Adjustments

*******

Rufus looked up from his laptop and glared with long-simmering anger as Tseng entered his office and approached his desk without an obvious care in the world, the only person who dared to come near him in the last two days. "He’s returned? Here or at home?" Rufus demanded to know, while in the process of saving his work on a document that he had been too distracted to properly read for the past hour.

Tseng came to a stop about a foot away from the desk and shook his head, the ends of his long, black hair fanning out slightly from the motion. "No, I still have no idea where Reno is," he admitted, his unconcerned tone almost as annoying as the same answer that he had given for the past six days. For a few seconds, Rufus was dearly tempted to fling his laptop at the bastard’s head, but there was a gleam in Tseng’s dark eyes that warned him that the Turk was on guard against such an attack.

All too aware that he would not get much satisfaction from such an action, he let out an angry sigh as he sank back in his leather chair. "Then why the hell are you here?" He actually had a sickening hope that there was a developing crisis, something that would drag Reno back from whatever hole in the ground he had hidden himself in, which he immediately squashed with as much self-loathing that he could direct toward himself.

"Because of the mistaken belief that you still wanted the weekly security reports?" Tseng remarked, cracks appearing in his unruffled demeanor for the first time since he had entered the office as he placed an information disc on the far edge of Rufus’ desk. "President, far be it for me to-"

"Please, let’s not see what happens when I try to shoot you," Rufus snapped as he waved Tseng silent, not about to listen to the now familiar lecture yet again. "I’m willing to bet half of my company and the opportunity to take several shots at you without any retaliation on your part that I know the points you’re about to make by heart." He forced his hands away from the pistol holstered beneath his coats and held them up where Tseng could see them, and counted off said points on his fingers. "One, I should have been prepared for Reno’s reaction when he was denied the mission on grounds that recent publicity surrounding our relationship made him too much of a risk." His lips twisted into a bitter smile as he struggled with his anger, as this was the one argument between him and Tseng that infuriated him the most; Reno was an unpredictable bastard at the *best* of times, so just how was he to have assumed that his lover would react in exactly this manner? Be upset over being pulled from the mission? Yes, that was a given, but he would have thought more with Tseng than himself. He also would have thought that Reno would have stayed to make his life miserable in person, not vanished without a trace, and so had been proven wrong on both counts.

"Two, since Reno has ‘sufficient’ cause to be upset," Rufus made sure to put as much contempt as he could into the word in case Tseng had managed to forget his opinion on the matter, "and has not shown what you and others feel are evident warnings of any intent on his part to make this a permanent… desertion… then it’s best to give him this time to cool down." He had come the closest he ever had to threatening Tseng over their ‘disagreement’ on this, and only Reno hacking into the company’s system to file a last minute leave request was keeping Tseng from unleashing ShinRa’s entire resources on the bastard just yet. Once the week’s leave was up and Reno was not back, Rufus would force him to do just that.

"And let’s not forget my favorite, three, that he may very well be nearby, watching to see how we react to his little temper-tantrum." Tseng was of the belief that at the least, Reno would not abandon the Turks during his little snit and would know if they were in trouble during his absence, something that would be easy to manage if he could hack into the time management system without leaving any traces. Rufus was ready to give his erstwhile lover quite the show if it got Reno to reveal himself, and then lock the redhead up for the next few decades. As soon as Reno did return, the bastard was being tagged with R&D’s latest tracking device.

"It’s encouraging to see that your memory is a sharp as ever." Tseng clasped his hands behind his back and bowed his head slightly in Rufus’ direction. "He still has two days. No, I don’t think the leave request was a ploy to gain a week’s lead on us, and no, I haven’t heard any rumors in regards to him." He looked straight at Rufus and frowned. "I don’t know what he’s doing, but I doubt it’s anything to embarrass you. He’s being much too quiet for that. If anything… I think he’s off somewhere, thinking."

Rufus scoffed at the ridiculous suggestion. "Right, and Sephiroth will walk through the door any moment now, stating how he’s been reborn yet again and wants nothing more than to bring peace and love to the world this time." He wondered if perhaps all the work and dealing with the assorted psychoses that comprised the Turks had finally gotten to be too much for Tseng. "Reno’s holed up in a bar right now, drinking it dry and fucking anyone who’s willing." His temper, already dangerously frayed these last few days, flared hot once again, the forefinger on his right hand itching to pull a trigger.

Tseng inhaled sharply and shook his head twice, a curt motion first left and then right. "No, I don’t think so." His eyes narrowed as he stared at Rufus, quiet for over a minute. "No, I believe it might be better for you if I was wrong, but I doubt I am." Cryptic remark uttered, he turned on his left heel and left the room.

*******

Rufus headed toward the limousine waiting for him, reminding himself that presidents did *not* stomp, even if they had just suffered through an absolutely shitty day – no, an absolutely shitty week. He had not been able to get Tseng’s enigmatic comment out of his thoughts for the rest of the afternoon, nor the fact that Reno now had a day and a half to return home, and what the redhead could do in that amount of time. People cleared out of his way as he approached the vehicle, parting before him as if afraid of catching his attention. Even the rookie Turk waiting to open the door for him looked down to the ground, avoiding any eye contact.

He was aware of the revving, buzzing sound once he was outside, but it was not until the familiar black and grey motorcycle came to a quick, screeching halt between him and the limo that he realized what it was and who was driving it. The Turks by the limo were in the process of drawing their weapons, so he was not alone in being surprised or slow on recognizing Reno, even though his lover was not wearing a helmet. His red hair pulled back in a tight ponytail and his eyes masked by the goggle-like sunglasses that were often pushed up on his forehead, Reno motioned behind him. "Get on."

"Where the hell-"

"Get on," Reno repeated, cutting him off in mid-rant. "I’m leaving." He revved the bike as if to reinforce the threat, already in the process of pushing the bike upright from its slightly tilted angle.

Furious at his lover’s sudden reappearance and the lack of choice, Rufus tossed his laptop bag at the rookie Turk as he moved toward the bike. He did not waste any breath explaining the situation, which he was certain would be reported to Tseng in the next few seconds, but climbed on the bike and had just wrapped his arms around Reno’s narrow waist when they were propelled forward as if launched from a rocket. "Are you insane?"

He should have kept quiet, because it was a stupid question with a very obvious answer. There was a very good reason why he always insisted that he was the one who drove Reno’s bike; Reno had it stuck in his head that the best way to ride a bike was to break every single law of the road out there and then some, and one or two laws of physics as well. He heard at least two crashes left in their wake, had to close his eyes almost half a dozen times, was almost driven to the point of praying on a few occasions, and considered more than once the effects of leaping from a speeding vehicle would have on a body.

Reno never came to a complete stop the entire journey from ShinRa headquarters to their mysterious destination. As they made their way from newly built city to destroyed rubble, Rufus grew unsettled as he recognized sections of his former hometown. There was little reason to visit Midgar in the last few months, and certainly never this part of the decimated city. He could not recall ever being ‘below’ this section, and felt uneasiness settle into his bones, along with the cold and dampness as they drove into the darkness beneath the remnants of the semi-fallen Plates.

This area had not been as spared as other parts of the city had from Meteor’s attack, much of the neighborhood reduced to rubble of concrete and twisted metal. Still, there were signs of life amidst the destruction; the glow of lights in the mostly upright buildings, the dark blur of hurried motion of people who did not want to be noticed, thin paths cleared here and there among the debris.

Only a vehicle like Reno’s bike could manage what remained of the roads here, and he had to slow down to avoid the trash and potholes scattered about. Rufus kept a careful watch on the people eyeing them as they made their way to whatever destination his lover had in mind, his left arm still around Reno’s waist and his right hand free to reach for his gun, yet they only stared back. He had the impression that they knew who Reno was, at the least, the expressions on their faces that of wariness and respect, perhaps a bit of envy mixed in as well. After a few seconds, they would turn away and go back to whatever it was they had been doing before.

Reno finally reached the destination he had in mind, at the top of a ramp near one of the wide support beams for the Plate. There was a rusting fence with a gate left open just enough for the bike to fit through, and once the bike was stopped, Reno hopped off and went back to the gate to wrestle it closed.

Rufus watched him, judging from the way his lover struggled that the gate had to be made of heavy iron; Reno was scrawny, but being in the Turks left him stronger than he looked. He noted the worn black jeans and ankle boots, the dark grey knit shirt and black jean jacket, the long ponytail tangled by the insane ride through the city. Reno did not look as if he had spent a debauched week on the town, but as if he had been sneaking around, up to no good.

Finished with his task, Reno dusted the rust and dirt from his hands and turned around to face Rufus, his hands rising to push the sunglasses back to their usual spot on his forehead. "Wow, three whole minutes without any bitching. Did you swallow too many bugs on the ride here or something? Gotta clear your throat first?" He sounded as angry as he looked, his aquamarine eyes glowing in the dusky light of the Below-Plate.

There was quite a lot of ‘bitching’ that Rufus wanted to do, yet a perverse part of him refused to do so on ‘command’. So he turned – not quite with his back to a furious Reno – and looked around him. Reno had chosen a place that allowed them a view of most of this section of the city, in all of its tattered ‘glory’, if such a word could be given to such a prime example of the slums. Why anyone would chose to live here after so much destruction…. "Surely there are better places you could think of to hide my body if you’ve finally decided to kill me."

Reno chuckled at the bad joke and stepped forward to sit on a fallen metal beam. "Ya better believe I do, an’ it involves a big vat o’ acid an’ a ‘copter waitin’ nearby for my escape." His shoulders were tense and his back rigid, a sharp contrast to the lazy drawl of his gutter accent.

Rufus considered the less than pristine state of his white overcoat and pants, courtesy of Reno’s driving skills, yet could not make himself sit on the rusting metal. Instead, he stood beside his lover, not quite in arm’s reach out of consideration of both their tempers and the fact that he still had the urge to throttle the bastard. "All right, you want ‘bitching’? Far be it for me to disappoint you any longer. What the hell makes you think you have the right to disappear without any word to me for six days, and after your actions at that?" He gave partially in to the impulse and stepped forward enough so he could grab Reno by the left shoulder and jerk his lover around enough to look at him. "What the *hell* have you been doing?" If Reno admitted to any infidelity, he was going to shoot the bastard and hand him over to R&D for permanent mental tampering. The anger and jealousy that had burned through him the past week turned to ice at the thought, at the *resolution* he had come to days ago. The plans were already made, all he waited for was the confirmation.

Of course he expected the mocking laughter and the answering violence; Reno flowed from the makeshift bench to stand before him as if utterly lacking any bones in his body, a fluid motion that would have been beautiful if not for the danger it possessed. Rufus winced at the way his right hand was twisted up and to the side, Reno’s method of making it clear that he did not appreciate being manhandled, and would escalate any attempts of force or violence between them. "Rights? You want to talk about rights?" There was no more trace of the gutter accent, so at least the bastard was willing to talk seriously for once. "What about my fucking rights as a Turk? My rights to do my job? Since when did that get pushed aside so I could be your fucking arm-candy?" Reno spat out the words as if they were too vile to hold in for more than a second.

It seemed that they would have to tackle one issue at a time. Using a technique that Tseng had taught him, Rufus twisted his wrist free, hissing a little as Reno’s nails scratched his wrist in the process. "You’re my lover, and people are becoming aware of that fact. This should come as no surprise to you as you’re seen in public with me, or did you think there was some other reason for why you’re invited to the ‘snobby, boring as hell’ parties where you get to consume vast quantities of alcohol and insult rich people?"

"*You’re* the one who makes sure I get invited to those parties and who drags me along, so don’t give me that shit." Reno always had been too smart for Rufus’ own good. "I never asked to go, or for anyone to know I was your fuckin’ ‘boyfriend’." Again, Reno spat out the word as if it was offensive to him.

He knew better, knew that both of them were on edge and that it was too easy for things to go too far between them when they were wound tight, especially violence, but after a week of thinking the worst, the last thing Rufus needed to hear was something like that. He reached for Reno – not even he was sure what he intended to do, to grab or choke or what – and found himself shoved backward, slammed hard against the concrete piling of the Plate’s support post. There was a flash of white as his head and back smacked into the hard surface, a curse slipping past his lips, and he grabbed onto whatever he could, his right hand wrapping around Reno’s long hair and tugging hard.

"Asshole!"

He took a hit to his right side that knocked the wind out of him, and somehow managed a lucky backhand with his left hand that left Reno stunned long enough to use the hold on the redhead’s hair to yank him around and slam *him* into the piling with all the force that he could muster. The loud ‘crack’ that resulted as Reno’s head hit made him concerned, but not enough to keep him from pinning his lover to the concrete wall in hopes of remaining alive for a bit longer. His lower back burned with pain in a manner that made him think that something had been pulled or strained during their brief struggle.

There was a smear of blood on the concrete, and as he watched a trickle of it flowed down the left side of Reno’s neck and onto his black jacket. It was hard to tell with the way they glowed, but Rufus thought that Reno’s left pupil was a little more dilated than his right; even with a concussion, his lover would be dangerous in a fight. "Are you going to kill me if I let you go?"

"Hell yeah." Reno spoke in a slightly slurred manner, but he still sounded pissed off.

Well, worse come to worst, Rufus could wait until the bastard lost enough blood to take some of the fight out of him. He tightened his grip around his lover’s wrists and made sure once again that he could not be kicked in a sensitive area. "Like it or not, you are my ‘fucking boyfriend’. Since you’re the one who picks fights when I mention taking anyone else out on a date for the sake of appearances, I would think that you could bear with being seen in public with me." With acknowledging that there was some sort of tie between them, other than employer and employee.

Reno tried to wiggle free for a few seconds, gasping when his head bumped into the concrete; Rufus did not think the expression of pain and his lover turning even paler than normal was an act, but he was not about to trust Reno any farther than he could throw the Turk’s bike at the moment. "’m also a fuckin’ Turk. Was a Turk first. You promised me I’d always be a Turk. That I’d be *your* Turk. How ‘m I supposed ta be that if I can’t even work?" He stared at Rufus, his eyes glowing bright enough to cast shadows on his face, his lips pressed in a grim line and his lean body taut with tension.

Something clicked in Rufus’ head, the reason why Reno was taking everything out on him and not Tseng. "Is that why you punched me, stood me up for the party and disappeared for almost a week? You think I’m not going to let you be a Turk anymore?" He almost relaxed his hold and stepped back, before self-preservation gave him a mental smack and reminded him to stay put. A confronted Reno was one that often lashed out at whoever was closest, and there were no witnesses around to make the Turk stay his hand.

Reno bared his teeth in a parody of a grin. "Wow, brillian’ as always, boss." He chuckled at Rufus’ annoyed expression, the sound fading away as his eyes closed in pain.

For some reason, Reno did not think he could be both Rufus’ boyfriend and a Turk. Perhaps it was because he had been a Turk before they had become lovers, perhaps he knew Rufus enough to know that he would never be interested in a ‘normal’ person. Truthfully, Rufus did not want to completely strip away his lover’s job, just certain elements of it; Reno would be bored to death without the outlet that being a Turk allowed him, a chance to vent some of the less… socially acceptable parts of his personality.

"Tseng and I… we’re not asking you to stop being a Turk," Rufus admitted, feeling it best to include the Head of Turks in case he misspoke. "Because of the publicity around me, there are certain assignments where you might be recognized and so be a liability to your coworkers." He ignored Reno’s scowl and muttered curses and continued, choosing his words with care. "But even when you’re my ‘date’, Tseng and I still consider you a Turk." He leaned forward and put a little more pressure against his lover’s bony chest. "Tell me you don’t think the same way. That you don’t know where I am at all times, that you’re not watching over me even better than the Turks officially on duty." He knew that Reno was always armed on their ‘dates’, even for the functions that were technically ‘weapons-free’. That the nights when Reno was at his side were the only ones where he could remotely relax, confident that nothing would slip through his bodyguards’ notice, even if they were the Turks. There had been times when Reno would appear out of nowhere and stop a person, usually with a mocking smile, sometimes with a spilled drink, and then vanish back into the crowd to amuse himself.

Reno mumbled something as he looked aside, his wrists flexing as he attempted to twist them free. The blood was still trickling from his head wound, its copper scent overlaying the odor of garbage and dust. When Rufus leaned in closer to catch the words, he found himself shoved back by Reno somehow managing to get his right leg up enough to kick. He kept his hold on his lover’s wrists, dragging Reno along with him as he stumbled about, but had to let go to keep them both from falling onto the debris-strewn ground.

He braced himself for an attack, and straightened up to find Reno hunched over as if trying to regain his balance, his left hand feeling along the side of his head. Blood gleamed along his fingertips and neck, and he winced as he probed a certain spot.

"Are you all right?" Rufus asked, and stopped approaching when Reno held out his right hand in clear warning, the baton appearing from nowhere and held steady despite the switch in hands.

"Look the fuck around you," Reno demanded as he triggered the weapon on. "What the *fuck* do you see?"

Rufus supposed that they were finally getting to why they had come to this particular spot, although he was not sure as to the timing of the revelation. "I suppose if I were to use words you’re more familiar with, ‘a shit-hole’." He saw no reason to paint the place any prettier than it was.

Reno smiled, a twisted grimace of pain and dark amusement, and motioned with his bloody hand at the view before them. "Good choice of words. It’s the gutter, Rufus, plain and simple. Not even Meteor could do much to the place." He paused for a moment, a quick flicker of the eyes to the desolate remains of slum town below them. "You call me a gutter-rat all of time, no? Well, take a look at where I was born." He motioned again, a drop of blood flying out into the twilight sky. "This what you want beside you at those fancy parties?"

The revelation was not much of a surprise; Rufus had read Reno’s personnel file shortly after Veld had shown him the redhead – had *given* him Reno on a professional level – and Reno had never hidden any aspect of his past from him. If anything, there were times when Rufus wished that the redhead was more circumspect about certain things, like the men who had paid for him before he became a Turk. Was this meant to shame him, to rethink his decision? Surely Reno knew him better than that. "Do you honestly think I would be swayed by such an insignificant fact? All I see is how far you’ve come since then," he told the idiot.

If he was expecting his words to have an impact on his lover, he was a bit disappointed. Reno merely stared back at him for a good minute, the only sound the hum of his baton. Then he slowly blinked his eyes as if to clear his vision. "You’re not trying to make me quit the Turks? Because I’ll gut you in your sleep one night before I’ll let that happen."

Rufus took a deep breath and thought about what he wanted to say, mindful of Reno’s weapon, how long it would take him to draw his gun and how little a concussion would slow his lover down if he said the wrong thing. "I am not trying to make you quit the Turks. However," he tried not to flinch or go for his gun at the way Reno inched forward at that word, "I’m in agreement with Tseng that there are some assignments that are no longer available to you now. Earth First should have taught you that you’re a target now, and more recognizable than most Turks."

Reno scoffed at the statement, but he lowered his weapon. "That’s for me to hash out with Tseng. You run the company, he runs the Turks."

"Then why did you take his decision out on me?" Rufus demanded to know, stepping forward despite the baton still being powered on.

"Because don’t tell me you didn’t back him on that one, not after you made a big deal about that damn party and how I was free to go since I was out of the mission." Reno wiped the blood from his left hand on his jeans and switched the baton to it, but powered it off a moment later. "And like I said, you’re up to something, with the way you’re dragging me off to the things. You started that shit up once you made me move in with you." His eyes narrowed, the glow not as bright now as before, although his full bottom lip was still pressed flat with either anger or pain. "Don’t tell me you’re not being a manipulative bastard."

"I wouldn’t be the President of ShinRa if I *wasn’t* a manipulative bastard," Rufus pointed out, before seizing the opportunity before him. He reached for and grabbed Reno’s left hand before the weapon could be turned on again, using the hold to drag his lover in close. There was the risk of being hit, but he much preferred punches and kicks to being zapped unconscious, and he wanted answers to a different line of questions rather than to continue the current discussion. "Now, tell me what the hell you’ve been doing this past week."

He took a painful blow to his upper right thigh from Reno’s knee and another hit to his ribs, this time his left side, but he had the feeling that Dr. Alim probably needed to check his lover’s head wound sooner rather than later. He tried not to think about how well that visit would go down, since he was certain that Reno would delight in telling the man how he had come about the injury. Still, his concern did not prevent him from giving the idiot a good shaking to put an end to the fight before he ended up in a similarly incapacitated condition, and grimaced when he felt several drops of blood splatter across his face.

"Fuckin’ bastard’," Reno slurred when Rufus finally stopped, loose, wet strands of hair clinging to his face.

"Answer the question." Rufus hated the almost desperate note to the order, and could not stop his right hand before it was halfway for his gun.

Reno grinned as he shook off Rufus’ left hand from his shoulder and stepped backwards, unsteady on his feet for a moment amidst the rubble of broken concrete and metal. He braced his legs and began tapping his baton against his left thigh, his grin cocky and posture insolent despite the blood on his neck and clothes, the pain-glazed cast to his eyes. "Ya wanna know if I fucked anyone right? If I bent over an’ let ‘em fuck me, maybe for a drink or the hell of it or jus’ ta piss ya off." He trailed his right hand down the front of his shirt in a salacious manner. "Or maybe I did the fuckin’ for once, eh?"

Rufus drew out his gun at the taunting words and pointed it at his lover, to the right of the infuriating bastard’s heart. "Did you?" He wanted an answer, wanted to hear the words from Reno. Despite all the promises between them, he knew how it was Reno’s nature to lash out at whoever he believed had hurt or betrayed him.

For someone who had a gun drawn on him, Reno showed no fear. He rolled his eyes and attempted to comb his right hand through his hair, forgetting about the tie holding it back and the wound. Cursing in pain, he reached for the tie and motioned at the gun with his chin. "If you think I did, just go ahead an’ shoot me. Manipulative, suspicious, shitty bastard."

This… was not how Rufus had expected things to go. When the hell was he going to learn that when Reno was involved, that they would *never* go how he thought they would? He felt the urge to beat the side of his own head with his gun for a second or two, then Reno’s, before he let out a slow breath. "Then what did you do?" He did not put the gun away, but he was willing to listen to what his lover had to say. At the least, he should hear a good story.

Done releasing his hair, Reno put his own weapon away in his jacket and crossed his arms in front of his chest, no longer appearing quite so cocky but tired. "I took out some people who’ve been givin’ Tseng some grief." At Rufus’ blank look, he sighed and made a quick ‘bang-bang’ motion with his left fingers. "Figured that while I had some time ta kill and no one on my back, could have some fun that way."

"You… killed people." In a way, it did make sense as Reno would find that almost as much fun as sex, Rufus thought to himself.

"Yeah." Reno put as much scorn into the word as he could. "Killed ‘em, black ops, committed murder, helped ‘em join the lifestream, whatever the fuck you wanna call it." He rubbed his forehead above the goggles as if trying to relieve a headache. "Couldn’t kill *you*, so figured it was the next best thing, and Tseng couldn’t bitch too much when he found out."

Rufus scowled at the ‘kill you’ comment and reconsidered shooting his lover. "So you killed a bunch of people instead of sleeping with anyone, and I’m supposed to believe that?"

Reno sighed at the question, the sound one of long-suffering as his shoulders hunched forward and his right arm wrapped around his waist. "Yeah, you’re supposed ta believe it. Look at the shit sex got me into with *you*. Wasn’t about ta fuck anyone else and see what pile a’ new shit I ended up in." He straightened up enough to glare at Rufus. "Ya know, I’m not shrieking about who *you* been fucking this week an’ all."

As much as he hated to admit it, Reno was talking sense. Rufus put his gun away and approached his lover. "Maybe I wouldn’t be ‘shrieking’ so much if you showed a little… concern in return." He reached out with a bit of caution to slide his fingers through the wet hair on the left side of Reno’s head, and frowned at the hiss of pain that the faint touch provoked.

"Because there’s no way in hell anyone would want to fuck you when you’re in that shitty mood of yours, not even the biggest gold-digging bitch." Reno hit him on the left shoulder with enough force to make him grunt in pain, which Rufus took as partial ‘payment’ for the head wound. From the little he could see in the dim light and the fact that it was still bleeding, despite Reno’s enhanced healing, it might be a good idea to stop with the verbal sparring sometime soon and get the idiot to Medical.

"Do you have any potions on you?"

"Nah, Tseng’s gotten pretty tight with ‘em lately. There’s bandages in the bike’s compartment, though." Reno waved toward the bike but did not move. Rufus stayed in the same spot as well, his fingers tightening in blood-soaked hair as he leaned forward to bridge the space between them. Six days, the fight, still lingering suspicions and all he wanted to do just then was kiss his lover, to ensure that whatever drove them to tear at each other with jealous need was still there to pull them close with passion as well.

At least he had the comfort of Reno meeting him for that kiss, their lips pressing together with a little too much force. He moaned in delight and did not mind the slight ache, grateful to be drinking in the familiar warmth of his lover’s body once more, the feel of Reno against him, so lean and taut and sticky-

"Let’s go tend to that wound," Rufus murmured as he broke off the kiss, unable to prevent a grimace of distaste as he noticed the smeared blood along the front of his overcoat when he pulled away. Reno looked as if he wanted to complain about something, but snapped his mouth shut when he stumbled on his first step forward.

Reno removed his bloody jacket along the way to the bike, and Rufus did the same after a quick check of his pockets. The bike’s compartments were small, but the one beneath the seat revealed a medical kit that contained enough wipes to clean Reno’s wound, his neck and Rufus’ face, and bandages to apply pressure to the wound to hopefully slow the blood-loss until they reached Medical. Rufus noticed something else as he was replacing the unused bandages and snatched it from the kit before his lover could replace it back in the compartment.

"I thought you said you spent the past week killing people." He held the packet of lubricant up in front of Reno, who stepped back from the bike and folded his arms over his chest, his appearance more bedraggled than rakish because of the bandage and mussed hair.

"Oh come on, every Turk med-kit has lube in it, not just mine. Wanna check out Elena’s? Cyril’s? Ling’s?" Reno spread his arms out, and had trouble with his balance for a moment. "Are we back to the whole cheating thing? I told you I wouldn’t do it after that night with Rod! So either fuckin’ shoot me or drop it!"

Rufus stalked toward his lover. "You have to admit that this looks suspicious!"

"Then blame the anal-retentive bastard you keep around as the Head of the Turks!" Reno shouted back and grabbed the lapels of Rufus’ white jacket. "Maybe if ya ask him real nice, he’ll let ya see the Official Turk’s Handbook ’58 Uses For Lubricant’!"

The statement actually shook Rufus from his burgeoning fit of temper. "That… can’t possibly be true."

Reno stopped glaring and actually smiled. "Use #32 has to do with greasing up your hands to get out of handcuffs, but that’s all I can tell you. Like I said, sweeten up Tseng one day and maybe he’ll let you read the book." He leaned his head forward to rest it against Rufus’ shoulder. "Look, I know you’re pissed off that I took off on you, and I’m still not too happy with you, either. But my head hurts, I’m tired and it actually got a bit boring, killing people without Rude there to help me come up with interesting new ways. Can we go home and fight some more in the morning?"

Rufus began to massage the back of Reno’s neck with his left hand. "Don’t hit me for telling you this, but I think we need to stop at Medical first." The blow to his stomach came as no surprise, but at least it was more along the lines of a ‘love-tap’ than a proper punch – that or Reno really had lost too much blood. As much as he not pleased with only a temporary cease-fire, at least his lover was home for now – and could tagged with the new tracer while Dr. Alim treated his concussion.

"In that case, might as well go for use #1 before I hafta put up with Alim," Reno grumbled as he snatched the packet from Rufus’ hand. He lifted his head for a kiss, one that did catch Rufus by surprise, after the way Reno had made it clear that their fight was not over. All the reasons why leaving for Medical right now were for the best flitted through his mind just then – and vanished just as quickly as he started to back Reno toward the concrete pillar. Knowing the two of them, it would be too easy to do something that would have Reno disappearing again or him going for his gun, so they might as well enjoy this moment of ‘détente’ while it lasted. He just hoped that Reno remained conscious long enough….

It was a miracle that they did not trip and break their necks as they stumbled through the debris to the support beam, unwilling as they were to either stop kissing or pull apart. Reno managed to fumble open his belt and undo the buttons of his jeans, so by the time they reached the concrete piling, he broke away to spin around on unsteady legs. Rufus pressed against his back and kept him from tumbling to the ground, groaning at the feel of warmth all along his front, his face burying in crimson hair that smelled of blood and dust. "Where’s the lube?"

Reno laughed as he pressed it into his right hand. "What… what if I told ya that I got a headache, eh?"

Rufus brushed aside the long strands of hair that covered the right side of Reno’s neck and scraped his teeth along pale skin, then used them to tug on the dangling earring. "I’m sure you do have a headache, but I don’t think you give a damn." His left hand cupped his lover’s hard cock through the open fly of his jeans, before pushing the material and the silk boxers beneath them downward. Reno moaned as he was left exposed from the waist down, and shifted his legs apart as much as he could with his jeans and boxes bunched down around his ankles.

The light was definitely faint Below-Plate, but Rufus felt some satisfaction on the lack of marks he saw on his lover’s pale skin; for a Turk, Reno bruised easily, something that usually was a turn-on for Rufus. He ripped off the top of foil packet and squeezed some of the oil onto his right fingers so he could prepare his lover, his left hand sliding around Reno’s hips so he could once again stroke the redhead’s cock. The feel of resistance as he pushed a finger inside made him smile and tamped down the lingering jealousy and anger that remained.

"You do find the most romantic spots," Rufus whispered into Reno’s right ear as he stroked his lover’s body inside and out, intent on obliterating any pain and anger with pleasure. Reno seemed to have trouble keeping steady on his feet, which he doubted it was solely from the concussion at this point, although he resolved himself to a ‘quickie’.

Reno’s head tilted back to rest against Rufus’ shoulders, his eyes almost closed until all that could be seen was an aquamarine glow through mere slits. "Like you… give a damn."

"Very true." Rufus smiled at the way Reno’s body clenched around his fingers, imagining how good it would feel around his cock in another minute, and decided that he had done enough. As he prepared himself, he was about to make another comment, caught sight of Reno watching him through barely open eyes as if waiting for that comment, and decided that for once it might be best to remain quiet. If he did say something about their sex lives, there was a good chance that Reno would dig up something from the past, either what he had done all those years ago before he had become a Turk, or maybe before there had been any agreements of faithfulness to each other, and the fighting would resume.

He let go of the words, choosing actions instead. Grasping Reno’s narrow hips, he slowly pushed into his lover, the breath catching in his throat at the feel of flesh reluctantly giving way to him, of tight friction and wonderful heat. He heard Reno gasp and then stutter out his name, felt his lover’s head roll off his shoulder as he continued to thrust forward. Once he was in all the way, his right hand wrapped around Reno’s cock to stroke it in time to his thrusts, while his left arm snaked tight along the Turk’s upper chest in an attempt to minimize the jostling from the rapid movement. Reno did his best to brace himself against the wall, his head once more resting against Rufus’ shoulder, his face tucked against Rufus’ neck.

There was still some anger and possessiveness left from a week of resentment and jealousy, a need to prove that Reno was his until the time that *he* decided otherwise. Quick or not, there was nothing gentle to the sex past the initial thrust, his hips snapping forward with enough force to almost knock Reno down a few times, his hold on the redhead the only thing keeping him on his feet. Reno cursed him out between gasps for air, his eyes tightly shut in either pleasure or pain. When he began to struggle against Rufus, for a moment he thought that he was trying to get away, before he let out a choked cry and came.

Rufus closed his eyes at the feel of Reno’s body clenching around his cock, his thrusts uneven and even more frantic as his own orgasm neared. He held on to his lover even tighter as he came, his right arm braced against the wall for support to keep them both on their feet as ecstasy ripped through him. He rested his forehead against Reno’s shoulder and struggled to breathe evenly, the world blank around him for one uncaring minute.

"Oi, you’re too heavy."

Reno sounded tired and annoyed, and a sharp elbow to his sore ribs made Rufus stop leaning against his lover and straighten up. Reno pushed away from the concrete piling and had to grab onto Rufus' left arm for support, which only seemed to increase his grumpy mood. Before the redhead could start bitching, Rufus shook his head and searched his pockets for handkerchiefs.

"You were the one who suggested ‘use #1’, so no complaints." He found two clean ones, kept one for himself and handed the other to his lover.

"Yeah, but you were the one who slammed my head into the fuckin’ wall." Reno motioned to the bandage, which was already showing signs of the wound bleeding through, before he began to clean himself.

Rufus refused to allow himself to feel any guilt over the situation, although he just *knew* that Alim would notice the fresh hickeys on Reno’s neck and put two and two together. That was before Reno made some inappropriate comment, of course. "That’s because you were trying to remove my heart through my ribcage at the time." He tucked himself into his pants and dropped the soiled linen to the ground, then went over to open the gate so they could leave. The thing was heavy as hell, causing his back and ribs to protest the additional abuse.

Reno made a clucking sound with his tongue as he buttoned up his pants. "Oh, please. I told you I wouldn’t kill you *here*. All I was going to do was maim you a bit, so Tseng wouldn’t kill *me*." He took a step forward and nearly tripped over a piece of concrete, prompting Rufus to grab his right arm and lead him to the bike.

Seriously debating letting R&D do a bit of mental tampering even if Reno had not cheated on him, Rufus shoved his lover onto the back part of the bike’s seat. "If you value what’s left of your mind, you will *shut* *up*. And don’t even think I’m about to let you drive in your condition." He pushed Reno away from the front of the bike and sat down, not about to commit suicide by letting the concussed idiot drive them back to headquarters.

"Fuckin’ pansy." Reno wrapped his arms around Rufus’ waist. "No sense of adventure."

"What the hell do you call living with you?"

Reno’s response was lost in the roar of the bike’s engine starting, which was probably a good thing, considering their conditions and the shifting shadows gathered outside of the gate. Rufus revved up the bike and mentally recalled the path that Reno had brought them along the way here, so he could return to headquarters as quickly as possible. If Alim did not insist on keeping the redhead overnight, then they *should* be able to have a quiet night at home, with the hostilities to resume… well, knowing Reno, not until late morning. The détente might even last longer, depending on how bad the concussion was, and how long Rufus could keep the tracking device a secret.

******* 

Return to Archive