Zwischenzug

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by nekojita

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Reno realized just how tense his body was when Rude clapped a hand to his left shoulder, the touch surprisingly gentle when the amount of concern he could glimpse behind the slightly lowered dark sunglasses signaled that his partner would probably like nothing more than to drag him off in the opposite direction. Somehow, he managed a semi-confident smile for the anxious bastard and tapped the hand lightly with his baton. "It’s all right, if Tseng hasn’ killed ‘im then tha’ means none of us can. I promise ta keep the bloodshed ta a minimum."

Rude groaned as if imagining something truly terrible – such as having a pissed-off Tseng to answer to in a couple of hours – and shook his head. "Look, if *I* get in trouble then I’m going to make *your* life miserable, okay?" Then he let out a slow, loud breath. "And that’s all I’m going to say on the matter." He moved with only a slight amount of stiffness to stand beside the door leading to Rufus’ quarters.

Angry at the reminder of how much of a beating all of them had taken over the past few weeks – and who was partially at fault for it – Reno had to fight the urge to turn on his baton before he punched in the code to the penthouse apartment. "Right. Jus’ means I’ll have ta be smart in makin’ the death look like an accident." Rude’s answering snort of derision actually made him laugh, the first time in what felt to be days. "Love ya, too, ya bald bastard," he cooed before entering Rufus’ new ‘home’.

He didn’t make any effort to mask his footsteps since there was no way to hide the sound of the door being triggered, and after a quick peruse of the main room, what was basically a combination living room/dining room leading into an open kitchen, he headed to what looked to be an office. Pushing the partially closed door open all the way, he waited a moment for any fired-off shots before stepping into the door way. "Huh, busy startin’ any more coups," he taunted SHINRA’s vice president.

Rufus sat behind a desk scattered with several large stacks of paper and what appeared to be a rather outdated computer terminal, his hair slightly tousled and the gun in his right hand trained directly at Reno. While they stared at each other, Dark Nation rose from her spot by the right side of the desk to stalk toward Reno, a low rumble building in her throat.

"Heya, girl. This asshole remember ta feed ya sometime today?" he asked as he reached out to scritch behind her ears, making her purr even louder and rest her weight against his legs. "Or he too busy findin’ someone else ta stab inna back?"

"I really should shoot you," Rufus muttered as he rubbed the bridge of his nose with his left hand, the gun in his right still trained on Reno.

"Nah, tha’s not ya style. Ya pay off someone else ta do the dirty work, no?" Reno shot back as he bared his teeth, making Dark Nation pause in her purring and step away, back towards Rufus. Such a smart kitty, to know that her master was up to his neck in shit right now, on several fronts.

Rufus continued to glare at Reno for several seconds before setting the gun on the desk, the safety off and in easy reach. "I would hope that if you’re here to kill me that you would at least have the professionalism to forego the bitching." He sounded unconcerned as to what Reno’s answer would be, but Reno noticed the way the fingers of his left hand clutched at the ruff of Dark Nation’s neck when his ‘pet’ returned to his side.

Tapping his baton against his shoulder and enjoying the aborted flinch from the bastard at the motion of his weapon, Reno smiled. "Nah, believe or not, but Tseng sent Rude ‘n me here ta watch over ya ass." He made a scoffing sound to show just what he thought about those orders. "Don’ know who we’re supposed ta protect ya from at this poin’, ta be honest."

For the first time since Reno had entered the office, Rufus smiled, the expression much too smug considering the circumstances. He leaned back in his chair and combed aside the hair falling onto his forehead. "The important thing is that you *were* sent to protect me. My father can’t do without an heir just yet."

He sounded so certain of himself, even after all of the destruction he had unleashed with his hair-brained schemes, that Reno just wanted to smack that smugness right out of him. Clutching his baton so tightly that his hand ached, Reno scowled at the bastard. "Not even one who tried ta kill ‘im an’ tear the company apart."

Rufus waved aside the accusations as if they were nothing. "Please, I think if anything, I finally proved to him my dedication *to* SHINRA. I wouldn’t have let the company be too compromised, I just wanted the man destroyed."

Despite the fact that he had promised Tseng and Rude that he wouldn’t do anything too stupid, Reno gave in to the anger roiling inside of him, letting his baton fall to the floor because of the need to tear about the bastard with his own hands. He was beside the desk in three quick steps, moving so fast that Dark Nation could barely stand up by the time he had his hand wrapped around Rufus’ neck. Yet all his lover did was signal to the animal to stand down and stared up at him, blue eyes steady at Reno fought the urge to twist his hands *just* so.

"An’ did ya care at all about the people who work for the damn company? Did ya care at all tha’ maybe the fuckin’ idiots ya sicced on SHINRA would kill those of us dumb enough ta be here protectin’ ya ass?" he snarled as he let go of Rufus’ throat to grab hold of his lover’s white shirt, for the first time noticing how ‘underdressed’ the bastard was, stripped of his usual layers of coats and vests.

Finally, a flicker of something other than smugness or aloofness showed on Rufus’ handsome face, a hint of regret that was quickly smothered by his usual mask of indifference. "I had counted on my father sending his SOLDIERs after AVALANCE, and not to rely so heavily upon the Turks. If I made any major miscalculations… it was that."

"’Miscalculations’?" Reno scoffed as he slammed the over-educated moron back into his fancy leather chair. "Ya really didn’ thin’ he’d use us as cannon-fodder?" He never looked away from his lover’s face as he asked that question, one that had eaten away at him ever since he had found out the truth of Rufus’ part in AVALANCE’s funding and intel.

He had to give the bastard credit; Rufus never looked away or hesitated in answering. "No, I didn’t." Scorn thickened Rufus’ deep voice and made his brow furrow. "I expected him to think that the Turks wouldn’t be worthy enough of the challenge and leave it to the ‘glory’ of SOLDIER to handle the threat. By the time that I realized that he didn’t care if his or Heidegger’s orders caused the end of your department, there was nothing I could do to stop them but to hope that I could take the old bastard down quickly." Again there was a flicker of emotion, this time of intense hate.

Reno glared at him a moment longer and slammed him once more against the chair before letting go, his hands falling to rest against Rufus’ chest as he sat back on the desk. "Ya dumb bastard," he muttered, feeling drained all of a sudden, his chin falling to rest against his chest. "Why the hell didn’ ya ask for help?" That was what bothered him even more than finding out that Rufus had secretly aided those AVALANCHE assholes; he had done something on his own, without trusting Reno or Tseng.

The question made Rufus shift forward and grab hold of Reno by the back of his hair, to make him look at Rufus. "Because there was no way in hell that I could take over the company with my father’s blood on the Turks’ hands," he spat out, his blue eyes blazing almost as bright as if Mako enhanced. "If I had said anything to you, Tseng or Veld and you had helped me, no one would have accepted me as the new President with you still at my side. I would have lost my strongest support." His fingers tightened in Reno’s hair as he tugged him forward, onto his lap.

Not ready to forgive the manipulative bastard just yet, even if some of what he had said made sense, Reno braced his hands against Rufus’ chest. "So ya kep’ everythin’ a secret an’ let Veld take the fall? So much shit wen’ down it jus’ ain’ right, ya know," he snarled, earning a fierce look from Dark Nation.

Rufus sighed, his expression one he usually wore when he wasn’t getting his way and he felt the little peons around him had better remedy that fact *immediately*. Well tough shit, Reno had been getting shot at and worse, by AVALANCHE *and* SHINRA, for long enough now that someone else could be a bit grumpy for the time being. "May I just point out that if the ‘shit went right’, as you so eloquently described the situation yet again, that right now I’d be the president of SHINRA and you’d have nothing to worry about."

"Yeah, but tha’ *din’* happen, an’ now ya ass is stuck in Junon, Veld’s dead an’ the Turks are ragged as hell," Reno pointed out with a good bit of heat, his fingers digging in to Rufus’ shirt once more. "We’re jus’ lucky tha’ Tseng was able ta take over for what’s lef’ of us." Too many good people had died in this whole mad scheme of Rufus’, and as far as Reno could tell, nothing had been gained.

"Reno…." Rufus sounded as annoyed as Reno felt. He grasped Reno’s wrists and gave them a painful squeeze. "I admit that things didn’t go the way I intended, but it’s far from over, yes?" He fell silent, as if waiting for Reno to say something in return. "I’m still alive, the Turks still exist with a capable man at their helm, and… you’re still at my side, yes?" The last few words came out quieter than the previous statements.

Reno just stared at him for several seconds, letting the asshole sweat it out while waiting for an answer. He twisted his hands free and risked a smack to the right side of Rufus’ head even with the gun on the desk and Dark Nation nearby. "Yeah, ya dumb fuck. Do somethin’ as much asa clusterfuck as alla this again an’ I’ll kill ya myself. Manipulative, schemin’, control-freak, back-stabbin’, sneak of a bastard tha’ ya are." He grinned in the face of Rufus’ glare. "Tha’ is, if Tseng don’ do it first."

Rufus once more grabbed him by his hair and yanked him forward. "I *explained* it already, if I had told you about my plans, then I would have lost you," he ground out through clenched teeth before kissing Reno, the action savage as if desperate. Considering that the last few weeks had been spent on the run or fighting for his life, Reno didn’t care about a bit of pain if it meant pleasure as well and kissed the bastard back. Their hands tugged at clothes and pulled at hair, slid along exposed skin as they kissed and nipped at each other’s mouths.

Panting a bit as he broke off the kiss, Reno scratched his nails along Rufus’ exposed stomach to emphasis his words. "An’ I’m tellin’ ya, a bullet to the brain’s gonna ‘lose’ me just the same." Why couldn’t the idiot, normally an intelligent as hell bastard any other time, understand that? There was nothing that Reno or- or Tseng could do to help his scheming ass if they were dead because of some stupid shit he was pulling.

The look that Rufus was giving him was so dark and possessive just then that it made Reno want to grab his baton and start smashing things, to do something other than just sit there, and then he found himself being kissed again before he could move. The hand entangled in his hair kept his head tilted back, his mouth exposed to the assault, and just when he debated biting down on Rufus’ tongue, the bastard had to go slip his other hand into his pants.

Hissing at the spike of pleasure coiling inside of him at the touch, Reno went stop that hand, to still the insidious fingers stroking along his cock, and then decided ‘what the hell’. There was no way he was going to get through the scheming bastard’s thick skull about how what he had done was stupid as all hell, not when he sorta understood some of Rufus’ reasoning. What was done was done, it wouldn’t bring back any of the dead or change the past. He was still determined to back the bastard, to see Rufus through to becoming the president so shit like that – or worse - couldn’t happen again, so nothing had really changed between them. But if the dumb fuck ever tried anything so stupid again in the future, Reno would shoot him with his own gun.

He moaned as he gave in to the pleasure, arching into the touch and shivering as Rufus gave his cock a firm squeeze. Gasping out his lover’s name, he tossed his head and moaned again when Rufus took to nibbling down his throat. Part of him realized that Rufus was being unusually focused all on him, kissing him, stroking him, and then decided not to give a damn; if the guilty bastard wanted to make something up to him, let him. Reno closed his eyes and enjoyed the sensations, the feel of Rufus’ lips and teeth on his neck, the long, smooth fingers wrapped tight around his cock and moving fast, the almost burn of friction that sent ecstasy skittering along nerves. It had been too long since he had been able to give himself over to someone else like this, to truly relax, and Rufus knew his body too well to not draw things out. A bite to the curve of his neck, a rough twist along his cock and the pleasure became too much, drove him to climax with a gasping cry.

Shivering with the aftershocks of his orgasm, he leaned against his lover with his eyes heavy-lidded and watched while Rufus calmly reached into a drawer of his desk for some tissues to wipe his hand clean. "You’re still a dumb fuck, ya know," Reno informed him, his voice cracking on the words because of his dry throat.

"And you’re still my Turk, so I’ll caution you about repeating that insult." Rufus used his now clean hand to push up Reno’s chin for another demanding kiss. "It almost worked," he breathed against Reno’s lips when he pulled away.

About to make a comment on how ‘almost’ didn’t count worth shit, Reno decided to let the matter drop for now. Tseng had said ‘no killing or maiming’, and if they got into a fight, it would probably lead to at least the latter. Reno wasn’t in any hurry to get his ass kicked by the new boss. "So, this place gotta bedroom?" he asked as he draped his arms over Rufus’ shoulders.

The stunned look on his lover’s face at the question made him chuckle, even if it was quickly replaced by one of annoying superiority. "I thought you liked desks?"

"Eh, too much paperwork." Reno glanced over his shoulder at the stacks, which he figured was Rufus’ punishment from his father. "Wouldn’ wan’ ta get a papercut on my ass."

Rufus rolled his eyes at that declaration and pushed Reno to stand up, making him scramble to catch at his pants. "More like I’ll shoot you if you get any of them out of order. For your information, there is a very adequate bedroom." He caught Reno’s right hand and maneuvered him around the desk. "But I’ll allow you to form your own opinion."

Figuring that Rude would let himself into the apartment eventually, Reno ‘allowed’ himself to be led. Eh, if Rufus was busy fucking, then he was too busy to stir up any shit that would get them all killed – at least, that’s what he’d tell Tseng in the morning, he thought with a grin.

*******

Stretching out on the bed as he woke up, it took Rufus a minute or two to realize that something was wrong; he was alone amidst the rumpled sheets, sprawled out still on only half of the mattress. Pushing up onto his elbows, he looked over onto the other half of the bed and confirmed that Reno must have gotten up at some point in the night and snuck off without waking him.

The damn Turk was too quiet, prompting Rufus to think unflattering thoughts of gutter rats and the skills one learned when stealing everything that wasn’t nailed down. At least that was one thing Rufus didn’t have to concern himself with – well, other than to double-check the contents of the apartment’s bar. It wouldn’t surprise him in the least to find out that Reno had slunk off with a bottle or two of fine whiskey.

Dark Nation padded over to the bed as he stretched out a kink in his back, earning a reproachful look from him before he shook his head and gave her a scratch beneath the chin. "You could try biting him sometime, you know," he told the creature, and almost smiled when she made a huffing sound before slinking off. The problem was that his lover and his pet shared too many traits in common, and so got along much too well. As long as they did their jobs in protecting him, he supposed he would overlook most of their idiosyncrasies.

Leaving the bed in order to shower and prepare for the day, he frowned as he thought a bit more about Reno. It had surprised him, to find out that the redhead had been sent here to watch over him. He suspected the order had more to do with Tseng than his father, as the last thing the old man would do now is give him anything he wanted. No, it had to be a sign that Tseng, that the *Turks*, still supported him despite his miscalculations on their part. His father’s animosity and distrust he could live with, as it wasn’t much of a change at all, but to lose the support of the ‘Department of Administrative Research’…. Well, that would greatly impact his future plans and eventual takeover of the company. That his failure to take into account just how little his father valued the Turks had cost him Veld and the wealth of knowledge and strength that the man possessed, but at least he could still rally the man’s organization to him. If anything, his father’s heavy-handed treatment of the Turks during the whole AVALANCHE debacle could be played into Rufus’ favor.

All that mattered was that he still had Tseng’s support and Reno at his side, he told himself as he stepped into the shower. The Turks would follow Tseng much as they had Veld, as the Wutian had obviously been groomed as the man’s successor. And despite Reno’s claims that he was nothing but a lackey to be sent out to ‘bash heads together’, he was just as respected in the organization and allowed more freedom than Tseng because of his lower rank and by the ‘gutter rat’ image he had cultivated over the years. That he also allowed Rufus a more emotional tie to the group, something that Rufus had to admit he enjoyed ‘manipulating’ very much last night, was only secondary.

Anger bubbled up in him as he slicked back his wet hair, words that Reno had said last night flashing through his mind: ‘An’ I’m tellin’ ya, a bullet to the brain’s gonna ‘lose’ me just the same’. Dammit, did the impulsive asshole think that he hadn’t been aware of what was going on even while stuck in Junon? Rufus lashed out with his right fist, smacking his hand into the tiled shower wall in an effort to vent some of his frustration. His father’s actions and aborted strike against the Turks was one of the many reasons why he had tried to take the old bastard down. He had made his move, lined up his pieces and had been limited in his reactions ever since. He had done his best, but there was only so much he could do with all the other players involved in the game.

His hand stinging from the blow, he forced himself to calm down and reach for the shampoo. One thing was certain, if his father thought that he was done ‘playing games’ while exiled here in Junon with the Turks ‘cowed’ into submission, than the old man was going senile. As long as he had the Turks behind him, he would regroup, sit back and watch what was happening, see what grew out of he had started and wait for his next chance. He had made the first move, and with Tseng and Reno’s support he would be certain to claim the last.

*******

Reno waited until Rude was in bed before he lit a cigarette, grabbed his cellphone and went out onto the balcony of their assigned quarters at SHINRA’s Junon’s office. To no big surprise, Tseng answered on the second ring.

"Yes?" Tseng asked, sounding as if he had been up all night.

"Well, I didn’ kill ‘im," Reno stated, figuring he’d get the important stuff out of the way first. "Did fuck ‘im unconscious, though."

There was a very weary sigh, one that dragged out for over ten seconds, and the sound of something being screwed open, poured and then gulped down. Reno prided himself on being the first one to make the new boss drink while on duty, and would tell Kali that she owed him fifty gil later. "I don’t know why Veld never shot you," Tseng muttered.

"It’s my sparklin’ personality an’ willingness ta go above an’ beyond the call a’ duty," Reno pointed out with great pride. He smiled and felt some of the tension leave him when he managed a short bark of laughter out of Tseng. "Ya should do tha’ more often, ya know. Tha drinkin’ an’ the laughin’."

Tseng snorted in amusement and tapped something against his desk. "I fear you’re probably going to drive me to drink an awful lot." Then his tone became serious. "If you do harm Rufus, I don’t fear in the slightest that you’ll be calling from the infirmary, in a few days time, as Rude does have very explicit orders."

Reno made a face as he blew out a stream of smoke. "Eh, he mentioned somethin’ like tha’." He frowned as he stared out across the city. "Was tempted, won’ deny it. But you were right. Dumb fuck just didn’ think things through."

"That ‘dumb fuck’ is your vice president, may I point out," Tseng remarked in a very dry tone. "And he’s young. Despite some very evident flaws in his plan, it was still rather impressive. He’ll get better in time."

It was Reno’s turn to snort. "I hope so, because not sure I can put up with too much shit like his last bout of stupidity." Even though it was a secure line, he didn’t make any comments about how he was certain that Tseng would teach the scheming bastard the error of his ways, nor did he bring up Veld. There were some things that didn’t need to be said, and others that they had sworn never to mention again. "Well, Kali an’ Saint John gotta watch over the *vice president* for a bit an’ try ta keep him outta trouble, so I’m gonna go get some sleep unless you have some new orders for me." He struggled to keep from yawning until finished speaking.

"There will be instructions waiting for you when you wake up," Tseng informed him. "Nothing too troubling, just a low ranked mission that should take the two of you at least a week to wrap up."

Oh great, ‘nothing too troubling’ to Tseng usually meant ‘take out a small army’ in Reno’s experience, but what the hell, it was the excuse that got them into Junon. "’Kay, boss, I’ll be sure ta tell Rude ta pack the big bombs." He chuckled when he heard Tseng groan and pour some more of whatever it was. "Will check in tomorrow."

"*Don’t* blow up the damn city," Tseng chided him before hanging up.

Some people sure as hell tried to ruin other people’s fun, Reno thought as he flicked the remains of his cigarette over the balcony. Ah well, he was still alive, the Turks were more or less okay and he’d just had sex. If he could convince a certain blond bastard to not stage any revolutions in the near future, things would be fine.

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