Rufus narrowed his eyes in annoyance when Reno sighed
for the eighth time in the past twenty minutes and began to fiddle with collar
of his dark grey dress shirt yet again. He reached out to smack his lover’s
left hand aside, not in the mood to put up with the fidgeting any more.
"Leave it *be*." For once, the Turk was properly dressed and appeared
respectable – if one ignored the way he was glowering at Rufus.
"Why? So I can fit in with all the other pompous and uptight bastards at the party, including you?" Reno made both a rude noise and a gesture to show what he thought about that, his full bottom lip glistening with moisture for a few seconds before he licked it dry. "I shouldn’t be going."
"As if I care about your opinion in this matter," Rufus shot back, not for the first time that evening. "All you’re to do is stop fussing with your clothes, keep your mouth shut and your eyes open, and not harass any of the other guests." He had spent almost half an hour earlier going over what was appropriate behavior for the evening and felt his head throb for a few seconds at the thought of how that list would most likely be longer after this party.
"If ya worried abou’ me embarrassin’ ya ass, leave me a’ home."
The gesture automatic by now, Rufus did not even need to look for the long earring that was tugged on to reprimand his stubborn lover. "As of now, each time you talk like that, I’m docking you a day’s worth of pay." It was not a warning but a promise, and something in his demeanor conveyed that fact to Reno. The redhead’s expression turned even more virulent, his eyes beginning to glow with what most likely was anger. Rufus met it with calm determination, not about to lose this battle when they were only a couple of minutes away from their destination. While Reno might not have to worry about expenses such as rent anymore, he still took having his pay docked quite seriously; Rufus wondered if it had anything to do with growing up dirt-poor, since Reno did not care about the vast differences in their personal wealth other than to make Rufus pay for dinner all of the time.
Reno still appeared furious, but his tone was even and his words lacking the awful gutter accent and slang. "You’re a fucking bastard. We both know I’m going to be bored as hell tonight, as well as insulted to my face at least a dozen times within the first hour." Rufus knew he did not care about the insults, only the fact that he was not allowed to assault any of the guests over them. That fact had taken over ten minutes of their ‘discussion’ earlier, with Rufus having to clearly outline what type of retaliation was not allowed in front of witnesses.
"I don’t care," Rufus responded, both to the insult and Reno’s description of the evening. He was not going to suffer through yet another inane social gathering by himself, and having Reno there would prevent the rumor-mill from going on about how they had broken up as well as keep most of the gold-diggers and ass-kissers at a bearable distance. Very few people outside of the Turks thought he was serious about Reno as anything other than a fuckable bodyguard, but at least they ‘humored’ him by taking the relationship at face value.
They arrived at the site of what was billed to be one of the ‘social events of the year’, a sprawling mansion that had endured the destruction that had leveled so much of his home a few years ago. Stephen and Emily Lane were from two of the oldest and respectable families of Midgar, their wealth vast enough that it had survived mostly intact. As part of the ‘friendlier’ image of ShinRa, Rufus had accepted an invitation to tonight’s party even though he knew he would be as bored as Reno. They would show up, he would talk business with a few people while his lover plotted mass homicide, and then they would go home to partake in what would be a loud, nasty yet short fight and then have sex. One would think that Reno would accept the situation with a bit more grace considering the latter two events.
Kali opened the door for them, the picture of professionalism even as Reno muttered under his breath about her being able to find a shirt large enough to cover her breasts for once. Elena fell in step behind them as they entered the mansion, her face impassive despite Rufus knowing that she detested assignments like this one. All of the Turks complained about being stuck with ‘pretty duty’, where they had to dress as presentable as possible and had almost no chance of bashing in heads. Not even the prospect of seeing Reno dressed up and forced to deal with a bunch of pretentious assholes made it bearable, but Tseng refused to allow Rufus to attend anything without at least two bodyguards. Reno had bitched up a storm about that since he would be present, until Tseng had pointed out that he was now free to partake in whatever alcohol was available without being punished – as long as he remained somewhat sober. Rufus had not been happy about that, but had to admit that it had shut his lover up.
Tonight did not seem to be any different from the last few parties they had attended. Reno stayed by his side long enough for their hosts to greet them, Emily Lane’s poised smile slipping as she took in Reno’s disgruntled presence. The Turk made a comment about hoping that they had not skimped on the bar before slinking away, blending into the crowd with impossible ease despite his neatly combed and pulled back bright red hair. Rufus almost ordered Elena to follow his lover, before he was distracted by Roger Holdeman appearing beside him. Well aware that neither she nor Kali would leave his side while he dealt with a business rival, Rufus managed a false smile and pressed his left arm against his side so he could feel the reassuring weight of his gun beneath the layers of his white and black clothes. Perhaps one day Reno would realize that he was not the only person who had to suffer through these parties without giving in to the urge to maim or kill.
After a lengthy verbal sparring match over ShinRa’s increasing involvement in the medical business, Rufus ventured deeper into the large ballroom that was decorated with tiny crystal snowflakes and numerous flickering lights. The winter theme seemed at odds with all the bared shoulders – and often more – of the female guests, the chill outside held at bay to the point that the air in the grand room felt stifling. Reno was nowhere to be seen, but Rufus assumed from the lack of screaming as well as Elena and Kali’s calm demeanors that his lover was not causing undue mayhem. That worried him almost as much as finding the bastard in the process of throttling a guest, which made him investigate all four of the bars set up for the party and debate doing the same with any nearby closets and alcoves.
Along the way, he discussed energy rates with several people, deflected the attentions of two women and a man under the delusion that they could possibly entice him, and actually enjoyed a conversation with an old rival who had just managed to rebuild her family’s company and who might provide a decent challenge in the future. Reno still managed to elude him, leaving him with the suspicion that his lover had managed to sucker a ride from someone and was on his way home. If so, tonight’s fight would not be as short as anticipated.
He was about to order Tseng to track down the bastard when he noticed the silvery-grey handkerchief that had been tucked into the front pocket of Reno’s black jacket earlier tied around the doorknob of one of the numerous patio doors that led outside. Assuming that his lover was enjoying a few cigarettes despite the cold temperature, he motioned for Kali and Elena to remain by the door as he went outside. The vast garden before him was covered with a thick blanket of snow, in which there was a clear set of footprints leading away from the mansion.
Rufus noted that there was only one set of footprints and so did not draw out his gun. He was a bit annoyed to not see Reno anywhere, and had just cursed over snow slipping inside of his shoe when something smacked into the back of his head.
In the process of pulling out his weapon, he finally realized what he was being assaulted with when another snowball hit him, this time on the upper chest. Standing beside a snow sculpture that looked suspiciously like one of those raccoon-like creatures that could be found gracing the entrances to various dining establishments in Wutai, down to the enormous, erect penis, Reno grinned in evident delight before nailing Rufus again, this time in the *face*.
Stunned by the icy slap of the snowball, Rufus seriously considered drawing out his gun and shooting the bastard before he pulled his right hand from beneath his coats and dove behind a small shrub on his left. So the bastard wanted to play? He would gladly remind Reno about who was the better marksman between the two of them.
"Aw, don’t tell me that actually hurt!" Reno called out while Rufus was busy forming a few missiles of his own. A snowball in each hand, he rolled away from his shield, only to find that Reno had vanished. How the hell the redhead had managed to do that quietly enough for the crunch of snow to not give away his location, Rufus had no clue. He was reminding himself that Reno held the distinction of being the sneakiest Turk when a snowball glanced off of his back.
"Prepare yourself for defeat," Rufus announced as he whirled around, now having an idea of where his lover was lurking. Reno was fast as hell, but he had taken that into account while he had aimed and caught the bastard on the left shoulder. His next shot nailed Reno in the throat, and then they both were scrambling for cover and more ammunition as the fight was taken up in earnest.
The air was bitterly cold, but the snow was the perfect consistency for snowballs and the garden provided ample shields to hide behind. Rufus soon felt his face become numb from the chill and wondered how the hell Reno had managed to be out here for so long while wearing less layers of clothes. As it was, Reno must have stolen a pair of gloves from somewhere, their large size hampering him a little when it came to making more projectile weapons. Rufus had the advantage there, his white leather gloves fitting perfectly and providing some protection from the cold.
In the course of their epic battle, he came across another of the raccoon snow creatures that would no doubt traumatize any members of the household who ventured outside during the winter (and took a hit to the back of his head as he stared in amazement at its huge snow penis, momentarily lost in contemplation over how Reno had managed it), almost broke a leg stumbling over the low border of a flower bed, crushed what was probably a prized rosebush and had more fun than he could remember having in ages. Reno called him a variety of names during the fight, becoming more inventive as his dark clothes were lightened by the impact of many snowballs. Rufus was uncertain over who had the advantage in outfits; Reno blended in with the darkness while he stood out less against the white snow.
He was sweating despite the freezing temperatures, his feet numb from the snow that had fallen into his shoes to the point that he might want to soon consider frostbite, his clothes and hair disarrayed from the battle and the left side of his face stinging from a recent hit. Reno did not fair any better, his cheeks so flushed that the tattoos could barely be made out at all. His red hair was tangled and damp, his black jacket torn along the right shoulder seam and his shirt missing two buttons, and the grin on his face was so pleased that if Rufus did not know any better, he would expect to find a dozen bodies or so hidden out here somewhere.
Catching his lover bereft of any ammunition, Rufus held up the snowballs in his hands as he smiled in evil delight, enjoying the slightly panicked look on Reno’s face. He caught Reno on the back as his lover turned to flee, missed with his next throw as the bastard dodged about and was aiming with his last snowball when Reno let out a startled squawk and fell down. Realizing that his lover had been felled by the same damn flowerbed, Rufus smiled even more and approached the downed man.
Reno was busy cursing under his breath as he rolled onto his back. He stilled when he saw Rufus, and managed a defiant show of tongue right before the snowball was rubbed into his face.
"Do you concede defeat?" Rufus asked as he straddled his lover’s hips, aware of the way that Reno had been trying to reach for his right ankle and finding himself disappointed that their fun had probably come to an end.
Reno glared at him through the snow clinging to his eyelashes for several seconds before letting his head fall back onto the snow-covered ground and laughing. "Yeah, but only because I know you won’t take any pity on a wounded opponent."
"Of course." Not quite trusting his lover, Rufus grabbed a handful of snow even as he leaned in for a victory kiss. He half-expected to have snow shoved down the back of his shirt and was pleased to be kissed with arousing fervor instead. Figuring that a snowball battle was much the same as any of their other fights – although less violent – he took Reno’s response at face value and settled more comfortably on top of his lover. Reno’s face might be cold from the winter weather, but the rest of him was as warm as always, almost addictively so. He forgot all about their surroundings as the kiss deepened, his gloved hands sliding beneath Reno’s damp coat when the redhead hissed in pain.
"Dammit, done in by landscaping," Reno grumbled as Rufus rose to his feet. Rufus had to help his lover stand as the cause of the complaint was made clear; Reno had twisted his ankle when he had tripped over the flowerbed’s brick border.
"One of the Four Aces… I am so proud," Rufus remarked as deadpan as possible, and got a loose handful of snow tossed at his face. The light breeze prevented most of it from hitting its target, but he gave Reno’s waist a warning squeeze as he helped his lover return to the party. The sooner they made their goodbyes, the sooner they could get home, Reno could get a potion in him for the sprain and Rufus could claim his ‘prize’ from tonight’s battle.
Judging from Kali’s grin as she opened the patio door for them, she and Elena were aware of their recent activities. The Turks took their positions behind them as Rufus and Reno made their way through the ballroom, the snow clinging to Rufus’ disheveled hair slowly melting from the heat. Guests parted before them, an equal mix of polite blandness, surprise and amusement on their faces, while Emily Lane appeared appalled over their rumpled attire as Rufus thanked her for a memorable party. Her husband sounded rather wistful as he wished them goodbye, while Rufus was hard-pressed not to laugh as he half-carried Reno outside. The odds were pretty good that there would be a rumor about them having a nasty, violent fight during the party tomorrow, despite the fact that he and Reno could not stop smiling in anticipation of the rest of the night’s events. Tseng was certain to be in a bad mood as a result, but Rufus figured it was the Turk’s fault, in a way. After all, he had been the one to teach Rufus how to properly make and throw a snowball, a lesson that had proved valuable tonight.
"Hey, I think this is the first time I’ve had fun at one of these things," Reno remarked as he hobbled toward the waiting limousine. "When’s the next one, so I can demand a rematch?"
Rufus was about to say that there would be no rematch until he remembered about the invitation to Holdeman’s annual winter party. He smiled in anticipation of ruining the man’s prized garden as well as Reno leaving behind some more of his unique snow sculptures, and made a mental note to wear a heavier suit that night.
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