just hope that you and he find the sense very soon to not push each other so far."

"Like that’s ever gonna happen," Reno scoffed as he opened the door. "And it’s all *his* fault. I’m perfectly happy just screwing around but he has some serious control issues." Not bothering to wait around and see what Tseng had to say to that, he slid through the door and closed it behind him. He had a feeling he wouldn’t like the answer and he couldn’t risk making Tseng pissed off at him while Rufus was pulling all this shit. If there was anyone who had any hope of reining Rufus in if things went too far, it was Tseng. Reno felt a bit of jealousy over that fact but he’d realized years ago that the relationship between the two men was both one he could never come between and would never be physical. Even if Tseng suddenly decided that he liked guys, Rufus would never fuck around with someone who had a good chance of ending up the one in charge.

What that said about himself, he refused to think about as he made his way to the helicopter hanger.

*******

Checking his phone for the time, Reno draped himself against the doorframe and knocked twice. He hoped that Rude wasn’t sleeping and was about to leave when the door finally opened. "Heya, sexy guy," he drawled in greeting to his partner before he took in the man’s appearance.

Rude had to be the most disheveled that Reno had ever seen, even after that infamous binge at the one Gold Saucer bar. His goatee was untrimmed and there was stubble over the rest of his face and even his head. The usual sunglasses were missing, along with Rude’s impeccable fashion sense. He wore a pair of faded, baggy sweatpants and a t-shirt that had a fucking moogle on it. A pink one at that.

"Holy fuck, Rude, I thought I was the one who took a blow to the head," Reno said in amazement as he straightened up.

Pinching the bridge of his nose as if he had a headache, Rude gestured for Reno to enter the apartment. "Listen, I’m halfway through my medical leave and see no reason why I should be doing anything other than sitting on my couch for the next few days," he grumbled. "You want a beer?" He squinted as he looked Reno up and down. "Don’t tell me you ditched work early."

Reno hitched his pants up again and almost removed his jacket before he decided that he better keep it on. There was less chance of him spilling something on Rufus’ shirt that way. Like hell was he going to ever lick that bastard’s boots. "Tseng took pity on me and let me go home a little early," he explained as he made himself comfortable on Rude’s very nice couch. Sighing in happiness at the softness beneath his ass, he glanced around his partner’s apartment. As always, it was almost anally clean and looked great. Reno never could be bothered to hang shit like pictures or mirrors up but Rude managed to make the place appear nice but not like something out of a damn magazine – like Rufus’ apartment.

Rude returned and handed him a nice, cold bottle of beer. "You back to work already?" Rude asked and joined him on the couch. There was a movie playing on the television, some comedy that Reno had seen a dozen times already so he ignored it for the beer. He had to go back to Rufus’ tonight so he was determined to enjoy himself while he could, and just being in his partner’s presence caused something inside of him to relax for the first time in days.

"Yeah, started today," Reno answered after half the beer was gone. "Got stuck being the damn ‘go there’ boy but I guess it was better than doing paperwork." Even with a sore ass, he’d been happy to be up in the air for most of his shift. "Should be interesting to see what Tseng wants me to do tomorrow."

Rude grunted softly and swallowed more beer. "He stopped by when Medical released me to tell me about the suspension and night shifts. Fortunately, I’ll be supervising the guards and Turks on night duty so it shouldn’t be too bad." He didn’t sound very upset about his ‘punishment’ but then again, he was the type of guy to handle things like that rather well. He took his lumps and admitted his mistakes with no fuss while Reno bitched like hell.

"You can drink coffee all night and prowl around the hallways giving the poor bastards heart attacks," Reno teased, the beer disappearing much too fast. The cool liquid felt great to his aching throat and right now he could use a bit of alcohol. Make that a lot of alcohol if Rufus was going to be in a pissy mood tonight. He hadn’t seen his lover all day and was a bit grateful for the break.

"That sounds like a plan." Rude finished his beer and set the empty bottle on the coffee table – on a damn coaster, of all things, beside Reno’s empty bottle. Which was *not* sitting on a coaster until Rude moved it onto one. "All right, I let you in, we made small talk and you got a beer." He turned on the couch so he could face Reno. "If you want another one, you’ll have to tell me about your throat and that earring." He fixed Reno with a stern look, made all the more impressive because it wasn’t hidden the slightest behind any dark lenses. "Don’t even think to tell me the bruises are from the other day, not after all the potions I heard they poured into you."

Reno sighed and told himself that he should have expected his friend to pick up on things so quickly, even if Rude looked like he was in the middle of a week-long bender. "What do you think happened?" he asked to stall for time.

"I think you pushed Rufus too far again," was Rude’s curt answer. His large hands formed into fists and settled on his lap. "Or are you going to tell me you’re suddenly into auto-asphyxiation now?" His look dared Reno to lie but Reno wasn’t that stupid. Rude would call him on it in a heartbeat and be even more upset.

Combing his hands through his hair, Reno slumped forward a little and sent a longing glance at the empty beer bottles. "Nah, the first one was right." He managed a weak smile and brushed the fingers of his left hand over his throat. "You should see him, though. He ended up sporting a heck of a bruise on his face. I gave almost as good as I got." His smile strengthened at the thought.

"Reno…." Rude shook his head and rose from the couch. As he returned to the kitchen, he pitched his voice loud enough to be heard in the living room. "One of these days you’ll learn that he’s not someone who likes having his buttons pushed. If you want to get beat up so badly, there are clubs for that. Hell, piss me off enough and I’ll do it for free."

"Thanks, partner." Reno waited until Rude returned with more beer in hand to stick his tongue out. "Can we skip the lecture tonight? You know this shit happens from time to time and as long as I give as good as I get, it doesn’t bother me." He didn’t understand why Rude got his nose out of kink about stuff like this. Wasn’t like he and Rufus beat each other up on a weekly basis but the two of them had hair-trigger tempers and shit happened occasionally. The last time one of their fights had taken a physical turn, Rufus received a nasty black eye and Reno had his back scratched damn near raw during the resulting sex. He held his hand out for a beer but Rude just stood there glaring at him. "What?"

Rude sighed and folded his arms over his broad chest, the bottles of beers still clutched in his hands. "You seriously think that as long as you hit him back that it makes everything all right? Reno, I’ll tell you this yet again – you are in one seriously fucked up relationship. Lovers do not normally punch or choke each other," he said, his voice tired and angry.

Reno had heard all of this before and wished that Rude would grasp one very important concept. "Rufus and I are *not* normal," he informed his best friend for what had to be the hundredth time. "Am I happy to have a sore throat? No, but I wouldn’t be sticking around if all I thought I was to Rufus was a punching bag." Great sex was enough to put up with most of the shit Rufus gave him but not physical abuse. He wasn’t an idiot and he felt rather insulted that Rude seemed to think he was. "Thanks a lot for acting as if I would."

Sighing again, Rude settled on the couch and handed over the two bottles in his left hand. "All right, I don’t think you would but…." He shook his head then swallowed some beer. "What would you do if I showed up at your door looking like someone had tried to strangle me?" he asked, his voice carefully neutral.

He’d hunt down the bastard who’d done that to his friend, Reno admitted to himself. "Ya got a point, okay? Things got a little out of hand last night but honestly, don’t worry." He tried to give Rude a reassuring smile in between gulping down beer.

"The day I don’t worry about you is when you’re dead," Rude muttered, the beer bottle held next to his lips. "If I had any hair it would be all grey, thanks to you. And don’t think I didn’t notice that you forgot to explain the earring." As he drank, his gaze remained fixed on Reno’s face.

Dammit, Reno was hoping that Rude would forget about that. All day long he’d tried to think up a really good story to explain not only why he had the stupid thing but also why it couldn’t be removed and hadn’t really come up with anything. "Ah, it was a present from Rufus," he mumbled, figuring that it would be best to stick to the truth as much as possible since Rude could almost always tell when he was lying.

Rude snorted and set another empty bottle of beer on the coffee table. "That looks like platinum and rubies. What did you do that Rufus felt the urge to waste that much money on a stupid earring?" The question was asked in an amused tone of voice but Rude’s expression was oddly intent. "Did he propose or something?"

Reno almost choked on his beer at that question. Coughing didn’t do anything good for his sore throat and the abrupt motions made the earring repeatedly hit into the side of his face as he hunched over on the couch. "For fuck’s sake, Rude, don’t ask something like that while I’m drinking!" he managed to sputter after a minute or two.

His partner merely smiled innocently and pounded him on the back. "Sorry, I couldn’t resist," Rude stated in a too-sweet tone of voice. "I’ll be good and won’t ask about what kind of dress you’re going to wear for the ceremony."

Batting the amused bastard’s hand aside, Reno put a bit of distance between them on the couch and glared. "Ha fucking ha, partner." He was about to remark that if he wanted to be abused he could get that at home but caught himself in time. "If such a thing did happen you know you’d be the ‘maid’ of honor, don’tcha?" He gave his friend a wicked grin. "Can’t wait to see you in lots and lots of pink ruffles and this huge floppy hat." He gestured with his hands to show its size. "Oh, and the biggest damn bouquet you’ve ever seen."

"Yes, but you’re the one who often gets mistaken for a girl," Rude replied in a calm voice as he tugged on Reno’s long hair. "So, you don’t want to talk about the earring. I don’t think it really was a present after all." He once more folded his arms over his chest and appeared like some demented scowling genie or something.

Reno took a sip from his third beer of the night and wished he worked with stupider people. Where were the guys that Elena and Cyre always complained about who didn’t notice shit like hair cuts or lost weight for months at a time? Nowhere to be found in the Turks, dammit. "Rufus bought it and gave it to me. Don’t know about you but that’s the definition in the dictionary that I own," he muttered, unhappy to be talking about the subject.

Rude scoffed and set his unfinished beer aside. "You don’t own a dictionary any more, remember? You threw it out the window at some drunk on the street." His eyes narrowed as he scrutinized the earring. "The ShinRa logo is on both sides of the metal. Looks like someone wants to make sure it’s seen. I think that’s a rather odd gift for someone to give his lover, don’t you?" he asked, his voice deepened even more by concern.

"Rufus is a rather odd lover," Reno was quick to point out. "Are you hungry?" he suddenly asked, desperate to switch topics before Rude asked any more questions. "I didn’t eat any lunch since I wanted to finish-"

"I’m not hungry." Rude cut him off and slid a bit closer on the couch. "The craftsmanship on the earring appears very nice. Would you mind giving it to me so I can take a closer look?" he asked, his hand already reaching for the jewelry.

Reno jumped to his feet when he felt his friend’s fingertips brush against his ear. "Ah, nah, that’s okay, I’ll keep it on. With my luck you’d lose it or something," he babbled, the first thing that popped into his head. "You know, I think Rufus wants to go out to dinner tonight. I need to get going then. Thanks for the beer, partner." He got no more than two steps from the couch before Rude grabbed him by the right arm and yanked him down onto it.

Rude’s fingers gently pulled on the earring’s cuff. "Doesn’t look like it comes off," he said in a quiet voice. "What the hell is going on, Reno?"

Conceding defeat, Reno swatted his friend’s hand aside. "It’s not meant to come off, okay? Rude, do me a favor and drop the fucking subject, okay? Why the hell do you have to be such a nosy bastard?" he asked in a rough voice and glared at his friend.

"Because you’re a careless idiot," was Rude’s quiet reply and he met the glare with one of his own. "All right, it’s clear that you don’t want to talk about it so I’ll stop pushing." He appeared as if he was going to say more but just shook his head after a few seconds. "I’ll just wait until you’re trashed one night and ask you then," he said as he sat back on the couch, his arms folded over his chest.

That was the last thing Reno wanted to hear. "Rude… all you need to know is that Rufus gave me the damn thing, okay? You’ve said it yourself, he’s a fucked up bastard so don’t go looking for any sensible reasons." He almost added ‘please’ but knew that would just make Rude more curious. There was no way he wanted Rude to know that the earring was because he’d made a bargain with Rufus to keep his friend’s job. "If you need to know anything, I’ll tell you all about the sex last night."

Rude’s dark face visibly paled and he quickly waved his right hand in denial. "Don’t you dare! I see it enough that I don’t need to hear about your sex life as well," he said in a rush, his voice weak and trembling.

Feeling that the matter had been dropped for the time being, Reno smiled in victory and forced himself to stand up. "Just remember that when you decide to get all curious again, okay?" He picked the abandoned bottle of beer up and finished it off in a few gulps. "Ah, that was really good but I do need to get going. I just wanted to make sure you were all right. Give me a call and we’ll grab a bite to eat before you head off to work one night." He really didn’t want to leave Rude’s apartment right now but he had a few things he needed to do before spending the night with Rufus. What he really needed was an evening spent with a good friend, just drinking and bullshitting and laughing but that probably wasn’t going to happen any time soon. "We’ll go out and celebrate when you get off the night shifts," he promised, more for himself than his friend.

"You can pay for the drinks that night." Rude grinned at Reno’s glare and chuckled. "And I get to pick the bar." Then his humor vanished in a flash. "Reno… you know he doesn’t own you, right? He’s your boss but that’s it. Any time you want to walk away… just let me know and the drinks will be on me that night." Rude’s deep voice was rough with concern and his expression was so earnest that Reno had to look away. "I’ll watch your back."

Reno had no doubt that Rude would be there for him and he could never do that to his friend, not after what happened the other night. Until Rufus grew bored with him there was no choice but to stay in the ‘relationship’. But Rude still had his job so it was worth it to Reno.

"You just like to look at my ass," he teased Rude as he turned toward the door. "I appreciate the offer but there’s no need for it, Rude. No matter what Rufus thinks, I’m not his fucking dog." Sooner or later his lover would realize it and then things would get *really* interesting. Reno smiled in anticipation and turned up the collar of his jacket.

"Good," Rude grunted and got off the couch to open the apartment’s door. "Because you make one hell of a lousy pet. You’re barely housebroken and I think you have fleas." He managed an unconvincing smile when Reno punched him in the shoulder and waved him out the door.

"Smart ass," Reno swore as he gave his friend the finger. Feeling better than he had in days, he began to whistle loudly as he walked down the hallway. Trust Rude to put him in a good mood. Hopefully the next time they saw each other there wouldn’t be any mention of the earring and things would be normal.

There was the night ahead to get through and nearly three weeks without Rude as his partner but he’d manage. If anything, he should have a ton of stories to tell his friend when Rude was finished with his ‘punishment’. Reno chuckled as he thought about ways to infuriate Rufus without ‘pushing things too far’. He could control himself if he really wanted to and behave. Well, mostly behave. Now was the time to stop reacting and start planning, as Rude always told him. With his partner there to help keep him grounded, he’d make sure that Rufus had to work extra hard to be the one in charge.

*******

Rufus felt a sense of déjà vu as he poured himself a glass of wine. He stood in the living room and looked out its windows while he waited for Reno to arrive for the evening.

Sipping the red wine, he reflected on the day. The new power plant would go operational in two days time and he’d spent a couple of hours going over appropriate security details with Tseng. He’d noticed an odd look or two from the man and Tseng had waited until the matter was resolved to discuss Reno’s schedule for the next few weeks. Rufus smiled as he imagined Reno’s response upon finding out that he would be little more than a glorified taxi driver for the time being, piloting him about for various meetings and events.

The day had been good. Along with the power plant, there had been several successful meetings with various heads of departments that indicated that his new employees were settling in at their jobs. A second power plant would be ready to be built within the next week or so and by the end of the year there should be at least five of them operational. ShinRa Electrical Company was on its way to recovery, as long as Earth First and any other rivals were kept in check. A cruel smile formed on Rufus’ lips as he thought about the battles ahead. There was no way he’d accept losing any of them.

Hearing a loud bang on his front door, he went to allow Reno inside. He found his lover dressed once more in jeans but this time Reno wore a loose white shirt over a black t-shirt and he had a garment bag draped over his left shoulder. In his right hand, there was a duffel bag. "What are those?" Rufus asked as he stepped aside to let his lover enter.

Reno glared as he stalked into the living room and placed both bags on one of the chairs. "Your clothes and some spare uniforms." Whirling around to face Rufus, he shoved his hands into the jeans’ pockets which caused the pants to slide further from his bony hips. "Don’t give me any crap about ‘moving in’, not when you’re the one who makes me stay here all night and then bitches about me having to wear your clothes to work." There was a clear challenge in his voice and posture, his eyes warily tracked Rufus as he crossed over to the coffee table to pour another glass of wine.

Offering the drink to his lover, Rufus smiled pleasantly and nodded once. "I’ll allow the clothes if only to spare my own wardrobe. However, do not make the assumption that this is a second home," he warned Reno. He was willing to compromise about the clothes but that was all at the moment. While it might be beneficial to allow his lover to remain here on a more regular basis, he would have to make a few rules clear first. To allow too much right now would give Reno the mistaken impression that they were equals.

Reno continued to eye him warily for a moment before he shrugged and sipped the wine. "Eh, thought you’d get all huffy about sharing the closet space. Least now I shouldn’t hear Tseng bitch about my uniform so much." He enjoyed another sip before he smiled, the expression more bitter than amused. "So, what’s that gonna cost me?"

Rufus felt a thrill of pleasure at Reno’s easy acceptance of the situation but quickly stifled it since there was no way to know if it was sincere or not. Still, at least his lover seemed to be willing to behave for once. Setting his glass of wine aside, he gently stroked his fingers along the bruises on Reno’s throat. "Perhaps there’s no cost required in this instance… provided you don’t try to take advantage of the situation." His right hand slid around to the back of Reno’s neck and used that hold to pull him closer. "My approval will be required for anything of yours that is to remain here," he murmured in his lover’s adorned ear. Being this close to Reno made lust race through his body and he couldn’t resist placing a kiss on Reno’s neck, right where the ShinRa logo brushed against pale skin.

"That’s fine with me, I do have an apartment where I keep most of my stuff," Reno replied, his voice hitching softly as he was kissed again in the same spot. "It’s not like I’ll be here too much anyway. Got my own life, you know."

Rufus dragged his teeth along the sensitized skin and pulled away. His left hand took the glass of wine away from Reno while his right hand fitted over the still dark bruises on Reno’s neck. "You’ll be here whenever I tell you to come, and stay however long I wish." Anger mixed with the lust as he wondered if it would be another night spent fighting. He didn’t have the patience for that this evening, not after a day that had gone so well. Why wouldn’t Reno just acknowledge that Rufus was in charge and submit? "I thought you were a smart man and understood that."

Reno didn’t try to break free from the hold but merely stared evenly, his hands once more tucked into jeans’ pockets. "Then don’t get all shitty about me bringing a few things here if you’re gonna keep me from my own home most of the time. I’m not planning on moving in but I’m not gonna always be late to work because you’ve problems with sharing a couple of inches of closet space." He sounded a little angry but the earlier sense of challenge was gone. "Or sit around bored out of my mind all night while you work."

Considering the words, Rufus released Reno’s neck and slid his fingers into his lover’s hair. "I will not tolerate your belongings scattered about." He felt annoyed at the fact that he was giving in at all but as long as his sacrifice was properly rewarded, he’d allow Reno this little victory. "I will clear some space for you in the closet and you can keep any grooming products you like in the spare bathroom. I will even allow you the use of one of the nightstands for any personal belongings." If his generosity was abused, he’d get rid of every possession that Reno had ever squirreled away in the apartment – even the ones he’d turned a blind eye to in the past.

"Great, now I can bring over some fun toys," Reno drawled as he tilted his head to the side. The motion set the long earring swinging back and forth. "What about me putting my feet on the couch, huh?"


Rufus tightened his hold on his lover’s hair. "Do. Not. Presume," he warned, his voice a low growl.

Reno laughed and draped his arms over Rufus’ shoulders. "Just kidding." He leaned in for a kiss, and after a playful lick to his lips, Rufus parted them. Reno tasted of beer and cigarettes and kissed back enthusiastically. Closing his eyes, Rufus allowed himself to enjoy it as well, the feel of Reno pliant in his arms and not spouting off one smart remark after another.

After a minute or two he broke off the kiss, body fully aroused but stomach rumbling in protest. Reno moaned in a very becoming manner and actually pouted, the expression turning into a pleased smile when both of Rufus’ hands tangled in his hair. "What’s for dinner, or are we gonna skip straight to dessert tonight?" Reno inquired as he licked his lips.

"There’s food in the kitchen." Rufus had ordered something to be prepared for dinner tonight, not in the mood to go out or argue with Reno over take-out. "Get the wine and we’ll eat first." He had worked through lunch today, eager to complete as much as possible while things had gone so well. His cock demanded that food could wait in favor of pleasure now but he had all evening to look forward to indulging its demands.

Smiling placidly, Reno did what he was told and picked both glasses and the bottle of wine up. "I’m starving. Didn’t think I could make it through the appetizer course without fainting if you wanted to go to one of those fancy restaurants." He sounded pleased and at ease, his motions fluid as he sauntered to the kitchen. If he was in the mood to spar tonight he was hiding it well.

Feeling hopeful that it would be a quiet night after all, Rufus followed his lover. A step behind Reno, his right hand reached out to undo the clasp that contained the long tail of crimson hair. "I’d rather wait until you’re a bit more… presentable to take you out to dinner," he said, mindful of the gossip that would arise from the sight of Reno’s bruised throat.

He didn’t elaborate any further but Reno gave him a sour look over his shoulder. "Remember that the next time you try to choke me."

Rufus pulled on the hair in his grasp. "You weren’t the only one left marked from last night," he informed his lover and gestured to his left cheek. A drop of potion had thankfully gotten rid of the bruise.

Reaching the kitchen, Reno set the bottle down and handed Rufus his glass of wine. "So we’re even, though you certainly didn’t offer any potions or materia to me." He took a sip before he continued and leaned against the counter. "I only did that because you pissed me off. I may be your fuck toy but don’t think you can shove me around and not get hit."

Rufus placed both hands on the counter, on either side of Reno. "You were the one who wouldn’t listen in the first place," he coldly informed his lover. "You owe me your obedience and you’re doing a horrible job of that so far." As much as he enjoyed Reno’s defiant nature he was getting tired of putting up with it every day.

"Hey, it’s not like I’m used to becoming someone’s ‘property’. This is pretty new to me." Reno glared at him and seemed undisturbed by his close presence. "And let’s face it, if you wanted me broken you’d have done it by now."

There was a lot of truth in that statement, Rufus thought as he shifted closer to Reno. He could so easily break the man, all he had to do was start with Rude and destroy whatever else Reno cared about. That was something his father would have easily done – had in fact done several times to various lovers over the years. But Rufus wasn’t his father and no matter how much it annoyed him, he was attracted to Reno’s defiance and distance. Also, he knew that no matter how far he went in his need to own the redhead, Reno would never turn on him. Oh, it was quite possible that his lover might try to strangle him or bash his head in with a baton but that wouldn’t happen because someone paid Reno to or that Reno wanted what was his. The only other person he trusted that much was Tseng. The only thing that troubled him was the embarrassing thought of Reno leaving him for another person and he’d taken steps to ensure that it would never happen.

Still, something occurred to Rufus as he stared at his lover. "If I’m such a possessive, sadistic bastard, why are you here?" he asked, an assured smile on his lips. "You could have taken that helicopter and gone anywhere today. You didn’t have to come into my office two months ago and let me fuck you." He pressed against Reno and grasped his lover’s chin in his right hand so Reno couldn’t look away. "You could have left me after Meteor when there was no way I’d have had the resources to track you down. Yet here you are." He leaned closer so he could whisper into Reno’s right ear. "You bitch a lot and do your best to make me lose my temper but you never really go away."

Reno shivered and tried to pull away but the motion was quickly arrested. "I’m not your fucking dog," he swore, his voice low and serious. "Don’t go acting like I am or you’ll suffer a hell of a lot more than a bruised cheek."

There was actually a moment of regret when Rufus thought about the fight from last night. He should not have been so heavy-handed in his attempt to teach Reno his place yesterday but he’d been so… unsettled to find his lover asleep on the couch. The worst part was that he didn’t know why he’d felt that way, why some warm yet constricting emotion had filled his chest. "No, you’re definitely not my dog," he reluctantly admitted. "But that makes you no less mine."

Uttering a weary sigh, Reno rested his head against Rufus’ shoulder. "You’re such an exhausting bastard. Do me a favor and don’t make me have to kick your ass tonight, all right? I’m too tired." He pressed a kiss against Rufus’ jaw. "And don’t bother telling me not to call you names again. Don’t care if your parents were married, that’s what you are," he muttered, no trace of anger or sarcasm in his voice.

Rufus smiled in triumph and draped his arms over his lover’s shoulders. He wasn’t an expert on Reno’s quicksilver mood swings but the years had taught him that moments like these were usually won in his favor. Perhaps Reno was plotting something or only faking this sudden concession to peace but it meant that Rufus would get his wish for the evening. They would sit down and enjoy a nice dinner with a minimum of argument, he’d be able to work for a short while in his office and find Reno waiting for him in his bed. The day would continue to go well and there would be hopes that tomorrow would follow the trend. Sooner or later Reno would grow accustomed to their new relationship and the fights would be saved for trivial matters.


He let out a surprised hiss when his left ear was viciously nipped. "Don’t get all smug on me, Rufus," Reno warned as he leaned back, his eyes narrowed slightly and a grim smile on his face. "None of this," he motioned to his right ear, "would have happened if you hadn’t gotten that promise out of me. I’ll keep my word and give you what I’ve always given you – my body, time and loyalty. Despite what you think, I don’t walk away from someone I willingly hand over all that shit to." There was no sarcasm, venom or defeat in his voice, just a seriousness that surprised Rufus. "So enough with the fucking mind games and ‘look what’s mine’ behavior. I’m hungry and tired, not to mention that if you expect me to be able to sit down tomorrow you’re gonna have to be happy with a blowjob or two tonight."

Rufus wasn’t sure what to say for a moment. A voice inside his head screamed that Reno was trying yet again to see how much he could get away with and needed to be taught his place. Yet that voice sounded absurd when compared to Reno’s calm tone. He had no doubt that his lover was anxiously awaiting his reaction but he found he couldn’t be bothered to start another fight. He hadn’t bound Reno to him in this manner so all they could do was yell at each other.

"Then sit down and behave for once," he told Reno and stepped away. As he did so, Reno grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him back for a breathtakingly ardent kiss, one that made him wonder if he could find a job for his lover that would require Reno to stand all day tomorrow…..

He was the one to end the kiss, right when he wanted to do nothing more than to fuck Reno here in the kitchen. Panting harshly, he was pleased to note the dazed and disappointed look on his lover’s flushed face. "The food is growing cold," he said as he struggled to control his breathing and libido.

Reno stared in amazement for a moment then shook his head. "Yeah, you’re definitely trying to drive me crazy," he cryptically replied. "Never should have doubted it for a second."

Grasping Reno’s arm, Rufus ushered him to the counter where several heated containers held their dinner. "I think it’s a bit too late for that," he commented and smiled in the face of his lover’s glare. "Make that much too late."

"By at least five years," Reno muttered in a nasty tone, and Rufus chuckled when he realized that was how long they’d been together.

This was what he’d wanted when he’d ordered the earring, to be certain in the knowledge that evenings like these would continue however long he desired. He’d been foolish to think that Reno would just give in and play nice and that his lover’s complete capitulation was something that he wanted in the first place.

"I hear that sometimes happens to certain individuals when they find themselves in over their heads," he remarked while Reno removed the foil from the container of lobster ravioli in cream sauce.

"No, it’s because you get off on driving me nuts." Reno helped himself to the pasta and moved on to the next container. "You’re a very odd man, Rufus Shinra."

"All geniuses are regarded as eccentrics by those of lesser mental capacity." Rufus picked a plate up as he contemplated what to have for dinner.

"The same could be said for psychopaths, I’m sure." Reno gave him a too-sweet smile and headed for the small kitchen table. "Torture any pets when you were a kid?"

Deciding on the baked salmon with crab stuffing and asparagus, Rufus went to sit by his lover. "That depends – do you consider a nineteen year old a ‘kid’?" he asked with the same fake sweetness, his smile genuine when Reno did the math and glared at the implied insult. "I must admit, it’s become a favorite pastime, lately."

For the sake of dinner he ignored the mumbled curse he was certain was directed his way and wondered if he should open another bottle of wine. The verbal squabbling had restored his good mood as did a delicious meal. No doubt that Reno would try to get even with him later but he didn’t mind. He would just put his lover in his place again and, that failing, find a better use for Reno’s mouth other than insults. A smile curving on his lips when he looked at the ShinRa logo so prominently displayed on the earring, Rufus felt a sense of peace that had eluded him for months.

*******