Ghosts of the Past

*******

by nekojita

*******

Marielle fidgeted with her glass of wine while she waited, picking it up only to set it down unsipped a moment later. Beside her, Gerd pressed his fingers against the comm bud tucked into his left ear and gave a curt nod. "He just entered the restaurant. Niko is bringing him here now."

"It’s about time," she snapped as she pushed the glass aside. "I told him to be here twenty minutes ago." Clearly, Rufus wasn’t sleeping with the man because of his intelligence, because any idiot would know better than to deliberately anger an enemy. She glared at the doorway of the private room while waiting for her ‘guest’ to appear, and felt her temper increase when he finally did arrive.

Despite the severity of the situation and the location that she had chosen for the meeting, it seemed that Rufus Shinra’s… boyfriend had decided to dress as if he was still paying a visit to the slums where he hailed from rather than one of Midgar’s finest restaurants. The man wore a pair of faded and torn jeans, a tight black t-shirt and what might have once been a fine white silk shirt that was now frayed and missing most of its buttons, not to mention was too big for the redhead’s lanky build. Walking beside Niko, who towered over the redhead by at least a foot and who was twice as wide, this ‘Reno’ appeared as intimidating as one of the waiters who bustled outside of the private room. She couldn’t believe that someone as important, as intelligent and dignified as Rufus could allow this… this gutter trash to attach itself to him.

Reno sauntered a few feet into the room and stopped, a lopsided grin on his tattooed face as he glanced around. He seemed to pay Marielle as much attention as he did Gerd or Carlos over in the corner and the room’s fine furnishings. The only thing that his unusually bright eyes lingered on was the bar to the left and the open bottle of wine on the table. "Are ya gonna star’ this thing wit’ threats or ya gonna be all civil an’ shit an offa’ me a drink?"

When all she did was stare at him while trying to make out the think accent, he made a snorting sound and headed right to the bar. Both Carlos and Niko moved as if to prevent him, until Gerd motioned them to stop. "Usually introductions are made first before refreshments are offered," her head of security informed the redhead, a slight frown marring the usual impassiveness of his broad face. Marielle had known the man for almost ten years, and it was rare that he betrayed any emotions while working; he must be confused by this Reno’s actions.

She had to admit that he wasn’t the only one, as she hadn’t expected someone who she was basically blackmailing to show up acting so… so blasé and then be more interested in alcohol than what she planned to do to him – especially since she had three of her top security with her, men who could have been SOLDIERs in their time if her father hadn’t hired them first. Perhaps there was some truth to the rumor of Rufus’ lover still being a Turk?

Yet the more she watched him, the more unlikely that seemed. He let out a childish cry of delight when he spotted a very expensive bottle of whiskey and poured himself a full glass of it, despite the fact that he was in a closed room with enemies. After draining half of the glass, he topped it off again, then turned around and jumped up to sit on the bar itself. His glass of whiskey in one hand and the bottle in the other, he leered at Marielle as if oblivious to Gerd, Niko and Carlos hovering about.

"Eh, ya gotta decen’ setta tits an tha face ain’ bad, bu’ ya seriously think tha’s alla takes ta charm Rufus?"

Marielle stared in shock at the man. "Did you… just compliment me or was that an insult?" She honestly couldn’t tell with that horrible slum accent of his.

Reno shrugged and took a swallow of whiskey. "Bitta both." He grinned, more a showing of sharp white teeth, when Niko took a step toward him. "Ah ah, was tol’ there’d be na violence, righ’" he pointed out while lifting the bottle of whiskey as if to throw it at the bodyguard.

"He’s unfortunately right," Gerd reminded the man, and Niko gave the redhead a warning glare that would have most people averting their eyes and scurrying away; all the gutter rat did was smirk back and raise his glass as if in a toast. "However, I must caution you to be more circumspect in what you have to say about Miss Etherstone."

Gerd’s verbal warning produced a short bark of laughter from Reno and made him shake his head while he refilled his glass. "Eh, so she’s tha only one who gets ta be insultin’, righ’?" He set the bottle down hard on the wooden bar, the sudden loud ‘thunk’ making Niko and Carlos jump at the noise and even Marielle to flinch. "So let’s star’, ‘kay? Ya wanted me here forra reason, na weapons, na backup, na spillin’ ta Rufus, so do ya worse." He raised his glass in another mock toast but this time didn’t drink.

Gerd pushed a large plain envelope toward Marielle, which was her cue to begin. She picked up her wine glass again and this time she drank from it, the fine red wine slightly bitter to the taste from nerves. For the last two months, ever since she had decided on this course of action, she had waited anxiously for this moment; somehow she had never imagined it would be to confront a man who appeared so carefree, so mocking when it was *she* who held all the power.

"As you know from the communications we’ve sent you, we’ve uncovered some… rather damaging information about your past." She set her glass aside and focused her attention on Reno, waiting for any sign that her words made an impact. So far, he merely sat there on the bar, legs swinging back and forth as he took occasional sips of twenty year old whiskey. "This is information that could be very damaging should Rufus ever-"

"Oh puh-lease," Reno cut her off with a loud drawl, even going so far as to roll his eyes. "Ya seriously thin’ tha ya found somethin’ there tha’ he don’ know? I was in tha *fucking* *Turks*. They don’ let *anyone* in without diggin’ up alla ya shit, an’ tha Prez has clearance for it."

It took her a minute to process what had been said, between the horrid accent and the massive wrench it made in her plans by having Rufus know all about his lover’s sordid past. "Even… even the prostitution?" she forced out past numb lips as she reached for the glass again.

Reno made a dismissive noise as he shook his head. "Iffa ya wanna call it tha’. Mean, did whatta had ta do, an’ no’ tha often." His expressive face, marred by those hideous tattoos, broke into a wide grin; she could see why Rufus was attracted to him, as he certainly was pretty enough if he kept his mouth shut. Yet as soon as he spoke, there was that *appalling* accent that betrayed his true origins. "Rufus rather likes alla tricks ah picked up makin’ ends meet. Says mah mouth is good fah more than jus’ makin’ noise." He even had the audacity to waggle his eyebrows as he spouted that obscene bit of information.

Marielle looked away as she clenched at the material of her white silk dress, refusing to believe that the man she adored had… had *lowered* himself with a piece of trash like this. She would correct that, would drive this gutter rat from Rufus’ side one way or the other. If her plan to threaten Reno away from Rufus with the truth about his lowly origins wouldn’t work, then perhaps a revelation about what SHINRA had done to his family would; it would be so much simpler to have Carlos and Niko drag the gutter trash out back and kill him like the garbage he was, but by every indication from past actions against the redhead made that an unwise choice. No, it was necessary to have Reno leave Rufus by his own actions – or at least seem that way.

Accepting another envelope from Gerd, Marielle straightened her shoulders and tossed back her hair before offering the redhead a patronizing smile. "So by your own admission you used to be a Turk." At that statement, Reno snorted once and sipped his drink, but didn’t say anything. "Perhaps you would find it very interesting to know what your precious organization did once you joined up." She watched the man intently to see his response to that bit of news, yet all he did was continue to sip his drink. If anything, his eyes seemed to grow a little brighter, which was odd. Marielle wet her lips and continued.

She lifted the second envelope in her hands. "Have you had much contact with your mother over the years?" she asked, her voice containing a false note of sympathy.

Reno laughed out loud and leaned back on the bar. "Funny, yeah? Iffa ya know abou’ tha blow jobs an’ ‘at, ya shoul’ know tha’ ah haven’ seen tha bitch since ah was abou’ twelve or so." He cocked his head to the side. "Why, ya wanna hire a *real* whore?" he asked, that mocking grin back on his face. "Bet she can teach ya allot. Enough so ya can getta man without havin’ ta blackmail someone."

Marielle grabbed Gerd’s arm to keep him from rising from his seat. "No thanks, I’d rather not sink to your level." Feeling smug over the bit of information she held, she tapped the envelope on the table. "So you never went back to check up on her?"

"No." Just the one word from him, spoken in the clearest tones yet.

"Then perhaps you’d be interested in knowing that SHINRA – to be more specific, the Investigation Division of the Department of General Affairs - ordered her death approximately three months after you started working for the company. I would assume that, as *president* of SHINRA, Rufus would be aware of that fact at some point." She smiled at the redhead, eager for his reaction to that bit of news.

All Reno did was gaze evenly back at her and drink whiskey. After a minute of silence, he sat up and set his empty glass on the bar. "’Kay, ah gotta ask this – have ya evah blackmailed someone before? Because ya are doin’ ah *shit* jobba it." His eyes, that odd mix of blue and green, as if unable to decide on one color, were glowing bright enough to cast shadows onto his sharp cheekbones. "Nothin’ ya jabbin’ abou’ is gonna make me stop screwin’ Rufus – or him me."

Of all of the responses she had been expecting – shock, grief, or anger being chief among them – nonchalance bordering on smugness was *not* one of them. Marielle stared at the man for several second before throwing her wine glass at him, which the bastard easily avoided by ducking. "No, you *will* break up with him! You’re not worthy to be Rufus’ lover!" She started to rise from her chair, but Gerd’s large hand on her left arm stopped her and made her sit back down.

Reno leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees, and smiled; he appeared very confident and unaffected by all of the alcohol that he had been drinking. "And you think *you’re* worthy, when you came up with such an inane idea like this?" The fact that he was speaking so clearly, so articulately for the first time since he had walked into the room was stunning. "If you were, Rufus wouldn’t have let you go." He picked up the bottle of whiskey and took a draught straight from it. "No, now the only attention you’re getting from him is the negative kind." Then he smirked again, the expression so confident that it was Gerd who was rising from his seat in response to it.

He motioned to Carlos and Niko as he spoke. "That sounded very much like a threa-"

Marielle let out a shriek when the door burst open and several people dressed in black suits rushed into the room. Her bodyguards attempted to pull their weapons and stop the threat, but the attackers were just too fast, firing off their guns with ease despite their darting motions. All she saw was a blur of black and white amid the flashes of light and smoke before Gerd shoved her beneath the table, and then her bodyguard made a choking sound as he fell to the floor beside her. She stared at him, at the red soaking through the grey of his suit and the white of his shirt, the way his eyes widened and then went still while looking blankly back at her. When a rough hand grabbed hold of her left arm, she didn’t even think to resist at first, until she was hauled onto her feet by a Turk who looked as if he could be one of her bodyguards.

The bald Turk didn’t say a word as he jostled her about, and when she finally realized what had happened, that these people had dared to attack her in a restaurant that her *father* owned, she pulled with futile effort at freeing her arm until a sharp pain made her stop. "What in Gaia’s name do you think you’re doing?" she shrieked, unable to believe that that these cretins had come here and killed her men. "I am Gabriel Etherstone’s daughter!"

One of the men in black suits, with hair just as dark and swarthy skin that marked him as one of those Wutian degenerates stepped toward her. "I am well aware of that fact, which is the only reason you’re still alive," he informed her in a dismissive manner while he surveyed the dead bodies. "It’s clear you never informed your father of such a ridiculous scheme."

She gasped at his attitude, and then twisted about to glare at Reno, who was still seated on top of the bar, now with his legs crossed and drinking straight from the bottle as if it was water. "You… you gutter-bred bastard!" She let out a hiss of pain as the behemoth of a Turk beside her tightened his grip on her arm. "You were ordered not to tell anyone!" He must have run straight to his former comrades once he read the email she had sent.

All the redhead did was grin as he lowered the whiskey bottle. "Nah, no need ta when they scan my mail." He rolled his eyes, which were still putting off that unearthly glow, and handed the bottle over with some reluctance to one of the Turks, a tall blonde. "’Least, they do the public account you were stupid enough ta try ta blackmail me through. I figured they’d show up soon enough into our little chat."

"You little-" Another painful clench around Marielle’s arm made her whimper in agony, and by the time she could see straight again, Reno was standing in front of her without having made a sound while moving from the bar. The familiar smirk was gone from his face, replaced by a disturbingly feral grin.

"You should be grateful, yeah? Because the Turks are gonna deal with you instead of Rufus." His smile became even sharper, his eyes brighter, and she flinched when he reached out to tuck back a strand of hair that was falling into her eyes. "If you’d tried this shit against him and I’d found you…." He was just some gutter rat, just some cheap whore who Rufus was fucking, yet she mewled in fear from what she saw on his face just then and pressed against the Turk who was bruising her arm. "Yeah, be *very* grateful," he all but cooed to her before turning around and slinking away."

She huddled against the bald Turk until the leggy blonde from the bar came over and yanked her away. "I just wanted to save Rufus," she babbled, desperate to make someone understand. "He… he deserves so much better, someone who-" The harsh slap to her mouth stunned her into silence.

The blonde Turk smiled, her expression cruel, and snapped plastic bands around Marielle’s wrists. "Trust me, he got exactly what he deserves. Just like you will."

*******

Tseng waited for Reno to leave the private dining room and trailed after him, motioning to Elena to take over during his absence. As soon as it had been clear where Marielle Etherstone had planned to stage her little… intervention or whatever one would call tonight, he’d sent Cyn and Deirdre in to bug the room. The evening had basically gone how he had expected, except for one revelation.

He found Reno lighting up a cigarette outside of the restaurant, leaning against the brick wall as if he hadn’t a care in the world. One would be hard-pressed to tell that he had spent the past half an hour in the presence of armed guards who would have killed him on command, but then again, he had spent an awful lot of his life under similar circumstances. "Yo, so you gonna off tha bitch?"

Tseng considered the question for a moment before he shrugged. "It depends on if we can convince her of the error of her ways; her father is important enough that it would buy us some favor if we returned her… in some semblance of alive."

His answer amused Reno, as the man laughed out a lungful of smoke. "Yeah, it’s amazing what a bit of Materia can do." He wiped at his eyes, which were still glowing a little. "Just as long as she learns her lesson, no?"

"That would be the most important thing," Tseng agreed. There was no way that Rufus would allow her to live if he thought that the woman would make another attempt on Reno again; they had enough of a stranglehold on the media that there was no way she could reveal what she knew about the redhead’s past, but a threat to his life would not be accepted. "I’m surprised you didn’t deal with her yourself."

It was Reno’s turn to shrug. "Like I said, I knew you had that account tapped so figured I’d let you do your thing." He dropped his cigarette to the ground and folded his arms over his chest. "And it was a bit o’ fun, hearing what she dug up." His posture appeared relaxed, yet Tseng had known him for too many years, had fought against too many people, to miss that tiny bit of tension in his spine and the narrowness of his eyes.

If Reno knew about the traces on his email accounts and phones, then he must have known that the room had been bugged. "It was amusing, to hear her go on about how you’re ‘retired’ from the Turks," Tseng commented, avoiding what he knew was the real issue just then.

That earned a snort of derision from Reno. "Yeah, which just goes to show how stupid the bitch really was." He tilted his head to the side. "Though she was right about some other shit."

"Well, you’ve always said you never hid what you had to do to survive before joining the Turks." Tseng deliberately danced around what he was certain they both knew was the main point just then. "In fact, you seem to enjoy throwing it in Rufus’ face."

That earned him a smile, albeit a fleeting one. "Does seem to get the uptight bastard’s boxers in a twist, yeah." Then Reno’s demeanor was serious once again. "That wasn’t what she tried to hurt me with at the end, though."

Trust Reno to cut to the chase. Wishing once again that Veld was still alive so he could vent some of his frustrations on the man, Tseng ran his hands through his hair as he thought about what to say. "I assume that you’re referring to what happened to your mother." When all Reno did was stare back at him, he let out a short burst of air. "Reno-"

When the redhead pushed away from the wall in a blur of motion, Tseng readied himself for some type of assault. Instead, all Reno did was step out into the street and hold out his arms to the night sky. "Ya know, ya don’t see the stars Below Plate," he told Tseng as he stared upward. "Hell, ya don’t even see the fuckin’ sky. Just see dirt an’ concrete an’ metal an’ the shit the people Above throw away. My mother was fine with life like that, an’ always screamin’ at me for climbin’ the damn pillars." He finally looked downward, looked in Tseng’s direction, and the grin on his face was crooked, was twisted with bitterness. "Kept callin’ me a fuckin’ rat."

"I…" Tseng had to clear his throat. "I would say you’re more like a cat, myself." He would, too, when one considered Reno’s slanted eyes and personality.

His colleague laughed and resumed his star-gazing. "Yeah, well, you sorta like me. She never did, so I was a rat ta her." All amusement was chased away from his expression, the bitterness and hatred sharpening his features until he resembled that half-starved kid who had joined the Turks out of desperation. "Don’ know why she just didn’ abort me, maybe she was plannin’ on selling’ me all along. But the time came when she finally made some money out of me, an’ that’s when I decided I was better off on tha streets. I mean, if I was gonna be sellin’ my ass, at least…." Reno shook his head, his long red hair flashing around like fire in the street lights. "Which is why I really don’ give a *shit* if the Turks killed that bitch."

Tseng heard the quiet conviction in Reno’s voice and understood that he had probably been told something that no one else had – not entirely. It was there to be interpreted, and the company shrinks had made their insinuations, but there had been no open declaration. So in proper Turk fashion, a truth was owed for a truth. "It was decided that your mother would be a liability," he explained. "We couldn’t risk that she would either attempt to blackmail you for money or… well, have you put the company at risk or have an outside force use her against you. So she was eliminated in a professional manner." He would have Rude find out exactly how Etherstone’s people had unearthed that operation.

Reno was quiet for a time, at least a minute or two, and then he laughed. To Tseng’s surprise, the sound was genuinely amused. "That *had* ta be early on, right?" He faced Tseng with his arms at his sides, his posture relaxed. "I mean, *come on*, ya really thought I’d do anythin’ for that bitch? I wouldn’t piss on her if she was on fire."

"You are correct." Despite the fact that they were talking about killing someone’s mother, Tseng found himself smiling in return. "We could have saved some effort if we had waited a few months."

"Yeah, she’d probably have OD’ed anyway," Reno scoffed. Then he reached out and bumped his fist against Tseng’s right arm. "But I appreciate the sentiment. Let me know if there’s any family of yours I can kill to return the favor."

"You are a very sick and twisted individual. I can *not* stress that enough." Yet Tseng was grinning as he tousled his friend’s hair, grateful that tonight hadn’t caused any irreparable damage between them. "I despair over how I helped raise Rufus in that he finds you a suitable life-mate."

Reno grimaced as he pulled away. "I keep telling you, it’s just sex!" Despite his protest, he made his way to the black sedan that Tseng had waiting to return them home – to Rufus. "Though he does understand how cathartic it can be to kill a family member…."

Not for the first time, Tseng considered the wisdom of going along with Veld’s plan in allowing Rufus and Reno to become a couple. He supposed the only good thing about it was that they shouldn’t have any children and thus continue their rather twisted definition of ‘family’.

At that thought, a sudden chill ran through him, leaving him cold the entire drive back to Rufus’ penthouse.

*******

Rufus monitored the various status reports from the active Turks until he heard the front door to the penthouse open and close. Taking that as a sign to shut down his laptop, he rose from his desk and left the office in search of his lover, whom he found lounging in the living room.

"So I see that you survived Marielle Etherstone," he remarked as he headed over to the bar, taking note of Reno’s rumpled attire and lack of injuries.

"Yo, I’ll take a drink if ya fixin’ something," Reno commented as he sprawled out on the couch, for once remembering to kick off his boots before stretching his long legs out before him. "An’ I gotta say, questionable taste there, boss. Questionable taste indeed." He even went so far as to click his tongue in blatant disapproval.

Rufus remained quiet as he poured two glasses of tequila and went over to the couch, where he proceeded to shove Reno’s feet to the floor before sitting down and passing over one of the glasses. "Think twice before passing judgment, as I used that same ‘taste’ to pick you," he remarked before sipping the potent liquor.

Reno wrinkled his nose as he sat up enough to toss back the tequila, his face impassive during the shot. "Yeah, well, did I ever claim ta be one of your better decisions?" He kept the emotion from his face as he stared up at Rufus through his long eyelashes, yet the burning glow of his eyes gave him away.

Tossing back his own drink with an ease that he had picked up from too much time spent in his lover’s presence, Rufus set the empty glass aside and leaned forward until his hands rested on either side of Reno’s head. "I think the wisest thing I could have ever done was shoot you between the eyes the moment I first saw you, but where’s the fun in that?" He was speaking the truth – from a purely self-interest point of view, he never should have let this Turk into his life. Yet he had to admit that, all of the infuriating weakness aside, Reno sure as hell made his life interesting.

"’Least *I* know how the hell ta blackmail somebody." A slight smile curved Reno’s lush mouth, made Rufus’ gaze dart to his full bottom lip for a moment and imagination flash onto taking the soft flesh between his teeth. "What was it with you datin’ dumb bitches, eh?" Reno asked as he slid his arms around Rufus’ neck.

"I feel that I must point out that a few of them were of above average intelligence, it’s just that they were all… rather naïve to how our world works." Rufus smiled as well when Reno’s eyes glowed brighter and the arms around his neck tightened in response to his defense of his past paramours; it wasn’t much of a show of jealousy, but he was getting better at reading the signs. "I must say, I was very impressed with the lengths that dear Marielle went to on my behalf." He managed to keep his voice calm at the thought of the woman attempting to harm his lover and managing to unearth so much classified information – mostly because she had failed, and because Tseng would handle any loose ends.

"’Dear Marielle’ is a deluded bitch," Reno hissed while he dug his fingers into Rufus’ shoulders. "You rich pricks are all tha same, think you can-"

Rufus silenced what was certain to be a profanity-laced tirade directed right at his own ego by yanking hard on a handful of long crimson strands while sinking onto Reno’s lap. "Ah, now don’t go saying anything that you’ll regret," he warned while his lover hissed in pain and anger.

He was glared at for his presumptuousness, yet Reno didn’t attempt to pull away or strike back; the hands against his back pulled him closer and he could feel his lover’s body begin to respond beneath him. "When have I *ever* regretted callin’ you a high-handed, manipulative, sadistic bastard, eh?" His aquamarine eyes were heavy-lidded and there was a clear challenge in his mocking tone and the way he tilted up his chin.

"And when I have ever failed to meet your expectations?" Rufus leaned in closer with his hand still entangled in Reno’s long, messy hair. "Perhaps you should have listened to Etherstone’s proposal and been rid of me." As if he’d ever let the maddening bastard go.

"Eh? Dumb bitch couldn’ get some simple facts right. No way I was gonna trust her." Reno’s lips brushed against Rufus’ as he spoke, his arms tight around his shoulders. "Ya drive people crazy, ya know? Probly cause you’re not so sane yourself."

"It takes one to know one," was all Rufus said before closing the small gap between them. He slid his left hand beneath Reno’s t-shirt and a small moan escaped him at the feel of flexing muscle beneath tight, hot skin. It had been such a risk to let the impulsive redhead walk away earlier, to believe in Tseng – to believe in *Reno* - when the Turk had told him about the threatening messages that had appeared in Reno’s inbox. Rufus knew that Reno was one of the most dangerous individuals alive, that he could more than hold his own against several armed guards. He just… it was difficult to let him walk into something potentially life-threatening that Rufus could take care of beforehand with one simple order. If he hadn’t understand the rationale behind the sting, of having Etherstone overplay her hand and ensuring that she would never be a threat again…. It was so much simpler to destroy one’s enemies before they caused any problems.

His hand slipped along Reno’s bony hip and beneath the waistband of his jeans, past silk boxers. The redhead gave up on clutching at his shoulders with enough force to leave bruises and began tugging at Rufus’ clothes in between muttering barely coherent curses in that gutter accent of his and kissing him with enough passion to belie the insults. Rufus smirked as he pressed harder against his lover, pinning him onto the couch as he stretched out on top of him; the feel of all that heat, of Reno’s lithe, aroused body beneath him was more potent than the earlier shot of alcohol.

"Always… too many damn… layers," Reno gritted out as he struggled with shoving Rufus’ dress shirts down his arms. For himself, Rufus had to admit that it was a lot easier just pushing up the t-shirt and tugging away the jeans and boxers. He nuzzled the right side of his lover’s neck and had just begun to suck on the pale skin when Reno’s clever hands made quick work of his belt and pants zipper. The feel of feverishly warm and calloused fingers wrapping around his hard cock made him gasp in pleasure, his teeth scraping along sensitive skin in return until Reno arched his neck and spread his legs wider.

There was still a bottle of lubricant hidden between the seat cushions from the last time they’d engaged in sex on the couch, which Rufus snatched to put to good use before a certain redhead started bitching about him being ‘too slow’. Judging from the sardonic twist to Reno’s mouth and the narrow set to his eyes, he was seconds away from some smart-ass remark – at least until Rufus pressed a slick finger inside of him. Then it was stuttered begging for more, faster; Reno’s lovely face was flushed and his eyes so bright with need and desire.

"Come on, *fuck me* dammit. Jus… jus…." Reno moaned when Rufus curled his fingers inside of him, his body writhing on the couch and his long hair clinging to his sweat-slick skin. "Bastar’…."

"Hmm, not quite." Rufus smirked at his lover while he pulled his fingers free and then slicked his cock, all the while drinking in the sight before him. He took in the way Reno’s hips jerked up for him, the increased aquamarine brightness at his touch, the heat that enveloped him as he sank in. Reno’s arms were once more draped over his shoulders, his legs wrapped around thighs as if the man refused to let him pull away. Rufus shifted him a little lower on the couch for a better angle and then thrust in hard.

"Is that… what you want?" he asked as he set a demanding pace, reveling in the way that Reno met each of his thrusts and the pleased grin that spread across his lover’s face.

"All… ya got?" Reno undulated up for a kiss that was more ferocious than loving, a mash of teeth and tongue that left Rufus’ lips tingling when it was over. Chuckling at how audacious the bastard could be, Rufus lifted Reno’s left leg higher, rolling his lover over slightly until he had a better angle to thrust in deeper and faster. That prompted a heartfelt curse from the redhead, his body tightening around Rufus’ cock as he hunched forward, his own hands busy stroking himself in time to the hard thrusts pounding into him. Rufus closed his eyes as pleasure coursed through him with each snap of his hips, at the friction that clenched around him while Reno cried out his name. He shuddered as his own orgasm hit, body growing weak from the onslaught of ecstasy until he finally gave in and curled up next to his lover.

Reno made a mew-like noise of complaint when he had to shift over a little, as always loathe to exert himself immediately after sex. Rufus forestalled the immediate bitching by pushing aside whatever long strands of hair he could find cast about on the couch before he stretched out, a little tired and sweaty and mind buzzing for the moment with that wonderful post-sex clarity. He picked up a wayward strand of crimson hair and wrapped it around his right index finger. "If Tseng has access to your email account, then I should, too." Might as well get this fight over with, while Reno was mostly disarmed of his weapons and in a good mood.

To his surprise, all his declaration earned him was a tired snort and a somewhat damp and sticky lover pressed against his right side. "It’s not my private account, an’ why not? Figured he was sharing the reports with you anyway." Reno yawned as he spoke and draped his left arm across Rufus’ hip – and wiped his hand on what were a very expensive pair of pants. Rufus’ eyes narrowed at that slight to his wardrobe, but he decided to pick and choose his battles at the moment.

"No, he isn’t. I only found out about the tapping when he informed me about the mission today." Annoyance crept into his voice, the same emotion that made him tug on his lover’s hair until Reno muttered a curse about controlling bastards under his breath and glare up at him. "This isn’t going to be one of those things where you say it’s fine and then I come home to a destroyed office or you disappear for another week, is it?" he asked with more than a little suspicion. Because if there was the slightest chance of the latter happening, someone was having R&D’s latest tracking device slipped into his drink this evening.

Reno grimaced and swatted at the hand that was holding his hair hostage. "Nah, I wouldn’ say ‘yeah’ if it wasn’t. It only seems fair since us Turks get ta snoop through your stuff all the time. Just as long as I get ta keep some stuff personal, just like you do, then I won’t bitch too much." There was a bit of heat to his words at the end, a clear warning that he was drawing limits; Rufus had to wonder if Tseng had been given this ultimatum as well and if it was why Reno was being so compliant for once.

He gave the strand one more tug, just because, and smirked when it provoked an angry snarl from his lover. "Now *I* get to find out how many death threats you receive all of the time," he teased as he used his impromptu leash to pull Reno in for a kiss. "I bet you’re every bit as ‘popular’ as me."

That earned him a mocking scoff and a nip to his bottom lip. "An’ I bet ya a night spent wearing some panties and a garter belt that you’ll get more threats in a month than me." Reno grinned as he set about removing his t-shirt, a clear sign that he wasn’t finished with Rufus for the evening.

Rufus considered the new orphanage that Lockhart had been after him to sponsor, and a few upcoming social events where he would be certain to run into more ex-girlfriends along the lines of Etherstone…. "I believe we have ourselves a wager," he agreed while he began to rid himself of his remaining clothes as well.

Reno rolled his eyes and pushed at Rufus’ shoulders until he was lying on his back, all the while moving until he was straddling Rufus’ thighs. "Always gotta sound like such an arrogant prick – so don’t know what those idiots see in you besides your money," he complained.

"This from the man who’s about thirty seconds away from being fucked by me yet again tonight." Rufus rocked his hips upward and had to bite back on a groan at the feel of his hardening cock sliding between Reno’s slick ass-cheeks.

The impudent bastard grinned as he ground his ass down onto Rufus’ cock. "Yeah, guess ya got that goin’ for ya." He leaned forward to lap at Rufus’ mouth for a moment, his breath hitching when Rufus grabbed his hips to hold him steady for another hard thrust. "That and you’re a blood-thirsty bastard."

"Again, takes one to know one," Rufus whispered against Reno’s lips, and his lover laughed in agreement before kissing him. When he finally pulled away to sit back and grab hold of Rufus’ cock, Rufus spared a thought for how they were probably about to ruin a perfectly good couch – and then focused on what was truly important.

*******

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