Shatter the Rules


chapter four


Rude heaved a sigh of relief as he put the last of the luggage on the edge of the helicopter pad. Just a few more minutes and they’d all be heading home – more importantly, in a few more minutes Reno would be someone else’s problem, and Rude could start his three day vacation. Tseng was being generous as hell in giving him that many days off when all the Turks had been pulling some serious overtime for almost two weeks… but not all of them had to deal with Rufus and Reno during that time. If anything, he deserved three weeks off, but would gladly accept the three days.

Looking over his shoulder, he saw the men in question slowly making their way toward the pad, Reno smiling brightly as he walked without any cane, both the casts gone. He’d beat Alim’s two-week deadline by two days, appearing completely recovered if still a bit weak. Rufus hovered by his side, handsome face set in a fierce frown as he yelled at Reno to use the handrails before the idiot slipped and plunged to his death. All Rufus got for his concern was a tongue stuck out at him. Behind the two men, Kali smothered a laugh with her hand while Elena looked to be two seconds away from ordering her superior and president to get their asses in gear.

Oh yes, Rude was going to be *very* grateful to have a couple of days off. Tseng could deal with Elena, and Rude should be far away from the impending explosion that was Reno finding out that he no longer had an apartment. Just the thought of what would happen in the next half an hour or so made Rude wince. Luckily, he’d be going in a separate helicopter that would take him to ShinRa’s headquarters instead of to Rufus’ penthouse.

Kali and Elena would be coming with him, and Rude remembered that he still had a few things to work out before he could enjoy his vacation. He was pretty sure that Kali knew his answer by now, any doubt he still possessed vanishing when she noticed his attention and gave him a smile so sultry that he had to clear his throat and make sure his heavy coat sufficiently covered his groin. Kali had a day off coming to her, so maybe they’d use that time to figure things out. Well, when they weren’t busy having lots of great sex, that was, he thought with a smug grin.

"Oi, someone looks pretty damn happy!" Reno called out as he slowly stepped up to the pad. "Sick of the fucking bugs like I am?"

"More like I need a few days away from you," Rude said, smiling some more when his partner laughed. That was one of the good things about Reno; he had no pretensions that he didn’t get on people’s nerves. Rude knew that not all of the stuff that had happened in the past week or so was his partner’s fault, but he’d be happy to get a break from Reno just the same. Add to that the fact that he wouldn’t have to deal with Rufus, either, and things were looking pretty good.

The president was still standing rather close to Reno, a slight frown on his face and his right hand tapping against his leg. Rude was aware that Reno didn’t know about the new living arrangements, and he was sure that Rufus was trying to gauge just how Reno would react. Rude wished his employer lots of luck on that one; he’d put his money down on plenty of swearing, several expensive things being thrown and broken, an attempt at homicide and copious amounts of alcohol consumed before Reno finally gave in. The one thing he was certain about was that Reno would give in sooner or later.

While he still wasn’t too sure about the men’s relationship, he had to agree with Tseng in that Rufus seemed to finally realize that Reno meant something to him. Rufus’ bad attitude toward his lover had thawed a good deal when he realized that Reno thought they were breaking up. The fact that Reno gave a damn about the relationship ending told Rude that his best friend was just as caught up in it as Rufus, even if he wasn’t as quick as figuring things out. That thought almost made Rude laugh; five years and the men were just now realizing their true emotions. He cared deeply for Reno and greatly respected Rufus, but they both were idiots.

Two idiots he wouldn’t have to deal with for three more days. As soon as Rude gave his report to Tseng and was dismissed, he was removing the battery from his cell phone. When he got home, the phone in his apartment would be disconnected, as would his computer from the internet. The curtains would be drawn and the door bolted shut. There was no way he was going to deal with the approaching mess, not when he so thoroughly deserved the time off. Three days should be plenty of time for Reno to either cool off or make a clean getaway after killing Rufus and hiding the man’s body.

Looking up at the sky for the helicopters, Rude felt a wave of relief when he spotted two tiny black dots and heard Kali take the call that confirmed their approach. He glanced around the area once again, quite happy to leave Healin Lodge for the foreseeable future, and caught sight of his partner leaning against Rufus to nibble on the president’s bottom lip. The expression on Rufus’ face just then was priceless; it was clear he wanted to kiss Reno back and then some, yet this wasn’t the time or place. Rude was sure that by the time they were someplace alone, the last thing either of them would be doing was having sex, and that was something which Rufus was more than aware of.

In a way, it served the bastards right. Rude would be barricaded in his apartment with his… his *girlfriend*, while those two fought it out. There seemed to be a poetic justice of sorts to that. Even better was the fact that Tseng would have to deal with things and put out the resulting fires after managing to rid himself of Reno and mostly Rufus the last two weeks.

"Fuck, but I can’t wait to get home," Reno moaned as he pushed himself away from Rufus. "Just a little bit longer."

He had no idea just how true those words were.


Rufus did his best not to moan when Reno’s left hand once again crept up his thigh, hidden from sight by the long, thick outer coat he wore. Instead, he let out a sharp breath and quickly trapped the hand beneath his before it could move any closer to his semi-hard cock. "Stop that," he whispered while glaring at his idiot of a lover.

Reno merely smiled with an amazing amount of fake sweetness and inched closer; pretty soon he was going to end up in Rufus’ lap, where- Rufus sighed as he closed his eyes and did his best to end that particular train of thought.

"The casts are all gone," Reno crooned, pointing out the obvious for what had to be the twelfth time in the last hour. As soon as Alim had removed the things, he’d basically been pushing Rufus for sex, despite the fact that they’d been busy packing and now were flying back home.

"I know." Rufus pinched the bridge of his nose with his left hand while his right hand dragged Reno’s from beneath his coat and set it on the bastard’s own lap. "Now behave."

The admonishment earned him a stuck-out tongue, which led him to fantasizing about pushing Reno to the floor, between his knees while he tugged down the zipper of his pants- Dammit! He wasn’t some oversexed teenager who couldn’t concentrate on anything but sex. He might not have had any in almost two weeks, but that wasn’t an adequate reason to fuck Reno in the back of a helicopter while Pamela and Tosh sat across from them, doing their best to look elsewhere and not smile.

No, the lack of sex wasn’t what had him fighting his own desires so much, but the fact that once they reached the penthouse, Reno was going to do his best to kill him. The truth would finally come out, which was something Rufus wasn’t looking forward to after the last couple of days.

Since finally being convinced that Rufus wasn’t ending things between them, Reno’s attitude had completely changed. He was still a pain in the ass with his insistence that he was healed enough to be allowed to work and to get rid of the casts, but he didn’t seem to be deliberately pushing people’s buttons, especially Rufus’. If anything, he’d been in a good, if mischievous mood, and Rufus had been unable to maintain that cold distance any longer.

He’d finally admitted to himself that keeping Reno at arm’s length didn’t do anything other than make them both miserable. With the threat to ShinRa defeated and the very real risk of Reno pushing one or both of them over the edge with his insane assumptions, Rufus had allowed himself to resume showing affection and concern for his lover. He’d been startled to find out that it didn’t do anything to change the way he felt about Reno, but merely made himself feel better.

Reno’s hand was creeping beneath his coat again when the helicopter began to descend onto the penthouse’ landing pad. This time, Rufus didn’t have to give his lover a warning since Reno pulled away so he could sit closer to the door. As soon as the helicopter touched down, he tried to yank the thing open, only to be stopped by Tosh.

"What the hell, Reno? You trying to kill all of us?" Tosh asked as he firmly pushed Reno aside and began to open the door himself.

"We’re not in the air anymore, idiot," Reno shot back as he practically bounced up and down on the padded bench. "Now come on and open it up!" He glanced over his shoulder to give Rufus a lewd wink.

Rufus had to wonder how long that happy mood would last. Tseng had arranged for Reno’s furniture to be placed in storage, while the redhead’s personal belongings had been boxed up and placed in the penthouse. Some new pieces of furniture had been ordered that would match the penthouse’s décor, and only a few of the boxes had been unpacked, according to Tseng. Once they got into the penthouse, it shouldn’t take long for Reno to notice the changes.

Tosh finished opening the door and once more pushed Reno aside so he could hop out and make sure that everything was all right. Rufus had to grab his lover’s arm to keep him from joining the blond Turk, which made Reno swear and begin to sulk. A couple of minutes later, Pamela got the signal from her partner and motioned that it was okay for them to leave the helicopter.

"People will think that you’re glad to be away from Healin Lodge," she told Reno as she jumped down to the landing pad. "It’s such a beautiful place."

"Only if you like bugs and weeds," Reno snorted. "I’ve had enough of the fucking place to last a lifetime." His jubilant expression faltered for a moment as he glanced at Rufus, his eyes slightly unfocused as if he was seeing something that wasn’t there. "We never go there unless something bad’s happened."

That was very true, and Rufus seriously hoped that there wasn’t any reason to return to Healin Lodge in the future. He felt too out of touch with things even with the shortness of his stay this time, and looked forward to what dubious pleasure the growing city could provide.

They made their way to the elevator, where Reno pressed against his side, breath warm and moist against his right ear. Rufus was unable to keep himself from sliding his arm around Reno’s waist, his eyes fluttering shut at the feel of his lover’s erection pressing against his thigh. What he wouldn’t give to be alone in the elevator with Reno right now, but he couldn’t forget Pamela and Tosh’s presences.

It felt like forever before the front door to the apartment was open and Tosh set the luggage inside. "Have a good evening, President," the Turk wished him with an amused grin on his face. Reno received a wink as Tosh walked away, closing the door firmly behind him.

That was all Reno needed to practically jump onto Rufus, his arms wrapping around Rufus’ shoulders and his left leg around Rufus’ thigh. "Sex, *now*," Reno demanded just before kissing Rufus ardently enough to send him crashing back into the wall.

His fingers combing through his lover’s long ponytail, Rufus attempted to figure out how he could manage that sex before Reno realized that something was wrong. If they did it here in the hallway, right by the door, then he was assured some pleasure tonight.

As if that thought cursed him, Reno ended the kiss and laughed as he pulled away, shedding his heavy black coat as he moved backwards to the living room. "I just realized that I don’t have any lube on me," he explained as he reached for Rufus’ right hand to tug him along.

Rufus dug in his heels and yanked his lover closer. "We can improvise," he said, his voice rough with desire as the need to have Reno right now grew almost impossibly strong. He’d held off for almost two weeks for several reasons, and if he was going to have Reno be such a large part of his life, he was going to have as much pleasure as possible.

That put an end to Reno’s laughter. "Not after two weeks of no sex," was his instant retort, a frown forming on his handsome face as he resisted Rufus’ attempt to make him stay still. He let go of Rufus’ hand and managed to twist his own away before Rufus could latch on to it. "Besides, we’ll be more comfortable on the bed and won’t have to worry about moving for round two when… what the fuck?" Stepping forward as he spoke, he finally left the hallway and entered the living room, where he must have noticed that something was different.

Taking a deep breath, Rufus pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes for a brief moment before going after Reno. Sex definitely seemed off the agenda for the evening, *dammit*; he should have tackled his lover and fucked him on the carpet when he had the chance.

Stopping beside Reno, Rufus looked around and noticed the row of boxes marked ‘S.E.P.C’ on the front, with Reno’s name written neatly below the initials. There were less than Rufus was led to expect, but he’d only been inside Reno’s apartment once and couldn’t be sure just how much stuff his lover owned. Alongside the entertainment center was a smaller unit that held Reno’s game system and what looked to be an assortment of movies and various knickknacks.

"Tell me that’s not my stuff," Reno said, his voice taking on the unusual, quiet edge that never boded well. "Well, some of my stuff. What the hell did you do, Rufus, and why is it here?" he asked as he turned to look directly at Rufus.

Not for the first time, Rufus cursed Tseng for making the suggestion about the living arrangements and leaving it to him to break the news to Reno. "Earth First was monitoring your apartment, Reno. Tseng and I felt it would be best to prevent any future kidnapping attempts by moving you here, where the security is much better." That sounded perfectly logical to Rufus, yet he was aware that ‘logical’ wasn’t something that was usually said about Reno.

Reno’s eyes narrowed, taking on the green cast that always preceded a show of temper on his part. "I had my own fucking security system there! You didn’t need to do this!" He stalked across the room to grab one of his boxes, his entire body rigid with dangerous tension.

"A security system cobbled together from ShinRa equipment, which most of the Turks knew about." Rufus felt disgusted with himself for going on the defensive so easily, doing his best to explain things even when he knew it was a lost cause. Reno had never been big on listening to reason, most certainly not when it came to something personal. "Mason gave Earth First all the information he could find out about it, which meant that the system was compromised."

"Then I’d just fucking create a new system!" Reno was predictably the first one to start yelling, standing across the room with the box in his arms and his eyes blazing with fury. The emotion almost seemed to radiate from him, an electrical charge that warned everyone to stay away or be harmed.

Rufus felt his teeth grit together as his hands curled into fists. "You live in the damn slums, Reno. There are a thousand different ways an enemy can get to you there, half of them with no real effort on their part whenever you go home drunk off your ass!"

Reno scoffed at that accusation, rocking back and forth slightly on his toes as if ready to burst into motion at any second. "So you and Tseng think I’ll be a hell of a lot safer here when I’m off-duty? Having an above-plate address doesn’t mean half the shit you think it does!"

"At least you’ll be under the protection of other Turks," Rufus pointed out, forcing the words past his clenched jaw.

That statement only seemed to infuriate Reno even more. He stopped moving, body going perfectly still yet radiating that deadly aura, his voice taking on an unnerving, hushed quality. "I don’t need to be fucking babysat."

There had only been two times in the past when Rufus had felt to be in any type of true danger from Reno, and right now was the third. Reno’s behavior at this moment was something that was usually directed toward an enemy or target, was something that Rufus enjoyed watching with the safety of knowing that it wasn’t focused on him. His right hand inched toward his gun. "As much as you may try to deny it, you have become a target, Reno." He did his best to reason with the redhead, cursing his lover’s unpredictable, irrational nature which made him so dangerous and effective as a Turk. "Because of that, Tseng and I both believe that there will be less danger if you live here on a permanent basis, rather than present the enemy with an opportunity to harm me or ShinRa by kidnapping or killing you." That he was now able to keep a closer eye on Reno, was able to maintain a bit more control over him, wasn’t something that Rufus would ever mention.

Reno remained still and, more importantly, quiet as he seemed to listen to what Rufus was saying. That encouraged Rufus to continue in a softer, friendlier tone. "Besides, you’re always here at night," he told his lover, a faint smile curling his lips. "You spend at the most one night a month at the old apartment; it was just a waste of money."

"What happened to the lease?" Reno was still clearly upset, yet that unnatural hush was gone from his voice. "And where’s the rest of my stuff?"

"Your furniture was put into storage and the lease paid in full for the remainder of the contract, then terminated. The apartment’s already been leased to someone else." Tseng felt that the Turks could use it for a safe house, once it was known that Reno no longer lived there. Rufus only cared that the place was no longer available for Reno to retreat to, to keep in reserve as a means to escape him.

Just when Rufus was debating telling his lover that he didn’t expect any form of rent from the Turk, Reno blurred into motion. Rufus’ hand barely brushed against the hilt of his gun when something shattered against the wall behind and to the left of his head. His shoulders immediately hunched upward as small shards of something flew against his back and head.

"You fucking, anal-retentive, power-happy bastards!" Reno shouted as he rushed away from Rufus, pausing by the bar for a second before shoving the balcony door open and stepping outside. The door slammed shut with enough force to rattle the reinforced glass.

Brushing shards of glass from his hair, Rufus did his best to get his heartbeat and breathing under control. His instincts screamed at him to lash out and eliminate the danger that Reno posed, yet his emotions kept him immobile. It was his anger with himself and Reno that gave him the ability to act once more, all the while cursing them both for getting him into this fucked-up situation. He truly should have shot Reno years ago, before the bastard got to him to such an extent.

He forced his hand from his gun as he slowly approached the balcony door. While relatively certain that his lover hadn’t had any time to retrieve any of the guns squirreled away in the penthouse, Rufus didn’t feel like taking many chances when his life was on the line. Two weeks of fighting Earth First, and he was in danger of being killed by his own lover. Life’s ironies were getting very damn annoying.

"Reno," he said as he cautiously opened the door and moved to step outside. He caught sight of his lover sitting on the balcony’s floor, huddled against the wall to escape the cold wind. Reno had a bottle of whiskey in one hand and something small in the other, something that was immediately launched straight at Rufus’ head.

"Get the fuck out of here! This is *my* fucking balcony now! If I gotta live here, then you can keep your ass off of it!" Reno shouted while Rufus almost fell onto said ass as he stumbled to avoid being hit. There were more sounds of glass shattering on impact behind him, and he just barely managed to get the door closed before something connected with his face.

Standing in the middle of the living room, his breathing heavy pants and his body tingling from an adrenalin rush, Rufus fought the urge to shoot something, preferably the suicidal idiot out on the balcony. He would admit to himself that he’d expected to be yelled at for the situation, possibly threatened with violence, but not assaulted with what looked to be…. He went over to the wall and toed a broken piece of glass that appeared to be the bottom of a shot glass.

"Reno, do I even need to point out that you’re behaving like a spoiled, homicidal child?" he called out as he approached the balcony door but didn’t open it. That proved to be a wise choice as another small glass shattered against it once he was close enough to see his lover.

"Like I fucking care." Reno sneered around the mouth of the whiskey bottle then took several deep swallows. "See how damn mature you’d be if you had some asshole pack up your shit and move you out of your apartment without bothering to even fucking ask first!"

"Maybe we didn’t because we figured you’d react just like this and wanted to spare ourselves the aggravation," Rufus snapped. "We’re only concerned with your well-being, why I don’t fucking know."

"Bullshit!" Something heavier than a shot glass slammed against the balcony door this time. "Tseng wants to spare himself the hassle of training a new Turk to replace me, while you’re just being a possessive, inconsiderate bastard!" Reno sounded as if he was slowly shouting himself hoarse. "I told Rude that you think of me as a fucking pet!"

"A pet I could put down with a lot less fuss." Rufus was almost reduced to snarling the words, furious that he was engaged in a shouting match in the middle of his own home. When he stepped forward to yank open the door and smack some sense into his lover, Reno threw something else at the door and made him step back quickly. This was *utterly* ridiculous.

"Just let me go back to my damn apartment and save yourself the ‘fuss’, dammit. I liked that place! Took me three months to find it. Now I have to live with your cranky, obsessive-compulsive ass and keep my feet off the fucking couch." This time, Reno kicked the door with his left foot, which prompted a fresh string of curses as he curled his leg up close and rubbed it as if it was sore.

"And I have to live with an idiot!" Rufus shouted. He was a bit surprised that the Turks standing guard by the front door hadn’t investigated what was going on by now, even though he would have just been more upset if they had. That gave him an idea. Reaching into his coat for his phone, he called the man partially responsible for this mess.

"Yes, President?"

The Head of Turks sounded tired and more than a little wary, almost as if he’d been expecting the call. "Come over here and deal with the idiot," Rufus ordered, jumping a little when something else crashed into the balcony door.

"President, with all due respect, *no*."

Not used to Tseng disobeying an order, Rufus pulled the phone from his ear to stare at it for a moment, just to make sure he had the right number. "Tseng," he said when he placed it against his ear again, not in the mood to put up with even more insolence from an employee.

Tseng cut him off before he could say anything else. "President, this is a private matter between you and Reno. I will *not* involve myself."

"Unless I’m mistaken, Reno is one of your employees, Tseng, and this situation is a direct result of your suggestion." That meant that Tseng could deal with having things thrown at him while dragging Reno back inside. If Rufus had to do it at this moment, then Tseng would be short one more Turk.

There was silence over the line for almost a minute. "You were the one to agree to the arrangement, sir, and I’ll assume the one who failed to inform Reno of the move before he found out by returning home." The exhaustion in Tseng’s voice increased with each word, and Rufus could very easily imagine the man standing in his office, hand on forehead, brows furrowed and back stiff. "As I said, this is a personal matter, something that is to be resolved by you and Reno alone."

"He’s doing his best to kill me," Rufus admitted through clenched teeth. With fucking shot glasses, at that.

"President, if Reno truly wanted you dead, we wouldn’t be having this conversation," was Tseng’s unconcerned response. "With all due respect, you’re on your own. He’s not my problem until Dr. Alim clears him to return to work. Good night." The line then went dead.

Rufus felt the urge to do some throwing himself, and barely managed to return his phone to his pocket before it ended up smashing into a wall. Refusing to believe that he was currently involved in such a ridiculous situation, he snatched up his laptop and took it into the office. Along the way, something else broke against the thick glass of the balcony door.

Seeking some sort of distraction, he powered up his laptop and set it to download all the necessary information he needed for work tomorrow and checked a few emails. Once that was done, he decided to unpack his luggage, doing his best to ignore the sounds of impacts against glass and not respond by firing off a few shots of his own. He grabbed his bags and headed directly for the bedroom.

The sight of the new dresser he’d authorized made him stop a few feet into the room. Placing his bags on the bed, he went to look it over, eventually deciding that it was an appropriate addition to the room. He opened one of the drawers and saw neatly folded t-shirts in a variety of colors, Reno’s favorite apparel on his days off. They were either too big or too tight on the redhead, emphasizing his lean but well-toned body.

Rufus sat on the bed and did his best to understand just what was going on. Here he was, exposing himself to risk by taking Reno in to such an obvious, *blaring* extent, deepening the level of commitment between them. Why couldn’t the idiot grasp the fact that Rufus wouldn’t do this for a ‘pet’ or ‘fuckbuddy’? Rufus had abandoned several lovers to unjust fates in the past, only concerned about himself. He still was, somewhat, but that self-concern was entangled with what he felt for his lover.

He’d actually acknowledged the fact that he didn’t want to live without Reno, took steps to ensure that his lover was nearby as much as possible, and Reno did his best to give him a fucking concussion for his troubles. Rufus grunted in anger as he moved from the bed, needing the distraction that motion provided from the disturbing thoughts. He managed to get through most of his luggage before the sight of one of his shirts among the various ones hung up in Reno’s portion of the closet gave him pause.

What he truly wanted to know was how did Reno feel about him? Rufus was pretty certain he knew what his lover *thought* about him, and not much of it was very flattering. Yet for an ‘anal-compulsive, sadistic, manipulative and possessive bastard’, among other things, Reno hadn’t left yet. Even when Reno thought that Rufus was breaking things off with him, he did his best to goad *Rufus* into action and not take any of his own.

There was the promise tied to the earring, yet Reno didn’t act like someone forced into a relationship. No, not with the way he constantly sought Rufus out for sex and companionship, spending his nights off here watching movies or reading comics in Rufus’ office while he worked, occasionally bitching about overachievers while fetching Rufus fresh mugs of coffee. Even now, Reno hadn’t raced from the apartment but barricaded himself… well, mostly inside of it.

Rubbing his temples in an effort to stave off a headache, Rufus decided to go face the idiot and handle things like Tseng had suggested. It was almost an hour since Reno went outside, and much longer would see the idiot back in Medical with pneumonia or something. Then Dr. Alim would lecture Rufus, and at that point he would *have* to start shooting people for a bit of peace.

The fact that nothing was thrown his way when he opened the balcony door gave him a spark of hope. Shivering in the cold wind, he stared down as his drunken lover. Reno was curled up for warmth, an empty bottle of whiskey by his feet and an opened one cradled in his arms. "Ready to come in now?"

"My fuckin’ balcony," Reno slurred, snatching up the empty bottle to throw it at Rufus, who dodged it with ease. That placed him close to Reno, who didn’t put up any more of a fight as he was jerked onto his feet. Perhaps it was because of his recent injuries or the fact that he hadn’t eaten much that day, but the alcohol seemed to be affecting Reno more than usual. The cold might have something to do with it, as well.

With Reno’s left arm draped over his right shoulder, Rufus half-carried his frozen lover to the bedroom. Reno’s hair face felt icy against his neck, the cold air lingering in the Turk’s sweater and jeans. Oddly enough, the wrist that Rufus’ hand was wrapped around was almost hot to the touch, indicating that Reno’s fever was back.

"Ya don’ get it, do ya?" Reno asked when Rufus dropped him onto the bed. He rolled over and reached for Rufus, managing to catch on to the hem of Rufus’ coat.

"Get what?" Reno was correct; there was so much that Rufus didn’t seem able to understand, and it all had to do with his lover.

Reno snorted and rolled his eyes, ending up with them closed and what looked to be a pout on his face. "Why I’m pissed off. Ya fuckin’ didn’ even *ask* me firs’."

Rufus considered that statement for a moment while removing his coat and draping it over his lover. He’d have to help the drunken idiot out of his clothes soon, but right now Reno needed to be warmed up. Stretching out on the bed, Rufus cautiously slid his arm around Reno’s waist. "So, would you have said ‘yes’ if I had asked?"

That seemed to make Reno think for a few minutes; he rolled over a little to press against Rufus’ side, his fingers trailing along Rufus’ chest until his right arm was stretched out. Rufus undid the clasp holding most of Reno’s hair back and slowly combed his fingers through the cold strands.

"Mmmm, prob’ly." Reno nuzzled against the side of Rufus’ neck, his breath slowly evening out.

Lying there with his sleeping lover, Rufus struggled against the urge to laugh; not out of amusement, but bitter irony. For the last two weeks, everything he’d tried in regards to Reno had twisted on him. His attempt to put some distance between them while he gained some control and understanding of the new emotions had only led Reno to assume that their relationship was over. The dinner that was to serve as an apology and a means to prove that he cared for Reno had almost blown up in his face, and Reno clearly had missed the entire point of the thing. In trying to ward off a nasty fight as long as possible, he discovered that he’d only caused what he’d been trying to avoid. He was beginning to understand love a little better now – clearly, the attachment it created between people was what kept couples from killing each other over all the stupid shit that went along with relationships.

"You truly are driving me mad," he informed an unconscious Reno. To top it all off, he finally had the bastard in his bed, mostly healed if he didn’t come down with a bad cold, and Rufus had a long, lonely, *frustrating* night ahead of him. Fighting wasn’t so amusing when there wasn’t any prospect of make-up sex in the near future.

Oh well, more than likely there would be plenty of arguments in the near future as they dealt with what was in all those boxes. A smile tugged at the corners of Rufus’ mouth as he realized that if it was something that he didn’t like, he could probably provoke Reno into throwing it at him and breaking the thing.


Feeling a dull throbbing in his head, Reno groaned as he opened his eyes, for a moment confused about where he was. There was no scent of cedar and lavender, no chirping of annoying birds or bugs. Taking in the stark white surroundings and slits of light from the mostly closed blinds along one of the walls, he slowly realized that he was back at the penthouse.

With that, more of his memory returned; finding out he was now officially living with Rufus, the fight, the drinking…. When the hell had he come in from the balcony?

Sitting up as slowly as possible, he rubbed his temples as he tried to make the disjointed thoughts fit together. Unfortunately, his shitty brain didn’t seem to be in the mood to cooperate.

So, he’d been outside, pissed as hell and pretty damn drunk, dressed in a pair of jeans and a sweater. Now he was wearing a pair of Rufus’ boxers and his hair was even braided. Add to that the fact that there was a bottle of water on the nightstand and some aspirin, and Reno wondered what the hell was going on. The last he could recall, Rufus had been rather furious over his reaction to the new living arrangements.

Really, who wouldn’t be damn upset to find out they’d been moved without their permission, Reno wondered as he swallowed the pills. A small voice in the back of his head chided that he’d come back here, to the penthouse, and not his own apartment, so why did it really matter?

What bothered him the most about the whole thing wasn’t so much that he was living here now, but that he hadn’t any say in the matter. Even though he could understand why Rufus and Tseng had done it, would it have killed them to talk to him first? No, the two anal bastards had left him to find out when he entered the place and seen his stuff here.

Reno sighed and rested his forehead against his bent knees. The fever was back, ever so slightly, and he had a feeling that it was to thank for the fact that his head wasn’t hurting worse than it did. He remembered getting through at least one bottle of whiskey, so a bit of a headache wasn’t much of a hangover at all. Between what remained of the accelerated healing, the water and the pills, he felt ready to leave the bed after about ten minutes.

Eventually lifting his head, Reno looked around the room before he forced his body to stand up. There was a new dresser in the far corner, which surprised him since he thought that Rufus would just put his stuff in the spare bedroom. Curious about the new furniture, he went over to investigate, opening drawers to reveal his clothes neatly folded and arranged inside. He checked the closet, too, and found the rest of his clothes crammed together on the one side.

At least Rufus hadn’t used the move as an excuse to get rid of his wardrobe, Reno thought with a sniff as he closed the closet door behind him and headed for the bathroom. Not much had changed in there since he’d moved most of his grooming products from the spare bathroom to here over the last couple of months, but he was surprised to find the red rubber devil ducky that Rude had given him as a present years ago sitting on the edge of the huge bathtub.

Picking up the toy, he stood by the tub for a couple of minutes, trying to figure out what the hell to do now. Going back to his apartment wasn’t an option, as he remembered Rufus telling him it was already rented out… most likely to ShinRa. If he found a new apartment, he was left with the problem that had made Rufus move him here in the first place; while Reno didn’t really believe other companies and rivals would consider him a means to get at Rufus, he didn’t feel like finding out he was wrong and having his place bombed. The only other option was getting a room in the ShinRa building, but he’d been too damn happy to move out of the previous building. Also, he wanted a clear division between what Rufus and Tseng believed affected him while at work and when he was off-duty; there was no way in hell he’d let them dictate asinine safety precautions while he was working. It slowly dawned on him that it would probably be for the best if he gave in on this matter rather than risk those control freaks going overboard and ruining the job he loved.

So, he was basically fucked, he thought with exasperation as he set the duck down and went to the shower. Did it really matter where he lived? He’d only spend one or two nights a month at his old place, so it had been a waste of money. No, if someone had merely taken the time to fucking talk to him before yesterday, he wouldn’t be so pissed off right now.

Well, pissed off last night. Turning on the shower, he set the water temperature as hot as he could stand it and stepped inside. The truth was, now he wasn’t anywhere near as angry as he’d been last night, when he’d wanted to break at least one of Rufus’ major bones. What was done was done, as the saying went, and he didn’t see any way to get out of this that wouldn’t put people or the job he cared about at risk; he was damn certain that Tseng would just assign other Turks to watch over him if he got his own place.

What it came down to in the end was that this was the best way to keep things from changing too much. As Rude and Rufus had pointed out, he’d practically lived here the last few months. Now it was official, and it seemed to be something Rufus needed in order to keep their… ‘relationship’ going.

Reno moaned as he leaned his head against the slick shower tiles, hot water sluicing down his sore body. He guessed he really was Rufus’ boyfriend, something that left him feeling anxious and pleased at the same time. Would Rufus be even more of a controlling asshole now? Maybe he’d get better on that front since Reno didn’t have a place to go to when Rufus made him angry enough to leave. If they were stuck living together now, the possessive bastard better stop bitching about him putting his feet on the couch….

His thoughts mostly in order now and some sort of resolution at hand, Reno cleared his mind as much as possible and enjoyed his first shower in almost two weeks. His left arm and leg were still a bit weak and achy, but he had no problem standing or washing his hair. It felt so good that he stayed in the shower long after he was clean, until his head barely hurt and it was getting difficult to breathe from all the steam in the air. One benefit of living here was the unlimited supply of hot water that he didn’t have to pay for… or *better* not have to pay for since it hadn’t been his decision to move in.

Turning off the water, he wrung out his hair as best as he was able and reached for a towel. Once he was dried off and his hair mostly combed, he brushed his teeth and decided he could get by another day without shaving. Score one for the lazy girly-men type, he thought with an amused grin as his fingers brushed against the barely-there stubble. Kali probably threatened to kill Rude if he went more than twelve hours without shaving.

Hanging up the wet towels since he was messing up ‘his’ bathroom now if he left them on the floor, he returned to the bedroom and pulled on a pair of plain grey sweatpants and a black t-shirt. Alim said it would be a couple more days before he’d be cleared by Medical for work, so that meant it was him, the couch and his game console all day. That was, as long as he could find out in which box the games were packed. His thoughts darkening at the thought, he went to make himself something to eat.

He was understandably surprised to find Rufus in the kitchen, sipping a cup of coffee while reading a paper. Reno looked at his lover, then at the clock on the microwave which stated in bright green numbers that it was almost one in the afternoon, then back at Rufus. "Okay, those mustn’t have been aspirin," he declared as he headed straight for the coffee machine.

Rufus snorted quietly and flipped another page before answering. "I’m working from home today." He sounded tired and there was a wary light to his blue eyes as he watched Reno pour some coffee. Bastard looked as if he expected the pot or mug to be thrown at him any second now, which Reno refused to do to good coffee. No, if he had to throw anything, it would be the toaster. Speaking of the toaster….

"There better be some bread here," he muttered as he shuffled his way to the fridge, hoping to find something to make breakfast. Eggs and toast sounded great right now, maybe some bacon if there was any. That was something he could make in his sleep, and Rufus was ordering takeout later. Oh yes, Rufus was ordering takeout for the foreseeable future, as far as Reno was concerned. He demanded to be placated in some manner, and having say in what they’d be eating for dinner this month was just part of it.

"The kitchen was stocked yesterday." Rufus gave up on the paper and leaned his right hip against the kitchen’s island, his mug held lightly in both hands. "I’m not sorry to say that I had all your instant ramen tossed in the trash." He was obviously still wary, yet for once there was no coldness or sarcasm to his tone.

Reno sniffed while he searched the fridge’s shelves for the bread. He knew better than to hope for the ‘cheap white cardboard’ that he usually bought, and was mildly surprised to find what looked to be a decent loaf of wheat. It would do, so he set that on the counter while fetching the eggs, some milk and a few sausage patties since there didn’t seem to be any bacon. "Good thing there’s a really good noodle shop close by."

"Just keep in mind that your coworkers can not adequately protect… our home if you’re always sending them off on takeout runs."

Reno noticed the slight pause before the ‘our’ and chose to ignore it. More than likely, Rufus was trying to figure out if he was going to get shit thrown at his head again, and Reno decided why not let his lover live in suspense for a bit longer. Though if Rufus was going to be an asshole, he hoped it would be while the eggs were still intact and could be used as projectile weapons.

Rufus must have decided to see how things went before speaking again, so after putting a few slices of bread in the toaster, Reno cracked open and beat the eggs while the sausage cooked in the microwave. He was beginning to get annoyed at being watched while he made breakfast, as if it was something Rufus had never seen before, but settled for drinking coffee instead of starting a fight.

Once his breakfast was ready, Reno put it on a plate, grabbed the butter and some raspberry jelly, then set everything on the marble-covered island before sitting down on a stool. "Ya gonna watch me eat it, too? I thought you had work to do." His eyes narrowed as he stared at his lover and took a bite of the eggs.

Rufus shrugged, the movement elegant as always from the man. He hadn’t bothered with so many layers today, settling for white pants, a black turtleneck and a white sweater. Even his hair was informal, the strands only lightly gelled and most of his bangs falling onto his forehead.

"I’ve already put in a few hours today, so it won’t hurt if I take a break. Now that the excitement’s died down, there seems to be a bit of a lull," Rufus explained on his way to the coffee machine.

"Ah." Reno glared slightly at the piece of toast in his hand as he lathered butter onto it. More than likely, Rufus had stayed home today to make sure he didn’t trash the place in a fit of righteous pique.

Focused on his breakfast, he almost jumped when Rufus appeared beside him, the pot of coffee in his right hand. "More?" Rufus asked, a pleasant expression on his face that instantly made Reno suspicious as hell.

"Sure." Reno tilted his head to the side as he held up the mug, interested in spite of himself to find out what Rufus was up to now. "You been sneaking some of my pain pills?"

Rufus shook his head and set the pot down on the counter behind him. "I could ask the same of you; I must admit that I’m a bit confused over the change in attitude. I’d expected you to march back out to ‘your’ balcony and throw some more things at me today." He still seemed pleasant and mildly curious, standing just a foot away from Reno with his left hand resting on the countertop.

Pushing his plate of food aside, Reno turned on the stool to better face his lover. "What would happen if I did those things?" he asked, curious about the answer.

Slight annoyance flashed over Rufus’ handsome face. "I’d lock you out there until you remembered your manners or froze to death." There was a hint of coldness in his voice this time.

Reno snorted, well aware that Rufus would at least leave him out there long enough to catch pneumonia and not be able to do much damage because he was so sick. "Before I waste good coffee by pouring it down your pants, let’s try something else. Do you have any idea why I was so fucking pissed off last night?" He’d carry through with the threat if Rufus blew him off, even if the coffee was really good this morning.

"Don’t treat me as if I’m an idiot with no memory retention," Rufus replied after a moment’s hesitation, his fingers brushing along Reno’s jaw. "You’re upset that I didn’t talk to you about this before I had you moved in." The iciness in his voice was a warning, indicating that Rufus wasn’t going to let Reno pitch another hissy fit like last night.

Half-tempted to see just what Rufus would do if he pushed too far, Reno decided that he was getting bored with fighting. "And the coffee is saved, halleluiah," he snarked, wishing that Rufus would just make whatever the damned point it was that he wanted made. "Wanna go for the bonus round and tell me if I’m right for feeling that way, hmmm?"

Letting out a deep breath, Rufus stepped closer as his fingers tightened around Reno’s chin. "You were in no condition to make logical decisions at the time, and I wanted a potential threat eliminated as quickly as possible," he said, his voice pure ice and his demeanor haughty enough to make Reno’s skin itch. Before Reno could break one of the fingers that forced him to lift his head and stare at his lover, Rufus closed his eyes and stopped being such an asshole. "It was the only option, Reno, and I figured it would be easier to present it to you as fait accompli than have you argue for two weeks and still be furious about the move once we returned home."

As nice as it was to know that Rufus was for once aware that he’d overstepped some important boundaries, Reno wasn’t sure how happy he was to keep hearing how it was the ‘only option’ for him to stay here full-time. That made him feel as if he was living here on sufferance, and he couldn’t help but wonder when Rufus would get bored with him and kick him out, finally ending things between them.

"You could just save yourself some misery and break things off between us," Reno pointed out, hating the feeling of uncertainty. If he was going to be dumped, it might as well happen now.

Rufus’ grip on his chin tightened and forced him off the stool. "This is the last time I’ll tell you this, Reno." Rufus was almost hissing out the words, his eyes bright with anger and his face twisted by the emotion. "That will *not* ever happen. You be the one to ‘save yourself some misery’ and resign yourself to the situation. You will live here. You will continue to be my lover. If you attempt to change either of those facts, you’ll be in a full body cast for months."

Before Reno could answer that he’d kick Rufus’ ass for even trying to break any of his bones, he found himself silenced as his lover pushed him back against the island and kissed him hard enough to bruise his lips. Rufus’ hands seemed to be everywhere: in Reno’s wet hair, up the back of his shirt, down the back of his pants, scratching along his still very sensitive left side…. He tried to gasp at the sudden bursts of pleasure and found himself stifled by his lover’s tongue thrusting deeply into his mouth.

Part of him insisted on shoving Rufus away and giving the man hell for being so damn possessive and bossy, but the rest of him cried out at the attention, of the promise of sex for the first time in almost two weeks. All that time of Rufus ignoring him, barely touching him, and now the bastard was determined to fuck him in the kitchen before Reno even got a chance to finish his meal. He was perfectly fine with that.

Even though he’d probably regret this since it only encouraged Rufus to think that acting like this was all right, he wrapped his arms around his lover and pulled him closer, any thoughts of fighting gone from his mind. Sex was sex, after all, and he missed the feel of Rufus’ body pressed against his, the way his lover played with his hair and caressed the nape of his neck with an intensity that was almost a craving.

When Rufus broke off the kiss to suck on the side of Reno’s neck, he gasped for breath and had to hold onto his lover for support. "I… ah-always thought… being… ‘boyfriends’… oh, fuck… more… would… freak you out," he panted, his fingers tangled in Rufus’ hair and ready to rip it out by the root if Rufus pulled away any time soon.

He felt as well as heard Rufus’ chuckle, the sound pleased and wickedly low. "Maybe you don’t know me as well as you think," was the bastard’s too-smooth reply, and just when Reno was about to debunk that for the bullshit that it was, Rufus just *had* to nibble on that spot right below his ear. His knees almost buckling in response, he let out a yelp of surprise when he found himself lifted onto the counter.

"Bastard." The insult didn’t quite come across as Reno intended it, not when he had trouble breathing from the way Rufus continued to nibble on his neck and his lover’s hands stroking up and down his back. He got another pleased chuckle for it instead of a glare and insult in return, but since Rufus also chose to grind their pelvises together just then, he didn’t really give a damn. His back arched at the feel of his lover’s hard cock rubbing against his own, his fingers unclenching from Rufus’ hair and sliding downward.

Before they could get anywhere near the waistline of Rufus’ pants, the sadistic bastard pulled away, prompting Reno to cry out in disappointment and anger. The emotions didn’t last for long, however, since Rufus flashed him a hungry grin and impatiently tugged Reno’s shirt over his head.

Grabbing hold of his lover’s shoulders and dragging him in closer, Reno squirmed on top of the island’s marble surface while Rufus worked on removing his sweatpants. "No sex for two weeks, and you want it in the damn kitchen," he complained in between licks to Rufus’ left ear. "This marble’s fucking cold."

"We could try this on the stovetop," Rufus remarked, a cruel glint in his eyes as he tangled his fingers in Reno’s hair.

"Not fucking funny." Reno was naked on the fucking countertop, his ass growing cold and a bit sore from its hard surface, and Rufus just had to be a prick. Some things never changed, despite everything that had happened in the last couple of weeks.

While it wasn’t unusual to see Rufus get all pissed off at him – sometimes it was half the fun of a given situation – the man didn’t usually glare at him like that right before sex. "Neither is waiting two weeks for you to recover enough so we can have sex. Remember this the next time you play with explosives." His fingers tightened in Reno’s hair as he spoke, his tone growing wintry cold.

"I saved your fucking life," Reno shot back, his fingers digging into thick wool and the taunt muscles of his lover’s shoulders.

Even though he’d been telling Rufus that whenever his ungrateful lover bitched about the situation, this time it seemed to finally sink into that gorgeous, incredibly thick head. "I know," Rufus sighed, the ice in his gaze, his voice suddenly melting, his fingers loosening their hold. However, just when Reno began to relax, he found himself pulled to the edge of counter, Rufus’ right hand tight around the nape of his neck. "You also shocked me with your baton and treated me as if I was a helpless idiot. I’m not very pleased about that," Rufus warned as the glare returned, this time one of furious heat instead of icy disdain.

Feeling back on familiar ground, Reno smiled as his hands crept down his lover’s spine. "Yeah, but if I’d done anything differently, Tseng would have been after my ass. Since he has no desire to fuck it, I figured I’d take my chances with you." He tilted his head so he could lick a trail along the left side of Rufus’ jaw, his smile widening when he felt his lover shiver in response. "Now tell me why I’m the only one who’s naked," he whispered in his lover’s ear, pausing to gently bite onto its soft lobe before licking his way back to Rufus’ mouth.

There was no doubt in his mind that they’d fight over the same damn argument for at least a month or two, so he didn’t take it as a sign of victory when Rufus moaned out his name before kissing him back rather than bitching some more. He wrapped his legs around Rufus’ hips as he tugged up the thick sweater, his left leg aching a little but not enough to be of any concern.

Rufus pulled back again so he could remove the sweater and turtleneck, then shifted Reno’s legs a little higher so he could undo his pants and let them fall to the floor before pressing close once again. His cock was already slick with precum, hot and hard as it slid against Reno’s thigh. "You feel warmer than usual," Rufus murmured between the kisses he placed along Reno’s collarbones, his hands tilting Reno’s hips forward while offering some support. "You’ll be really hot and tight when I fuck you." He nuzzled Reno’s neck and bit with almost enough pressure to break skin at the spot where Reno’s neck met his right shoulder.

"Ah!" Reno felt his body jerk at the pain, his nerves tingling in response and the world turning into a flash of colors for the briefest moment. He couldn’t tell if it was the fever or his own desire that made his body burn and grow lethargic, his mind to become hazed and his thoughts muddled. Rufus felt warmer than usual, too; hot, sweat-slicked flesh pressed against his own, hands leaving a trail of heat and pleasure in their wake as they gripped his ass and spread it open.

"Oh, hell yes," he gasped, his hands once more clutching Rufus’ shoulders for support as he leaned back as much as possible, desperate for Rufus to fuck him, to thrust inside with that amazingly heady, addictive mix of pain and pleasure, to wrap Reno in his almost scary single-minded attention. All the anger, frustration, doubts and fears of the last two weeks vanished at the way Rufus growled out his name and sucked on his neck, at the feel of a slick, long finger stroking along the crack of his ass.

Reno wanted to wrap his fingers around Rufus’ cock, to feel its heat and thickness before it filled his body, yet he couldn’t make his hands move from Rufus’ shoulders, not when he felt suspended between safety and falling. His legs wrapped tighter around Rufus’ waist, flexing against taut muscles and bones in an effort to not slide down sweat-slick skin. He had a feeling that as soon as that greased finger pushed inside of him that he’d lose it, already almost mindless from desire, pleasure and need.

"Please, Rufus. Oh, please." The words were drawled out as he moaned, his eyes opened the barest of slits so he could stare at his lover’s face as he shamelessly begged. No one had ever gotten to him like this, could make him care so little about whatever bit of pride he had left or give himself so easily and completely. Not that he minded so much since it was someone like Rufus.

No, not when those pleas made Rufus shudder and struggle to breathe, when Reno found himself kissed with passion so ardent that he felt his bones melt and pleasure flare through his body with an intensity that left him stunned. He turned his head to pant against Rufus’ neck, lost in the sensations until the feel of that slick finger pushing inside of him grounded him once more.

"Yes, definitely very tight and hot." Rufus sounded so damned pleased, his voice roughened the slightest bit as if he was growing impatient. However, it felt like forever before another finger joined the first and slowly stretched Reno.

"Dammit, this isn’t all that comfortable, Rufus." The complaint wasn’t as effective when it was all but whined, though Reno reinforced his point by digging his nails into Rufus’ shoulders. "Get on with it!" When those bedeviling fingers went still, Reno groaned and smacked his forehead against Rufus’ shoulder. "Fucking please…."

"The countertop should have warmed up by now, at the least."

Reno shifted back enough to stare in astonishment at his lover, utterly convinced that Rufus had finally lost it. The bastard hadn’t been playing with a full deck since… well, never, but he must have completely snapped. "You’re crazy."

"I believe there’s a saying about black kettles and pots," Rufus remarked, his eyes bright with rare amusement and his face flushed with desire. Whatever else Reno was going to say was lost in the sight of how fucking handsome his lover was, how sexy Rufus could be when he dropped the icy mask and showed true emotion.


"Beg again," Rufus ordered in a soft croon, preventing Reno from coming up with another insult or complaint by stretching his fingers wide apart. Reno hissed at the slight burn the action provoked, the sound turning into a moan as he thought about Rufus’ cock replacing those fingers and stretching him all around while pushing in deep. "I want to hear more."

The hitch in that usually smooth voice and the way Rufus’ breathing grew heavier made Reno smile in smug delight as his head lolled back. "Pretty please, fuck me." He wrapped his legs even tighter around Rufus’ waist until his lover’s cock rubbed against his ass, his left hand idly toying with damp blond hair as he gave Rufus the most seductive look he could manage while ready to scream in frustration and need. "I want it so much. Want you in me, fucking me hard." He had to close his eyes when he saw Rufus lick his lips, shivering anew at the thought of his lover’s mouth on his cock. "Rufus, *please*. I want you so much… so much it’s…." Shaking his head, he shivered again at the frightening emotions that filled him and made him even more lightheaded. There was no reason he should feel anything so strongly, and it was all because of Rufus.

His begging got him another pleased chuckle as Rufus’ fingers pulled free. "Only I get to do this to you, Reno," Rufus said as he dragged Reno that last inch forward, and slow enough to drive him mad began to thrust inside. "Hear you beg and moan, feel this body of yours…." A low groan escaped him as he pushed past the initial resistance that made Reno bite into his bottom lip to keep from crying out. "Only me."

Reno barely paid any attention to the possessive words anymore; Rufus was the only one he wanted now so it didn’t matter if he had ‘permission’ to fuck anyone else. No, all he cared about was Rufus’ thick cock pushing in deep, driving his body to its limits in a mind-blowing mix of pleasure laced with pain. That faded soon as his body adjusted, his breathing evening out as the pleasure became stronger.

Rufus had kept his thrusts slow and even until that point, and the arm braced against the small of Reno’s back was all the warning he had before Rufus drove in hard and deep. He cried out his lover’s name, his eyes flying open and his head tilting back as Rufus truly fucked him. Once more relying on his lover for support, Reno curved his right arm around Rufus’ neck as his left hand fell onto his lap.

Stroking his cock in time to those frantic, forceful thrusts, Reno struggled for air as it was continuously driven from him by flares of ecstasy. His entire body reacted to his lover, clenching around him, devouring him, craving him. He hunched forward so he could lick along Rufus’ right shoulder, pulling back a few times to see his lover’s flushed face and its naked emotions. Rufus stared at him as if there was nothing else to see, the passion in those blue eyes making Reno tremble and murmur the man’s name. He’d given up pleading after the first few thrusts, unable to think clearly enough to speak.

Each brush of skin against his own, each forceful thrust, each teasing caress of short, silky hair only fueled the fire of need and ecstasy, left him desperate for more even though he already felt consumed by it. When he couldn’t even gasp out Rufus’ name any longer, the bastard actually smirked and thrust in even harder.

Maybe it was that burst of searing pleasure that made Reno’s vision explode into colors again, turned Rufus from flesh into a swirling bonfire of energy brighter than anything else around. In the distance were other, lesser colors, some swirling like Rufus, some small balls of slumbering eddies, all of them almost drowned out by Rufus’ intensity and brightness. Reno only knew that once it happened, those touches and that movement went from consuming to obliterating, tearing him apart in a maelstrom of pleasure.

The first thing he was aware of when he could finally pull his thoughts and senses together was that he was still on the fucking countertop and it was still hard as hell and cold against the top half of his back. He moaned at the ache in his ass and shoulders, his arms refusing to cooperate as he tried to rub his face. The world still contained a hint of those annoyingly bright colors, but it faded away after a couple of blinks. He’d just gotten the kitchen’s ceiling to return to normal when his vision was blocked by his lover’s face. From the looks of it, Rufus was more than a bit irate.

"Gah!" Reno did his best to push the idiot away as he grunted, surprised by Rufus’ sudden appearance. "Don’t – ow…." He groaned as he found himself hauled upright, his body not too happy with him at the moment. "Asshole."

Rufus tugged on his shoulders and almost made him slide off the island’s countertop. "What the hell was that?" he demanded to know, the frigid tone to his voice the one that always made Reno want to break things.

"Congrats, big guy, it was an orgasm; you know, the point of you fucking me in the damn kitchen." Reno sneered for added emphasis as he wiped his hand through the come splattered across his stomach. Judging from the warmth trickling down his thighs, he hadn’t been the only one to get off just now, so he didn’t see why Rufus was so damn cranky about the situation.

Rufus snorted in derision and threw a towel at his head. "You never passed out like that before. I was about to call Alim when you finally came to." He sounded pissy as hell, yet he kept crowding around Reno as if afraid to let him out of his sight.

Dabbing at the cooling mess, Reno sneered a little more. "Yeah, well, you’re just so damn big, Rufus. Way to wield the mighty cock." Any other man that Reno knew would be too damned pleased to make a lover pass out, but not the one he was stuck living with, oh no. He never claimed to be a good guy, but he had to wonder what the hell he’d done to make Fate so pissed off at him to saddle him with Rufus, he thought as he squirmed – and almost slipped off the island. "Wait a minute, what the hell did you use for lube?" It had finally dawned on him that he hadn’t brought any with him, and Rufus hadn’t pulled away to fetch anything.

Rufus lowered his hands, which had almost been level with Reno’s throat before the question had been asked. "The closest thing on hand," he explained, his expression going carefully blank even as he ruined the mask by fussing with his hair. "It’s butter."

"I’ve got butter up my ass?" Reno yelled as he hopped off the island and nearly fell flat on his face. He tried to shrug off Rufus’ helping hand, but ended up squawking and clutching at the asshole’s arm when his legs decided not to support him.

"What, would you have preferred the raspberry preserves?" Rufus snapped as he first steered Reno toward a stool and then seemed to change his mind. "Next time I’ll use olive oil."

Muttering curses under his breath as he was half-carried to the bathroom, Reno gave the bastard a vicious pinch in the ribs. "If any food is gonna be shoved up asses from here on out, it’s gonna be *your* ass." Fucking butter, of all things; no wonder his ass hurt. That was it, Rufus Shinra was officially nuts if he thought he could get away with shit like this. "Next time, you’ll use proper lube!"

"It’s not as if I’d planned to have sex in the kitchen," Rufus shot back as he shoved Reno into the shower, an accusatory expression on his face.

Reno felt an overwhelming urge to slap the asshole, which of course didn’t work since Rufus easily dodged the blow and pushed him up against the shower wall. "Oh no, don’t even fucking think to make this my fault! I’m the one who finds out that he has to live with the world’s biggest anal-retentive bastard, then ends up fucked on a marble countertop while using *butter* as lube, dammit!" He had more to say, but Rufus turned on the water just as he opened his mouth again. "Now you’re trying to drown me!"

"No, though I am tempted to shoot you." Rufus yanked him away from the wall and wrapped his arms around him, fingers curling around the long earring. "Shut up."

"Bossy bastard," Reno complained, wincing slightly when the earring received a harsh yank. He slid his arms around Rufus’ waist and smacked his lover on the ass. "I’m gonna be traumatized every time I see a fucking cow, now." As the hot water rained down his back, his legs felt a bit stronger and his body ached a little less. Reno had the impression that he’d miss the annoying fever once it finally ran its course before he remembered that he’d be able to use potions and materia again.

Rufus sighed, the sound for once more exasperated than annoyed. "You’ve never seen a real cow in your life, Reno."

"Never want to, especially now." He had enough of wildlife after two weeks at Healin.

There was another tug on the earring before Rufus replied. "Fine, I’ll give the mission to investigate Hojo’s experiments at a dairy farm to Tosh and Pamela." He spoke in such a deadpan way that Reno actually believed him for a few seconds, before he realized that Rufus didn’t normally do deadpan; snotty, pissed off, smug and cold as hell, yes, but not deadpan.

"Bastard." Reno gave him another smack before leaning against his lover and ignoring the angry look sent his way. When Rufus’ soapy hands began to massage up and down his back, he gave a hum of approval and closed his eyes. "Didn’t even finish my breakfast," he said, his voice muffled by the fact that his face was pressed against the crook of Rufus’ neck.

"Tseng will be unbearable if we go out for something to eat, so you’ll have to settle for takeout." Rufus’ fingers gently slipped into the crack of Reno’s ass, and he took to nibbling on the tip of Reno’s left ear as he helped clean off the damn butter.

Smiling at how well that particular plan was turning out, Reno grunted his assent and saved the fight over what they’d order until after he was clean. The last time they’d gotten into an argument in the shower, Rufus had slipped and cracked his head against the wall, and Reno had to suffer Tseng bitching him out for over twenty minutes about his ‘childish behavior’. No one seemed to care that Rufus had started the fight, dammit.

It occurred to him that there’d probably be a lot more fights like that since they were stuck living with each other now, and Reno pulled back enough to look Rufus in the eye. "Just because those Earth First assholes thought to use me against you, doesn’t mean other people will."

The almost content look on Rufus’ face turned into familiar annoyance. "The matter’s been decided, Reno. Even Tseng agrees that the potential for you being a target remains." His tone was so cold just then that Reno half-expected the water to freeze.

Pushing back his wet hair, Reno shrugged and reached for the soap to wash his chest. "I’m gonna drive you nuts, you do know that."

"You already do," Rufus replied with an aggrieved sigh.

"Yeah, well, it’s only fair. People bitch all the time about how crazy I am, and it’s all your fault." Reno poked his lover in the ribs with the bar of soap.

"I’m beginning to think that drowning you might be a suitable solution after all," Rufus bitched as he snatched at the soap.

Reno stuck his tongue out at his lover and stepped back under the water to rinse himself off. "Too late, you’re stuck with me now." He still wasn’t a hundred percent happy about the new living arrangements, but he was done complaining about it for now. Changing Rufus’ mind was impossible enough, add Tseng to the mix and it was a lost cause. Besides, he really couldn’t imagine not spending his days fighting and having sex with the bastard. Maybe after a few months of no kidnapping or murder attempts, he could manage to get his old apartment back.

"I truly must be crazy," Rufus muttered, and actually laughed when Reno splashed water into his face. Reno found himself with his back pressed against the wall, but he didn’t really mind since he was being kissed senseless again. Two weeks without this was an awful long time, and Rufus owed him a hell of a lot; now to have fun getting some payback.


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