It really couldn't have been anyone but Reno. When it came to slums, drugs, and sex, the redhead was master. So, when the need arose for an undercover agent, he'd been Rufus' first choice. Not that he was ever his second- but now, as he watched Reno shake violently in the chair across from him, half bent over a wastebasket too ill to even curse, Rufus wished he'd sent someone else.
The drugs were off the street, their dealers dead in a ditch, but they were still haunting the Turk, prowling his insides with needy claws. Rufus had seen it before, many times, had used withdrawal to get information, a sort of self-inflicted torture. Oh, and how those junkies had writhed and pleaded him for just a little bit, just a taste or touch or smell. To think Reno was going through such pain- and quietly at that- made his usually unmovable will falter.
It should not have been Reno. Not with his history, not with his tolerance. He took a deep breath, something his counterpart seemed unable to do, and steeled himself. Reno could have refused, he and the Turks were close enough now for such things, but the man had readily agreed. This could not be laid at his feet, though the silent, hateful glares he was receiving from behind Rude's dark glasses said otherwise.
"I'll take him home, sir." The man stated, softly for the sake of his partner's aching head.
As Rude began to pull Reno out of his seat, he stepped around the desk and shook his head. "No. He stays."
"Sir, he's in no fit state-"
Rude's hands curled into fists at his side. "Sir, he's been gone for two months, let him go home."
"I want his report."
"He can't even stand, sir."
"You are dismissed."
The atmosphere darkened and Rufus could have smiled if he'd not been so bent on being a hardass. Rude's love for his partner was a weakness and, Shiva save him, he couldn't help but pick at it.
"Sir, he's done enough. Let me take him home."
"You don't trust him in my care, Rude?" He inquired coolly, "You think that I might take advantage of him? Is that it?"
Rude raised his chin. "No, sir."
"Hm. Perhaps it's you that hoped to take advantage?"
"Boss, don't be a dick, yo." Reno quavered, hugging the rubbish bin. "Rude, he ain't gonna hurt me. S'okay. Go on."
"Jus' go on."
"Fine." Rude spat, turning to leave.
"See you in the morning." Rufus farewelled pleasantly.
He heard the 'fuck you' under Rude's breath as he went, but that only gave him a deep sense of satisfaction. It was nearly as gratifying as making Tseng turn red in the face. Which, he'd only done that one time.
The sound of Reno dry-heaving woke him from his smug musings and he turned to pull the man's hair out of the way. The long tresses were dyed black, harsh against the pale skin. He missed the fiery red already. It would need to be remedied as soon as possible.
"You reek." He sighed, "It's one thing to sit among shit but did you have to roll in it?"
Reno wiped his mouth with his sleeve and glanced back at him with dull eyes. "Jus' did what you asked me to, yo. Why you gotta be such an ass to Rude?"
"It's good for him. Stand up. We're going upstairs."
Moving away, he waited for his order to be obeyed, only feeling a small pang of guilt when Reno gave him a wounded look before rising. His knees quaked so violently beneath his own weight that Rufus was reminded of a time not long ago when their roles had been reversed.
The lodge was small and stifling, nothing like the luxury he was used to. His body ached and his ego was tearing its hair. All he wanted was to get up and move to the porch, to breathe in the fresh night air. Tseng and Elena were gone for the evening, leaving him with Reno and Rude, who he'd sent away early. He could manage getting into bed on his own but the distance from his chair to the deck seemed so far.
His pride bristled. For who? For Rufus Shinra? Fuck that. His arms gave a wobble of protest as he hefted his weight from his wheeled seat, knowing he could have gone at least to the door in it but wanted to prove he didn't need to. Two steps in and he was sweating, obstinance alone keeping him moving forward. Alas, it was not enough.
Hitting his knees hurt, and keeping himself from falling in a heap sent shocks of agony up his bad arm. He wanted to roar in anger but settled for a grunt of stifled pain. The door creaked open and the footfalls that followed were as soft a cats stride and he cursed beneath his breath. At least Rude wouldn't have said anything.
"Had to piss boss?" Reno asked, squatting down on those muscled haunches to look him in the eyes.
"Fuck that, yo. I think this's the first time I've seen ya on yer knees." The Turk sniggered, "Reno likey."
His whole body shuttered and his breath would only come in short gasps. "Reno."
"Want me to help ya up?"
"Mhm." The redhead stood and looked down at him with a look aimed along his delicate nose. "Naw. Ain't gonna, yo."
"I'll kill you."
"Maybe, or maybe I'll get a raise." The head of Reno's EMR bumped his cheek and pushed back his hair with a tenderness a weapon shouldn't have been able to harness. "Come on, boss. Get up. Don't embarrass yerself, yo."
When he got a hold of that stupid fucker he was going to sew those pretty lips shut and then fuck him until he died. "Help me up. That's an order."
"Ya look pathetic."
"Ooh," another kiss from the EMR, "Boss, that almost sounded like please."
Rage brought him upwards before his ailing vessel could hinder him. He staggered forward and Reno backed up but he had to have his hands around that insolent fucking throat. "I'll teach you to be mouthy with me you filthy slum whore." He snarled, fisting his shaking hands in the other man's rumpled dress shirt.
"Hey now," Reno's smile was soft and his eyes glittered, "You ain't never complained about me bein' a whore b'fore."
"You ever disobey me again-" he had to stop to gasp and he felt Reno's arms slip beneath his own, taking his weight.
"Easy, yo. I followed orders." He purred, leaning in close. "Yer up ain't ya?"
The memory made his frown deepen and Reno noticed before he did. "Do I really smell that bad, boss?" The Turk mumbled, leaning heavily on the back of the chair. "Or you thinkin' somethin' dirty? I ain't in no shape to be givin' you my dick jus' now. Maybe tomorrow, yo."
But he knew that this sickness would last at least a week or so. He didn't plan on being that patient, but he could give Reno tonight at least. "Shut up and move."
Reno's sneer was weak, but he did as he was asked, slowly and sloppily. Rufus followed behind him, close enough to catch him if he fell but not so close that gave away his intentions. He did not at all care for the way Reno's ass disappeared in those shitty slum pants. After a bath, he'd be sure to dress it in a nice pair of sleep pants.
The redhead paused at the elevator, hitting the button and then standing there leaning on the wall. His chest heaved and he was pouring sweat, but he didn't fall. Rufus' stomach twisted with a mixture of pity and pride at the scene, though he'd really rather it be him making the man pant so desperately. "Would you like me to carry you, Reno?" He questioned as the elevator arrived, mostly serious.
"Not a chance, yo." His companion huffed, "I ain't yer princess."
The upward movement of the lift worsened Reno's vertigo and Rufus said nothing as the man fell into him twice before pressing himself against the glass and tilting his chin upwards, perhaps to keep the bile within him and not all over the tile. That neck seemed to stretch for miles and having it bared just so made Rufus' dick twitch. "You'll need to bathe."
"Come on, boss, jus' let me sleep. I'll crash on the floor, if it's yer sheets yer worried 'bout."
"We're you raped?"
Reno looked at him, those cocksucking lips parted in a feeble gape. "Gaia... What kinda question's that?"
"I think it's a reasonable inquiry."
"Ya would, you pristine bastard." The man quavered, knuckles whitening around the support bar running the circumference of the space. "An' no. Not that I was awake for, anyway. Tseng'll find out when he goes o'er the footage from my C.I.D."
Rufus' eyes flicked to the bandage just beneath Reno's collarbone where his camera implant had been removed. He wanted to see those recordings for himself and then he would set them aflame. To think someone else had laid their hands on his property burnt his innards with a vengeful hate.
He wanted to scrub Reno raw.
His vision blurred and his fucking stomach rolled. Rufus, that immaculate fuck, stood behind him as he paused to let the world stop spinning. "Hurry up." The blond asshole huffed impatiently, prodding him in the shoulder with a manicured finger.
Reno entertained the idea of vomiting all over his presidents gaudy white suit. "Fuck you."
"Careful. I'm in a rather foul mood." Rufus warned though Reno caught the hint of amusement in his tone. The prick would enjoy this.
"What's new, yo?" He panted, desperate to reach the penthouse. He just wanted to fall into that plush carpet and pass the fuck out.
As they entered, his legs sought to oblige him but his fall was hindered by a hand wrapped in the collar of his shirt. "Rufus, please." He whined without shame. "I just want to lay down."
"Dammit, I worked my ass off on this job, yo. I ain't askin' for a fuckin' raise. I jus' wanna sleep." Or die. At this point he wasn't going to be persnickety. He'd very rarely been so miserable. Pain from stab wounds and broken bones were entirely different than this. Cure wouldn't touch this shit, nothing would except for time and he wasn't a patient person.
Rufus made an annoyed noise and dropped him. He fell in a heap and watched as his boss's dress shoes crossed the carpet. His eyes fell closed and he searched for the slumber his body so longed for. However, his mind was screaming for the drugs. The need for them ran soul deep and allowed for nothing else. He'd give his right nut to just have a little, just enough to ease the nausea and the shakes.
He didn't know how long he lay there wrapped in cravings and curses, but when he was pulled roughly upwards again Rufus was dressed in lounge pants and a tee shirt, his hair held from his eyes by the red elastic band Reno had gifted him as a gag for his birthday. The ache of his situation dissipated just enough at the sight for him to feel a pang of adoration. Of course, it was short lived.
"I ran your bath." The president stated, half-throwing him toward the obnoxiously luxurious bathroom. His feet tangled and he would have fallen had the other man not had firm hold of him.
"Rufus- the lights, yo." He groaned as the fluorescent lasers drilled into his hyper-sensitive optics. "Fuck."
He didn't see the president move, but the lights dimmed to an almost romantic warmth and he was sat on the lid of the toilet. "Undress." Rufus demanded, stepping away from him and folding his arms expectantly across his chest.
Reno knew it was a losing battle to argue with the gorgeous prick, so he gingerly removed his musty shirt, not sure what hurt worse, the throbbing in his bones or the deep bruises spread across im his ribcage. He yelped as Rufus' icy hand came to lay across the greenish yellow markings. "What happened?"
Shit. He hardly remembered. "Some guy wanted to fuck my mouth in lieu of payment."
"And did you?"
"You think I'd have got the shit knocked outta me if I had?"
"Now the pants."
His body slumped against the corner of the sink, dizzy and annoyed but still trying to undo his jeans with one tremulous hand. Once he managed that he just sat there because really? Fuck it. Fuck this fancy marble sink. Fuck the drugs and the money and the sex. Fuck Rufus Shinra and his glorious hair.
Familiar blackness ate at his vision as bile rose in his throat. His heart flopped painfully and an uncharacteristic fear flickered to life beneath it. "Rufus."
"If you're going to be sick do so now." Came the cool reply, as if he could fucking control his puking. What a shithead. He accepted the wastebasket that was shoved into his lap, but didn't have the strength to hold it up. Rufus held it for him as he violently gagged up air until his chest burned and his breath was staggered.
He thought he felt fingers smoothing his hair, but there was no way to be sure. After his stomach gave up trying to purge itself, Rufus scooped him up and yanked his trousers off without ceremony and sat him in the tub. "B-boss, it's cold, yo." He groused, though he couldn't distinguish between the shivers and the tremors he'd already been experiencing.
"You have a fever."
"Yer gonna send me into shock."
"It's not that cold." Rufus stated, pouring water over his chest and then his hair. "You'll feel better once the slums are washed off of you."
Somehow, his temper had survived all this, and it stirred at that. "Ya mean, you'll feel better, yo." After all, he'd been born in squalor. He'd lived it. Rufus liked to try and forget that fact as often as possible, but one man's denial didn't change the truth, a truth that Reno himself was not ashamed of. "I never hear ya complainin' when I slum all over yer face."
Water doused his head and shampoo was rubbed roughly into his scalp. "Shut up, Reno."
Reno's trembling had only increased, but at least he was clean. Rufus laid his lover roughly between the sheets to make up for the too-sweet way he'd just been cradling him against his chest. He'd hoped to elicit a curse or two from the man, but there was nothing but more shivering. Frown deepening, he moved away from the bed and retrieved a glass of water from the kitchen before returning.
In his absence his lover had curled in on himself, wet hair matted to his face and plush lips parted. He sat the glass on the night table and stood there looming for a long time. Perhaps he should have followed Tseng's advice and had the man sent to Medical, but there had already been more than enough strange hands on Reno's pale flesh than Rufus' could easily tolerate.
"B-boss..." The mangled summons brought Rufus from his murderous daydreams and he looked back down at Reno who had cracked open his eyes.
An acrid emotion blossomed behind his sternum and the sudden warmth and discomfort of it made him angry.
He pulled the comforter up around his lover to hide his quaking form, the sight of it disturbing him more than he'd ever admit, bringing back more terrible memories.
It hurt, the sickness like ice in his veins, spreading painful winter with every wretched pump of his heart. Yet, the sheets he lay in were sweat damp and his hair clung to his forehead. The convulsions had muddled his mind and the lack of control he had over his extremities maddened what sense remained.
He heard Tseng's voice outside, a sound he'd never admit to be soothing. Elena chuckled softly and for a moment he found himself wondering what the Wutian could have said to coax such a sound from her. It was a pretty sound, not obnoxious like Reno's cackle. The man laughed with his whole damned body.
There was a shuffle outside, a quiet exchange of words and a grunt that could only be Rude's. Tseng and Elena's shift must be over. Was it already so late? He tried to move, to straighten his curled body before one of the Turks came to check on him as was protocol for shift-changes. He was weak and miserable, but he did not want to look it and there was nothing dignified about the fetal position.
He managed to roll onto his back but his lungs were angry and his head spun from the effort. His blanket had slid mostly to the floor during the struggle and he was only wearing a pair of thin shorts and his plethora of bandages. As if to taunt him, moonlight spilled in through the now open door, illuminating his shame as brightly as the neon lights of the Honey Bee Inn. He could only hope it was Tseng and not-
"Mr. President," Elena's calm voice called, "Can I help?"
Her presence was only a mild relief. "I'm fine. You're dismissed."
To his absolute dismay, she did not obey him. That sweet, stupid little tramp walked right up and tried to return his blanket. He made to capture her wrist but she shrank away from his touch and somehow that was worse than her having ignored a direct order. Frustration made him hateful and he snarled at her. "Afraid to ruin your pretty skin?" He hissed, "Don't think Tseng would let you suck-"
"Yo, what's goin' on in here?" Reno drawled, suddenly leaning in the doorway. "You got the Boss half naked there, I'm jealous."
"I was just trying to fix the covers. It's cold."
"Relax, he ain't gonna get any colder than his heart, yo."
"Reno!" Elena's nagging tone was nowhere near as lovely as her laugher but Rufus couldn't be bothered to tell her that just then as his muscles began to stiffen as another episode neared.
"Get out." He gritted, "Or you're fired."
"Sir." Elena retreated and the door shut behind her, but he knew better than to expect Reno to listen.
"Why you gotta be such a prick, Rufus?" The redhead sighed, sitting down on the edge of the bed. "You ain't had a pretty girl touchin' on ya in ages and ya can't even play nice for five secs?"
"She didn't want to touch me." He seethed, vision doubling.
"Or maybe she didn't want ya hurtin' her. Not everyone likes a good bruisin' as much as me."
As if he could hurt anyone in this state. A rush of new agony enveloped him and he stifled a cry. His sight fled and his existence was reduced to blackness and pain. The Geostigma burned, its venom filling him with every ounce of the planet's fury until he was fighting for air and failing. He could hardly feel the snap of elastic as the oxygen mask was placed over his nose and mouth, numb to the loathing he usually felt for the thing.
As the attack eased he batted at the uncomfortable device only to have his infected hand snatched from the air and held in a grip that sent an ache up his arm. "Leave it be ya bastard. Least till you ain't suffocatin'" Reno grumbled into his ear. "I don't wanna have to call Tseng back here."
He was so exhausted, but he stubbornly forced his eyes open in order to glower at his worst and best employee with as much annoyance as his frazzled head could deliver. Reno just grinned and maneuvered them gently so that they were both sitting slightly upright against the pillows. The Turk was still holding his diseased hand and even though the warmth of his touch was comforting, he tried to pull away. The action ended as no more than a flinch of fingers and the sigh he emitted came out as a wheeze.
"Ya ain't got nothin' to prove, ya know. Not to us." Reno muttered, sounding irritated. "We coulda bailed, easy. Coulda been sittin' on a beach somewhere by now."
Instead they'd dug through rubble for his body while the rest of ShinRa scattered. It'd taken them three days to find him, but they hadn't quit on him despite being sure it was only a corpse they looked for. He hadn't forgotten the debt he owed, not that he hadn't tried to. He would never admit his gratitude. His weakness was blatant enough already, there was no need to flaunt it.
This time when he reached to pull the mask off, Reno let him. "I should have given- you to Hojo when I had the chance." He puffed. "Stop holding my hand."
The redhead lifted the appendage to his mouth and laid a kiss over the black stained bandage. "Make me, yo."
As much as he wanted to let go, to allow himself to enjoy the tenderness and the undeserved kindness, he railed against it. "I will make you suffer for this."
There was a long silence that he had not been expecting and for a time he thought his lover may have fallen asleep, but then the man let out a slow, angry breath. "Is havin' to watch ya die not punishment enough, ya fucking asshole?"
Ridiculous. He had to stop this now. If Reno being in such a state was going to cause him such- discomfort- then he was not going to let it to continue. Why should he have to feel unpleasant as well? "Sit up." He ordered, pulling Reno into a slump and handing him the glass. "Drink this."
Of course the idiot couldn't hold it himself. With a disdainful cluck, Rufus gripped the back of Reno's neck and held the cup to his lips. When the other man tried to turn his face he tightened the grip on his nape until he took a few reluctant sips. "Good." Rufus purred, catching a stray droplet with the pad of his thumb. "Again."
It continued slowly that way until the glass was half empty and Rufus' patience was nearly maxed out. Returning the Turk back to the pillows, he combed his fingers through his damp hair and braided it's length neatly to the side. "Missed me, yo?" Reno murmured, eyes half-lidded.
"Your hair looks preposterous like this."
"I'll- try blond next time."
"Only red will do." He growled, moving away as those slender fingers reached for him. "Your body belongs to me and I have allowed you to ruin it for long enough already."
"Careful," the man breathed, "almost sounds like ya give a shit 'bout me."
"I like my property to looks it's best." He countered, finding a sense of relief in reminding both of them that Reno was only a body, a thing he owned and could do with as he liked.
Leaving said possession in the bedroom, he trekked to his office and sat down at his desk. He bent to slide the faux wood aside, revealing a safe built into the left inside panel. His handprint followed by a seven digit pin unlocked it and he pulled free his stash of Materia. It took him a few minutes to find the one he was after as he was not proficient in sensing which orb did what just yet. He’d only recently begun refamiliarizing himself with the things as he’d been wary of anything planet related since the stigma. He’d never voice his apprehension, and often cursed himself for the weakness, but any time he borrowed power like this he felt as though the planet might punish him again.
It felt as though he was on a sort of Planetary Probation.
Annoyed with himself, he tucked Sleep into a bangle he’d hidden beneath his long sleeve and returned to his bedroom. Reno protested his presence on the mattress as it shifted, but quickly warmed to the idea as he slid his body beneath the blankets along side him. “No fuckin’” The redhead reminded, snaking his arms up to hook around Rufus’s neck, long fingers tangling in the blond hair at his nape and nesting his clammy forehead in his chest.
The position put that infuriating tightness back in Rufus’ chest and he snarled at the discomfort. They’d slept like this so often back then, when all he’d been able to do was lay there, Reno the only warm thing in his world. Slowly, he eased the Materia from it’s hiding place and positioned it at the back of his lover’s head. “Stay still.”
Perhaps it had been the coolness of it’s Mythril vessel or the tingle of energy emitted from the sphere itself that had alerted him, but Reno gave a huff of protest. “Don’t like it when ya use that shit, boss.”
“Your opinion doesn’t matter to me in the slightest.”
The Turk sneered, inching his shaking form further into the shelter of his body. “Asshole.”
Rufus responded by activating the Materia, closing his eyes against the brief and brilliant flash of green that swept his lover into a forced slumber.
Reno liked waking up in warm sheets, as much as any living thing liked comfort, but it was always a little disconcerting at first. Less now than when this all started, but still, sometimes he woke thinking he'd just been whored out by Rufus' Old Man for information and half-rose before he realized there was no need for a quick get away. How was that for fucked up? Alternatively, he sometimes opened his eyes to Rufus straddling his waist wearing nothing but his skin and that damned bedazzling smirk. That was also fucked up, but in the best way possible.
This morning however, it was neither of those. Instead it was body soreness and a meteor-level headache. The itch was in him like a living beast, the want to snort a big, thick, Holy-white line driving nails at his nerves with every thump of his pulse, but he'd settle for a cigarette. Okay, probably a carton.
Forcing himself upright he noticed his hair was braided and cursed under his breath. Now the shit would be kinked up and frilly looking. Why the hell Rufus always liked to plait it was beyond him and why the fuck did the president even know how? He smiled a bit, just the littlest touch of warmth on his face at the memory of sitting obediently in front of his boss' wheelchair having his hair tugged and knotted into submission.
Any amusement he'd felt at the recollection fled when he pulled open the drawer of the night table to find it empty. Damned fucking stupid prissy ass bitch. There had been two packs of smokes, a brand new pack of hair elastics, a leather strap, a pair of cuffs and seven condoms in there when he'd left.
Irritation alone propelled him from the mattress and he stalked, naked, to Rufus' office. It was a great deal smaller than the one he used officially, more a den of sorts than a workable office. Falling into the comfortable swivel chair he reached across the polished wood surface, picking up the phone and pressing one, because of course Rufus would be first even in his own speed-dial.
"Yes, what is it?" The president answered, already sounding bored.
"Yo, where are my damn cigarettes?"
"You sound better this morning."
"Shut up ya ass, like ya care."
He felt more than heard his lover's airy chuckle. "The lubricant you left in the drawer leaked. Everything inside had to be cleaned out."
"Oh yeah and what were ya doin' lookin' in my drawer anyway?"
"I was after said lube."
"Come now, I'm sure you can guess."
"What? Finally tryna persuade that stick outta your ass?"
"Reno," a pen clicked in the background, "Are you naked in my chair?"
"Absolutely. Balls are stickin' to the leather an' everythin'."
Another click. "There are clean clothes in your bag in the top of the closet."
"You givin' me permission to run around in civies all day?"
"You're not working, so I don't see why not."
"What d'ya mean I ain't workin'?"
The pen was sat down and he heard the gentle sough of fingers through hair. "You're not cleared for duty."
The thought of laying around feeling like hell held little appeal. What he needed was to get his routine back, to distract himself from this maddening longing. "Look, I can't jus' sit around here. I need to bash in a few dozen heads or some shit."
"What you need to do is go down to Medical for a full health screening and then catch up on your paperwork."
"What I need is a suit and my fuckin' cigarettes!" He hung up angrily and stood up too quickly. Black rushed his vision and he swayed, catching himself on the desk's corner and toppling a stack of sorted documents onto the beige carpet. His chest tightened painfully and his heart staggered like a drunk against his sternum.
That- wasn't right.
A few shaky breaths later the vertigo abated and he returned to the bedroom. He went through the motions in a haze, dressing, brushing his teeth, washing his face, tracking down a pair of sneakers but sadly not his cellphone. He felt half-decent by the time he left the penthouse, but his stomach rolled as the elevator descended and he had to lift his head upward to dissuade ruining his minty fresh breath.
In the locker room he met Elena, who looked surprised to see him, if not somewhat displeased. "Have you been to Medical?" She inquired, one hand on her hip and a scowl of disapproval already forming.
"Nope." Crossing to his locker, he searched its contents and found a half-full pack of salvation. "Ya seen Rude?"
"He's with Tseng. They're going over your footage." She stated, arms folding across her chest and hip cocking. "You look like shit."
"Thanks babe, love ya too." His smoochie face was deflected by a cold brown glower.
"You need to be evaluated."
Rolling his eyes, he pushed passed her and made his getaway. She shouted after him, just his name in that scolding tone, but as usual he didn't heed it. It wasn't that he didn't intend to go to Medical, because he did if only to steal a few Elixirs, but he had a few things he wanted to do first.
The most prominent of which being seeing a certain blond about a stick.
There was not enough work to do. Not for him, at least. He'd resorted to answering Reeve's emails, a task he usually left to Tseng. How the Turk put up with the WRO moron was beyond him. Then again, the Wutian did have far more infuriating creatures to deal with on a daily basis.
As if summoned by some cosmic cue, his office door swung open. He feigned disinterest and did not look up from his computer as Reno padded silently across the carpeted space.
"Yo," the Turk greeted, placing big hands palm down on the desk and leaning in and demanding attention with a purr. "Take off your pants."
Rufus sent the email and then clicked on another, ignoring Reno's unbuttoned dress shirt and the creamy flesh being so unabashedly flaunted. "Have you been to medical?"
"Fuck medical, dammit. I'm fine."
"I just want to get back to normal, so let me fuck you and then I'll go back to work."
There was a note in the other man's tone that Rufus didn't recognize and it was curious enough to make him quit his avoidance farce and look up. A flutter of fear alighted in his bones and he stood up slowly, the dullness of his partner's irises and the uneven way he drew breath an immediate cause for concern. "Go to medical." He demanded in a way that gave none of his unease away, sending Tseng a quick and urgent text in the most absent manner he could achieve. "You're not fucking me until I know you're not diseased."
"I ain't that careless." Reno snapped, "What? Is it my hair? You ain't gonna be able to see it with your face shoved into the carpet."
"You couldn't put me on the floor if you wanted to." Setting his phone aside, he moved around the desk and pressed close to his lover, taking hold of the lapels of his suit jacket. "Maybe this time I'll fuck you?"
"Doesn't matter to me, yo."
Rufus tipped his head and pressed a kiss against that ever-flowing profanity spout, his right arm snaking around Reno's waist to support his shaking frame while stationing his left hand at his neck where his finger could set against the lumbering pulse there. The fact that the Turk allowed this was an ill omen. "When did you last eat?" He inquired harshly, against the man's jaw as he forced him back against the desk. "You're more bones than man. It's disgusting."
"A diet of opiates and elixirs will do that to ya, yo." Reno muttered without his usual zeal. "Don't act like ya don't like the thought of breakin' me either, ya sadistic prick."
"Maybe." He purred, "But it's not as fun if you're weak to begin with."
"Fuck you." The words were spat with a true venom that provided relief rather than offense. "For that I'm gonna pound ya so hard ya- ya...What's that weird smell?"
"Like blood or gasoline, kinda muddy, brown."
Rufus positioned them so that Reno was now mostly sitting on the desk, his arm still around him as he pulled his face back enough to look at him incredulously. "How can something smell brown?"
"I don't wanna-" the man licked his lips, "Rufus?"
There was that feeling again, like cold fingers digging a hole in his gut. "You're going to lay down."
"Nngh... Gonna do me on my back?" The man mumbled with a misshapen snigger, "Lemme get my shoes on."
Not bothering to inform his clearly incoherent boyfriend that he was making no sense, Rufus moved him roughly to the chaste lounge near the far window.
"Too many clothes." The other man breathed, fingers falling away from the buttons on his shirt moments after trying to undo them. "I'm- fine."
"And just who are you trying to convince?" Rufus inquired coolly, watching Reno's eyes struggle to focus. He'd never thought there'd come a time when he'd want to keep the man talking. "Do you think I'll put you down over a few days leave?"
Reno didn't take the bait. Instead he went completely lax and gave Rufus a baleful look before shutting his eyes. "You called the law on me."
A second later the office door opened, Tseng appearing in its frame with Arx and Wray behind him. How the hell Reno had heard them coming and not known he didn't need shoes to be fucked was a mystery, one that Rufus didn't have time or want to ponder further. "He's confused." He informed, rising from the lounge and addressing Tseng. "Smelling colors."
The Wutian nodded and then gave Reno a ponderous eyeing. "I'll see he's looked after, Sir."
"Get on with it then." Rufus dismissed, forcing himself to return to his chair as Wray and Arx moved to wrangle their disoriented colleague.
As expected, Reno struggled. It was more a haphazard flailing then a decent fight but he still managed to bloody Wray's nose and pull Arx's hair loose from its tight ponytail before Tseng cleared his throat and subdued him with a subtle but meaningful black glower.
Rufus watched the scene with his chin resting atop folded hands. "Perhaps you ought to send those two for retraining, Tseng, if they can't even handle one stick-thin and half-awake slumrat."
"Yes, Sir." The Wutian agreed, though they both knew that Reno could be deadly in any form if the idiot had a mind to be. He wasn't second in command for nothing.
As the disheveled group left the room, Tseng turned to him, somehow speaking volumes in the silence between them. "I have work to do. Just send me a copy of his lab results"
The use of his name cemented the dread. "It's not like you to stall, Tseng. Out with it."
"Twelve people are confirmed dead already, all exposed to the same strain of the drug as Reno."
He dodged the words with his own, quickly pushing down worry with logic. "Killing off your clientele makes for poor business. Yin-fey wanted something more than money then."
"We've sent people to scour the underbelly for other users. The lab is testing what we confiscated as we speak." Tseng sighed heavily, "Killing him was a mistake. I must apologize, Sir. I should have seen something like this coming."
Yes, maybe, but killing Yin-fey had been unavoidable. The man had been skilled and well prepared for a fight. Rufus knew Tseng would not have ended his life unless it had been necessary. "What questions he can't answer, the substance will."
"Sir, the damage Black Sakura does to th-"
"Sir!" Arx entered, her gray eyes wide and desperate. "Reno's collapsed. He's not breathing."
Tseng pulled the AED from the wall near the door and was gone, the tall female Turk after him. Rufus was left sitting there, frozen, his own heart contemplating its usefulness. He wanted to follow after his employees, wanted to be of aid, but he didn't move. He couldn't.
For the first time in his life, Rufus ShinRa fled the face of death.
People whispered that he wasn't human, from barflies to his own employees. Rumors spread daily about how he could not be killed, that Hojo had made him immortal or that he'd made some bargain with the gods. In truth, Rufus had died twice already. Once, when Diamond Weapon fired against him, and again when the Stigma had stopped his breathing.
The first time he remembered clearly, could not forget. The warmth and the glow of the planet, the voices all around him, scolding and angry. The lifestream had taken him in and spat him back out so that he could serve its purposes. He'd woken then with broken bones and bleeding organs, but a will he'd thought would never falter. There was even a smile on his face as Reno and Rude hefted the remnants of his father's legacy from atop him.
The second time had been worse.
There'd been confusion, a brief moment of panicked clarity and then his vision had toppled sideways. The lodge's floor had been cold and Elena had shouted his name. He'd been afraid, but so damn tired, so ready to go, even if it did mean putting up with that Ancient's incessant chatter for the remainder of his transition.
But he'd been saved again. Not by the planet, or the Cetra, not even by Tseng. It had been Reno who had breathed life back into him, had pumped his chest until his heart took back its rhythm. It had never beat quite the same after that.
Could he think of nothing else?! It'd been two weeks since Reno's heart had failed and Rufus had not made the journey to Medical to see him once. He'd buried himself in his work, attending benefits he would have otherwise excused himself from, agreed to meetings with that dumbass Reeve, even went around kissing snotty babies and drawing blueprints for fucking playgrounds. Playgrounds!
All because stupid fucking Reno had decided that snorting deadly opiates at full tilt while throwing back elixirs like shots was a good fucking idea. As if three packs of cigarettes a day and chronic binge drinking wasn't hard enough on his body.
What was most infuriating, however, was not that a lot of this was Rufus' fault for assigning him the job in the first place, but that he'd allowed himself to feel guilty about it, that he let himself feel at all.
Before Healin he'd been fine, had denied his emotions with the same cold and calculating methods that he'd done everything, and during his sickness it had mattered little what he chose to do with himself as death was lurking just out of sight, ready to relieve him of the torment of caring. But now he was healthy. Now he had to live with these atrocious feelings and he had little to no idea how to deal with them.
If Reno died he'd grieve. Him! Rufus ShinRa would hurt for a stray whose nine lives should have been used up years ago. He sent paperwork scattering with a hateful sweep of his arm. At least anger returned a semblance of normalcy. Fury he could manage.
"Sir," Tseng was in the doorway. How long had he been there? Another testament to his mental disarray.
"What?" He inquired, deducing with a look at the clock what the Wutian would saw.
"You have meetings all day tomorrow."
"I haven't forgotten."
"It is three in the morning, Sir. You're first meeting is scheduled to begin at eight."
"Are you trying to tell me to go to bed, Tseng?"
"Telling you things seems not to work, Sir." The man replied easily, his attitude only recognizable because Rufus had known him so long. "But as I do not want to have to cover up any murders first thing in the morning, I thought it in everyone's best interest to advise you to rest."
Usually he might have stayed up for the sake being obstinate, but tonight he was tired to his bones. "Fine."
That earned him a slight perk of dark brows from his counterpart. "I had dinner sent to the penthouse. It will need reheating."
"You're a trained killer, Tseng, not my nanny." He snorted, rising and grabbing his suit jacket from the back of the chair.
"I was both, once." The Wutian reminded almost warmly, "I will see you in the morning, Sir."
The elevator ride took an eternity. All he could think about was having that stupid Turk pushed up against the glass while the world below watched. An erection did not better his mood. Even to get off by himself he'd do it by thinking about Reno. His own reflection just didn't do it for him anymore and that was bullshit.
By the time he stalked out of the lift and down the short stretch to his apartment he was frustrated and horny and all around unpleasant. So, when he opened the door, intent on finding a nice quiet space in which to vent his annoyance and instead found the object of his ire sprawled across his sofa with his fucking feet on the upholstery, he snapped. Not in the way most people might, but in the slow and certain manner that would elicit the maximum amount sadistic pleasure.
It did not help, either, that he was still half-hard.
"Reno." He called, not apically enough to reveal his irritation but loud enough to convey the need to respond.
"Hm, thought ya might've forgot who I was, boss." The redhead drawled, "Since ya ain't fuckin' seen me in two weeks."
"Were you discharged?" Somehow he doubted it, as that would have been something he'd have been informed of.
Pale fingers moved through the air in a dismissive gesture before coming to rest on the arm of the sofa. "More or less."
Rufus took in the frailty of his target, the exhaustion evident in his usually vibrant voice. He wanted to hear it break. "Why are you here?"
"'Cause I didn't wanna go home and listen to Rude mothering at me all night, yo. Unlike some people, he gives a shit."
He ignored the barb. "So you thought breaking into my apartment was a better idea?"
The Turk sat up, the action bringing to his attention the fact that the man was wearing his clothes. "You really oughta do somethin' about the security."
Oh, he was about to. He headed to the bedroom and Reno followed, prancing after him like a cat about to be fed.
Rufus undressed slowly, careful not to look at the other man as he did so. He wanted to take his time, to torment the Turk as he'd been tormented for the past five years. He wanted to overwhelm him in every way, to break him like he'd been broken in those three minutes. He wanted to push him until there was left but a quavering puddle of porcelain skin and cum.
"What's a guy gotta do to get his dick sucked 'round here, yo." Reno huffed impatiently over the whisper of sheets. "Jeez. It's been a short eternity. Just skip the foreplay would ya? Ah- dammit."
Rufus turned at the grating sound of Velcro, bare save for the tie he held fisted in his hand. Reno wasn't looking, too busy trying to pry sticky leads from his chest. Tseng had mentioned a defibrillator vest, but he hadn't given it much thought before now.
He moved, yanking the offending device free with no care for Reno's complaining and caught the man by the jaw. "You will not speak unless it is to say my name." He snarled, pulling Reno's arms around to the small of his back and sliding the loop of his tie around too thin wrists. He tightened the knot until he earned a wince. "You will not touch me or yourself until I give you permission to do so."
"Aw, boss." Reno sneered, "Upset ya, did I?"
Pushing the idiot into the pillows he growled into his ear. "That doesn't sound like my name."
"Ya know how I am with pronunciations." The quip was purred in a sultry rumble only Reno ever seemed able to achieve and it was enough to finish filling his cock. He'd fucking missed that sound. Longed for it, even. "Rufus."
"I hate you."
The air between them seemed to chill and Reno's tone turned to quicksilver cruelty. "Lucky ya prob'ly won't have to put up with me for much longer then, ain't it?"
He sucked in breath as the words cut deep through his armor. "The rules." He reminded, kissing his lover's mouth roughly to stop any further transgression from falling out of it.
Reno came alive at the contact, his sharp teeth nipping at his lips and tongue wild against his own. The man moved his hips upwards and groaned as their cocks brushed together. Rufus shoved at his partner's pelvis, holding it down firmly with one hand in response to which the Turk pulled him forward brusquely with a knee to his ass, granting him another brief brush of tender skin on skin.
“Rufus.” It was entreaty and command both, but Rufus was not one for compliance. He left that needy mouth and dug his teeth his partner’s shoulder, taking odd comfort in knowing it would bruise. Reno hissed through gritted teeth and squirmed wantonly. “Boss.” He whined, “It’s been weeks.”
All the more reason to prolong it.
Reno growled as his hot tongue brushed across his pierced nipple, dancing about the loop and sucking. Rufus had to put more weight on the man’s hip, more bruises. It was like writing his name there and he never grew tired of seeing his signature.
“You fuckin’ blonde shitbag-”
“Reno,” He clucked, nipping at the flesh of his lover’s smooth belly as he slowly descended. “Rules.”
The man choked on his response as Rufus kissed along the base of his cock, his hair falling across his face and against the throbbing length. “Please.”
“Finger me, at least, dammit.”
“Spit, sweat, fuckin’ hi-potion, I don’t give a fuck.”
He chuckled, hot breath teasing. “Maybe if you’d follow orders.”
The man’s legs trembled. “Gag me or some shit, ya know I can’t shut up for nothin’.”
No. That would be too easy. He slid his lips around the head of Reno’s arousal and watched him writhe, still trying to buck beneath the weight of his hand. Power. Control. All the things this little ignorant shit had taken from him. He’d take it back like this.
He allowed Reno deeper, his tongue drawing patterns, his head bobbing just enough to leave the other man desperate for more. When the redhead began to bite his bottom lip, Rufus pulled away. He knew his lover well and he was not about to come before he’d even gotten inside of him.
Reno was too angry to articulate his words and simply laid there, panting, eyes imploring. For a moment Rufus felt the sickness of worry trying to temper his actions, trying to convince him that his partner was breathing too raggedly, that his movements were becoming feeble, but he chased it away with his lust for retribution. He snatched a half-used potion from the nightstand and dumped it in his hand, watching Reno’s blown pupils disappear behind their lids as his thumb circled his hole.
Begging had never had any effect on him, but he did so love to hear it. He orbited the opening again, using just enough pressure to make Reno simper. His own erection had become painful now, watching his lover suffering, but he pushed two fingers inside of the man anyway, knowing the waiting would be well worth it.
Hips now free to do as they would, Reno rocked into his hand, his neglected dick stiff and weeping. He arched his back, stretching his pale skin across prominent ribs, the silver hoops in his nipples catching the moonlight. Rufus’ fingers found what it’d been searching for and Reno cried out pitifully, moaning and gasping as he was pleasured but denied satisfaction.
“Please. Ah-Rufus, please.”
Not yet. He needed to see more of this, take it all in because… because… His eyes stung. Why? His chest tightened painfully and in retaliation he yanked his hands away and shoved his cock inside without warning. Reno said something but he didn’t fucking care. Nothing mattered, nothing else should, nothing but his own needs, nothing but his own desire. Reno was nothing to him, why should he be? He was replaceable. Rufus ShinRa was not wanting for lovers, he could have anyone he wanted.
Unless they were dead.
Not enough. It would never be enough. Every brutal thrust was meant to prove his points but only seemed to refute them. Reno was moaning and twisting and crying his name, but somehow still he retained the power to make him hurt. He went harder, faster, deeper, again and again until finally Reno was spurting without ever having been touched and he was half-dizzy from his own climax.
His vision was blurred.
It was a summons that he blindly obeyed. Positioning himself above the Turk, he rested his weight on his elbows and let his head fall into the other man’s sternum. The erratic, thumping pulse there only served to triple the aching in his lungs and he clenched his jaw tightly as something hot and wet streaked down his face and off the tip of his nose.
He didn’t question how or when Reno had gotten his hands free, but he welcomed their cool touch running over his shoulders and skating through his hair, even when he should fight the comfort they sought to give. A person only needed soothing when upset, and dammit, he wasn’t. A sob bounced off his teeth and he had to turn it into a feral growl in order to keep from gagging on it.
“Yo.” The man’s words were spoken softly, tenderly, a tone rarely used. "I know my ass ain't that good."
Reno pressed the button on his vest as his heart gave a painful flutter. Tseng had made it quite clear what would happen if he didn't tell the device he wasn't unconscious and he did not like the idea of being defibbed while awake. This was by far the least enjoyable life or death struggle he'd been in. Luckily, Rufus' labrats seemed confident that their new medication would be able to repair most of the damage done to his ticker if he took it as directed. Which was without alcohol or any curatives.
He wrinkled his nose and stared down at the handful of pills, hearing the mattress creak from the bedroom followed shortly by a low string of curses. It was not often Rufus ShinRa slept past noon.
"Reno!" The president snarled, appearing in the kitchen's entryway in a sexy dishabille. "Did you turn off my alarm?"
"Yes, sir." He answered with a smirk, rolling the pills around his palm before throwing them back dry. "Your meetings've been cancelled."
The president's jaw clenched briefly, and he ran his hands back through his hair to tame it before speaking again. "And why is that?"
Turning, he cracked an egg in the waiting skillet. "Bomb threats."
"If I did," the grease sizzled, "ya'd never prove it."
"Don't bust the yolk." The blond grumbled, crossing the space to pour himself a cup of coffee.
"And who says this's for you?" He inquired flippantly, wagging the spatula playfully.
"You don't like eggs, Reno." The other man stated, taking a drink and then looking adorably displeased. "Is this decaf?"
"If I have to suffer, so do you."
He received a scowl, and little else. The lack of witty insult or threat of violence was disconcerting. Watching his lover exchange his drink with orange juice without further complaint, he sighed. "I'll be fine, ya know."
"I want toast." Rufus parried, sitting down at the island and pulling the newspaper across the surface to him.
"That's from last week."
Reno let it be and finished the eggs, making the toast as requested. Rufus said nothing as he was presented with the meal, but he hadn't expected him to. The guy'd always been a spoiled brat and he honestly preferred it that way. The tantrums were fun to provoke and even more so to diffuse. Unfortunately he wasn't sure what the fuck to do about this sulk.
It was raining as he stepped outside but the cool air felt good. Finding his smokes still stashed where he'd left them wedged betwixt the gutter and the side of the building last night was better. Just one little hit surely wouldn't kill him...
Two whole cigarettes later, the glass slid open behind him and Rufus stepped out. The man had changed into a pair of ass-flattering jeans and a loose white button up. "I can't have caffeinated coffee but you can smoke those cheap cigarettes?"
"Ya remind me of your old man when your nostrils get to flaring like that." He joked, managing one last draw before the butt was slapped out of his hand.
"You belong to me." Rufus stormed, shoving him against the balcony's railing leaving the greater half of him hanging over it, sixty-nine stories up. "Every inch, every bone, your very soul."
"That's- a bit excessive, ain't it?" He teased, exhilarated by the danger.
"You are under oath to protect me and that which is mine, are you not?"
"Dunno, didn't really read the fine print."
Rufus pushed him over a little further and shook him. "Reno!"
"Ah, jeez." He huffed, "Can I just suck ya off and skip the lecture?"
The president yanked him roughly out of peril and released him with a fling. His back hit the window glass with a rattle and he simply slid down into a sitting position, legs spread and eyes inviting. "That a yes?"
"Go back to Medical."
"What, ya gonna cry again?"
A moment of tense silence passed between them wherein Reno anticipated being shot or stabbed or thrown off the building and was half hard from imagining. However, Rufus simply went back inside.
The knowledge that he must have truly wounded his lover was not as satisfying as he'd thought it would be, in fact, he actually felt somewhat remorseful.
He remembered the pain of watching Rufus suffering with the stigma very well; the secret fear of its return sometimes still hollowed him when he was alone at night. These feelings- he wouldn't label them- were frustrating but fulfilling and he'd accepted them- with exception of their titles, with only minimal fuss. That was not the case for Rufus and Reno had long ago given up the idea that one day the president might face them.
Honestly, he wasn't sure the guy was qualified to do so, as emotionally stunted as he was. Rufus thrived in chaos only because of his desire for control, his unending need to untangle and tame it. This Black Sakura debacle was not something the man could fix with bullets or scheming. Just like with the stigma, he was helpless.
Reno supposed a rare show of mercy was in order. Give the baby his bottle, so to speak. He pushed himself to his feet and returned to the living room, finding his boss sitting in the middle of the sofa. "Yo, I ain't feelin' so hot."
It wasn't untrue. His stamina was shit right now and his pulse was racing thanks to his less than advisable smoking. He hoped that admitting weakness would engage Rufus' superiority complex.
It didn't work.
"Then go to Medical."
"I'm too tired to walk all that way." He complained, sounding just pathetic enough to rankle his partner's nerves. "Ya were right, okay? Smokin' jus' fucked me up more. I won't do it again."
And then his heart did a thing that almost made him less annoyed with it. It fell into a not so great rhythm, setting off the alarm on his vest. He donned a look of panic and fumbled to press the button when really he could have found it easily. It wasn't very nice of him, but he was a bastard, so whatever.
"What was that?" Rufus inquired, face remaining carefully calm.
"My heart just needed a little- persuasion to beat its best, nothin' important."
"And it does this often?"
"Twice so far today." In the same hour. Which was bad. In all seriousness he should be taking it easy, not instigating rough sex or antagonizing his violent boyfriend to throttle him. "Really, not so good, boss."
Rufus shifted down a cushion, stretched his arms across the edgeroll and uncrossed his legs, leaving his lap open. Whether it was a dare or an invitation, Reno didn't know, but he took it readily. Lowering himself gingerly- if not a bit theatrically- he laid on his left side and rested his head on the proffered lap, face pressed into Rufus' toned stomach. The rush of fatigue was instant, as if his body had been waiting for this moment all its life. He slipped his fingers beneath his partner's shirt to trace lazy circles on the cool skin of his lower back and smirked as Rufus' hand began combing tangles from his hair. The obsessive compulsive prick just couldn't resist.
"You'll put me to sleep, yo." He murmured, eyes already closed.
"Did you not say you were tired?"
He hummed his confirmation and said nothing else. As prickly as the president was, he was damn soft, and he didn't want to ruin this gift of cuddles.
The haze of sleep was quick to pounce as he focused on Rufus' scent, the rise and fall of his stomach as he breathed. He trusted he was safe here, something Reno had not felt many times in his life.
The sudden speech was soft and he, being on slumber's edge, may well have dreamt it. "Hm?"
"I said, don't die."
A smile played across his lips. "That an order, boss?"
Rufus snorted and tugged a little on the hair he held between his fingers. "You don't follow orders very well."
"A personal request, then?"
The blond sighed wearily. "Yes."
"I'll have to think about it, yo."
Another tug. "Reno."
"You're an unreasonable son of a bitch, ya know that?" he groused lightly, "but I think your gonna be hot as fuck with some silver in your hair, so I'll try an' stick it out."