Rules of the Game

*******

by nekojita

*******

By the time that Rufus finished with his shower and left the bathroom, the only thing left of Reno in the apartment was the lingering stench of cigarette smoke. Stepping into the empty bedroom, Rufus spared a glance at the rumpled bed and, letting the towel wrapped loosely around his waist fall to the floor, went to his closet.

He hadn’t really expected to find the man still here but had to admit that he had hoped for a little more… distraction this morning before facing his schedule for the day. The thought of Reno’s wicked mouth on his cock had aroused him during the shower, but now he sternly ignored his body’s desires as its outlet had already left for work. For all the trouble it took to get Reno out of bed, he didn’t waste any time once he was on his feet. Rufus reflected on how that was quite the inconvenience for a moment before he began to dress.

Since everything he needed was basically within reach, it only took a minute before he was almost completely dressed. Once his black silk shirt was buttoned, he began to tuck it into his white trousers and slowly realized that something was wrong. Frowning in confusion, he looked around the closet as he tried to figure out what was missing. After a few puzzled seconds, he became aware that there were several empty hangers on the cedar rod from which his dress shirts neatly hung, their presence now glaring amidst fine white fabric.

As he slowly pulled on a white jacket, Rufus pondered the missing shirts. In the past few weeks, one had been ruined when he spilled red wine onto it in response to a sarcastic but witty comment made by Reno, and the shirt he had worn yesterday still needed to be cleaned. That left three shirts unaccounted for, three shirts that by all rights should be hanging in his closet. For a moment he considered the elderly man responsible for looking after his wardrobe but he quickly realized that the man was too terrified of him to risk losing his job – and more – over petty thievery.

Perplexed by the matter and why it bothered him so much, it wasn’t until Rufus left the closet and noticed the white heap of fabric which lay on the floor that he figured out who the culprit was. He prodded the cheap material with the leather-clad toe of his right foot, noted the missing buttons, the tears and frayed threads that were the result of him ripping the shirt from Reno before…. His cock twitched in remembrance of how Reno had dared to mock him last night as they stood in the bedroom, how he had embraced the offered challenge and torn the shirt from Reno’s pale body, had forced his lover onto the bed and….

Rufus took a deep breath to calm himself and walked away from the ruined garment. Now that he thought about it, the shirt that Reno wore last week had been particularly fine, the expensive fabric soft under Rufus’ fingers as he pushed it from Reno’s bony shoulders. Since he had been eager for a quick fuck before attending a devastatingly boring board meeting, he hadn’t thought much of it then, other than to nod in approval at the feel of something other than cheap cotton. And, if he remembered correctly, Reno had been here on the morning of that day, had washed off, dressed and left while Rufus was in the shower.

Well, now the mystery was solved and he could relax since it wasn’t a breach in security. Yet as he combed the fingers of his left hand through his slightly damp and slicked back hair, Rufus felt growing annoyance at Reno’s assumption that he could just take what he wanted. Rufus knew all about his lover’s past, how Reno had acquired the skills that made him a very good ‘retrieval’ agent for the Turks, and was disturbed to realize that he was slowly but definitely growing furious.

For the most – surprising - part, Reno hadn’t taken any excessive advantages after becoming Rufus’ lover. He seemed to delight in flinging the fact of their… ‘relationship’ in people’s faces, would strongly prefer to spend as much of a work shift having sex as possible, and he could utterly decimate Rufus’ wine and liquor collection if left idle and unsupervised in the apartment for too long. However, he didn’t ask for any special favors, didn’t maneuver for a promotion or demand expensive trinkets like Rufus’s last few partners had. Between that and Reno’s refreshing irreverent attitude, his sharp wit and talent at sex, Rufus allowed the relationship to last longer than he had originally intended. There was also the fact that Reno was a Turk, was utterly loyal and (mostly) obedient to him, had stood by him after the fall of Shinra Corporation and the damage geostigma had done to his body.

Rufus, with great reluctance and hindsight, admitted to himself that he did favor Reno somewhat because of those things, that he let the redhead get away with behavior that would normally end with the offender being shot but in no way had he made it clear that Reno was able to freely partake in what was his. He did not give Reno any money outside what was earned for work, gave no gifts other than reining in his temper when the careless idiot inevitably pushed things too far. For Reno to assume that he could help himself to Rufus’ wardrobe… that would be corrected as soon as Rufus arrived at work. Reno would soon be put in his proper place. That thought made Rufus smile in anticipation as he left his apartment, made a languid hunger build low in his belly.

‘Teaching’ Reno his place was one of the best parts of their relationship, even if Reno had to be repeatedly taught again and again. In retrospect, that was part of what kept Reno in his favor since Rufus derived great pleasure from those lessons. As he climbed into the helicopter that would take him to work, he smiled and hoped that he would have a sizable break available on his calendar for the day. The most enjoyable sessions tended to last at least an hour.

*******

Busy going over Reeve’s previously ignored research on alternate energy sources, Rufus glanced from the thick folder of paper when he heard his secretary cry out in a high-pitched, aggrieved voice. "You can’t just go-"

The words were cut off by one of his office doors flying open to reveal what appeared to be a thoroughly enraged Reno. Behind him were the two Turks assigned to Rufus for the day, Jared and Rod, who sent inquiring looks as their hands reached for Reno’s shoulders. A curt head shake from Rufus made them instantly back down from their fellow Turk and the door was slammed shut by a forceful backward kick from Reno.

"You fucking, spoiled bastard."

From the way the insult was hissed in anger and not its usual affection, Rufus assumed that Reno had found out about his paychecks and sat back in his chair, his arms crossed over his chest. "I’ll have you know that, unlike some people, my conception was perfectly legitimate. Not only did my mother know who my father was, but they were married to each other at the time," he calmly replied. When Reno didn’t grimace or laugh or smirk at the subtle taunt about his own parentage, Rufus began to suspect that all the anger wasn’t for show. That thought caused the hunger simmering inside his body to flare into burning heat. He always did like it when Reno put up a fight, it made the sex that much more exciting.

Stalking toward the desk, Reno slapped onto its surface the piece of paper he held clutched in his hand. His aquamarine eyes appeared more green than blue for once, bright with an anger that lent a flush to his tattooed cheeks, his lean body trembled with tension. "The richest asshole on the planet and you’re *docking* half of my salary over a couple of damn shirts? What the hell is your problem?"

"Half of your salary for the next month," Rufus pointed out, his voice smooth and in control, the opposite of Reno’s ragged, furious tone. "Those shirts are not the cheap, barely better than rag quality ones that you usually prefer, I’ll have you know." His upper lip curled slightly with distaste while he stared pointedly at the untucked, partially unbuttoned silk shirt that Reno currently wore.

His eyes narrowing in fury, Reno leaned closer, his hand that rested on top of the desk now clenched into a fist. "You’re docking my pay because of a few fucking shirts?" he repeated, his tone sharpened by indignation. "What the hell is your problem, Rufus? You wake up and decide that today’s a good day to jerk me around or something? Isn’t there some other peon who better deserves you fucking around with him, eh? You’re a fucking asshole."

While Rufus had expected Reno to bitch up a storm upon finding out about his pay, he hadn’t expected his lover to cross the line between them with so little regard. He could handle it when Reno got bossy during sex, when he gleefully pushed at Rufus’ self control to see what he could get away with, but this was nothing but disrespect. Shifting forward in the chair, Rufus rested the palms of his hands on the desk’s top and gave the Turk a cool look in warning. "I think you should stop with those insults, Reno." He left unsaid what would happen if the command wasn’t obeyed but from the way that Reno hissed in anger and straightened, he knew that he had been understood. "You took property from me without prior approval, hence you are responsible for reimbursing me for your petty thefts." Recalling his intentions when he’d had his secretary contact Payroll to make the changes to Reno’s weekly salary, his expression softened and some warmth crept back into his voice. "You can always work overtime if the lack of pay is troublesome," he remarked, his voice slightly roughened by molten desire that flowed through his veins. While angered by the disrespect shown toward him, he was also invigorated by it, by the thought of making Reno beg to take those words back.

Reno merely continued to stare, for once utterly silent when the expected reaction was for him to try arguments or seduction. Confused by the lack of a response, Rufus clasped his hands together and frowned. He had counted on Reno smirking or giving him a lustful grin, being asked in a husky voice just what it was that he would require from Reno during that overtime. However, all the redhead did now was stare incredulously for several heartbeats and then jerk his hands through the tousled mess of his hair. "You really want me to pay you back for those shirts," he muttered, an unusually cold note to his voice.

Wondering why things weren’t going according to plan, Rufus nodded and tried to regain control of the situation. He did expect to be repaid – but it wasn’t money that he was after. "I imagine that you’ve managed to destroy the ones you’ve taken already, so yes, I expect you to repay me for the shirts. You’re a clever man, Reno, I’m sure you’ll figure out something." He actually smiled, the expression one of challenge and anticipation, the latter a warm, bubbling emotion inside his chest. Reno *always* rose to the challenge. This would be fun.

There was more silence for a few seconds, an unnatural response that managed to tamp down on some of that warm feeling inside Rufus. Then Reno suddenly burst into motion. Unsurprisingly, he began to shrug out of his black jacket and kick his shoes off, which made Rufus smile in victory and lean back in his chair. Now this was what he had counted on and looked forward to all morning.

As his nimble fingers quickly undid the buttons, Reno began to glare, the expression unusually bitter. "I don’t fucking believe this. *You’re* the one with the thing for ripping my ‘cheap-ass’ shirts so I can’t wear them the next morning, and now you’re bitching if I borrow something of yours so I can show up for work on time and in uniform." As he spat the words out, he pulled the shirt from his body and actually *flung* it at Rufus. "Here’s your damn shirt back. As for the other two, one got ruined because of *someone’s* bright idea to fuck me against a brick wall and the other one’s at the dry cleaners. So I only owe your stingy ass for one."

His anger rekindling at the continued insults, Rufus brushed the shirt – still warm from Reno’s body heat – off the top of the desk. "I’ll warn you one more time." The words were curt and sharp, the only sign of annoyance that he allowed. "If you swear at me again, then I’ll-" He was cut off as something warm, silken and dark landed on his face.

"Oh yeah, I borrowed your fucking boxer shorts, too. Ya gonna dock me for that now?" Reno demanded to know, his tone the most disgusted that Rufus had ever heard in regards to himself. When he batted the underwear aside, he found Reno in the process of pulling his black jacket on, already clad in his pants but with the belt left unbuckled.

This was *not* how the situation was supposed to go, Rufus thought as his right hand clenched around the boxer shorts. Reno was supposed to be naked, not in the process of putting his clothes on – such as they were, now. He was supposed to be doing his best to drive Rufus insane with lust, to ‘make amends’ in one of the best ways he knew how, with his lean, tight body and insanely skilled mouth and those fingers that always knew just *where* to stroke or pinch or scratch. He sure as hell wasn’t supposed to be risking death with the constant insults and stepping into his shoes, his handsome face impassive but his eyes blazing with rage.

"You’re responsible for your uniform," Rufus pointed out, his voice chilled to a degree that usually had anyone with common sense scrambling for cover. "I fail to see how I’m to blame for any of this." Despite his growing annoyance and temper, he was still filled with that hunger, languid no more but insistent and sharp and hot. No one but Reno dared to address him in this manner, to show him any anger and that was a very potent aphrodisiac. So he tried once more to reason with the idiot, to put a stop to things before Reno went too far. "I feel I’m being very reasonable in offering you a chance to-"

And found himself cut off with a rude gesture. "Fuck your ‘overtime’, President. In fact, shove it up that tight ass of yours and get whatever pleasure from it that you can." While Reno spat out the insolent words, he turned and headed for the door.

Struggling to control his flaring temper, Rufus rose from his chair and just barely prevented his hands from slamming onto the top of his desk. "You’re out of uniform and impertinent, Turk. You will-"

Once again Reno cut him off but this time didn’t bother to turn around and face him. "I’ll borrow panties and a fucking shirt from Elena if I have to, *President*." If Rufus thought that Reno was being brazen before, it was nothing compared to the obvious disrespect in which he said that title. "Now I’m getting back to work so I can pay for your shitting clothes. *Sir*." The door was once again slammed shut, only this time Rufus was left alone in the office.

He had to take several deep breaths to calm himself, had to ignore the urge to grab whatever weapon was at hand, track down that insolent bastard and beat some manners into him. Usually he enjoyed Reno’s disregard for his station but what had just happened was almost too much for him to bear.

Once the urge to commit homicide passed, he sat down in his chair and reached for the phone. In a perfectly flat tone of voice, he instructed his secretary to contact Payroll to suspend all of Reno’s paychecks until further notice. If the man felt that he could get away with behavior like this and not be punished, he was wrong. Reno would not receive any of Rufus’ money until he apologized for his actions today. And he best pray that Rufus was in a forgiving mood any time soon.

*******

Rude sighed as he watched Reno toss back another shot of whiskey. "Am I going to have to carry you home again?" he asked. His partner merely grinned and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Relax, Rude, I’m not planning on getting shit-faced tonight. Just need to take the edge off a bit, okay?" Reno set the empty shot glass on the table and picked up the remaining full one. That quickly went the way of the previous two before Reno slumped in his chair and groaned in satisfaction while he lit a cigarette. "Really needed that."

Rude could very well imagine why and tossed a shot of his own back before he asked another question. "Are you going to bite my head off if I talk about it?" He didn’t need to refer to what ‘it’ was, and judging from the way Reno’s exotic eyes narrowed in anger, he guessed that it still was an off-limit topic.

However, Reno being Reno, his partner surprised him. Waving over the waitress, Reno motioned with his cigarette to the empty shot glasses, held up two fingers and then snorted as he returned his attention to Rude. "I was gonna wait for a few more shots before I start bitching but if you want to hear it now….." He shrugged and ran the fingers of his left hand through his hair, made the crimson strands stand up even more. "Can you fucking believe how much of an asshole *he* is?"

There was no need to ask who the ‘he’ in particular was, and Rude would feel much better if they didn’t mention names while out in public. Reno’s choice of a bar tonight might have decent whiskey for an even better price, but the name ‘Rufus Shinra’ would most likely gain them some unwelcome attention. As it was, they’d received some nasty looks for their black jackets, which both of them quickly shed once they sat down. Even in their white shirts – and in Rude’s case, black tie – they were definitely overdressed for this dive. However, Reno must have been here before because the patrons gave their table a rather wide berth.

"You’re lucky that ‘he’ didn’t shoot you if you called him half the names you repeated to me," Rude pointed out, and earned a particularly nasty look for doing so. "Reno… he’s our boss," he sighed, aware even as he spoke that his partner would just ignore his advice. "How many times do I have to tell you that you shouldn’t insult the man, even if you’re…."

Fortunately, Reno finished the sentence for him, as crudely as possible. "Even if I’m letting him fuck me on a regular basis? Even if I used to hide beneath his desk and blow him whenever he was stuck in a meeting with Heidegger?" Reno’s voice was thick with contempt, was bitter enough that the waitress’s hand began to shake as she set the whiskey down on the table. "Thanks," he drawled as he reached for a shot glass.

"I could have lived without knowing that last one," Rude muttered and rubbed his forehead to try and get rid of the disturbing images that filled it. Now whenever he had to guard Rufus’ office during a meeting, he’d think of his partner crouched beneath Rufus’ enormous desk, about to give their employer a blow job. He wanted to ask Reno if he had no shame but he already knew that answer.

The whisky and cigarette gone, Reno grinned wickedly and began to play with the ends of his long tail of hair. "Wanna know what I used to do after his meetings with Scarlet?"

"*NO*." Rude kicked the bastard’s ankle under the table and glared. "How many times do I have to tell you, the less I know, the better," he grumbled. The better for him, that was. He already had enough pornographic images of Reno in his head to last a life time. There’d been too many times when he’d caught Reno and Rufus in the act, the last thing he needed to know was what he luckily missed out on.

Reno merely smiled and shrugged as he played with his hair. "Sorry, didn’t mean to getcha all hot and bothered," he drawled, the words dragged out until they sounded almost obscene.

The trouble was, Rude contemplated as he downed his shot of whiskey, was that Reno really didn’t mean to do that. Hell, he was convinced that Reno didn’t have a clue what he felt for the bastard. After all, it wasn’t as if he had a reputation for liking men, in fact he hadn’t liked any guys until he met Reno. He admitted that he was definitely infatuated with his friend, was intrigued by whatever it was Reno possessed that attracted all sorts of people to him. That attracted Rufus Shinra. That particular thought was like a bucket of cold water over Rude’s head and a reminder of what he’d been trying to discuss.

"You’d need to lose the dick and grow some really big breasts to do that," he retorted automatically. Then he settled as level a look on his friend as he could. "What are you going to do? You can’t have the- you can’t have ‘him’ mad at you for very long," he tried to explain, even though Reno seemed to have a strong aversion to logic. "It’s not very healthy and you need the money." Not that he wanted Reno back with Rufus as he thought the relationship was one spectacularly messy explosion waiting to happen but he felt that it would go better for his partner if Rufus was the one to end things.

Once again, Reno’s eyes narrowed as his now non-existent pay was mentioned. "I’ve got some money set aside, I’ll be fine. And if I’m not being paid then I see no reason why I should hafta work." He stopped playing with his hair and picked up an empty shot glass instead, began to roll it between his palms.

Rude swallowed past a suddenly dry throat. "You’re thinking of quitting?" he asked in a loud, squeaky voice that made the men at the table nearest them turn around and stare at him in amazement.

Looking up from his hands, Reno squinted for a second and shrugged. "Eh, there’s no sense in me working there forever if I’m not getting paid. I mean, beating people up can be fun and all but…." He shrugged again. "We’ll see how long a certain someone is gonna be a huge asshole," he said, his voice taking on a nasty edge and his expression becoming a little frightening.

Great, just great. So Rufus Shinra and Reno were going to see who could be the most stubborn bastard, Rude thought with despair. As if the company hadn’t been through enough. Hell, as if the *world* hadn’t been through enough. He had a very bad feeling about the situation and waved the waitress back to the table with the desperate need for more alcohol.

Once the order was placed, he turned his attention to his partner. Reno was again playing with the shot glass, an amused smile on his face. With his hair even more tousled than usual, the long tail draped over his left shoulder, and Rude’s too-big shirt exposing most of Reno’s upper chest, Reno looked… well, especially attractive. There was a tingling thrill of pleasure to see Reno wearing one of his shirts, even if it had been borrowed because of Rufus.

Rufus… Rude grimaced and hoped that the whiskey got here soon. He shivered as he remembered what had happened right before the end of today’s shift, when Reno and Rufus crossed paths in a hallway. Reno pretended to act as if nothing wrong, as if he hadn’t seen Rufus at all and continued to joke with Rude, to even drape his arm over as much of Rude’s shoulders that he could reach. Meanwhile, the impassive expression on their employer’s face took on a frightening edge as he stared at Reno, his gaze lowering to the shirt that Rude’s partner wore and then to Rude himself. That expression clearly said that Rufus was in the mind to perpetrate mass carnage if given the slightest excuse.

"Do me a favor, Reno, and make up soon, okay?" he almost pleaded when he recalled how the venom in that look had sharply increased when Rufus’s gaze had shifted from Reno to him. He’d make a crazy guess and say that Rufus was *not* pleased with him right now. In fact, he’d even go so far as to say that Rufus… Rufus was acting like a jealous person. There was no other reason but that to explain why he had glared at Rude as if he wished him dead, not when it was Reno who had pissed him off.

Pausing as he exchanged the empty shot glass to the waitress for a full one, Reno gave him a disbelieving look. "What? Come on, Rude, you didn’t just say what I thought you did." When Rude didn’t answer, Reno’s smile faded once more and his voice took on a hard edge. "Listen, I jump when that bastard tells me to jump, I take bullets meant for him and those hurt like hell, let me tell you, and I let him fuck me. What I don’t do is let him fuck *with* me," Reno snarled then tossed back the shot and quickly snatched up another. "Asshole wants me to spend the night with him, I do it, even though my apartment’s clear on the other side of town. I sit around bored out of my mind most nights because he likes to have me on hand to fuck whenever he feels horny, and the one time I tried to leave a change of clothes there for the next morning, he flipped out."

He closed his eyes as he finished the other shot and kept them closed as if contemplating something that left a sour taste in his mouth. "Thought I was trying to move in with him, the conceited bastard that he is. So I’m stuck borrowing stuff if I want to make it to work on time. I’ve been doing it for months, figured he knew about it and didn’t care. Wasn’t like I borrowed his black shirts." Opening his eyes, Reno tilted back his head and laughed, the sound sharp with disgust. "I mean, come *on*. How the hell could I afford shit like that? Dumbass never even noticed until today." The amount of angry bitterness in his voice was unusual, he tended to either act out his grudges or forget them, not stew on them as he seemed to be doing tonight.

Feeling even more desperate over the situation, Rude sighed deeply and rubbed his hands over his shaved head. The situation was really, *really* fucked up. "Look, I know Ru- ah, ‘he’s’ the idiot here, but let’s face it, he’s your boss." He really didn’t understand why Reno had taken to screwing around with Rufus in the first place because of that fact. He’d ask what the hell Reno had been thinking… but… well, it was Reno. "The man isn’t used to admitting he made a mistake."

"Then it’s fucking time he learned," Reno declared flatly, his handsome face harsh with anger. "It’s about time he figures out that he’s a mere mortal like the rest of us, he just has a bigger bank account." While his right hand reached for the pack of cigarettes on the table, his left hand tugged on the collar of the overlarge shirt he wore. "You know, you didn’t give me any shit about lending me a shirt. Us Turks put our asses on the line for that bastard every day, we’re tortured for him, have our asses kicked and don’t even get me started on how none of us have any real lives, and he can’t lend one of us a damn shirt?" His voice rose with each word until he was practically shouting, the livid light in his eyes grew brighter until they practically glowed. "He has a hundred of the damn things and he’s giving me grief over *three*. *Fucking*. *Shirts*."

The way Reno spoke just then was with utter disdain, his loud voice thick with the emotion, his lips twisted in disgust. Rude knew about Reno’s past, how his friend considered routinely getting into fights, kidnapping people and stealing to be a step *up* in life. He also knew that ever since taking up with Rufus, that Reno had been surprisingly faithful. And all the Turks gossiped about how Rufus wasn’t screwing around with anyone else, something that they would know. So he guessed it was understandable that Reno was overreacting more than usual. He wouldn’t go so far as to say that the two men were in love with each other but they seemed to have developed some odd sort of attachment. For Reno to put so much effort into what should just be a fuckbuddy relationship, to have first hand experience with Rufus’ vast wealth…. Three shirts really shouldn’t matter to Rufus Shinra, especially not when they were borrowed by someone he was sleeping with on a regular basis.

Fuck. Rude buried his face in his hands and took a long breath. How the hell was he going to change his friend’s mind about the fight when he suddenly wasn’t so sure that he should? Rufus was definitely the asshole here. Unfortunately, he was an asshole who held all the cards and could have Reno killed with a simple command. The man didn’t even have to go that far since he could easily fire Reno and make sure he never held another job in his life. And if Rufus was petty enough to actually do either of those things, then Rude was going to have to beat some sense into him, which didn’t bode well for his career.

"Where the hell is that waitress?" he grumbled and looked up to search the room for the bearer of whiskey. "I’m not nearly drunk enough."

Appearing truly pleased for the first time that evening, Reno laughed and patted him on the left shoulder. "That’s the spirit!"

*******

A couple of hours later, Rude still wasn’t drunk enough but he didn’t think he’d have enough whiskey until he passed out. Since this wasn’t the best place for him to end up unconscious, he sighed and resolved to make the shot he just downed be the last one for a while. Then he looked around for his partner.

Finding Reno over by the bar’s dilapidated jukebox, he sighed in weariness as he observed his friend’s actions. Knowing that Reno could easily match him drink for drink, there was no reason why the redheaded bastard was acting as drunk as he was. However, the tall, blond man he was currently leaning against seemed pretty happy with his state of intoxication, be it genuine or not. In fact, the man was *very* happy when Reno combed his fingers through blond hair and leaned forward to whisper something in the man’s ear. After a few seconds, Rude realized that he wasn’t whispering but was nibbling on the man’s earlobe instead and had to look away.

Rude felt his chest grow tight while he stared at the table’s gouged and stained top. Before Rufus, Reno had always been willing to have a good time if someone was interested. Oh, he didn’t just screw the first person who asked like the rumors said, but if someone was nice looking, willing to buy a few rounds and amused Reno, then they were usually in for an unforgettable time – or so Rude had heard from a few people who had met that criteria and talked about their experiences later. He’d been working up the nerve to see if his partner was interested when Rufus suddenly decided he wanted Reno.

Considering how faithful Reno had been, even after Rufus had fallen sick, Rude had pretty much told himself ‘tough luck’ and that things were better if Reno remained his partner and friend and not a lover. He told himself those things day after day, which made seeing what appeared to be a suddenly available Reno put some new sucker under his spell painful to watch. More than anything, he wanted to go over there, sling the sexy bastard over his shoulder and find the nearest semi-private place to fuck but his sense of survival kicked in and kept him seated. If it had been a bad idea before, it was an even *worse* idea now.

Especially since two fellow Turks had tried to surreptitiously blend into the bar’s loud crowd about an hour ago. Jared and Rod had the sense to wear something over their black jackets but Rod’s hair was almost as bright as Reno’s and Jared’s ill-fitting sunglasses didn’t completely cover the scar on the left side of his face. Considering the way that they were deliberately avoiding Rude’s gaze, he was willing to bet that they weren’t here for a social visit. Not to mention they were the ones who had been assigned to Rufus for the day.

If he had spotted them, then it was a given that Reno had as well. Even mostly drunk off his ass, Reno noticed shit like that. There were reasons why he was one of the Four Aces and it had nothing to do with who he was currently fucking. As to the reason why they were here… that was pretty easy to figure out when the blond man gave Reno’s ass a very enthusiastic squeeze and then headed for the bathroom. While Reno resumed perusing the jukebox’s limited selection, Rod followed the man, purposely looking the other way when he hurried past Rude’s table.

Figuring that someone was in for a shitload of pain in another minute, Rude removed his sunglasses so he could rub his eyes. What the hell was Rufus doing, sending fellow Turks to keep an eye on Reno? Did the man really have no clue about who it was that he’d been fucking all this time? Like acting as if a possessive idiot was the correct way to get Reno to apologize. If anything, Reno was just going to do something to piss Rufus off as much as he could.

Sliding his glasses back on, Rude let out a surprised grunt when something heavy landed on his lap. Strong, thin arms wrapped around his neck just as he opened his eyes to see Reno’s smirking face mere centimeters from his. "Rude! Have I told you lately how sexy you look?"

Oh fuck, he was *dead*, Rude thought with a surge of panic. Surely this wasn’t Reno’s bright idea of pissing Rufus off, was it? "Reno, now would be a very good time for you to get off my lap," he sputtered as he tried to push his partner away. Showing that he had a surprising amount of strength for someone so scrawny, Reno stayed put.

"Nope, I’m all comfy now so I’m gonna stay." Grinning like an idiot, he actually *squirmed* on Rude’s lap and leaned in close to purr in Rude’s ear. "You know, you’re at least twice as big as that guy back there. I bet you make the girls real happy – if you don’t scare them away, that is."

Rude closed his eyes and tried to think of his mother, of how Rufus had looked at him in the hallway earlier today, of how there was so much more he wanted to do in his life before he met a very painful and messy end - anything to prevent his arms from wrapping around the bastard in his lap. *Anything* to keep that particular part of his anatomy from reacting and damning him forever. "Reno, *please* go away before you get me killed," he begged, and was shamed to hear his voice crack from the strain of not reacting.

Reno tossed his head back and laughed, the sound so wanton and sexy that Rude found his arms creeping along his partner’s waist before he could stop them. How the hell did Reno make a laugh sound like that? Like something naughty yet irresistible, that made a person instinctively lean in closer as if to hear something filthy yet hilarious. If he did that again, there was no way in hell Rude wasn’t going to embarrass himself.

Fortunately, Reno stopped laughing and smirked instead, appearing like a little child who had just been told a very juicy secret. "Come on, Rude, don’cha like me any more? I thought we were buddies."

Clearing his throat a few times so he could talk without squeaking, Rude gave his friend a very serious look – which Reno continued to smirk in the face of, the bastard. "Last time I checked, buddies don’t make themselves comfortable in each other’s laps." He was relieved to hear the words come out evenly, especially when his arms still refused to leave Reno’s waist.

"I bet Rod would let me sit in his lap," Reno remarked, and the evil glint in his eyes informed Rude that his partner knew exactly why the other Turks were here and what was happening to the poor guy he’d flirted with. "Do you think I should try it? Give the kid the thrill of his life?" he asked, his smile now matching the glint in his eyes. "Or better yet, Jared. I hear he’s an ass man, and he’s definitely checked out mine enough times." Reno’s ass wiggled as he spoke, leaving Rude to wonder what the hell he’d done to deserve this. True, he wasn’t a very good person but it wasn’t as if he was really evil.

One thing was certain, the world would be a better place if Reno was sedated, neutered and locked up in some cage, like a wild animal at a zoo. A better and *saner* place, Rude thought as sweat ran down his face.

Reno’s evil grin changed into a worried frown and he leaned back in the circle of Rude’s traitorous arms. "Hey, buddy, you okay? Have too much to drink or something?" There was real concern in his voice but all Rude could think of was how *good* it felt when his friend shifted in his lap like that.

"No, I’m just finding out that having my life suddenly flash before my eyes is rather nauseating," he managed to mumble as he fought for control. If he thought that Reno was doing anything other than putting on a show to be reported back to Rufus, he’d toss the idiot onto the table, tear his clothes off and fuck him until he couldn’t walk. If only….

"Eh? Why would that be happening?" Reno leaned in close again, his brows furrowed with concern. "You gonna be okay going home? We’re closer to my place, you can crash there if you want."

Rude groaned, the sound rich and deep from years of frustration as he mentally screamed at himself to say ‘no’ before he regretted it for the rest of his very short life. If he went home with Reno tonight, he might as well put a bullet in his brain and save Rufus the trouble of making his life a living hell – and the worst part was, Reno would probably sleep on the couch and offer him the bed, *alone*, so he wouldn’t even get any enjoyment before he either died or ended up castrated.

However, before he could respond in a decisively negative manner, that evil smirk made its comeback and the next thing he knew, Reno was kissing him. Kissing. Him. As in warm lips pressed very firmly against his, a wet tongue that stroked so invitingly that his lips actually began to part, his hands began to creep toward the firm ass that wriggled against his thighs….

Just as suddenly as it began, the kiss came to an end. Reno gave him a wink and spoke in a rushed whisper. "Sorry, know I don’t got big tits but that should confuse ‘em long enough for me to have some fun." Then he was gone from Rude’s lap as he shouted something about buying another round at the bar.

Desperately trying to breathe, Rude’s hands settled in his lap as he stared blindly in shock at nothing. Only when he heard the scraping sound as the chair next to his was pulled from the table did he realize that he wasn’t alone. Rather dazedly, he turned to find Rod sitting down. The Turk’s eyes were twice their normal size and he moved his lips for several seconds before any sound came out.

"Ah, what, uhm… Rude?" he stuttered. "What the hell was that?"

‘My death sentence’, Rude thought, but he didn’t voice that out loud. "Reno being Reno," was what he said instead, the words coming out as a long, aggrieved sigh. All those shots of whiskey hadn’t made him feel as nearly fucked up as one kiss from that redheaded bastard.

Rod’s anxious, stunned expression smoothed out a little at that bit of logic. "This is so messed up, Rude. I just broke some guy’s jaw for groping Reno, and what do I do now? I can’t tell the president that we caught him kissing you. How can we do that to a fellow-" He didn’t finish what he was saying as his partner appeared at the table, looking as if he’d just seen Sephiroth in the flesh or something.

"Where the hell did he go? Did you see him, Rod?" Jared asked, his voice tight with panic. "I was ten feet away from him at the bar and then some guys got in my way. When they moved, he was gone." He pulled off the sunglasses and tossed them at the table. "We have to find him!"

Make that ‘something’ Reno – or the lack thereof, Rude couldn’t help but think with a smile. "Don’t bother looking for him," he told Rod when the Turk quickly rose from his seat. "He’s already long gone. The asshole used me as a *distraction* to shake you up enough that he could get away." He gave his coworkers a steely look as he provided what he hoped would be an explanation good enough to save his job. At least now he could tell himself that Reno had only kissed him to escape from Rufus’ spies and not to think it meant anything more than that.

Rod winced and shared a depressed look with Jared. "We’re screwed – we both were ordered to not let him out of our sight all night long."

"Which is why he did something to throw you off balance," Rude pointed out to the two idiots. His body still tingled wherever it had come in contact with Reno and he wasn’t about to stand up until his erection went away. "You should know him better than that." Not that it did a person much good. Rude had known Reno for years and he constantly had his world turned upside down, thanks to his friend. The only thing predictable about Reno was that he was unpredictable – and even that was questionable as sometimes he surprised people by not reacting at all.

"Rufus has a hell of a lot to learn about Reno," Rude muttered under his breath and reached for a shot glass that still had a few drops of whiskey left. As he tilted his head back, he realized that Reno leaving the bar meant that he was the one stuck with tonight’s tab. Choking on the whiskey, he began to curse his partner in-between sputtering coughs.

*******

Stepping into the Turks’ locker room, Rude’s eyes narrowed when he noticed a familiar redhead by his locker. At first he was happy to see that Reno decided to show up for work even if he wasn’t getting paid... and then he remembered about the bar tab from last night. "You little bastard," he growled as he reached for the lapels of Reno’s jacket. "You stiffed me!"

Reno merely laughed in the face of a ferocious scowl that would make most people shit their pants and casually brushed Rude’s hands aside. "Sorry about that, partner, but I didn’t want to be watched all night." As he smoothed his hands down the front of his jacket, Rude noticed something odd about Reno’s shirt. There were a couple of buttons missing, a frayed collar and what looked to be a rip down the front. Also, the material appeared very fine, as if silk. Since Reno usually wore clean if a bit rumpled shirts, Rude wondered about this one - until something smacked into his chest.

"Here." Reno waved the wad of money that he’d hit Rude with underneath his nose. "This should cover last night." There was a wickedly pleased smile on his face, like that of a fox which had just found a way into a full chicken coop.

Between that smile and the money, Rude heard warning bells go off in his head. "Where did you get that?" he demanded to know as he took a step back to put some space between them. "What about your salary?" He’d had every intention of paying for last night’s drinks since his friend wasn’t being paid, he just hadn’t liked being left behind with the bill.

Reno’s smile took on a nasty edge as he stuffed the money down the front of Rude’s jacket. "Take it. I’m not worried about being stiffed on my checks anymore. There’s lots of way for a smart guy to make money." He tilted his head to the side and exposed a dark bruise on the side of his neck.

Busy trying to retrieve the money, Rude felt his stomach clench when he noticed the hickey. Careful examination revealed several more along Reno’s neck and collarbones, the sight of which made Rude feel the overwhelming urge to go kill Rufus Shinra and then beat some sense into his idiot partner. "What the hell did you do?" he asked, his voice deeper than normal from fury.

Laughing, Reno leaned against the locker and shook his head. "Ah, dammit, Rude, you should see your expression right now!" His fingers swept along tattooed cheekbones as if wiping away tears. "You look like I just told you that Scarlet’s your mother." He chuckled a few more times and reached into his jacket. "Got another present for ya. Thought it might help make up for kissing you and then running off last night." A bright green sphere appeared in his hand when he pulled it out from the jacket, then he tossed the ball to Rude. "Catch."

Rude dropped the money so he could catch the materia. "What the-" Feeling the amount of energy barely contained within the glowing sphere, he sucked in his breath. "Where did you get this?" Only once before had he held something this powerful.

"Funny story, that." Reno once again pulled something from inside his jacket, but this time it was a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. Once a lit cigarette was between his lips, he smirked and waggled his eyebrows. "Met a cute guy after I left the bar last night. He was looking for some fun so I let him take me back to his place. That’s where I got the money and the materia."

About to drop the sphere after hearing that, Rude forced his right hand to remain cupped around the materia instead and glared at the idiot. "You’re… you’re actually selling yourself for money?" He hadn’t meant to yell the question but he was so pissed off at the very idea of his friend prostituting himself that he couldn’t help himself. That was it, Rufus was dead.

"Hey! Give me some fucking credit!" Reno snarled as he whirled into motion like a dervish, put himself in Rude’s path and shoved a hand hard against his chest. "I’m not a whore!"

"Then how did you get the money and materia?" Rude demanded, stopped more from the sensation of heat that Reno’s hand left on his chest than its actual force. This close to his partner, he was acutely aware of Reno’s body heat and scent, had to force himself not to stare at the hickeys, to reach out and trace his fingers over the marks. He wasn’t sure what had him more upset, that Reno was selling himself or that he hadn’t turned to his partner and friend for… for…. Rude wasn’t quite sure if he wanted Reno to ask him for money or a fuck.

For a few more seconds, Reno continued to glare furiously and then he sighed as if tired and tossed the cigarette aside. "For fuck’s sake, Rude, you’re the last person I expect to think that of me." There was a rare hint of pain in his voice that shook Rude from his disturbing thoughts.

Taking a deep breath and a step back, Rude folded his arms over his chest and nodded. "Sorry." He was, too. A lot of people believed that Reno was little better than a whore, that he’d gotten where he was in the Turks because of who he fucked – never mind that he’d been considered one of their team’s best before he got involved with Rufus.

The smile Reno gave him was a bit shaky but at least didn’t reveal any pain. "Well," Reno drawled, his chin tucked down as if he were a child being forced to admit to something he didn’t want to, that would get him into trouble. "To tell the truth, the guy thought he’d bought me for the night." However, that childish image was shattered when he looked up, the wicked grin back on his face and a terrible gleam to his pale eyes.

Rude felt both heartened by that look and deeply troubled. Reno didn’t seem to hold anything against him but that smile… those eyes… "Oh hell, what did you do *now*?" he asked, not entirely certain that he wanted to know.

"Like I said, I let him take me home once I figured out he had some cash." Reno laughed again, the sound just as sinful as his smile. "Once I got to the guy’s place…." He paused and simply smiled, the expression utterly debauched and much too pleased.

Rude felt a headache begin so he slipped the materia into a pocket before he rubbed his temples. "You went to the guy’s place and…?" As much as he was now certain that he didn’t want to know any more of the details, he also knew he would keep thinking the worst until his partner admitted to whatever it was he’d done last night.

"And I found out he sells materia." Reno made a show of brushing non-existent dust from the left sleeve of his jacket then straightened the sunglasses on his forehead. "So I fooled around with him for a while, gave him a bit of a thrill and knocked him out."

"Then you took his money and some materia," Rude finished, his headache now a bit stronger. Only Reno would have the balls to go to some stranger’s apartment and then rob him. Still, a part of Rude was pleased that Reno hadn’t stooped so low as to sell himself – though ‘fooled around a bit’ could mean a hell of a lot when said by Reno.

"He had some really good stuff, too." Reno bounced on his toes like an excited child. "Can’t wait to use it today!" He had that eager, wide-eyed expression on his face that meant that something was going to blow up very soon.

Making a mental note to not remain too close to his partner during their mission today, Rude nonetheless felt a thrill of excitement. The materia in his pocket should be the perfect thing to use against a bunch of upstarts looking to form their own energy company and challenge Shinra. "Just remember, we need a few people alive for questioning," he reminded in what most likely was vain.

While Reno wrinkled his nose in annoyance, the door to the locker room opened and closed. Looking over his shoulder, Rude wasn’t surprised to see Tseng approach them – that was, until he noticed the slight frown on his leader’s face. "Morning, Tseng," he said, his voice subdued as he began to feel worried.

The frown grew more perceptible when Tseng glanced at Reno, the red bindhi dot on his forehead creased by the expression. "Good morning, Rude, Reno." He nodded to each of them in turn before he focused his attention back on Rude’s partner. "Do I need to repeat the uniform code to you yet *again*, Reno? You are expected to at least appear in a clean shirt if nothing else."

Reno’s annoyed expression shifted to amused as he ran his fingers down the front of his shirt. "Oh, it’s clean, even if it doesn’t look like it. This shirt is worth at least a week’s salary even if it’s seen better days." When his hand paused on a spot where a button should be, the sleeve of his jacket fell back enough to reveal the letters ‘RS’ embroidered on the shirt’s cuff.

Tseng’s eyes narrowed for the briefest of moments and then his expression smoothed out. "You’re to guard the president today," he said in a deep voice as carefully blank as his face.

Expecting to hear the man order Reno to change his shirt, it took Rude a moment to comprehend what was said. "I thought we were supposed to take care of the Entech Corporation today," Rude pointed out before Reno could, aware of the angry look in his partner’s eyes at mention of their employer.

The bindhi on Tseng’s head crinkled a little, the only sign that the man wasn’t happy about something. "Elena and I will handle the matter. You are to ensure that the president remains free from harm while I’m gone."

Appearing as if he was about to spit something foul-tasting from his mouth, Reno glared at Tseng. "Something funny about us being pulled from an assignment last minute like this, you know."

"I’ve decided that that Elena and I are better suited to the mission," was Tseng’s cool reply.

The slight hesitation before he spoke hinted to Rude that perhaps his team leader hadn’t been the one to make the call. However, all he did was nod and take a step toward the door. They had their orders for the day and while he wasn’t pleased to be anywhere near Rufus when his partner was fighting with the man, he had a job to do. "Be careful." He put a hand against Reno’s left shoulder to urge his partner to leave the room as well before the idiot did something to tick off Tseng. Considering how green Reno’s eyes had become, he was nursing one hell of a temper and the last thing they both needed was Tseng and Rufus mad at Reno.

"I’d like a moment of your time, Rude." Tseng’s ‘request’ made him and Reno stop. "Alone, please." If he didn’t know any better, he’d say that Tseng seemed uncomfortable about something and that didn’t bode well at all. "Go wait by the elevator for your partner, Reno."

*Definitely* nursing one hell of a temper, Reno kept his mouth shut and for once did what he was told. Rude had a sinking feeling in his stomach that Reno would find a way to vent later on, most likely while in Rufus’ presence, but that was something to worry about then, he had to get through the present first. He and Tseng were quiet while Reno stomped out the room, baton clenched in his left hand as if he intended to use it on whomever he crossed paths with first. Rude just hoped that his partner ran across someone other than Rufus.

"Yes, Tseng?" he asked, his voice pitched low in case a certain redheaded idiot decided to listen at the door.

Tseng took a deep breath and tucked back a strand of his long, dark hair. "I fear that you’re the one who needs told to ‘be careful’." At Rude’s perplexed look, he shook his head and sighed. "Rufus is not very pleased with you right now."

That sinking feeling made its comeback with a vengeance. "What did I do?" Rude asked, even though he had a pretty good idea what it was that made Rufus so upset.

"Let’s just say that… the president was very unhappy after hearing Rod and Jared’s report of last night." Something dark flashed through Tseng’s eyes and his lips pressed into a tight line. "I’m to see to some ‘retraining’ for them once I’m done here," he said, smooth voice slightly ruffled. "You should be grateful to know that they tried to mention you as little as possible, but I’m afraid Rufus dragged every detail about last night out of them."

Unable to blame his fellow Turks since they had been interrogated by Rufus Shinra, Rude clenched his right hand into a fist and wondered if he should just quit now and hope that appeased Rufus’ temper. "How much trouble am I in?" he asked bluntly, unwilling to drag the bad news out any longer.

Tseng pressed his right hand’s fingertips to his temple as if he suffered a headache of his own. "I reminded the president of the fact that your *friendship* with Reno is a calming effect on the man and that since you were both off duty, that neither of you could be held responsible for your actions. I also agreed with Rod and Jared’s assessment that your partner used you as a distraction so he could leave the bar undetected." He spoke in his usual controlled manner so it almost made Rude jump when he let out a sharp breath.

His voice began to portray the frustration he must feel. "This entire situation is ridiculous. You and Reno have been assigned as Rufus’ bodyguards for all of your shifts until further notice." The look he gave Rude was one of warning. "Be careful. I’m unsure if he’s looking for an excuse to reprimand you or Reno, and I expect *you* to not give him one."

Forcing a smile on his lips in gratitude of the warning, Rude nodded once. "What about Reno?" he asked, concerned for his hot-headed friend.

"Despite his appearance, Reno is an intelligent man. I’m sure he must be aware that Rufus is not very pleased with him, either, and I hope that he’ll keep that in mind." From the weary light in Tseng’s eyes, Rude didn’t think that his leader had much faith in Reno. "However, I don’t get the impression that Rufus wishes to have Reno beaten senseless and tossed out in the trash so I refuse to worry about the situation. My advice is for you to just do your job as usual and leave Reno to fend for himself." He stared at Rude for a few seconds and then quickly turned around to leave the room.

Rude stayed behind for a few seconds and tried to get his heartbeat to slow down. Rufus might not plan to do those things to Reno – but he got the distinct impression that he wasn’t so lucky. For a moment he wondered why it was that Rufus didn’t seem to like him very much lately, even before Reno’s idiotic actions yesterday. He wondered if maybe he hadn’t let something slip in the last few months, maybe one of those times when he had to interrupt the two men during sex or after standing guard.

Removing his sunglasses so he could wipe his handkerchief over his sweaty face, he mentally began to compose himself to face the task ahead. He could do this, could get through a shift without doing anything to make Rufus fire him. A nagging thought warned him that he didn’t so much have to watch out for himself as his idiot partner. Slipping his sunglasses back on, he resolved that the moment Reno appeared ready to start some shit, he was going to beat the man with his own baton.

He liked this job, enough that he didn’t mind the risk of dying or the abuse he sometimes took during a fight. That was what he was paid for, after all. He did his job to the best of his abilities so he refused to be fired over Reno’s fucked up love life. Not only was there no dignity in that but it was the principle of the matter. He refused to suffer because Rufus Shinra made the utterly idiotic mistake in thinking that he could piss Reno off and then still expect him to behave.

As he left the room to go catch up to his partner before Reno decided to use the new materia on some unsuspecting bastard – like Rufus – he remembered about the dropped money and quickly went back to his locker to pick it up. After all the shit Reno was putting him through because he just *had* to fuck Rufus Shinra, the bastard definitely owed him for the drinks last night.

*******

"Half an hour," Rude muttered under his breath after a quick glance at his watch.

"What was that, Rude?" Reno asked as he leaned against the wall to the left of Rufus’ office door, a bored expression on his face. When Rude didn’t answer him, he clicked his tongue in annoyance and pouted, his arms folded over his chest. "This is boring. Nothing’s happening. We should be doing something, not holding up the walls here."

Rude exerted a great deal of self-control and just barely held back a remark about the shift might become a little more exciting if Reno did his usual thing of going into the office and letting Rufus fuck him. The only reason why he didn’t speak was because he figured Reno doing just that had as much a chance of making things worse as it did of them being made better. He didn’t think Reno was ready to admit defeat to Rufus Shinra, not after spending the day pretending that the man didn’t exist and acting as if he was on some sort of happy drug.

Only half an hour left of what felt to be the longest shift he’d ever had the misfortune to work. All he wanted to do was go home, take a nice, long hot shower and give his nerves some time to recover. He kept waiting for some sort of explosion, for Rufus to either order Reno dragged into his office or for Reno to call their employer an asshole at the top of his lungs and try to hit him over the head with his baton. From what he’d overheard during their lunch break, the other Turks were betting about 50/50 on either happening.

Reno yawning and stretching his arms over his head made Rude start, his hands balling into fists as he prepared to defend himself. His partner gave him an amused look and pushed back the crimson bangs that flopped onto Reno’s face. "Someone’s awfully jumpy today. Do you wanna get a drink after work tonight?"


Rude had dreaded being asked that question all day long. "No," was his succinct and hurried answer.

"Why not?" Reno asked, a frown tugging at his lips. "Seems to me like you could really use a drink or two."

He really could, but if he went out with Reno, a drink or two would turn into ten or twelve and there was a chance that Reno would do something stupid enough that Tseng couldn’t cover for his ass tomorrow. No, as much as Rude could use a night out, he wasn’t giving in. "Sorry, I have to wash my hair."

"Now that is utter bullshit, Rude," Reno snapped, the frown more pronounced than before. "Why do you-"

The office’s door opening cut off Reno’s tirade but Rude’s relief at being spared didn’t last for very long. Not when Rufus walked through it, his demeanor cold enough to freeze water. As with each time he left his office, his gaze first settled on Reno, who did his best to stare straight ahead with a bland smile on his face. When he failed to receive any sort of reaction, his attention swung to Rude.

And, each time that happened, Rude felt a strong chill run down his spine and began to wonder if he needed to update any documents for his health insurance. He’d never had any trouble with Rufus Shinra before, had always gotten along with the man and been treated with respect. That no longer appeared to be the case as the look he was given was one of intense dislike. That look plainly said that Rufus didn’t think him worthy of wasting oxygen but didn’t care enough about him to do anything about the situation. If the latter part ever changed, Rude figured it would be the perfect time to run for his life.

"Sir?" he asked, thankful his voice didn’t reveal how disturbed that searing gaze made him feel. When he spoke, Rufus turned his attention to the cuff around his left wrist and gave it a tug to straighten it out.

"I’ve been invited to a dinner party," Rufus stated in a bored voice as he combed a lock of blond hair back into place. "We’ll leave for it now." He turned slightly to the right, where Reno stood, and after a second of silence, moved forward.

Just like that, Rude’s plans for the night were dashed. He was willing to bet a month’s salary that he and Reno would be stuck at the dinner party for hours. Normally, Tseng would assign fresh guards to Rufus for the night but that didn’t seem about to happen now. He was also willing to bet that Rufus had intentionally engineered the situation, probably to make Reno work overtime without pay. Whatever the reason, it meant a late night of work and several more hours that Rude had to somehow survive without having a nervous breakdown.

Biting back on a curse, he followed his employer. As he walked, he cast a quick glance at Reno. His partner had that incredibly bland smile plastered on his face and his hands shoved into his pants pockets. All day long, Reno had actually behaved, had managed to not explode in one manner or another. Rude would be thankful for his partner’s behavior if it wasn’t so unnatural.

As luck would have it, the three of them had to wait for the elevator to take them to the building’s helicopter pad. Rude debated for a moment if he should stand between Reno and Rufus and decided he’d like to live a little longer, after all. He took his place to Rufus’ right and, behind the safety of his sunglasses, casually observed the two men.

With Reno’s hands tucked into his pants’ pockets, his jacket was pushed open and the torn, mostly unbuttoned shirt was revealed – along with the hickeys that covered his neck and chest. Rude could tell when Rufus noticed both by the way the man’s body tensed for a second and how his attention became riveted on those dark bruises.

"Your uniform is a disgrace," Rufus said, his voice even colder than his demeanor. Only his eyes revealed any heat, were bright blue with anger and something that made Rude glance away quickly.

"This shirt was perfectly fine the last time I wore it for a shift, Sir." The amount of civility in Reno’s voice jerked Rude’s head around so he could stare in amazement at his partner. That was the first time today he’d heard Reno speak to Rufus and it sounded utterly unlike him. "I also understand that it’s very expensive. However, if you object to it, I can always go home and change." The entire time he spoke, he kept that ridiculous smile on his face and refused to look at Rufus. "Of course, that would make you late for your party but I’m sure someone else will be happy to accompany you. After all, Rude and I are almost done with our shift. Someone as important as you should have fresh bodyguards, Sir."

Not once during the speech did Reno say anything or use any type of inflection that could be implied as an insult but all the same, Rude silently willed him to *shut up*. The longer he talked, the more there was a chance that he’d let something slip and they’d both be dead. When he did finally stop talking, Rude had to control the impulse to lean over and kiss him in gratitude. However, a little voice whispered to Rude that it would be a very, *very* bad thing to do at the moment.

Rufus was quiet for a moment after that speech then nodded. "A good suggestion as I will most likely be out very late tonight… socializing." From the way he glanced at a still smiling Reno and then frowned, Rude guessed that had been an incredibly clumsy attempt to inspire jealousy that obviously fell flat. His eyes growing brighter with anger, Rufus turned to Rude. "I want whoever is scheduled to replace you here in five minutes."

Quickly pulling out his phone, Rude nodded in understanding and prayed that Aaron and Julia had come early for some debriefing before their shift. The last thing he wanted to do was go to this party tonight. He’d much rather get the shit kicked out of him in a fight or something. Fortunately, Aaron answered after the second ring and hurriedly announced that he and Julie were already on their way up. Rude figured he had Tseng to thank for their early arrival and after ending the call, informed Rufus that the Turks would be here shortly.

That didn’t seem to please the man, and Rude actually felt a little sorry for the people at the dinner party tonight. Just a little, however, as he had to be back at work tomorrow morning and he wasn’t sure how long Reno could keep up this act.

The two men refused to look at each other during the time it took Aaron and Julie to arrive, and once Rufus joined them in the elevator and its doors closed, Rude let out a slow breath and slumped against the wall.

For his part, Reno muttered a few choice curses and rubbed the back of his neck. "Can you believe that shit? The asshole’s just trying to get me to work overtime, I know it. Well, fuck that." He grinned as he looked down at his torn shirt. "This thing is almost worth all the money it’s costing me." Then he turned his attention to Rude. "So, feel like a drink now?"

Rude didn’t say anything, just pushed himself from the wall with a shaking hand and gave his partner the finger. There was no way in hell he was doing anything but going home and barricading himself there until tomorrow morning. He had a bottle of tequila with his name on it and no partner hellbent on his death there.

"Oi! I was going to treat, ya grumpy bastard," Reno called after him, but he didn’t sound too annoyed. If anything, there was a playful tone to the complaint that made Rude hasten his step. If Reno was in a mood for fun, then he *definitely* needed to be as far away from the man as possible.

*******

 

Rufus sat in his office, the paperwork before him left unattended while he tried to figure out what exactly it was that made him so upset, made his stomach tie in knots from anger and frustration. Oh, he knew the simple answer was ‘Reno’, that hadn’t changed in the past two weeks but it was a bit more complex than that. Was it the fact that the bastard had driven Rufus to this point of distraction or that he saw no easy solution out of the problem without resulting in loss of face and possibly even sanity, he wondered.

He had expected the matter settled that day two weeks ago, had expected Reno to give him some grief over the lost salary and then to offer another solution to pay for the shirts. Rufus would have ‘grudgingly’ accepted and fucked him hard right here in his office, would have continued the lesson again at home that night until he was certain that Reno would never think to borrow anything of his without permission again. The lines around their relationship would have been redefined, Reno would have been put in his place as sexual relief and nothing more than that. Then things would go back to normal, Rufus could focus on reforming the Shinra Electrical Company and Reno would be at his side.

However, *nothing* had gone according to his plan other than Reno taking offense over the loss of pay. There had been no offer, no apology, no lesson and *definitely* no sex. Grinding his teeth together in frustration, Rufus shoved the papers before him aside. Two weeks of Reno pretending that he didn’t exist, that the loss of pay was inconsequential, that there was nothing to fear in making Rufus Shinra upset.

While all three of those facts infuriated Rufus, it was the last one that made his hands clench into fists as he fought not to pick up the phone and bark out an order. All he wanted to do was to order the bastard’s fellow Turks to drag Reno into his office so he could rip the man’s clothes off, bend him over his desk and fuck him *raw*. If he closed his eyes, he could imagine the feel of Reno’s unprepared body so tight around his cock that it almost hurt, could hear Reno’s pleading moans and cries of pain. He would fuck Reno until he bled, would do it again and again until there wasn’t any doubt left in Reno’s mind over who was the one in charge.

His breath coming in short pants and his trousers suddenly grown too tight, Rufus forced his eyes to open and his hands to remain still. As much as something inside of him demanded that he carry out that fantasy, he continued to deny it. After assuming his birthright, he had decided to rule by fear and still felt it a valid method of control when properly tempered. However, he was very aware of the fact that when ruling by fear that he must walk a thin line. If he pushed things too far, became too heavy-handed in the application of that particular tactic, then fear could inspire rebellion. Even the most loyal could turn under the right circumstances and if he dared to treat a Turk like that, then he risked losing those he trusted the most.

No, he could order them to watch over Reno, could rearrange their work assignments so that Reno would be near him for at least part of the day and they still remained his. But if he inflicted abuse over one of them because of a personal matter then they would have no reason to feel that he respected and valued them as the people willing to sacrifice their lives for his sake. The pleasure he would derive from forcing Reno on his knees before him to beg for forgiveness, beg to be fucked… no, it was not worth it. He had already lost more to the gutter-bred, bastard son of a whore than he had ever intended, he would not lose anything else.

There was also the fact that having to use brute force against Reno would ruin the sense of victory. While he wanted few things more than to have the redhead kept naked and chained beside his desk or bed, there to be used whenever he wanted, it would mean nothing if Reno had to be coerced into that position. Nothing would do now but for the man to willingly come to Rufus, to surrender himself body and soul.

If it was only about sex, there was an endless line of people eager for Rufus to fuck them. He had offers enough in just the last two weeks that he wouldn’t have had to spend a moment of it alone if he wanted. However, none of those offers were remotely interesting. None of those sycophants had the balls, the spirit to tell him to fuck off, to pretend he didn’t exist, to dare and deny him what he wanted. None of them were Reno, dammit.

Rufus was the wealthiest man on the planet and, even with Shinra Electric Company in shambles, he wielded a vast amount of power and influence. Soon he would have the corporation back on its feet, would have it just as powerful – if not more – as it had been in the past. He had chaffed under his father’s shadows the last couple of years of the man’s life, had risked much to try and bring the bastard down so *he* could be the one in charge. He had fought and schemed to be where he was and to have this amount of control over his world – only to have the person he truly wanted to ignore him.

He took a deep breath to try and push down the flare of anger and lust he felt at that thought. While the anger slowly faded, the lust didn’t - in fact it only grew stronger the more he thought about Reno. Rufus had the very disturbing realization that he was becoming obsessed, that he was losing control of this situation. And the more he felt that Reno was out of his reach, the more he was driven to drag his lover back to his side and ensure that Reno never left it again. He had a corporation to rebuild and run, a world to dominate and he spent wasted hours trying to figure out just how he could regain that control over the insolent bastard.

The very worst part was that after two weeks, he still hadn’t the slightest clue how to get what he wanted.

Furious at himself for being distracted by the Reno problem yet again, he did his best to shove all thoughts of the man out of his head and concentrate on the reports instead. There was work to be done, and the sad thing was his time was better spent on Shinra than- His lips pulled back into an unvoiced snarl as he quickly stifled that thought.

This time he seemed to be successful and was able to focus on work. When Tseng entered the office and stood a respectful distance from the desk, Rufus had managed to go through most of the documents, make plans for converting some of the reactors to new energy sources and schedule several important meetings in the upcoming days. He felt in control once more and had barely thought about the redhead standing just outside his office doors.

"Sir?" Tseng asked, his voice low and respectful, his hands clasped in front as he stood perfectly straight.

Rufus nodded in acknowledgement and finished the last few lines of a memo from Scarlet. "Tseng." He motioned for the man to approach the desk.

Tseng did so slowly, almost cautiously, his eyes on Rufus’ face the entire time. Leaning back in his chair, Rufus set the paperwork aside and let his hands rest in his lap, did his best to appear at ease. "Is something wrong?" he asked, curious as to why the Turks’ leader was here so unexpectedly.

Stopping about three feet from the desk, Tseng nodded once. "I’m afraid that I need to discuss Reno and Rude’s assignment. Michael and Ling were injured today and will be placed on medical leave for at least two days." From how even his voice was when he announced that fact, Rufus assumed that the two Turks weren’t gravely injured. "I need two experienced people to finish their assignment and, to be perfectly honest, Reno and Rude are wasted on guard duty," Tseng finished, a slight edge to his voice.

As much as he wanted to argue, Rufus remained quiet and seriously considered the matter. Reno and Rude were indeed wasted on guard duty – but Reno enjoyed field work so much that he had considered it a punishment of sorts to make the man do nothing but stand around all day. However, the Turks were still understaffed and it was vital that the corporation squashed any and all competition now.

"Very well," he replied, a knot of anger writhed and tightened in his stomach at how Reno once again seemed to slip out of his reach.

"Thank you." Tseng bowed his head and took in an audible breath. "Now about the Turks assigned to follow Reno when he’s off-"

Rufus made a sharp motion with his right hand to cut off the man. "They will continue to follow him," he snapped in a tone that warned he would not change his mind over this matter. He and Tseng eyed each other for several seconds before Tseng frowned.

"Sir, I must repeat that it is a waste of resources and time." Tseng’s voice held the closest note to reproach that Rufus had ever heard when addressed to him. "He either spends the night alone in his apartment or loses the people assigned to him within a couple of hours. If you want to know what he is doing each night, I suggest you ask him and allow me to schedule my people on more important matters." The hint of reproach was echoed in Tseng’s dark eyes, in the way his lips pressed together once he finished speaking.

He had been Rufus’ bodyguard for years, had stood by him when he had been a powerless Vice President and after he’d taken control of the company. Rufus felt an obligation to Tseng, felt respect was owed for such devotion – and had to once again struggle with his temper as it cried to lash out. He wasn’t so upset with Tseng for talking to him like that as he was at Reno for creating this situation in the first place.

Forcing his voice to sound calm, he maintained eye contact with Tseng as he spoke. "I want to know who he’s with when he’s off duty. I also believe that your people are learning something in having to deal with Reno’s evasive tricks these last two weeks – and still have a lot to learn." He didn’t doubt that the Turks were doing their best to keep track of Reno and it wasn’t entirely their fault that they failed. However, there was no way he would rescind the order as long as Reno continued to show up every couple of days with fresh marks on his neck and chest that he took great pains to display. Each time Rufus saw those, he had to fight anew the urge to grab his recalcitrant lover and force him into the nearest empty room to be fucked.

His shoulders slumping slightly, Tseng closed his eyes and ran his right hand over his brow. Then he once again looked straight at Rufus. "They may not be able to follow him once he’s of a mind to lose them but they’ve done a good job of retracing his tracks the last few days." He reached into his black jacket to pull out a small disc that he slowly reached forward to place on the edge of the desk. "From what they’ve been able to piece together, I believe that Reno has found… a rather inventive way to make ends meet while his pay is suspended." Once again, there was that hint of reproach.

Frowning in warning, Rufus shifted forward to retrieve the disc. "You mean he’s selling himself for money." Somehow, he managed to keep the fury and bitterness he felt over that fact from being reflected in his voice. "It wouldn’t be the first time."

"No." Tseng’s curt response was instant and provoked Rufus’ curiosity.

"Explain then," he demanded as he held the disc between his thumb and forefinger. He knew that Reno had sold himself on occasion in the past, all part of the cycle of thievery, assault and general mayhem that had kept him alive during his teenage years. As furious as Rufus was at the thought of Reno giving himself to other people for money, at least Reno wasn’t merely sleeping around. Unless Rufus’ suspicions in regards to the redhead’s partner were proved correct.

Tseng appeared to be trying to pull together his argument, his lips once more pressed into a thin line and his brow slightly furrowed. When he spoke, it was clear that he chose his words with care. "My people have… interviewed several men who tell a similar story of picking up a redheaded man with the intentions of having sex. Some of them assumed that he was a prostitute from the way he was dressed or acted, although the mention of money was never made." He seemed to purposely stress that fact. "All the men report that after taking the redhead to a private location," what appeared to be a slight blush tinted Tseng’s golden cheeks as he continued to speak, "they claimed that within a short amount of time they were rendered unconscious. When they awoke, their money and on a few occasions some possessions had disappeared along with the redhead in question." He seemed relieved when the explanation was finished.

"And of course the ‘redhead in question’ would be Reno." Despite the anger and resentment that he felt toward his wayward toy these last two weeks, Rufus found himself amused. Trust Reno to find a way to make up the lost pay in a manner that would be certain to annoy him. "There was no actual intercourse?" he asked, his voice deceptively quiet.

"No." Tseng didn’t hesitate at all in his answer. "The men seemed rather disappointed about that fact."

Rufus’ lips twitched at the answer. Well, the man in question was very talented when it came to sex, and if he ever purposely teased Rufus with the intention of not following his actions through, he would be shot. "You are certain that petty robbery and false intentions are all he’s been up to the last two weeks?" He refused to ask if it were possible that Reno had spent any unaccounted for time with his partner.

Tseng nodded and gave another instant reply. "I’m not sure I’d call it petty robbery but yes, I believe my people have accounted for all his actions." Now he hesitated, his expression once more impassive and posture straight. "Sir, you must realize that he’ll continue this as long as he’s not paid. My impression is that any money that he owed you has been repaid and his behavior the past two weeks has been exemplary. If you continue to suspend his pay then there is a very real chance that his crimes will escalate or that he’ll quit. I’d rather not lose one of the best men we have over…." His voice trailed off but he didn’t look away from Rufus.

Sitting up straight in his chair, his hands folded together and on the desk, Rufus stared evenly at his trusted employee. "I wasn’t aware that insubordination to his employer was such a trivial matter, Tseng," he answered, his voice cold with anger.

Tseng bowed his head as if a point had been made. "Insubordination is a serious matter and I feel that two weeks without pay and an improved attitude is enough for a... first time offense." When Rufus didn’t respond, Tseng’s expression became slightly annoyed. "We’re talking about Reno; you never minded his disregard for rules or protocol before. To be perfectly frank, Rufus, the more you attempt to punish him the more he will continue to act the opposite of how you wish. I consider it fortunate that he hasn’t resigned yet but if this keeps up…." He let out a sharp breath and with a jerky motion combed the fingers of his right hand through his dark hair. "He’s either going to do something that will require a more severe punishment or he’s going to disappear – and if we’re lucky, there won’t be any casualties when either of those things happen."

Understanding that Tseng was trying to talk to him as something other than as an employee to his employer, Rufus didn’t reprimand the man for his breach of their respective positions. He also controlled his temper at basically being told how to handle a private matter. "I don’t recall asking for your advice, Tseng," was all he said.

"I know that, Sir." For a moment Tseng appeared disappointed but the emotion was quickly stifled. "I was merely stating my opinion on a matter that is affecting my people. I felt that you might care to know how I felt that said matter could be resolved, and I apologize if I was wrong." He bowed deeply, his lean body bending gracefully at the waist.

Rufus tilted his head to the side in acknowledgement of the apology. "Is there anything else to discuss?"

"No, Sir.

"Good." Turning his chair so he directly faced his desk, he set the disc near his computer and picked up the last of the paperwork he needed to read. "I want all of Reno’s personal files within the next hour," he informed Tseng in a dismissive manner and didn’t wait for an answer before he began to read. There was a smooth ‘yes, sir’, and the faint sound of footsteps as the man left the room. His attention focused on some mindless report about personnel requirements, he waited until the door closed behind Tseng before he set the papers down and picked up the disc.

As annoyed as he felt that Tseng dared to discuss a personal matter, he had to admit that the man must believe it to be important to take such a risky step. Rufus also had to admit that things could not continue on this way, that he could not allow himself to be so distracted. The simplest solution would be to fire Reno, to toss him onto the streets he had fought to escape and make sure he would never find a decent job again. Part of Rufus was tempted to do just that. However, that would make him feel as if he had failed. This was no longer about borrowed shirts or insolent behavior, this was about making sure that Reno realized that he *belonged* to Rufus. That he could only act as insolent as he wanted because he was blessed with Rufus’ good graces.

Rufus wanted Reno back in his office, his bedroom, there to fuck or talk to or just stare at as the man slept next to him. He wanted to know that the one person who would dare treat him with such brazen disrespect would also drop to his knees at a single gesture, that he would allow Rufus to do things to him that no one else could. Just thinking about it caused his body to respond, the sensations of lightness and heat to spread through him. He wanted that control over Reno back.

If his actions these past two weeks had failed and he couldn’t take what he wanted with force, then clearly a new plan needed to be formulated. He must admit that his previous calculations of Reno’s personality and behavior had been incorrect, so he would study the man better, would look for a weakness to exploit. Once he found that… then Reno would be back in the place he truly belonged.

*******

"Sir… this is not an ideal situation here," Tseng commented, his tone slightly exasperated as he glanced up and down the street. Beside him, his partner Elena also surveyed the neighborhood, her delicate face wrinkled by a disapproving frown.

Rufus subdued the urge to push back the hood of his grey jacket as he gave his bodyguards a reproachful look. He had come here with only two of his Turks, had dressed… decidedly casual and insisted that Tseng and Elena do the same, had taken a few other precautions so that Reno’s neighbors wouldn’t realize that Shinra’s president had come to pay their slum a visit. "Then the sooner I get to Reno’s apartment, the better, correct?" he asked, his voice sharp with annoyance.

Tseng and Elena exchanged a look, after which Elena returned to the black sedan that Tseng had driven them here in. Then he motioned with a curt nod of his head to the front door of Reno’s apartment. "After you, Sir."

His left fingers skimming over the side of his coat so he could feel the shotgun hidden beneath the material, Rufus entered the building. The hallways were surprisingly clean and quiet, he only heard muffled voices occasionally as he walked past doors in search of an elevator – only to find that the building did not seem to possess one. So he headed for the stairwell instead. "I thought I paid your people better than this," he remarked as he went upstairs, his attention focused on the blind turns ahead.

"You do," Tseng replied, his voice lightened by what sounded to be amusement. "I believe the reason that Reno gave Rude for living here is that it has good public transportation and a fine selection of bars in the immediate vicinity."

"Yes, we all know how important the latter is to Reno," Rufus muttered. The psychological profiles he’d read in regards to Reno were evenly split on whether or not the man was an alcoholic. Reno did seem to enjoy drinking very much but also could be trusted to not drink when the situation merited it… mostly. Still, there were bars scattered all over the place so it really wasn’t that good of an excuse to live in a neighborhood just a few casual steps up from the ghetto. Reno could easily afford to live someplace better, someplace closer to work and Rufus’ apartment.

They continued up the steps to the fifth floor, only once passing another person who didn’t give them a second glance as he descended the stairwell. Rufus grudgingly admitted that the hood of his jacket seemed to hide his appearance very well but he was uncomfortably reminded of the times he’d hidden himself from others while his body was ravaged by geostigma. "Why would anyone choose to live in an apartment building without an elevator?" he muttered as he approached the last flight of stairs to the fifth floor.

"Because it limits how a potential attacker can reach Reno’s apartment, not to mention that it would attract more attention if armed men took the stairs," Tseng informed him, a slight edge to his voice. "I’m sure Reno is aware of everyone who approaches his home – we’ve passed several pieces of surveillance equipment that I could notice and more that I didn’t, I’m sure." The more he spoke, the edge to his voice was revealed to be one of concern. "Sir, are you sure this is wise? You could always talk to him at work."

Tseng was right, and most likely that was what Reno expected as well. After spending the last two days pondering a new tactic, Rufus realized that he had to do something that Reno wouldn’t expect from him, had to shake the man up enough to put him off his guard. Then he would be able to turn the tables on his wayward lover, he thought with satisfaction. He had allowed Reno to control the game for far too long, now he would be the one in charge again. "If you’ve any objections, Tseng, I give you permission to leave," was his smooth reply to his bodyguard’s doubts.

There was a deep sigh from behind which he purposely ignored. Once he reached the fifth floor, he motioned for Tseng to remain by the stairwell. "Wait here." When Tseng appeared ready to object to the orders, he gave him a stern look. "Wait. Here."

Tseng didn’t attempt to mask his disproval but did as he was told. "Yes, Sir." He stood a few steps from the stairwell, in a position to both see anyone who tried to approach the floor by the stairs and down the hallway to Reno’s apartment.

Giving his employee another stern look in case Tseng decided to move before Rufus was either in danger or ready to leave, Rufus made his way to Reno’s apartment. Upon reaching the proper door, he found himself hesitating to knock, his hand hovering in the air. Telling himself that he was being irrational and this plan would work, he forced his hand to knock on the wooden door twice.

At first there was no response so he prepared to knock again. He just raised his hand into the air when the door slowly opened with no Reno in sight.

His nerves tingling with caution, Rufus lowered his hand to grasp the door’s knob and push it further open. His left hand once more brushing along the outline of his weapon, he slowly stepped into the apartment and closed the door behind him.

Once inside, he found himself warmly greeted by the apartment’s owner. "What the fuck are you doing here?" Reno demanded, his baton in hand and a faint crisp of ozone to the air that hinted at the weapon recently being turned on. Reno stood a few feet from the door, a cigarette in his mouth and the baton resting on his left shoulder. He was dressed in a tattered pair of blue jeans and a tight black t-shirt. His sunglasses were missing so the uneven ends of his bangs fell onto his forehead and tattooed cheeks, did a fair job of obscuring his pale eyes from Rufus’ view.

Not surprised that Reno wasn’t fooled by his outfit, Rufus pushed the grey hood back and removed the jacket to reveal his black pants and turtleneck shirt. As he combed his hair into place, he eyed Reno warily. "I suggest that you put the toy away," he said, deliberately not answering the question.

Reno stared at him for a few seconds, what could be seen of his eyes were narrowed and his lips pulled back into an almost-grimace. Then he shrugged and tossed the baton onto what appeared to be the kitchen table, showing an appalling amount of disrespect to a dangerous weapon. He shoved his hands into the jeans’ pockets and stood there, a slouching, insolent presence. "Tseng must be really happy about this, Shinra’s president slumming." There was a challenge in his voice, a tone that belied his relaxed posture.

"You can easily afford a better neighborhood," Rufus sniffed as he draped his jacket over his arm and looked around. He had an image in his mind of Reno’s apartment, one filled with trash and dirty clothes, bottles of booze and old take-out boxes, had half-expected to see porn magazines scattered about and vermin crawling around the mess. What he found was almost the opposite of that.

The apartment wasn’t very large, appeared to be comprised of a main room with two smaller rooms off to the right, what he assumed were the bedroom and bathroom. The kitchen – such as it was, lined the left side of the room, consisted of little more than a small sink with some counter space and cabinets, a refrigerator, stove and small table with two chairs. There was a coffee maker and a toaster on the counter, the only sign that the kitchen was indeed used for food and beverage.

The rest of the room appeared to be the living area. Stationed in front of a television was an oversized couch, a lamp, a low coffee table that held a laptop and several large pillows and a blanket scattered on the floor. Along the room’s two walls were a series of bookshelves cluttered with movie and music discs, tattered paperbacks and a few hardbound books, magazines and various knickknacks. That was it. Rufus was both surprised by its relative cleanliness and its starkness, was slightly taken back by how he’d so wrongly guessed its appearance.

"What, you expected to find me living in some sort of sty, didn’t you?" Reno asked, yet again showing his annoying and disconcerting habit of guessing a person’s thoughts. He shrugged again and sauntered over to the pile of pillows and sat down. "When you’re finished gracing this lowly hovel with your presence, you know where the door is. It’s right behind your ass, which should be leaving soon. Good bye." He pretended to ignore Rufus as he picked up a remote and flipped through the television’s channels.

At first angered by Reno’s blatant disregard for manners, Rufus quickly calmed when he realized that it was the first time in over two weeks that the redhead had talked to him like that. His plan was already working, and no matter how nonchalantly Reno watched some insipid program, Rufus could see a hint of pale aquamarine follow him when he walked over to the kitchen table and draped his jacket over one of the chair’s back.

Curious about the apartment’s contents, he then wandered over to one of the bookshelves. The items he found there spanned a wide arrange of topics, the movie and music collection as eclectic as the books and magazines whose much cracked spines he read. "I would not expect to find books on Wutian history in your apartment," he remarked idly to see what type of response he would receive. Especially not stacked next to a pile of pornographic manga and magazines about fine cuisine and electronics. ‘Eclectic’ didn’t seem descriptive enough for the shelves’ contents.

Reno was quiet for a couple of seconds and then snorted loudly. "Thank Tseng for them – for some odd reason, he decided I needed some education and gave me the damn things. If that wasn’t enough, all the Turks felt he was right and started giving me their old books." Despite the expression of disgust on his face, he sounded amused, and Rufus couldn’t imagine that Tseng would have given him such misused books.

"So, did you read them?" he asked, his attention no longer on the shelves’ contents but on their owner.

All he got for an answer was another shrug. This time Reno didn’t deign to speak so he glanced once more at the shelves and then approached the uncharacteristically quiet man.

Reno didn’t even look away from the television when Rufus sat near him on the couch, but his shoulders tensed the slightest bit, a quick play of muscle beneath cotton. Rufus noticed that Reno hadn’t tied his hair back today and his hands itched to touch the long, tangled strands, to comb through them until they flowed like silk. This close to his obstinate lover, he could see a few of the pale freckles that covered the back of Reno’s neck and shoulders, revealed by the low scoop of the shirt’s neckline.

"You know, it’s my fucking day off," Reno complained, giving no other sign that he was aware of Rufus’ close presence. "Actually, every day should be my day off since I’m not getting paid but now I’m not scheduled to watch over your ass or go blow something up for you so why don’t you leave? I’m not in the mood for your bullshit when I’ve better things to do." He spoke so casually, his voice its usual half-mocking tone that Rufus was almost willing to overlook the swearing and the implied command.

"Until you submit your letter of resignation then you’re still a Turk, Reno, still one of my employees," Rufus answered, his voice perfectly smooth and rational. Giving in to the urge, he reached out with his right hand and gently combed his fingers through the tangled mess of Reno’s hair. As he sat forward, his fingers curled around the bright strands and exerted an even, undeniable pressure that made Reno hiss in anger and arch his neck until he had no choice but to look at Rufus, his face composed in a fierce glare. "Are you stupid enough to quit?" Rufus asked, his voice made husky by both warning and the eager thought of what he’d be able to do to his lover should Reno throw away the Turks’ protection. He reached for the cigarette that dangled from Reno’s mouth and flicked it into the ashtray on the table, then lightly traced his fingers along the man’s lips.

"I’m a lot of things, but stupid’s not one of them." The impact of the statement was weakened a little since Reno’s voice was distorted by his neck’s unusual position but the bravado of it was still loud and clear.

"Good," Rufus crooned, the fingers of his left hand now tracing down Reno’s extended neck. "Because I don’t like stupid people, they’re a waste of time." The feel of Reno’s warm skin beneath his fingertips made his heart speed up, made his cock begin to harden and a light sweat break out over his upper lip. What he really wanted was to force Reno to the floor and fuck him hard, pull his lover’s head into his lap and fuck that insolent mouth… but he remained seated on the couch. The only thing he changed was his grip on Reno’s hair, which he used to make the redhead arch his neck even more. "I definitely wouldn’t allow them to work for me." And if they didn’t work for him, weren’t loyal to him then they were fair game.

Reno’s lips brushed against his fingertips when they formed words a few seconds later. "Well, guess you’re moving right to the part where you expect to fuck me. What do you think will happen, you’ll threaten me and then I’ll spread my legs for you like a cheap whore?" Reno asked, his voice oddly civil, unlike his expression. "You so hard up that you couldn’t wait another day or two until I was at work, Rufus?"

No, the challenge showed up in Reno’s eyes this time, not his voice. Those almond-shaped eyes with their mercurial color, so pretty even as they figuratively glared daggers. "If I was here to fuck you, Reno, then you’d already be face down on the floor with my cock in your ass," he whispered tenderly as his fingers continued to stroke over his lover’s lips. The urge to declare ‘you’re *mine*, after all’ was strong but he ignored it while he traced along the finely shaped bow of Reno’s upper lip that many a woman would envy. "In fact, I wouldn’t bother to come here, I would simply order you to my apartment and fuck you there." He traced his fingers from the redhead’s lips to his left ear, teased along the sensitive skin and tugged firmly on the silver earring to make Reno gasp.

"Right, so you’re just here for coffee and some gossip, President. After all, I’m renowned for my apple bundt cake and finger sandwiches." Reno’s voice lost its civility and now dripped sarcasm but the gleam in his eyes softened to amusement. Such an intriguing study in contrasts, Rufus thought as he continued to trace his index finger along the outer shell of his lover’s ear until Reno began to squirm just a little. "Liar." Now Reno’s voice didn’t sound so confident, so sarcastic but then again, he was always very sensitive about his ears and his hair, Rufus thought with smugness.

"I’m not here to fuck you," he told the foolish man and for once there was no deception in his words. "I came here to deliver this." He was loathe to release his hold of Reno’s hair but he needed his hand free to reach for the envelope tucked into a back pocket. Amusement and lust washed through him when Reno didn’t unbend his neck or move at all from the uncomfortable position he was in, even though the hold on his hair was gone.

Rufus unconsciously licked his lips at the sight and once the envelope was in hand, tossed it onto Reno’s lap and resumed his hold in the crimson hair. His fingers clutched at the strands while he continued to tease Reno’s ear and he scooted a little closer to the edge of the couch, bent a little more over Reno’s head.

"Well, it doesn’t feel heavy enough to be a bomb but who knows nowadays," was Reno’s casual comment after a few seconds spent staring at each other. He finally reached blindly for the envelope with his left hand. "Kinda difficult to see what it is when my neck’s about to be snapped."

Leaning forward a little more, Rufus gave him a cool look. "I’m not in the mood to oblige you, Turk."

There was a softly muttered word that sounded a lot like ‘bastard’ but another tug on the earring made Reno suck in his breath and his hand to crumple around the envelope. He adroitly opened the envelope without breaking eye contact with Rufus and then held the revealed slip of paper up so he could glance at it. Upon seeing it, he tensed and tried to pull away but the firm grip on his hair made him hiss and go still.

"If this is supposed to be the last two weeks’ pay, it’s short a few hundred gil," Reno pointed out when he resumed staring at Rufus. "Or is this a severance check?"

Rufus stopped tracing his finger along Reno’s ear and buried both hands in his lover’s hair. "I wouldn’t waste the money on you if you were to be fired," he informed the idiot, his voice low with veiled menace. The only escape from the Turks for Reno would be death – he knew too much about Rufus, had been allowed too close. "After some careful thought, I came to the conclusion that you only owe me for the shirt you haven’t returned."

Reno closed his eyes for a moment as fingers lightly scratched along his scalp, shivered so enticingly that Rufus relented his hold a little. "The shirt’s in my bedroom," Reno replied after a few more seconds, his eyes drifting open and appearing slightly darker than usual, his breathing slightly quickened.

Shifting forward, Rufus hunched over his lover, his lips now even with the ear he’d so lightly tormented minutes before. "You had two weeks to return it; I fear it’s yours now. You have to be quicker about these things, Reno." He forced his right hand from the ragged hair and skimmed it down Reno’s chest.

"Still… going on about the fucking shirts." There was a delightful hitch to Reno’s voice, an alluring twitch to his body when Rufus fingers brushed along a hardening nipple. "And I definitely think you’re here to fuck me." Yet he didn’t move, didn’t try to push Rufus away as if that was something he didn’t want. He merely sat there and almost imperceptively arched into Rufus’ teasing touch.

Two weeks of being ignored, of being taunted with what Rufus wanted just out of his reach and Reno sat there as meek as a well-trained dog. He wondered if Reno really would let him push the man to the floor and fuck him, wondered if he could get away with more but he exerted iron will over his flaring desire. Reno was more of an alley cat than trained dog, would think nothing of rolling onto his back for a belly rub and then leave five bleeding scratches on the hand of whoever was foolish enough to oblige. There was a warning glint in his eyes that warned Rufus that broken skin might be the least of the damage inflicted, yet Reno parted his lips and let slip a wanton moan.

Forcing his breathing to remain slow and even, Rufus allowed himself a quick lick along the edge of Reno’s ear. "I told you, I’m not here to fuck. Your ass isn’t the only one out there, you know."

"Liar," Reno repeated, and this time Rufus used his teeth to tug on the earring and make the obstinate fool shut up. He could only be pushed so far before he struck back and that would ruin his plans for today.

He brushed his lips along Reno’s cheek, his face tickled by long, tattered bangs. "I can always leave, just like you so sweetly asked of me," he pointed out and began to slowly straighten up. It took more control than he thought to push away from Reno, his fingers still clinging stubbornly to crimson hair, that he was left a little shaken.

Fortunately, Reno spared him any further tests of will. "Then go, you manipulative bastard," but as he spoke, he lifted his right hand and grasped the back of Rufus’ neck, used that contact to pull him back down.

Rufus blew at a lock of crimson that fell against Reno’s lips and then pressed his own against them with an eagerness almost tainted by desperation. As always, Reno parted his lips instantly; as always, he tasted like cigarettes and some potent alcohol, something harsh yet invigorating at the same time. Rufus used his hold in his lover’s hair to coerce Reno up from the floor and to turn around, the kiss broken briefly and resumed with bruising fervor.

They shifted about until Reno knelt between Rufus’ knees, and it was a few minutes before they broke apart again, panting from passion and need. "You’re making Tseng stand guard while you have sex?" Reno inquired as he nipped along Rufus’ jaw. "What, he piss you off lately, too?"

Somehow, it didn’t surprise Rufus that Reno knew it was Tseng outside in the hallway. "Tseng isn’t you, Reno, he does his job to the best of his ability and doesn’t act like a pain in the ass just because he thinks it’s amusing." He sucked in a quick breath when teeth scraped along the bottom of his jaw and his fingers tangled even more in Reno’s hair.

"Right, you just haven’t decided to jerk him around – then see how much of a good boy he is." Growling deep in his throat, Reno slid his arms around the back of Rufus’ neck. "And ya didn’t deny that you’re about to have sex."

"I don’t expect to have sex with someone who ordered me to leave his apartment a few minutes ago," was Rufus’ cool retort, unruffled by lust so potent it made his body ache with need. "Or is it all right now that I gave you some money?" he asked, intent on causing Reno a bit of annoyance after what he’d suffered the last two weeks.


Reno’s eyes narrowed as if the jab hit home and he pulled back as much as Rufus’ hold in his hair would allow. Then, proving his mercurial nature once again, he smirked as his hands began to toy with the hem of his t-shirt, to pull it up just enough to reveal a bit of pale abdomen. "I’m a helluva lot more expensive than that, President."

"That would be something for me to consider if I didn’t already own you, Turk." Rufus’s hands fisted in Reno’s hair harshly enough to make his lover wince in pain.

The anger made a quick return to Reno’s expression, and this time the warning light in his eyes wasn’t a subtle one but a bright glow that suggested that things were about to get very ugly. Reno glaring at him as if he was an enemy, was someone about to have his bones crushed and skin gouged sent a sharp stab of lust straight to Rufus’ groin, made his cock so hard he was almost in pain. "You think you can fuck me whenever you want because you *own* me, Rufus?" Reno asked, his voice deceptively quiet and calm. Only a fool wouldn’t think that his answer could mean his life just then, Rufus knew, and became even more excited.

"No." For once he spoke the plain, unvarnished truth and that seemed to shock Reno almost as much as it did himself. Despite what he wanted, what he dreamed about, he knew that he could never consider Reno his just because he signed the man’s paycheck. A lot of people would bend over or get down in their knees for him because of his wealth and power but never Reno. And if he attempted to strong arm that compliance against his lover’s will, there would be blood shed and bones shattered. That was part of the attraction, part of the reason behind his recent obsession, what drove him on to find a way for Reno to willingly offer himself as Rufus’.

And just like that, the situation was mostly defused. Enough of a warning remained in Reno’s eyes to hint that Rufus could still lose life and limb with an unthinking misstep, but the redhead’s arms were back around his neck and the glare was gone. "Pretty smart for a rich kid," was Reno’s wry remark, then Rufus found himself kissed ardently enough that he quickly forgot how to breathe.

Somehow, he managed to get Reno off the damn floor and onto the couch, sprawled out beneath him. He let go of his lover’s hair to deal with the annoyance that jeans and shirt caused, began to rip the black cotton fabric when he suddenly found his hands roughly batted aside.

"What the fuck is it with you tearing off my shirts? If you’re gonna keep doing that then you better start buying the damn things," Reno muttered while he pulled the shirt over his head and tossed it aside. As he spoke, Rufus told himself not to read too much into the words, to assume that Reno meant that their relationship would return to normal just because of this. He’d made assumptions two weeks ago and had been proven wrong so now wasn’t the time to deviate from his plan.

"Such cheap things aren’t worth the time to be carefully removed," was his flippant reply which earned him a fierce scowl and hooked fingers clawing at his own turtleneck. He brushed them aside and then quickly unbuttoned Reno’s jeans. The redhead’s hips were so narrow that he didn’t have to unzip the jeans much to pull them down enough to expose the erection still hidden behind silk boxers. Rufus couldn’t hold back an exasperated sigh when he recognized those boxers as a pair that had formally belonged to him but had the sense not to mention them at the moment. However, someone was going to lose a few gils from his next paycheck, that was certain.

"Not all of us can afford expensive clothes, *especially* when they’re just gonna get ripped to shreds in the end," Reno snapped, his voice testy and his fingers once more snatching at Rufus’ shirt. Capturing the wrists of those hands, Rufus forced Reno’s arms above his head and loomed over the redhead.

"I won’t object if you forego with clothes altogether." Rufus nuzzled Reno’s neck as he spoke, let his body drape over the lean form beneath his. Of course, then he really would have to keep Reno chained to his desk or his bed in order to prevent major chaos from breaking out. The thought of a naked Reno on assignment with his partner made Rufus scowl and grind his hips down for a moment, until his virulent emotions were soothed by Reno gasping out his name.

Reno appeared ready with a sarcastic comment but Rufus silenced him by snaking his hand between their bodies and sliding it into the silk boxer’s opening. Gasping again, Reno arched his back and stopped fighting the hold against his hands. "Fuck, Rufus…." His voice took on the raspy quality that it always did when he finally surrendered, when he expected to be properly fucked. That voice and the way his eyes grew heavy lidded, the pale color darkened to almost turquoise by passion and his lips swollen and reddened by kisses…. Rufus felt his control over himself, over his wants grow tenuous and had to fight not to give in to the urge to tear those jeans and boxers down a pair of long, thin legs and then thrust deep into his lover’s body. If Reno really had gone two weeks without sex then he’d probably be rather tight, would grip Rufus’ cock even more forcefully than usual….

"Reno." He whispered the word, forced himself to not say anything other than it but the ragged quality to his voice revealed more than he liked. To distract his lover, he began to pump his hand along Reno’s cock the same time he plundered Reno’s mouth, pushed his tongue in deep and moaned when it was sucked in even deeper.

He released Reno’s wrists and grasped at tousled hair instead, held it with a crushing grip that wouldn’t allow Reno to escape the searing kiss even if the redhead had wanted to. His other hand tangled in hair as well, shorter, darker, curly hair rough against his hand before he pulled Reno’s cock free from the boxers. For a few more highly enjoyable moments he savored the man’s addictive taste, enjoyed the feel of a hot, lean body as it squirmed beneath him, the feel of coarse strands against his palm.

The way Reno gasped his name when he broke off the kiss filled him with a sense of smug pride. For all the indifference and disgust he’d been shown the last two weeks, he now had Reno beneath him, desperate and just short of begging for more. Not about to waste such a golden opportunity, he began to trail kisses down Reno’s throat, pausing now and then to suck vigorously on pale skin, to leave fresh marks over old bruises.

He nipped sharply at Reno’s collarbones, left a new mark on skin stretched so tight it seemed ready to split open from the push of bones. That earned him a warning growl and grabbing hands in his hair, Reno’s voice and grip quickly made weak by another sharp nip, this time at the man’s left nipple. Alternating between the two hard buds, he did make Reno beg, made the redhead curse him with frustrated desire as he nipped and sucked and nibbled.

"Dammit, Rufus, I’m not in the mood for foreplay," Reno muttered as he alternately pushed Rufus downward and then pulled him upward, as if he was uncertain as to what he really wanted. His hips continued to jerk in time to Rufus’ hand sliding up and down his cock and he tried to part his legs but they were trapped by the jeans and Rufus’ weight. "I thought you were gonna fuck me," he snarled, sounding so much like a petulant child that Rufus couldn’t hold back a pleased chuckle.

"You’re too impatient for words," he informed his furious lover, and the smirk on his lips seemed to annoy Reno even more. "I’m not going to fuck you but if you’re that impatient…." His smile took on a wicked edge as he shifted downward.

"What the hell are you- ah!" Reno’s bitching was cut short when Rufus’ tongue flicked along the top of his cock, when Rufus’ right hand slid to the base of his cock to hold him steady. That was all the warning he got before Rufus wrapped his lips around the flared tip, pushed back the loose foreskin and then began to suck.

"Dammit!" Reno’s body jerked as he yelled, his grip of Rufus’ hair almost painful. Rufus winced both from the pain of that hold and the way his own cock throbbed at the sound of Reno crying out like that, at the thought that he could probably do whatever he wanted for the next few minutes. However, he focused himself on the task at hand, pushed aside the images of burying his cock in Reno’s willing, hot ass.

Judging from the way Reno continued to call out, the way he writhed beneath Rufus and jerked his hips with obvious desperation, Rufus knew that his lover hadn’t had much ‘relief’ in the past few weeks. The virulent emotion that had filled his chest during that same amount of time quieted, was soothed to hear his name panted and gasped and moaned, all depending on how he sucked or licked or hummed.

He wasn’t an expert at blowjobs, much preferred to receive them rather than give but Reno was so incredibly responsive and vocal that he found himself spurred on, his arousal increased with each passing second. The feel of smooth pulsing heat against his tongue, the taste of saltiness and something else, something indescribable. Fragile skin beneath his fingertips as he teased them along Reno’s balls, the dampness of sweat and the crisp crinkle of hair. The scent of pungent musk and smoke, almost as sharp to his nose as Reno’s taste to this tongue.

The way that Reno’s voice grew huskier with each new heartbeat, the feel of too-sharp hipbones beneath his left hand as he held his lover’s hips down, as *he* set the pace and set off a new round of pleading curses made him ache with need. There was such a sense of lasciviousness, of uncaring concern for the rest of the world when Reno was in the throes of passion that it only served to heighten Rufus’ desire until he was almost driven mad with lust. His hips ground against Reno’s legs while he swallowed more of the hot cock, an undeniable heat burning in his groin and sizzling along his nerves as he fought with himself not to fuck his lover.

He was losing that battle, was losing control of the situation and about to unfasten his pants when he felt Reno begin to tremble. At some point his lover had stopped pleading and cursing and taken to whimpering instead, at some point had closed his eyes tightly and weakened his grip on Rufus’ hair. Mesmerized by how vulnerable Reno appeared at that moment, all sense of danger gone and replaced by startling need, he forced his mouth downward, swallowed quickly and repeatedly as he took in most of Reno’s thick cock – and pulled back barely in time when he felt that trembling tension suddenly snap.

"Rufus!" Reno screamed his name so loud that Tseng probably heard it all the way down the hall, the sound as explosive as the warm semen pulsing onto his tongue while the redhead came, hips hitching forward in jittering shakes. Rufus forced himself to swallow, not too pleased with the taste but willing to overlook it in light of the dazed expression on Reno’s face, the way Reno soon went limp beneath him, breath uneven and body shivering.

His own body was ready to tremble from pent up need and lust, his cock painfully hard and his pants damp but he refused to pay any attention to himself while he could witness Reno with all his shields down. The redhead raised shaking hands to press against his eyes, his lips were parted as he panted for air, his cock now flaccid amidst the wet mess of his boxer shorts. At times like these, Rufus was usually focused on his own orgasm, his own pleasure, and so he missed seeing how he could tear Reno down like this so simply yet thoroughly.

That acrid emotion returned, vastly intensified and matched by obsession, by the need to see Reno like this more often, to have this power whenever he wanted. So Rufus ruthlessly denied his body’s desire and forced himself to move from Reno, allowed himself only a lingering caress to his lover’s tattooed cheekbone and then he stood up. As he adjusted his still hard cock in his pants, Reno’s eyes opened and spent a few seconds trying to blearily focus.

"Where the hell are you going?" Reno asked, his voice hoarse from all those loud cries. He reached out with a still-trembling hand that fell just short of Rufus’ left leg.

Leaning over with his left hand on the back of the couch, his body hovering above Reno’s, he allowed himself another caress. "If you’re late to work tomorrow, I’ll dock your pay. And don’t think I didn’t notice the boxer shorts." His voice reflected his smug amusement but not his sense of possession, and he easily managed to avoid Reno’s ill-aimed fist. Really, the man should know better than to attack when he was so drained. "Tomorrow, Reno," he said, and he allowed a hint of promise, of expectation to creep into his voice. Tomorrow he’d see if Reno took the bait offered today.

"You try working in dirty boxers, ya cheap bastard," Reno muttered to Rufus’ back while he fetched his jacket and carefully pulled it on, but it lacked the usual amount of heat. To be honest, Rufus considered not subtracting the price of the garments from Reno’s pay – it would be much more enjoyable to reclaim the underwear at a later time whenever Reno ‘borrowed’ them, after all.

He was at the door when Reno spoke again. "You really are goin’." The surprised and confused tone of his lover’s voice made him smile, made that virulent emotion grow quiet again.

"Don’t be late, Reno," was all he said before he walked out of the apartment, and he closed the door on another muttered insult. He nodded to Tseng who still stood by the stairs, and his smile grew stronger when he noticed the faint redness on the Turk’s face.

"I’m done here," he informed his bodyguard, a pleased note to his voice that made Tseng look first at him warily and then at Reno’s apartment with concern. Not bothering to explain anything, Rufus headed down the stairs, eager to return home so he could shower and find a quick release. His body was not very happy with him at the moment but he considered the sacrifice of his own pleasure to be a good one.

Reno thought he knew Rufus, thought he could predict his actions – this had been made clear by the redhead’s behavior these past two weeks. But now Rufus had done something Reno hadn’t expected, had held himself back from something he’d always willingly taken before. For someone like Reno, someone who adored challenges, it should be like waving a red flag in front of an enraged bull. Their positions would now be reversed, Rufus would be the pursued and not the pursuer. And as soon as Reno came charging after him, he’d entangle his lover so thoroughly, would use that passion and carelessness to his advantage and take back what was his.

Elena had the sedan’s door open for him by the time he reached the sidewalk; he ignored the concerned look she shared with her partner. He also ignored the urge to glance skyward, to see if there was a flash of red leaning out of a window but he was certain that if he had checked, it would be there. Filled with confidence and satisfaction, he slid onto the car’s plush back seat and closed his eyes as he recalled what had happened just a few minutes ago, as he analyzed his and Reno’s actions.

This time, he was the victor, of that there was no doubt. The only question remained was how Reno would react tomorrow, if he would rebel a little longer or not. While he normally enjoyed a bit of a struggle, Rufus hoped that Reno did his usual rush into a situation. He wanted more moments like up in that stark room, wanted more of that power. And should Reno not take the bait… then he would have to reconsider just how far he was willing to go to get what he wanted.

*******

Rufus sat behind his desk and refused to allow himself to fidget. By his calculation, Reno and Rude should be stationed outside his office in another five minutes. Too frustrated and eager for the day to begin, he hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before and had arrived early for work. He was able to concentrate on the matters that required his attention when he first arrived, but the closer it got to eight o’clock, the more unsettled he became.

He spent the night dreaming about Reno, about the satisfaction and release he’d deprived himself of up in the apartment. He dreamed about Reno’s body, the way his skin always seemed so warm, so smooth from stretching taut over muscles and bones. The way Reno looked after his release, so vulnerable that something dark inside of Rufus purred for him to take advantage of the man, to use that weakness to ensure that he’d never be deprived of Reno again as long as he wanted him.

His right hand slid from the top of the desk to settle in his lap where it began to rub against his hardening arousal. The entire time while he’d gotten ready today and on his way to work, he’d fantasized about what would happen once the redhead arrived. He had everything all planned out, how he would carefully avoid any ambiguous small talk, wary of things once more spinning out of his control. How he would curl his fingers in that vibrant, ridiculous hair and use that grip to pull Reno close so he could taste him, so he could bite down gently on that pierced ear until Reno hissed and squirmed against him….

Forcing his hand from his lap, he frowned at the clock and realized that it was now the start of Reno’s shift and he hadn’t heard anything. He hadn’t received a report from Tseng so that meant that Reno had arrived to work on time and hadn’t protested his assignment of bodyguard. So he had to be standing just outside the office’s doors, purposely ignoring Rufus.

His hands clenching into fists, Rufus refused to allow his body to move from the seat, to go to the door, open it and see if Reno really was there. He told himself that Reno was unpredictable, that he might be trying to provoke some sort of response and save face by making Rufus go to him. That would *not* happen, so Rufus distracted himself with more work before he did something that he would regret.

The soft ‘click’ of the office door opening immediately caught his attention and made him glance from the documents he was reading. There, just across the room, was Reno, his back pressed against the now closed doors, a familiar smirk on his face and the long tail of his hair draped down the front of his chest. He wore his shirt half unbuttoned, as usual, the marks left by Rufus dark on his neck and chest.

Carefully setting the documents into a desk drawer, Rufus clasped his hands together on top of the desk. "I don’t recall inviting you in here," he said, his voice deliberately calm and his demeanor slightly disapproving.

"Yeah, well, I don’t recall inviting you to my apartment yesterday so I think we’re even." Reno approached the desk as he talked, some extra slink in his usual saunter, cocky smirk changed into a wicked smile that promised so many, many things. He stopped just beyond arms’ reach, tilted his head to the side and tapped his baton against his left shoulder. "What, did you expect to find me waiting in your office this morning, eager to prove that I wasn’t late?" he asked, his tone disrespectful and mocking.

Part of Rufus screamed at him to move from his chair, to bridge the space between them and finish what he’d started yesterday, to prevent Reno from screwing things up with attitude and stupidity. However, he remained seated, intrigued enough to see what point the redhead was trying to make. If Reno attempted to leave the office, he would move but until then he could wait a little longer. "Actually, I expected you to purposefully arrive late," he answered. "You’re not one to listen to other people’s advice, after all."

"No, I’m not." Reno brazenly agreed.

Despite Reno’s insolent attitude and the fact that he had walked into the office as if he belonged there, Rufus noticed how tense his lover’s body was, the wary light in pale eyes as they tracked his every move. He became even more intrigued, even more aroused and decidedly set on having Reno, one way or another. Pushing his chair away from the desk, he let his hands settle on the edge of the chair’s arm rests as he turned it slightly to directly face him.

"Then why are you here?" he asked quietly, aware of the danger that lay in answer to that question.

Reno was quiet for a few heartbeats, his expression so carefully guarded that Rufus prepared to jump from the chair at the first sign of him either retreating or attacking. Reno was the type to always broadcast his moves, to not hide behind subterfuge so this recent bizarre behavior was an incandescent flare of warning.

When he did finally move, Rufus shamed himself by barely rising from the chair before he was pushed back into it as Reno settled onto his lap. He didn’t have any time to reach for a weapon before strong hands gripped his shoulders and he was jerked forward into a kiss. At the feel of Reno’s rough lips against his, the acrid emotion burned violently for a moment before it metamorphosed into searing lust. He eagerly parted his lips and thrust his tongue into damp warmth, felt a sigh well deep within him at the taste of cigarettes and alcohol. His hands buried themselves in tattered red silk and clenched tightly around the strands, desperate to keep Reno from pulling away. Something metallic hit the floor but he ignored it, focused his senses on the man in his lap instead.

Their kiss was one of lust and dominance, bruising intensity and ardent passion. Teeth banged together, skin was pinched and nipped, tongues scraped and sucked on until they both moaned into each other’s mouth. Refusing any other outcome than to be the victor, Rufus surged from the chair, pushed Reno up and forward until the redhead fell backward onto the desk and he on top, the air forced from both their lungs by the sudden impact.

"Why?" Rufus practically snarled, his hands once more using their hold on Reno’s brilliant hair to force his lover’s neck to arch. He shoved his way between Reno’s legs as he repeated the question, his voice even more savage than before.

"Why not?"

He should have expected such a flippant answer from the bastard, would have been enraged by the words if it wasn’t for the expression on Reno’s face. That was desire made plain by the way he licked his lips, by the way he stared so intently at Rufus with eyes whose pupils were dilated wide by passion. Reno’s tattooed cheeks were flushed from the emotion, his lips red and swollen by the broken-off kiss.

Rufus’ resolve from earlier, to prevent Reno’s stupid mouth from saying something that would push him too far, returned so he didn’t speak again, merely grunted in annoyance and bridged the space between them for a kiss more ardent than the one before. Spurred on by virulent emotion and obsession, he ravished Reno’s mouth the same time his hands released his lover’s hair to scramble against fabric in a frantic need to have it gone.

Reno gasped something against his lips when he yanked open the black jacket, something like an amused chuckle, and the garment was quickly shrugged free. Rufus’ hands moved on to the next target, clutched fine silk and *ripped*, the material nothing to his strength and need. As always, there was a hot spark of smugness and pride to tear something from his lover’s body, to use brute force to reveal it for his pleasure. This time it seemed that Reno tried to groan his name out but it was muffled by the ongoing kiss, which Rufus didn’t end when he purposely yanked the redhead against him. Once Reno’s body was lifted enough from the desk, he twisted the material around his lover’s arms, cleverly used it as a restraint to bind them together at the small of Reno’s back.

"What the-" Reno gasped as he pulled away, the question cut off when Rufus pushed him to the side, flipped him over until he lay on his chest atop of the desk. "Bastard!"

Once more grabbing crimson hair, Rufus ruthlessly jerked on it until Reno hissed in pain and arched his neck. "This isn’t a game, Reno," he murmured into his lover’s left ear as he settled again between kicking legs. "You don’t come into *my* office and toy with me." As he spoke, he ground his hips forward, pressed his arousal against Reno’s ass. "Not unless you expect me to teach you your proper place, which is this."

"But you can show up at my place and fuck with me," was Reno’s bitter response, his eyes bright with animosity. "How come you can- ah!" He stopped talking when Rufus bit his ear right behind the silver earring, his body shuddered in such an enticing manner that Rufus had to gasp as well.

Nuzzling his lover’s bitten ear, Rufus kept his grip on Reno’s hair with his left hand while his right fumbled with the buckle of Reno’s belt. "Because I can," he said, an ambiguous answer in return for the one he had recently received. Because Reno was his, body and mind and tainted soul, and he never let go of anything of value that belonged to him. Because *he* was the one in charge here, was about to prove that fact to set aright the redhead’s misguided belief that he could challenge Rufus on that and not be punished.

"You started this, Reno. Now be a good boy and *shut* *up* before I break your jaw." His chest burned with painfully intense emotions, he became lightheaded as he awkwardly pulled the pants’ zipper down. Wary of Reno striking back, he was surprised when his fingers brushed against hard arousal, when the contact made Reno moan Rufus’ name lowly and close his eyes as if in pleasure.

Not about to protest Reno being a willing participant for this, Rufus shifted his hips back just enough so he could clumsily tug Reno’s pants and boxers down, his hand shaking in eagerness at the thought of thrusting into the redhead’s tight hole, feeling clenching heat all around his cock as he moved, hearing his name cried out again and again. Trapped against his stomach, Reno’s fingers scrambled along his skin, made him hiss in surprise and pain when jagged nails scratched his skin.

"Taking too damn long," Reno muttered, his voice ragged from panting breaths. His body was covered by a fine sheen of sweat that made his long tail cling to his skin, his cheeks so flushed that the tattooed lines lost their fine edge. His eyes were half hidden by heavy lids that fluttered when Rufus scraped his teeth along Reno’s jaw, from chin to ear.

"I told you to shut up," Rufus remarked, his own voice haggard with lust and need as the damn pants were *finally* pushed to the floor. He immediately used his right knee to knock Reno’s legs farther apart and it was now his pants that were the hindrance, that gave him endless grief as he clumsily tried to undo their zipper.

Maybe it was his imagination but he thought he heard ‘bossy fuck," panted softly so he chose to mostly ignore it, to only give Reno’s earring a quick tug with his teeth. The way Reno moaned so wantonly and pressed against him made him groan in desperation, made his body begin to tremble and his cock twitch. Deciding that he had a much better use for that foul mouth, he released Reno’s hair so he could brush his fingers against Reno’s lips. All it took was a hint of pressure and they parted so his fingers could be eagerly sucked inside where a wet tongue curled around them.

For over two weeks he’d fantasized about this moment, of having Reno bent before him to be fucked. Now that his cock was free of his pants, he didn’t want to wait any longer, didn’t want to risk something snatching this moment away from him. Reno’s scent, Reno’s skin against his own made him almost dizzy with lust, made his body shiver in anticipation. Pulling his fingers from Reno’s clever mouth, he once again tangled his left hand in his lover’s hair so he could tilt Reno’s head to the side. His mouth moved fervently over the arched neck before him while his saliva-slick fingers pushed into the cleft of Reno’s ass.

"What? Reno…."

Reno chuckled and wiggled his ass when Rufus’ fingers pushed against his already slick hole. "How many times do you tell us to be prepared?" the bastard asked, his husky voice tinged with amusement.

Shocked by what his lover had done, Rufus pushed his fingers in deeply and frowned to find their way entirely slick. "I also tell you to shut up but you never listen," he snapped, more than a little shaken by the thought that he was losing control of this situation. In none of his fantasies had Reno anticipated his actions, had done anything other than either beg to be fucked or cry out in pain while he was taken. For a moment, Rufus didn’t know how to react to this sudden change of plan.

Then he suddenly became possessed by that potent emotion that had haunted him the past two weeks and snatched his hand back from Reno’s body, wrapped it around his cock to guide it to that slick hole and then savagely snapped his hips forward. Reno’s reverberating, loud cry of pleasure/pain soothed his wounded pride almost as much as the wonderful feel of being buried deep inside his lover. Fuck, Reno was as tight as he’d imagined him to be, was so hot…. He took a shuddering breath and went still for a few seconds, his mind and body overwhelmed by pleasure to the point that his nerves sizzled and his thoughts broke apart.

The sound of Reno moaning his name freed him from the paralysis, spurred his body to move so it could drink in the ecstasy of friction and heat. With Reno bent partially over the desk, he tightly grasped the redhead’s hips and pulled them back to meet his brutal thrusts. The way his lover gasped each time he pushed in deep, the way his teeth nipping at an adorned earlobe earned him his name choked out and a delicious shiver through the body beneath his…. He nuzzled Reno’s sweat-slick neck, breathed deep the scent of cigarettes and musk, tasted salt on his tongue while hair tickled as it danced across his face…. Reno filled all of his senses, rocked back to meet each of his thrusts and didn’t shut up for one second. The languid heat that had simmered in Rufus’ belly for the last two weeks became an inferno, sent tendrils of molten pleasure along his nerves until his entire body tingled and urged him to move faster, to push deeper.

"Fuck… Ru… fus… ah…harr… der… oh… god…."

A chant filled Rufus’ head as his hips pistoned forward, as his nerves began to explode under the onslaught of fiery ecstasy. *Mine*. The word was spoken in a rough, possessive voice, the same one that whispered in his mind whenever he thought about Reno, thought about what to do to him and how to break him down. And judging from Reno’s panted cries, from the way Reno’s body writhed beneath him, he had claimed that prize – for now.

That niggling thought made him forcibly yank Reno’s hips back against his, made his mouth once more fasten onto Reno’s left earlobe as pleasure and need churned inside him, the emotions caustic yet electrifying. Both continued to build, to assault his body and make him tremble and he couldn’t stop moving, couldn’t stop seeking that glorious friction and the addictive way Reno’s hot body clenched around his cock as if to keep it buried deep.

"Reno."

Someone rasped out the redhead’s name in an unfamiliar voice thick with such terrifying need.

"Ruf-us… dammit," Reno cried while his body hunched over the desk, his back arched like a cat’s as he fought to push his hips back. Rufus felt nails against his stomach, felt wiry fingers attempt to dig deep and that bit of pain whirled into the ecstasy that burned him alive, another fiery drop in a sea of flame that made it *too* much, that transformed the tingling heat that coursed through his body into bliss that wracked his body, that made him scream as everything exploded and –

He fought to breathe as he slumped forward, his body filled with bliss that sizzled through his veins until he ached from it, an onslaught of ecstatic waves as he came inside Reno. His body no longer under his command, he pushed them both down onto the desk and had to close his eyes, Reno’s angry voice made faint by the buzzing in his ears.

"-fucking heavy, feels like my dick’s about to be cut off, dammit-"

Gradually the words made sense, as did Reno’s enflamed tone. Forcing his drained and uncooperative body to move, he fell backward with his arms around Reno’s chest and barely managed to land in his chair with his lover in his lap.

"-not funny, you arrogant bastard! Untie me!"

"Told you… to shut up," he managed to stutter the same time his right arm shakily curled around Reno’s waist. His lover did finally shut up when he grabbed Reno’s still hard cock, and he managed to lift his left hand enough to grasp the redhead’s chin. He pulled Reno back enough so he could see the expression created when his hand began to slowly pump up and down Reno’s cock. "Be good… or I’ll leave you like this."

He was treated to a ferocious glare that only lasted until he flicked his forefinger over the top of Reno’s cock. That caress made Reno close his eyes and groan deep in his throat, made him slump against Rufus the same time his hips jerked forward.

Still out of sorts from his own orgasm, Rufus forced his right hand to keep moving, let his left hand trail along his lover’s jaw until he could play with the silver earring. With each touch, Reno squirmed against him, panted out his name and he savored it all. Once again, he broke the stubborn fool down with pleasure, tore into Reno’s walls with his hands and made them crumble. The annoying arrogance and mockery utterly vanished, there was no more distance between them when Reno arched his back and tossed his head back until it smacked into Rufus’ left shoulder.

"Rufus!" Just like yesterday, Reno screamed his name, shuddered against him as he came. Just like yesterday, something inside of Rufus purred and drank in the sight of Reno like this, enjoyed the thought that someone so dangerous and unpredictable was rendered so weak by his touch. Knowing that this moment wouldn’t last long and hungry for the next, he enjoyed it as much as he could.

After a long minute, Reno opened his eyes and once he got them to focus, scowled weakly at Rufus. "Can’t… feel my hands," he grumbled, his body limp against Rufus’ chest.

"And here I thought you were tougher than that," was Rufus’ mostly smooth reply, his breathing still slightly hitched from what he’d just experienced.

"Bastard," Reno muttered, but he didn’t attempt to move at all to free himself.

Rufus unwrapped his hand from Reno’s cock and wiped his soiled palm across his lover’s chest. "That reminds me," he said, his voice deceptively quiet as his hands skimmed along Reno’s arms. "While I understand that you do consider swear words to be terms of endearments, I must insist that you watch your tone and language around me." Nudging Reno to lean forward, he grasped the ruined shirt between his fingers and gave it a cruel twist. "They’re beginning to sound dangerously close to insults."

When Reno grunted in pain but didn’t curse, he relented and began to unravel the silk fabric. Belatedly realizing that he’d ruined one of his own shirts, he shook his head and chuckled softly. "You just have to push things, don’t you?" he murmured with amusement in Reno’s reddened ear once the knot was unraveled.

Reno rolled his shoulders and grunted again. "You’d have been bored ages ago if I didn’t." His hands now free, he twisted in Rufus’ lap, straddled him in a move of surprising grace and speed.

That was true, Rufus thought as his hands automatically lifted to comb through his lover’s unruly mop of hair. If it wasn’t part of Reno’s nature to push things with *everyone*, he’d suspect it as some sort of ploy. "One of these days you’re going to push too far," he warned in a quiet voice.

Reno’s mouth twisted into a sad, fleeting smile. "There are worse ways to go. It’s not as if I can change, either." There was a sense of resignation to the statement as if Reno was all too aware that his insane nature would be the death of him one day. Since Rufus didn’t know of any comeback for a comment like that, he didn’t say anything and they both were silent for several seconds.

Then Reno shook himself like an animal waking from a nap and shifted backward. "Guess I should get back to work – once I borrow another shirt from Rude." He wrinkled his nose and used what remained of the white shirt to scrub clean his chest and abdomen.

That aggravating emotion twitched to life inside Rufus once again, made him gently yet firmly grasp Reno’s face between his hands and make the redhead look at him. "Why?" He blinked in surprise when he realized that he repeated the question from earlier even though he’d intended to say something else entirely. "If you say ‘why not’ again I’ll shoot you," he snarled in an attempt at recovery.

Appearing as surprised as Rufus felt, Reno glanced down at the ruined shirt in his lap and shrugged. "Maybe because I don’t see any point in fighting after yesterday." He looked up, straight at Rufus. "Maybe because you actually backed down a little, maybe because I like my job too much to mess things up over some stupid shirts." Without looking away, he tossed the shirt aside. "Or maybe because it’s a full moon tonight," he added, the familiar mockery back in his voice.

Rufus told himself that the idiot had been shockingly candid for once and to not allow that last bit of flippancy to grate on his nerves. Whatever the reason, he’d gotten what he wanted and that was what mattered. "You haven’t worked any overtime in the last two weeks," he pointed out as his traitorous fingers tangled yet again in Reno’s outrageous hair. "I believe you have a fair bit to make up." He deliberately pushed things, both to inform Reno that he intended for them to go back to their old relationship and to see if there would be another fight over that matter.

The smile Reno gave him was the utterly wicked one that he’d missed lately. "Why not? Need to buy some new shirts now so the money’ll be handy." Reno bent his head to nuzzle Rufus’ right wrist and then wriggled off Rufus’ lap – only to wince when he stood up, his posture hunched and his legs wobbly. "Fuck, didn’t think it would be this bad," he mumbled as his right hand rubbed what must be a very sore ass.

Feeling terribly smug, Rufus tucked his flaccid cock back into his soiled pants, grateful that he’d brought a change of clothes. Then he opened the lower left desk drawer and pulled out a small package wrapped in tissue that he held on to until Reno began to mutter about the torn shirt.

"Here." When Reno turned toward him, he tossed the package. Catching it with ease, Reno eyed it warily before he ripped through the tissue paper to reveal a pristine, white silk shirt. His expression became even more guarded when he glanced at Rufus.

"Is this coming out of my pay?" he asked, a hint of the formality from the past two weeks back in his voice.

Rising from his chair, Rufus smiled slightly at the various pleasurable aches in his body and approached his suspicious lover. "Upon further reflection, I decided it was unfair of me to expect you to replace shirts I destroyed." He shrugged and reached out to tease the fingers of his right hand over the tattooed line on Reno’s left cheek. "I still haven’t decided about the boxer shorts."

Reno snorted in amusement and tilted his face into the caress. "I say that since you help dirty them, that you shouldn’t bitch about it when I borrow a fresh pair." He stepped a little closer, the shirt clutched between his hands.

This was what Rufus had wanted for the last few weeks, what he’d been driven to regain. Reno back in his life, a teasing, irreverent presence to amuse him and be fucked. After all this time together, and the redhead gave him grief over boxer shorts and shirts, didn’t demand anything more than those things and a hell of a lot of patience. But even though Rufus had Reno once more, something was still missing, something that gnawed at him with acid teeth, that he couldn’t ignore no matter how much he tried.

Pulling Reno closer, he placed a soft kiss along the tattooed cheek and brushed his lips along Reno’s adorned ear. "You can keep the damn boxer shorts. However, if anyone else sees them, if anyone else puts their hands down them or slides them from your body and fucks you…." He scraped his teeth along the earlobe and pulled back enough so his lover could see his expression, let that finish what he was too dignified to say.

Reno’s pale eyes went wide at first then narrowed in anger for a couple of heartbeats before they drifted shut. To Rufus’ chagrin, the expression on the redhead’s face was unreadable so he had no clue what Reno was thinking. Then Reno opened his eyes, his expression so grave. "You doubt my… loyalty?" he asked.

"I only doubt your ability to know when you’ve pushed things too far," was Rufus’ instant reply. And he knew how close to that edge Reno had skated in the last couple of weeks.

"Don’t know why people think I’m such a slut," Reno muttered, and just as if a switch had been flipped, he was back to normal. He gave Rufus a cocky grin and stepped back as he unfolded the shirt.

Since he was an intelligent man and needed to get some work done, rather than dive head first into a fight that would make the one two weeks ago look like a silly tiff, Rufus wisely didn’t say anything and returned to his chair. He pulled a few wipes from a container tucked inside a drawer and wiped the desk’s surface clean before he retrieved his paperwork.

"Hey, am I gonna get any dinner since I’m working all day?" Reno called out as he pulled on his pants.

Things were definitely back to normal, Rufus thought as he suppressed a wry smile. "I suppose so. I do have to eat at some point and I’m sure there will be something left over."

"Bast- hmph." Reno stalked to the other side of the desk to retrieve his jacket and baton and slid both on. His hair was even more disheveled than normal and everything but the shirt was wrinkled, and Rufus had to quickly squash the urge to grab him, tear off those clothes and fuck him again. "Why are rich people so damn stingy?"

"Maybe because that’s how we keep all of our money," was his flip retort, which made Reno chuckle and stick out his tongue.

"Whatever. I can always order takeout while you’re in the bathroom or something." Reno smoothed his hands down the front of his jacket which, sadly enough, did nothing for the garment’s pitiful state. Then he gave Rufus a wink and a salute with his baton before he turned to leave the office, a cheerful whistle on his lips.

Leaning back in the chair, Rufus allowed himself a pleased smile once he was alone. He mentally congratulated himself on the successful execution of his plan. There were a few more issues that needed resolved, a few changes that disturbed him but for the most part he was content. Reno was an energetic, willing and talented lover, someone he could trust with his life, someone who was – mostly – undemanding. He fit Rufus’ needs almost perfectly and proved enough of a challenge to keep him interested for a long time to come.

Now that the matter was resolved, he could focus on work, on rebuilding his company. He also still had a loyal and talented Turk to command, to make his job a little easier. Even better, he had something to look forward to after a hard day of work, moments of release and pleasure to help him make it through the day. Which was a good thing as he had what promised to be a very tiresome meeting scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.

It took Rufus several minutes to realize that the whistling sound he heard wasn’t a memory of Reno’s tune but was something that he was producing. Firmly pressing his lips together, he rose from the chair so he could change his clothes and then concentrate on work. There could be no fun until he resolved the issue with the fourth reactor.

*******

Rude took a step away from the door when he heard the knob turn and click, enough distance so Reno could slide through the narrow opening and into the outer office. He couldn’t help but notice the sorry state of his partner, the reddened lips, hair tousled even more than usual and the pronounced limp in a usually smooth gait. All in all, Reno appeared to have been through a rather rough time, which did nothing to explain why he had such a satisfied smirk on his flushed face.

Glancing around the office, Reno emitted a soft crow of delight and limped over to the secretary’s abandoned desk. "She out to lunch or something?" he asked in a hoarse voice as he fished inside his jacket for his cigarettes.

"Or something," Rude commented as blandly as possible while he debated whether or not to move away from the door himself. Deciding that he could better speak to his partner if they weren’t so close to Rufus’ office, he reluctantly left his post. "I think you were a little too loud for her this time." As soon as Reno had begun to shout their boss’ name, she’d hurriedly fled the office while Rude watched her departure with envy.

"Eh?" An unlit cigarette dangling from his lips, Reno looked at Rude and slowly, almost hesitantly leaned against the desk with his right hip. He winced so hard when his body came in contact with the furniture that the cigarette almost fell. "Fuck, but that hurts," he grumbled before he lit the stick.

Folding his arms over his chest, Rude took a deep breath and slowly let it out. "Do you need to see someone about…?" Dammit, his cheeks were *not* growing warm and he was *not* thinking about Reno’s ass and how well fucked it must be at the moment. Just like he hadn’t listened attentively to what had happened in his employer’s office for the last ten minutes or so. He was only trying to ascertain if Reno was being killed or not, really.

Reno gave him a nasty smile and tried to lean a little more of his lanky body against the desk. "Nah, doubt they can do anything other than tell me to sit on a bag of ice or something." He jerked his right hand through his hair, messing the disorderly strands even more, and it was then that Rude noticed the red marks around his wrist. "I doubt Medical is gonna use any materia or potions on my ass." Despite the hint of pain to his voice, he sounded rather amused and definitely pleased with himself.

Bridging the distance between them in two long steps, Rude deftly grabbed the idiot’s right arm and held it up, the shirt and jacket sleeves falling down to reveal livid welts. "Maybe they could do something about this." He couldn’t tell because of the baton’s leather cuff but he was willing to bet a month’s salary that a similar brand was around Reno’s left wrist.

Shrugging nonchalantly, Reno easily twisted his wrist free. "That’ll fade after a couple of hours." He held his marked wrist up to eye level for a few seconds before he let it fall back to his side. "They always do."

"Reno," Rude sighed, concern and annoyance bleeding into his voice.

Reno shrugged again and removed the cigarette from the corner of his mouth. "Save me the lecture, Rude. I knew what I was doing when I went in there and I have no regrets." He certainly didn’t sound as if he had any, even if his typically confident tone was tinged with exhaustion.

Smoothing his hands over his head, Rude wondered for what had to be the millionth time what he’d done to deserve being paired with such a masochistic idiot and then to have fallen into lust with said idiot as well. He waited until he felt a little calmer to ask the question that had bothered him ever since Reno had given him a lascivious wink and then snuck into Rufus’ office. "Why, Reno?" Why had he decided that today was the day that he’d resume the role as Rufus Shinra’s fucktoy?

Reno’s answer indicated that he’d heard more than the two words that Rude had spoken. "Because of yesterday," he said before he took a long drag on the cigarette, held his breath for a moment and then slowly let out the smoke with a quiet hiss.

There were times during a discussion with Reno that Rude felt an overwhelming urge to bang his head against the nearest hard surface, and this was certainly one of those. "What happened yesterday?" he asked with a sharp tone, feeling like a clueless idiot which he *hated*. "Did you get horny or what?"

Chuckling softly, Reno moved to sit more fully upon the desk and then quickly shifted away, a grimace of pain on his face. He flicked ashes onto a stack of paperwork and seemed to consider something for a moment. "He changed the rules of the game," he said, his voice unusually quiet and thoughtful.

"Huh?" Distracted by concern over whether or not the defiled paperwork was going to catch on fire, it took a few seconds for the words to make sense to Rude. "How did that happen?" What really bothered him was that the clueless idiot feeling was normal when it came to him thinking about Reno and Rufus’ relationship. Which is why he normally tried not to, and definitely avoided mentioning it if he could avoid it.

"He paid me a visit at home yesterday," Reno replied with an amused smirk. "Said he was there to drop off my withheld pay and then gave me a blowjob." The smirk took on a sated edge and he stretched his arms over his head until something in his back popped, which made him sigh in contentment.

Trying not to notice the new marks on Reno’s body and the fact that the shirt appeared to be slightly different from the one he had worn an hour ago, Rude closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He’d just assumed that Reno had suckered some guy into thinking that he was getting lucky last night and ended up robbed instead when he’d seen him this morning. "Rufus Shinra not only paid a visit to your apartment but gave you money?" That was almost as surprising as the fact that the man had given Reno a blowjob, something that didn’t happen often if Reno’s incessant bitching about the subject was any indication.

"Yep, all that I was owed minus one of the shirts." Reno ground his cigarette out onto the poor paperwork and then ran his right hand down his chest, along the front seam of the white shirt. "Good news is that he’s gonna stop being such an asshole about that stuff." Despite how pleased he appeared to have settled the matter of the fight, Rude thought there had been a hint of… something in his partner’s voice, something that wasn’t so happy.

"And the bad news?" he dared to ask when it became obvious that Reno wasn’t going to continue. There was a burgeoning urge to go into Rufus’ office and hit the man, to make him as bruised as Rude’s friend and Reno’s silence wasn’t helping him to control it.

Reno shrugged and gingerly moved from the desk. "What bad news?" he asked, appearing as his normal self except for the limp as he paced around the office. "I get my pay, I still have a job and the sex is fantastic." He glanced at Rude and rolled his eyes. "You worry too much, partner. Just because I never had a father means that you need to be one for me."

"Fuck off," Rude shot back as he pushed his sunglasses up with the middle finger of his right hand. "Your father probably hasn’t stopped running after seeing you born."

A nasty smile curved Reno’s swollen lips. "Yeah, well, sooner or later he’ll end up back where he started and then I’ll be able to meet the bastard." He lifted his baton in a threatening manner. "We’ll see if enjoying taking it up the ass is a family trait or not." He sounded deadly serious just then, his tone of voice one that would send most people scrambling for cover but as it had never been directed at Rude, it didn’t cause any panic this time.

Realizing that they’d gotten off the topic of Rufus and wondering if that had been Reno’s intention, Rude tugged on the hem of his jacket in annoyance and fixed his partner with a stern look. "You said something about ‘rules of the game’. What game?" He’d get a straight answer from the bastard if he had to sit on Reno and zap him with the baton – something that seemed to be a very good idea with each new evasion.

Making an exasperated sound, Reno began to search through the secretary’s desk. "Think she has any snacks in here?" he asked as he glanced at Rude and smiled so charmingly that Rude knew there was about to be some trouble. When all Reno got was a cold stare in return, he sighed and tried to tuck back some of the hair that was falling onto his face. "You know, for a quiet bastard you sure ask a hell of a lot of questions, Rude."

"Because I’m worried about a friend," was Rude’s subdued reply. He wasn’t happy that Reno was back with Rufus, felt that even with all the tension and risk to his life in the past two weeks that his friend was better off finding someone else to annoy and fuck.

Reno blinked in surprise and forgot about snooping through the desk’s contents. He limped over to Rude and stopped about a foot away. "There’s nothing to worry about," he said, his voice so quiet and serious that he didn’t sound at all like himself.

Wishing there was a way to beat some sense into the idiot, Rude felt his hands clench into fists but kept them by his sides. "Yeah? Am I the only one who can see that you screwing around with Rufus Shinra is a bad idea?"

"And two weeks ago you told me to stop fighting with him," Reno replied as he jerked his hand through his hair in annoyance. "Argh! Make up your mind, dammit!" He reached over and knocked the knuckles of his right hand against the side of Rude’s head. "You all right in there?"

Batting his partner’s hand aside, Rude swore under his breath and glanced at the closed office doors. "Keep your voice down, okay?" he hissed, half afraid that Rufus would storm out of the office at any minute, furious at them for being so loud.

Reno took a deep breath and folded his arms over his chest, his baton hitting against his right shoulder every other second. "Look, Rude, your concern is appreciated even if it’s a bit creepy and utterly unnecessary." He smiled in the face of a fierce scowl and continued with a cheerful tone. "I know what I’m doing and who I’m screwing. If you want to worry about anyone, it’s the president who needs the help, okay? The poor rich boy doesn’t have a fucking clue." He practically gloated as he spoke.

Feeling as if Reno had zapped his head with the baton, Rude shook it back and forth in hopes of making his brain start working again. "Rufus?" he asked, a bad feeling growing in the pit of his stomach.

"Yeah, Rufus." Reno lightly ran the edge of his baton along his lips. "I’d just figured that things were over between us, that he was too much of an asshole to bother with when he showed up yesterday. That was something he’d *never* have done before. Then he gave me the money and the blowjob and split without fucking me, which also isn’t like him." An unholy light of… something burned within his eyes and made Rude take a half-step back in fear. "So it’s obvious that he’s trying to mess around with me, trying to fuck with my head. That’s when the rules changed. He never cared for anything other than fucking my ass before." Reno spoke that so calmly, so matter-of-fact that Rude had to wonder what the hell produced such a messed-up mindset like his friend’s.

"And you see nothing wrong with that?" he asked past a tight throat. Most people would be trembling in fear and shitting their pants if they realized that Rufus Shinra wanted to mess with their minds, but not Reno. Oh yes, the redhead was *definitely* insane.

"Nope," was Reno’s succinct answer. "Now he’s even more interesting and fun. There’s nothing like topping from the bottom, *especially* when the top doesn’t have a damn clue that he’s no longer in charge. That takes the game to a completely new level." The pleased smirk from before returned as Reno went back to the desk and resumed his search through the drawers. "Plus there’s the matter of how I don’t have to quit. I like working here." He let out a sharp bark of laughter and held up what appeared to be several candy bars. "I knew she had to have something! Her thighs are too big for her not to be pigging out on junk food."

"So says the bastard who can eat twenty of those things and not gain an ounce," Rude muttered as he glared at his friend’s lack of manners and intelligence. However, he’d learned over the years that there was little chance of Reno changing for the better so he didn’t waste any energy over the matter. He didn’t say anything about games turning nasty or how certain people didn’t like to be played as he knew he’d be ignored. He just hoped and prayed that he didn’t get sucked into Reno and Rufus’ twisted game.

"Hey, I’m a growing boy, not a stupid cow who sits on her ass all day and runs off just because two people are having sex in another room. Stuff like that happens every day, she should be used to it by now," Reno sniffed as he peeled back the wrapper.

Feeling a headache coming on, Rude began to massage his temples. "Reno, someday you’ll learn that it’s not normal to screw your boss in his office on an almost daily basis." Certainly not so loud that anyone within a fifty foot radius had no choice but to overhear what was going on, or hard enough that Rude expected the enormous desk in Rufus’ office to collapse into fragments one day.

That earned him another displeased sniff. "Normal’s too damn boring, Rude," Reno remarked around a mouthful of chocolate. "But at least she has good taste in candy." He smacked his lips together in evident delight and peeled open a new bar.

"Reno…." Rude gave in to the urge and buried his face in his hands. "You’re gonna be the death of me, you do realize that, don’t you?" he asked, not entirely convinced that the idiot did. If Reno didn’t kill him while on the job, Rufus probably would over some stupid, *jealous* reason or his heart would just give way one day over his partner’s dimwitted behavior. Right now, he was betting on Rufus’ secretary finding her stash of candy gone and, while attempting to shoot Reno, missing and hitting him instead. Rufus certainly hadn’t hired her for just typing skills alone, if he knew his boss at all.

"You say that as if it’s a bad thing, partner." Busy eating the chocolate, Reno returned to his side and patted his right shoulder. "Want some chocolate?" he asked, looking like a debauched child thanks to the silly grin on his chocolate-smeared lips.

What the hell, he might as well be shot for a reason, Rude thought as he accepted the candy bar. "I think I’m going to take you up on that offer for drinks from the other week this evening."

His smile taking on a salacious edge, Reno shook his head. "Sorry, I’m working overtime tonight."

Well, it certainly hadn’t taken Rufus very long to reestablish things the way they were, Rude thought with some regret and anger. And it was obvious that Reno didn’t mind that at all. "Okay, what about tomorrow?"


Reno chuckled evilly and wandered over to the door of Rufus’ office as he ate the last candy bar. "That sounds fine, but you’re buying."

"What the hell?" Rude stopped peeling the bar’s foil wrapper open at that comment. "You owe me, especially if you got paid for the last two weeks *on top* of all the money you stole." There was no way he was going to buy drinks when Reno was flush with that much gil.

"Yeah, but you’re gonna be pretty rich as soon as what’s-her-name runs into someone and tells them why she’s not working." A wicked gleam twinkled in Reno’s pale eyes as he licked the chocolate from his lips – the sight of which caused a stab of lust in Rude’s groin that he forced himself to ignore. "You know, I was gonna let," Reno jerked his head in the direction of Rufus’ office, "stew for a day or two but then I remembered what you put down on the betting pool. Good thing you picked right after my day off," he chuckled.

Thanks to the general sense of confusion that Reno always generated in those unlucky enough to be around him, it took Rude a few moments to figure out what his friend was saying. Then he cursed under his breath and tried to figure out how Reno had found out about the Turks’ betting pool on when he’d either be back together with or fired by Rufus. To be honest, Rude had thought it would be the latter option…..

"Reno, do me a favor and don’t talk for a while, okay?" Rude almost pleaded. He just wanted a little time to enjoy the silence, to not hear his best friend fuck his boss or prattle on about playing mind games with the most powerful man on the planet. He also didn’t want to know how much the nosy bastard was aware of, not when he had a few secrets he’d like to keep in order to prolong his career a bit. Of course, Reno just laughed and patted his shoulder again but thankfully didn’t say anything. Rude would have to mark this day down on his calendar as one where Reno had actually listened to him.

Wondering how long it would be before either Reno slinked back into Rufus’ office or was ordered into it for some ridiculous reason, Rude began to nibble on the candy bar. He’d bet his winnings that none of them were going to be able to enjoy lunch, which was most likely why Reno had taken the candy bars (other than being his usual thief of a self). More than likely, he was going to miss out on a lot of lunches as Reno and Rufus ‘played’ with each other, which left him standing guard in the blast zone.

He’d just gotten through half the chocolate bar – which was indeed very good and most likely hellishly expensive – when the secretary poked her head around the outer doorway. At first she seemed relieved to see Reno - and then she noticed Rude. To be exact, she noticed what he was eating. Her eyes narrowing in anger, she stalked toward him while he tried to hide the candy bar behind his back, and all the while Reno merely laughed.

*******

Rufus looked up from the glass of whiskey he poured for himself when he heard Reno’s amused, warm chuckle. The redhead stood in front of the living room’s large picture window, skin cast golden and hair even more fiery than normal in the last rays of the fading sun.

Picking up the full glass, Rufus went to his lover and pressed against Reno’s back until he was trapped between him and the glass. He felt his body stir when it came in contact with Reno’s, felt something in him both coil and loosen as warmth slowly soaked into his chest. "What’s so funny?" he asked, his mouth millimeters from Reno’s right ear, and smiled when his lover shivered at each word.

"Hmmm." Not looking away from outside, Reno cleverly captured the glass of whiskey in Rufus’ right hand and raised it to his lips. Allowing the thievery, Rufus watched Reno drink, watched the way the redhead’s eyes closed in pleasure and his throat moved while half of the whiskey quickly disappeared.

"You’re supposed to sip it," he chided and pulled the glass away, his gaze riveted to the drops of liquor that clung to Reno’s lips. Setting the glass on the windowsill, he applied firm pressure to Reno’s chin until his lover’s face was tilted enough to be kissed.

Cigarettes and whiskey… the taste was quintessentially Reno, was all that was needed to push his body into full arousal. He stepped forward to pin Reno against the window, no room for escape. His left arm snaked between cold glass and warm body, his left hand began to slide beneath fine silk in search of smooth skin-

"Rude."

Mention of his employee, the name murmured against his lips, made his eyelids flutter open and he stared in confusion at Reno, at the slightly cruel smirk on those moist lips. "What was that?" he asked quietly, acrid emotion once again twining among passion in his belly.

Taking advantage of his surprise, Reno twisted around to face him, the glass of whiskey once more in his hand. Reno smirked a moment longer, gulped down half of the remaining whiskey before offering up what was left. "I was thinking about Rude’s face earlier, when your secretary was about ready to rip his balls off and make them into a pair of earrings."

Certain that wasn’t what he expected to hear at the moment, Rufus blinked again and gratefully accepted the drink. The whiskey burned a trail down his throat, a welcome distraction from that annoying, insidious emotion that never seemed subdued for long these days. "My secretary? Why would Miss Anya care to castrate Rude?" he asked even though he had a feeling that more whiskey should be consumed before he received an answer.

Reno’s smirk became crueler and was offset by the bright amusement in his pale eyes. "She caught Rude with the last of her stash of chocolate. Guess those bars were really expensive," he explained, his voice trembling slightly with barely contained humor.

Pressing the cool glass against his forehead for a moment, Rufus closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Then he set it back on the windowsill as he gave his lover a stern look. "Do I even want to know how Rude came to be in possession of the woman’s chocolate?" He had a strong suspicion that the reason was standing before him, trouble personified with crimson hair and wrinkled clothes. Without any thought on his part, his right hand lifted to trace along the tattoo on Reno’s left cheek, skimmed back until his fingers buried in thick hair, his thumb lightly rubbed against a pierced earlobe.

"That’s funny, she was curious about that, too." Reno tilted his head into the caress, bit softly into his lower lip when Rufus’ thumb moved again. His voice took on a husky edge that reminded Rufus of that morning in his office, how Reno’s voice had become hoarse from screaming his name in pleasure.

"And did Rude adequately explain the situation to her?" Rufus asked, eager to hear more of that sexy voice and to satisfy his curiosity over their discussion. So far, he didn’t see what had Reno so amused, not when the redhead regularly tormented his partner.

The smile Reno gave him in response made his left hand tangle in crimson hair as well, to tug back just enough to make Reno arch his neck. "He tried but he was the only one with any evidence on him so she didn’t really believe him." He laughed again, the sound so throaty and lascivious that Rufus felt his cock harden even more, felt his fingers clench and make his lover hiss in pain.

"I would think that she’d be more persistent on the matter than that, especially since she has dealt with you in the past," he whispered, his lips scant centimeters from Reno’s. He stared deep into his lover’s eyes, watched entranced as they began to darken in desire.

"Yeah, well, that’s why I was laughing." As he spoke, Reno’s hands came to rest on Rufus’ hips, his fingers hooked into the belt loops of Rufus’ pants. "She asked me if I ate any of them and I told her that the only thing I had in my mouth during the past hour or so was your cock." While he laughed, he gave a slight tug on Rufus’ pants. "You shoulda seen her face."

Rufus could very well imagine how his secretary must have looked, he’d been witness many a time to Reno’s little games of shock and bad manners. "You know, it’s not very nice to lie," he said, his voice deepened by lust and anticipation. "Someone should teach you that falsehoods can easily turn on you."

Reno’s reply was an arched eyebrow and a cocky smile. "Ya think?" he drawled, his smile taking on a wicked edge when Rufus’ hands settled on his shoulders and exerted a downward pressure.


Watching Reno kneel before him, Rufus thought he caught a glimpse of… something in his lover’s eyes. Something smug and knowing, something that unsettled him slightly because it implied that Reno knew something he didn’t, that Reno had more control over the situation than was evident. However, before he could ascertain that it wasn’t some trick of the light, Reno cast his eyes downward as his nimble fingers undid the button and zipper of Rufus’ trousers.

"I think a suitable punishment is definitely required for this situation," Rufus answered after a minute, his voice shadowed by doubt. He pushed the disturbing thought aside, assured himself that he’d just been seeing things. He was the one in control here, was the one who had Reno on his knees eager to have his mouth fucked. Reno was just a vastly amusing and talented lover, was a refreshing presence kept nearby for sex and security, was only wanted for the pleasure he provided. That was all.

Yet when Reno looked up once more, the tip of Rufus’ cock in his mouth, Rufus found himself searching for that unsettling gleam. All he saw was desire and amusement so he blamed his mistake on a trick of the light and drank in the sight of Reno kneeling before him, lips parting to take him in deeper. His hands buried in raggedly cut hair once more, he repeated that he was the one in control and set out to prove that with a thorough fucking, with a lesson that wouldn’t end until his body was utterly sated and exhausted, until Reno was used to his satisfaction.

Nothing had changed, Reno was still his and he was the one in control. Any doubts he had were ruthlessly ignored in favor of pleasure and dominance.

*******

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