.X.

Today was not going to be a good day.

Reno realized this as he stared hard at the person who had just kicked down the door to the lodge and was standing silhouetted within the doorway. As the person proceeded first one step and then another into the room until he was fully visible, Reno amended his first thought.

Today was going to be a really bad day.

"Where's the boss?" The intruder questioned, taking in the entirety of the small room with one swift glance.

"Otherwise occupied," Reno replied after a moment, taking a final drag of the cigarette he'd been enjoying in the moments before the door had come flying off its hinges; still watching the intruder, he let the smoking remainder fall to the floor before grinding it under his heel.

"He and I have unfinished business," said the other, and began to walk towards the door in the other wall, the door that was as of yet still intact. An instant later he halted, having heard and registered the sound of a gun hammer being cocked. He turned only his head, looking over his shoulder to find the crosshairs of Reno's semiautomatic trained steadily on his forehead.

"Maybe you didn't hear me, yo," Reno said, emphasizing the last word. "He's busy. He's also not here."

"Pity," The intruder—Kadaj—swivelled around then to face Reno fully; a chill, disconcerting smile had curved his lips. As they regarded each other in silence for long moments, Reno was unpleasantly reminded of everything he knew Kadaj was capable of, everything he knew Kadaj could do. He was more than aware of the fact that just because Rufus wasn't here didn't mean Kadaj would depart …

"Feel free to leave," Reno said finally, gesturing to the now doorless entry with a flutter of one hand.

Kadaj, unperturbed by the firearm aimed in his direction, turned around fully to face the Turk. On the receiving end of those bright, eerie eyes Reno found himself wondering if the beating he was almost certain he was about to receive was written anywhere in his job description. He was fairly certain it wasn't.

"You must have great faith in that gun," Kadaj remarked.

"You bet."

"Your partners … Elena and Tseng? … they also seemed to think their weapons would protect them." Kadaj said this casually

The barb hit home; Reno's answering smile was both unpleasant and a little bit vicious. "Yeah, well, I guess I'm like them—I'm going to have to learn the hard way."

Kadaj's own smile was completely devoid of anything even remotely resembling mirth. "Turks aren't hired on merit of their wisdom, are they?"

Reno ground his teeth. Being insulted was one thing. Being insulted by someone who was more than likely to kick his ass was another. It wouldn't do to be rash around Kadaj, Reno knew—Rufus had already told him as much …

"Your silence speaks for you," the silver-haired youth said mockingly.

Then again, being rash was really what Reno was all about.

He fired almost instinctively, unloading four rounds, the sound deafening within the confines of the room. Kadaj, moving with a speed that reminded Reno of a General he had known once upon a time, withdrew his slender twin-bladed katana and deflected the first two shots with a deft, precise movements; the other two bullets he avoided by lithely dropping down and to the side. Reno was moving then, circling around his opponent, finger trembling over the trigger. He'd known Kadaj wouldn't be easy to take down, but he hadn't really gambled on the fact that he'd be so … untouchable. As the two faced each other in tense silence, Reno let out a breath he'd been holding in silent dismay; he was a fan of taking people out from a distance, because when guns were no longer an option it meant getting up close and dirty …

Kadaj, tossing his head to the side, made an insolent "come and get it" gesture.

Reno sighed inaudibly. No guns also meant getting hurt. He debated emptying the rest of his clip but immediately disregarded the notion. Obviously Kadaj was more than capable of defending himself from gunfire. Grimly resigned to the fact that when this was all over he would more than likely be in a world of pain, Reno re-holstered his semiautomatic and withdrew instead his other weapon, an electrified metal ASP extendable baton. With a flick of his thumb the ASP elongated to its full thirty-one inch length, and with another flick the weapon hummed as electricity flowed up and down the metal.

Kadaj's eyes moved to the ASP, and then back to Reno. His smile was utterly malicious and irreverent. "You think that will help you?"

Reno shrugged and gave his own belligerent grin. "I know it will."

They lunged at each other at the same instant; the edge of Kadaj's blade met with Reno's ASP, and for a moment they strained against each other, circling. Jagged blue arcs of electricity encompassed both weapons until, with a snarl, Reno braced himself and shoved. Kadaj stumbled back and Reno leapt, bringing the ASP down in a brutal arc, but again Kadaj avoided the blow, diving to the side. Instead of landing awkwardly he twisted about, cat-like, on all fours and then threw himself at the Turk. Reno recoiled, narrowly dodging having his insides exposed to the air by the slice of the katana. Kadaj closed in, moving with careful, guarded steps and giving Reno no room to manoeuvre. The silver-haired man hadn't lost his smile—if anything it had grown wider and more malevolent throughout the course of their struggle. He was, Reno realized, enjoying this.

"Out of moves already?" Kadaj asked tauntingly.

"Nah. Just biding my time." Reno replied. They continued to circle each other. Seconds ticked by, and the tense silence that had fallen over the room was broken only by their mingled breathing and the soft tread of their feet moving over the floor. When Reno rushed forth abruptly, Kadaj was ready—he realized it was a feint only when the ASP connected solidly with his right leg. The shock jolted his muscles and rendered his limb useless; he fell to one knee with an enraged cry. Reno swung out again and cursed when Kadaj blocked the blow with his katana. Reno eased back, waiting for the opportune moment, and Kadaj watched him through eyes that almost glowed with malice.

"You're better than I thought you would be," he admitted, breathing hard. He tested the leg struck by the ASP, rising up only to fall again. Reno watched this attempt with a particular sense of satisfaction, for he knew from experience how debilitating and painful an ASP could be. But the effect wouldn't last long, he knew, which meant he had a limited window in which he had to do something about Kadaj. Killing him sounded good, but he knew that even temporarily crippled the other would be extremely defensive. The other option was to debilitate him further, but again, getting another lucky hit with his ASP was not likely.

The last option was the one that appealed to Reno the most: getting the hell out of here. Rude and Rufus were both far from here; Reno knew instinctively that Kadaj would depart once he was able, for there was nothing here of interest to him. Reno stepped back quickly from his opponent, the ASP closing in on itself.

"Leaving so soon?" Kadaj asked.

"Late for an appointment," Reno replied. Kadaj rose slowly, putting most of his weight on his blade; the numbness brought on by the ASP was fading. If Reno was going to leave, now was the time. "It's been fun," he said to the other, flipping off a mocking salute.

"Much," Kadaj said. Now standing, he made no move to follow as Reno backed his way towards the door.

"We should do this again sometime," Reno said, feeling rather cocky because A) he'd managed to (somewhat) subdue Kadaj, B) he was alive and C) he was leaving without injury. Maybe this wasn't going to be such a bad day after all.

"We will," replied Kadaj, and there was nothing but absolute certainty in his voice.

Reno ignored this last remark, though he knew this struggle and its outcome was only going to lead to others. He didn't turn from Kadaj until he'd stepped over the threshold of the doorway to which the door had been kicked off its hinges. Once out in the open air, Reno did what he knew he had to do in order to escape retribution—he broke into a run, flying down the stairs towards the small gravel area that passed as a parking lot.

It wasn't until he was safely inside the sleek black car that the Turks used for all their transportation needs, tires spinning up a spray of rocks and dust as he accelerated sharply away from Healin Lodge, that Reno breathed a sigh of relief.

.X.

Sol's Notes, Part I: I think this was supposed to be a one-shot, but then I got it in my head to write slash. This'll (MAYBE)eventually be yaoi,should I choose to continue it. Otherwise, it'll be a normal fic.

Sol's Notes, Part II: Shout out to Linchi, for pointing out the fact that I had Kadaj using his katana at first, but then wrote him as using a gunblade. I've since then fixed that error.