This is a sequel/second half of Things I Never Said, Never Did in the POV of Rude. ….If you liked the first half, I hope you'll enjoy this one, though I know it's not as good as the original.
…I've known Reno for a long time, and never had I see him act this way. He's normally always happy-go-lucky, hyperactive, and/or like a kid with A.D.H.D. who took caffeine pills. But these past few weeks, he's been quiet, calm, and—dare I say and jinx it—serious. He smiles, but I can see it's forced and practiced. I've known him long enough to know his facial expressions by heart, and I know a fake smile of his when I see it. And I see it all the time. His laughter is hollow and his jokes are dry. It's like he's a shell of his former self—the one I know and somewhat cherish.
Thinking back on it, it all started on our last vacation. He was normal at first, whining about the rooming issue, and grudgingly taking the last good room they had. We argued about who got the bed and who would sleep in the bathtub the whole way up, and we both went silent when we got there. The bed was big enough to accommodate us both easily, if we took a side. But my problem was I liked to sleep in the middle. But I figured I could force myself to stay on the side of the bed I would be assigned to.
Reno agreed, and he began to change while I got ready for a shower. I grabbed my sleeping pants—my favorite silk ones—and was about to go into the shower when I saw him undressing for his night, being he took showers in the mornings. And I couldn't help but stare. He wasn't really muscular, as I am, but he was lean and toned—generally the epitome of a perfect figure. I collected myself and made my way into the shower—I decided on a cold one.
….Everyone says I'm a man of few words, if any. But I am a man of much thought, if it be endless. If anyone could read my mind, they would be shocked to learn rarely anyone knows half about me as they'd like to think they do. No one knows I like to hum when I walk alone. Nor do they know (well, my physician knows) that I have more piercings on my body other than my ears, but I wouldn't get into that with anyone. And they most certainly don't know that I prefer men over women.
Hell no, no one knows about that. Of course, I felt I really liked Chelsea, and Tifa, but Chelsea was more of a misdirection of emotion, I later figured out, and the only thing I really liked about Tifa was her fighting style. I never discussed that with anyone before. I always felt that I had to hide it. No, I knew I had to hide it. After my mother died, I had to live with my extremely strict, extremely homophobic father. I never really knew why he so deeply rejected homosexuality; almost everyone else accepted it. But I shudder to this day to remember all the times he would see two men or two women together and he would pull me aside non-too-gently and tell me if he ever found out I was a 'fag' as he called it, he would not only disown me, he would pitch me off the highest cliff he could find. And I always said I understood.
Up until I was fifteen, that is. My father was friends with the father of my best girl friend, Taylo, and they thought it would be a 'good idea' to set us up. Don't get me wrong, she was very pretty, and very nice; she was a good friend and confidant. But when we were sitting at a café, she was saying something about needing to tell me something, and I found myself distracted by a very handsome-looking boy about a year older than me bending over to pick something up. I was brought out of LaLa Land by Taylo's laughter. She said she wanted to tell me that I was nice and all, but she had a secret girlfriend, and didn't want to hurt my feelings. But she said that she didn't really have to worry about that, did she? We laughed about that, and made a promise that we would take our secrets to the grave.
….And she did. She died in an accident two years later, along with her girlfriend, Rosé. I went to her funeral and cried the whole time. Of course, my father had pulled me aside to ask me—again—if I was a 'fag' for crying like a woman. And of course I told him no.
And that, to everyone who ever wanted to know, is why I made a strong habit of wearing shades all the time. I told my father it was because my eyes were sensitive to unnecessary extra light, and he bought it. Reality was I was afraid I would be out walking and find a nice-looking guy, and someone would see me and report to my father. So I wore them every single day. Even to his funeral.
I kept it all hidden in the back of my mind up to now.
I finally felt like I would get hypothermia, so I got out, dried off, and got into my sleeping pants. I walked back into the room to find Reno reading a firearms magazine, his eyes lighting up when he saw something he liked. He looked up at me and turned back to his reading, so I turned to pick something out to wear for the next day. When I turned back around, I saw him absently rubbing his fingers over the scar on the left side of his face. I found that odd, since he generally either ignored them, or boasted about them to any alluring woman who would overdramatically beg to tell her where he got them. And he had the oddest look on his face, like he was upset about something. I shook it off. He probably forgot something, as usual.
It was getting somewhat late, and I knew Reno would be practically jumping up and down on the bed or even dog piling me at 50 miles an hour to wake up so we wouldn't miss anything in this o-so-fabulous city. I pulled back the covers and slid into the bed, my back to him, and clicked my bedside lamp off. I heard him be silent—probably reading—for about two more minutes before tossing his magazine somewhere and clicking his lamp light off and getting into bed. I drifted off slowly…
When I woke up, I found that I was on my stomach—in the middle of the bed—and Reno was missing. I tensed up, awaiting the inevitable scream of 'Uryaaaaaaa!!!' and all 132 pounds of Reno breaking my back. It didn't come. I sat up, grabbed my shades off the side table and went into the bathroom to take care of business.
…..And found Reno sleeping in the bathtub covered with only a towel. I stood there blinking for a few moments before getting an early evil idea. I reached over and turned the cold water knob on. Watching him shoot up and scream bloody murder almost made me burst out laughing. That was my one rare piece of payback for every twenty times he either whacked me in the head with his metal stick or broke a pair of my shades. This was mild compared to last time when I dyed his hair neon green after he deliberately stomped on my shades when I wouldn't let him pilot the helicopter.
But he shook it off and he took a real shower as I threw on my vacation clothes, which weren't too far off from my work ones. He got out of the shower, had to dig for a shirt he didn't put neatly away, whacked me in the face with his damp ponytail and we headed out for a nice day in Maupin City. It was small for a city, but the people were nice, they had shops where you could buy things you couldn't find anywhere else, and excellent food. However, I noticed that Reno wasn't eating much. All he ate was a light breakfast and just had an ice cream for lunch.
It kind of worried me.
"Are you alright, Reno?" I had asked. He looked up from his dripping ice cream at me.
"…Yeah, I'm fine." He paused. "Why?" I just stared at him. Like he thought I wouldn't notice he didn't grab anything in sight that smelled good to him.
"…Aside from the fact I found you asleep in the bathtub, I really have no reason why to think you're not fine," I answered, somewhat sarcastically. If he noticed, he didn't let it show. I saw him fidget a little.
"I just figured what the hell," he shrugged, pausing to lick a drip of ice cream. Strawberry, I noticed…"You get the bed. It was kinda my fault we didn't get the two-bedder."
I knew there was more, but he didn't go on. He just took a large bite out of the ice cream and clenched his teeth together. He always 'forgot' he had sensitive front teeth. "………Alright…" I took a swig of the beverage I bought. "As long as I don't find you bathing in the toilet, go ahead and sleep in the bathtub." I almost broke into a full grin when he choked—yes, choked—on his ice cream.
"Aw, no," he said, shaking his head. "YOU'RE sleeping in the bathtub tonight!" I shoved him with one hand as I took another sip of my drink. He fell off the bench, holding onto his ice cream for dear life.
"The hell I am!" I answered, tossing the empty bottle into the garbage can. He picked himself up and glared at me. He looked down, saw some ice cream drips on his shirt, then proceeded in licking it off. I shook my head. "You're an animal, you know that?" He flipped me off. I ignored it. "You want to go to the lake now?"
"Whatever," he said, tossing the rest of the ice cream into his mouth. He got another brain freeze.
The lake was beautiful at this time of day. It wasn't evening, but the sun was starting to set. Reno was standing on the small pier, just looking, and I shoved him into the water. No—I tossed his ass into the water. Oh, he put up a struggle, but I have a good other 100 pounds on him. He didn't stand a chance. But he took it like a man and glared at me as I looked at him, very amused. As he dried off, I grabbed another bottle of booze out of my pack and flicked the cap off with a snap of my fingers, one of my many non-combat talents. It was a nice evening, I was having a nice time, and I hurled his ass into the water about sixteen more times—I kind of lost count.
It was dark when we got back to our room. He was dry, but I was still edgy that he was going to bed after being dunked in lake water. But I didn't complain as I stripped my shirt off and tossed into the dirty pile and made my way into the bathroom. I took a hot shower this time, and my mind replayed each and every time I threw him into the water. He would resurface, sputtering obscenities, and I would be busting a gut on the inside. I felt my happiness falter a little. Sometimes I wish I could just laugh like everyone else. That I could just let my happiness out like Reno could.
God, I loved it when Reno laughed. Every time he laughed, I remember the time I first met him. Truthfully, I thought he was a girl. A tomboyish, flat-chested girl, but a girl nonetheless. It was his face that threw me off. He has delicate features, gorgeous eyes, and girlish lips that could break out into that shit-eating grin he's become known for when he's up to something, which is almost always. It was also the way he held himself—poised, upright, and at the time, one fist on his hip with his shoulders slightly diagonal. I was embarrassed out of my mind when I said that Reno was an odd name for a girl. That was when I first saw and heard him laugh—he was nearly doubled over, he was laughing so hard. I swear Tseng was snickering behind me.
But I loved the way he laughed. I still do. His eyes light up so brightly when he laughs…it makes me wonder if he really is human sometimes….
…..I had looked down and saw that my thinking of Reno and the hot shower wasn't a very good combination.
I admit it. I have a thing for Reno. No, that's a lie. It's more than a 'thing'. It's more of a…how did that book describe it?...A 'deep-seated secret longing' or some shit like that…But it more or less accurately describes what I feel. I know he isn't gay…I've seen the way he shamelessly flirts with women. It makes me feel jealous sometimes, when I think about it. Jealous, and a little forlorn. But it's not like in my fantasies I can just one day throw my arms around him and proclaim my everlasting affection. No…that's right up there next to 'laugh out loud' and right before 'sing karaoke'.
I turned off the hot water and let myself cool down in more ways than one, then I grabbed the towel and looked for my pants. Damn. I left them on the bed. I sighed and went into the bedroom.
"Hey, Reno," I said, getting his attention. He turned and stared at me. Oh…I guess this is the first time he's seen my other tattoos. "Throw me my pants, would you?" He stared at me for a second more before he tossed me my pants and started bitching about losing his favorite shirt. I thought I saw it in the third drawer, and I told him so. He began to dig for it, and I went back into the bathroom.
…..Was it me, or was he staring at me? I shook it off as quickly as it came. Of course he wasn't, I told myself. He wasn't that type…
….God damn it…
We both went to bed at the same time this time. But when I woke up, Reno was again gone, and yet again, I found him in the bathtub. I questioned him as soon as I woke him up. Gently, this time, with a shake.
"Is there something you want to talk about, Reno?" I had asked him. He stared at the towel that covered him. I noticed that he was looking a little pale and his face was flushed.
"…No, it's…" He wrung the towel in his pale hands. "I just don't think it's one of those things I should talk about…" I sighed and sat on the toilet, my arms crossed.
"Reno, you're acting weird," I said pointe-blank. "You sleep in the bathroom, you barely eat, and I've seen the way you shift off the subject every five sentences. Why don't you just tell me what's going on?"
He just put a hand to his head. "It's nothing, Rude," he said weakly. "I'm just having some trouble relaxing…I'm fine, really…" After that, he practically shoved me off the toilet and proceeded to empty his stomach contents into it. Oh. It made sense now. He was sick. I suddenly felt guilty. What if it was because I tossed him in the lake yesterday? I heard him wretch again. …Or maybe it was because of something he ate.
He finally finished praying to the porcelain god and I helped him up to rinse his mouth out. I helped him into the room and put him to bed, my hand brushed his head whilst doing so. I paused and felt again. His forehead was hot and he was sweating. He really was sick. ……And we didn't have medicine. Not even aspirin.
"I'm going to run down to the store to get some medicine, okay, Reno?" I told him softly. He let out a strained whimper and buried his face in the pillow. He was really sick. I gave him a last careful look and went to go get something from the apothecary down the street. I gave him Reno's symptoms and he said it was something going around the city. It had strong symptoms, but disappeared in one or two days. He gave me some medicine, I thanked him, and I picked up some food easy on the stomach for Reno and I.
When I got back, Reno had still not gone to sleep, and I could tell he was near crying from the fever. The medicine was in pâté form, so I had a hell of a time getting him to swallow it. After that all he drank was some water, and he refused to open his mouth for anything else.
This wasn't exactly my idea of a vacation, but I knew I wouldn't relax or have any fun until I knew Reno would be alright. I took out one of the books I brought with me, made myself comfortable on my side of the bed, and began to read. I looked up every once and awhile to make sure he wouldn't throw up all over himself, but he just remained comatose for the rest of the morning.
Afternoon came and went, and I looked up once more. He still hadn't been able to sleep, and I could tell his fever was a little worse. I started to really worry about him. What if this was different from what the apothecary told me? What if Reno was sick with something more serious? I forced myself to calm down. Fevers always get worse before they get better, I remembered. I just had to wait for Reno to ride it out. I tried to read again, but I couldn't focus.
I sighed, took my shades off, and rubbed my eyes. This wasn't going to be easy…I couldn't even remember the last time I was really sick…Oh…yeah, I could. I felt my heart clench as I remembered being eight years old and sick in bed as my mother took care of me. I only have one picture of her that remains at home, but anyone who ever saw it said I have her eyes. I guess I do. I remember her eyes being full of love and concern for me as she would give me my medicine, read to me, and sing to me. I closed my eyes in remembering her song that always, always made me feel better, no matter what ailment I had.
Reno's strained whimpering dragged me out of my memories. He still wasn't asleep. I sat there staring at him for a few moments before a thought so odd yet ingenious, I heard myself chuckle a little, crossed my mind.
"I think I know what will make you feel better," I said, crossing over sit right next to him. I saw his dull eyes follow me questioningly. I sat still as so not to jostle him and began to sing—from memory—my mother's lullaby:
Who can tell me if we have Heaven…who can say the way it should be?
Moonlight holly, the Sappho Comet…Angel tears below a tree…
You talk of the break of morning…as you view the new aurora
Cloud in crimson, the key of Heaven…one love carved in acajou…
One told me of China Roses…One a Thousand nights and one night
Earth's last picture, the end of evening…hue of indigo and blue…
I know that if I have Heaven…There is nothing to desire
Rain and river, a world of wonder…May be Paradise to me…
I stopped singing to see how progress was.
…..He was crying. He was just laying there, eyes half-open, with tears silently running down his face. I was worried he was getting even sicker when his eyes closed and the tears stopped. His body relaxed, and his breathing evened out. It took me a few moments to realize he was finally asleep. I let out a sigh of relief.
"Thank you, Momma," I murmured to myself. I went over to the mini fridge and retrieved a bottle of water. I drank the whole bottle in one go, then turned to get some clothes for after my shower. I got them, then looked at Reno again. I have never seen him so vulnerable and helpless before. He was lying there on his side, his face still flushed, and his face in an expression of somewhat concentrated sleep. He was dreaming.
I walked over and looked at him more closely. This was in violation of my 'Don't get too close to Reno' rules, but I didn't care. He was snuggling into his pillow now, like was trying to find comfort in something. My heart twitched, thinking of how I wanted to be that comfort he was seeking. Thinking of how I wanted to be the one he was snuggling up to. Thinking of how much I wanted to hold him right now in my arms and comfort him from this fever. How I wanted to rock him back and forth, to take care of him on a more intimate level.
Reality sunk in. It was never going to happen, I realized. He would never think of me as more than just a best friend—as a partner. Nothing else. I felt the urge to cry, but held onto it with age-held practice. There was nothing I could do now but wait for him to wake up and spend the rest of our vacation time together. And then it was back to work, where I would once again admire him from afar; sneak looks at him when he wasn't looking; stay up long nights thinking about him, wanting to go pound on his apartment door and confess my feelings for him. But there wasn't a snowball's chance in Hell of that happening. I knew it. There was no way I could ever be intimate with him……Or was there….?
I looked at him again and brushed his messy bangs away with shaking fingers. He didn't wake up; in fact, I could have sworn he leaned into the touch. I held my breath and gently traced my fingertips over one of his scars. I too always thought they were neat. They added to his features instead of pulling attention away from them. Come to think of it, I never knew where he got them. I thought they were tattoos at first, but then I overheard him telling some girl they were scars.
Again he leaned into my touch and hummed in his sleep. My fingers traced from the scar to down his face; over his delicate cheekbone and down to his chin, then brushing lightly over his lips. I was always amazed at how womanlike his features were; that's why I mistook him for a woman when I first met him. But even though I thought he was a girl, I felt somewhat attracted to him. That attraction never quite disappeared.
He shifted his weight a little and rolled over to his back, his face still in my direction. His expression was relaxed, and he looked very content. I stared at him for what seemed like hours, thinking of all the things I ever wanted to do with him, until I couldn't take it anymore. I was about to get up when I felt his hand on mine. I looked down and saw his pale hand lightly grab my darker one. I looked back to his face and saw an expression I couldn't quite read. It was content, relaxed, with a hint of a smile to it.
I leaned up and kissed his forehead without thinking. When I pulled back, I thought with embarrassing horror that he was going to wake up. He didn't. That small smile merely widened by a fraction and he nuzzled deeper into his pillow. I brushed my hand over his face again and slowly got up. Shower be damned. I was tired, and it looked as though Reno would be alright. I just changed into my sleeping pants and crawled into bed beside him. I reached over to touch his face once more before closing my eyes to fall asleep.
I woke up to find Reno once again missing from the bed. Panic raced through my body as I shot up and ran for my clothes—then paused when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I looked out the sliding glass door to see Reno lying on the balcony, on his side with his head supported on his folded arms. I practically ran outside, almost forgetting to open up the door first, and bent down to check if he was okay. I shook his shoulder, calling his name softly.
He lifted up his head, and I could see that his eyes were damp and red from what looked like crying. "Are you okay, Reno?" I asked him, not giving a damn that my voice cracked from concern. If he had noticed, he didn't show. He just rubbed his eyes and looked around before his eyes settled on me. I ran my hand across his forehead. It was nice and cool. I sighed with relief on many different levels and put my hand on his shoulder. "Are you okay?" I asked again.
He looked at me and nodded. "I…I guess I was sleepwalking," he said, rubbing his eyes again. "I feel better now, Rude. I'm fine. Really." He moved to stand up, but I didn't take any chances. I helped him up and back into the room, where he insisted he would be fine. He took a shower while I got dressed and headed out to the lounge for something easy on the stomach to eat. I still decided not to take any chances of him projectile vomiting at any other point during this vacation.
He was dressed by the time I came in, and I gave him his breakfast, then asked if he was okay to go out for some fresh air. He was, and we spent the entire day together, from dawn to dark, at the lake; talking, eating, drinking, and he dropped a hermit crab on my exposed abdomen while I was taking a light nap. I retaliated by literally picking him up over my head and throwing him off the pier again. I saw him wave his arms violently in the air like a maniac before he hit the water, and I couldn't help it—I put a hand to my mouth to stop me from guffawing my ass off. I managed to recover before he resurfaced, shouting something about how he should have put it down my pants instead.
When we got back to the room, it was late and we were both exhausted. I got into the shower, replaying the whole day in my head over and over again. I mentally paused and imprinted in my memory his smile, the way his eyes lit up when he saw me freak out from the crab, the absurd arm-waving as I chucked him into the lake, and….
For some reason, my brain switched back to when I sang him the lullaby, when he was softly crying. I looked at my mind's image more closely, and saw that he had a hint of a content, somewhat happy smile on his lips, like he…was happy I was there taking care of him when he was sick. I opened my eyes and leaned against the shower wall. God…all I ever wanted to do was take care of him…to let him know he's the only one…to kiss him while he sleeps every night and just look at him while he's off guard…
I put a hand to my face and let out a silent sob. All I ever wanted to do was love him. I let the hand slid from my face. I love him. I love him. I, Rude, the 'emotionless super-human ass-kicker extraordinaire', loved Reno, the 'hyperactive talk-nonstop, hit-things-other-than-the-target-with-his-rod redhead'. I loved him. I sighed and leaned my head on the wall, feeling tears mingle with the shower water. I was supposed to be the emotionless one…and here I was, crying because one of my supposedly nonexistent emotions was being left unattended. I got a grip on myself and rinsed my face off with water before turning the shower off and getting out. I had again left my sleeping pants in the other room, so I went in to ask if Reno could toss them to me.
I found him already asleep. I could hear his breathing; a sweet, rhythmic melody that made me lean against the bathroom doorframe and just stare at him. I could feel a sad smile play at my lips. He looked completely beautiful when he laid there like that, sleeping. I got my pants and put them on, then slid into bed next to him. I have a habit of sleeping in the middle of the bed, so I figured he would think that as I scooched toward the middle and gently touched my side to his. As I closed my eyes, I saw his pale angelic face shine in the moonlight and wished I could kiss it every night from now until the day I die…
I screamed his name as an explosion caused by those fucking assholes we were up against rocked the entire area. I shielded myself behind a piece of fallen rubble, but looked to the side to see that Reno hadn't been as lucky. He was thrown by the explosion and I saw him hit the side of the building head first, being followed my something that sliced through his side. I heard him scream in pain.
"Rude!" I heard him call out for me. My heart clenched for his safety. I couldn't let him die here…not here…
"I'm coming, Ren—!" I began to shout back. I was cut off by gunfire coming from the opposite building. I ducked behind the rubble until I heard Reno scream after a particular shot that sounded like it came from a big gun. "Fuck!" I grabbed my gun and began to fire back. I heard two scream as I killed them. Serves the motherfuckers right. I heard Reno shout something and fire a gun at some men that were making their way toward us. One. Two. Three. Four fell as Reno kept firing. Some of them fired back, and I again cocked my gun.
"Why wont you sons of bitches just die?!" I yelled, firing shots wildly. Many of them fall. A bullet hits me in the shoulder. "Fuck!" I yelled again, switching gun hands. More die by my gun. When gunshots ceased, I turned to Reno to make sure he wasn't dead to see our main target right above him, a sniper rifle pointed at Reno's head.
Everything but his safety left my mind as I ran toward him, firing shots at the target; all of which missed. Fuck! He wasn't supposed to die! He was supposed to be my partner until we both retire at middle age. He was supposed to come live with me; just as a friend until I would get the nerve up to tell him how I felt about him—about us. He was supposed to laugh at the 'joke' until he would see the tears in my eyes. He was supposed to ask if I was serious, and I would tear down my emotional wall and let him see the real me—the Rude that could laugh and cry and confess his emotions. The Rude that could hug someone he loved and never let go. The Rude that would beg to give us a chance—just a chance. He was supposed to hug me and say that we could try. We could try…And I was supposed to kiss him and tell him I love him…
I saw him raise his gun up vertically to shoot the target. I dove to save him from getting shot—and everything seemed to go a fraction of normal speed. I heard two shot go off—simultaneously. I felt my shades slide off my face. I saw Reno's surprised expression. I heard the bullet of the sniper rifle race toward my head.
I felt a tear run down my face. This wasn't supposed to happen.
…But if I die saving him….then c'est la vie...
I felt pain and then nothing as my tears hit Reno's face…My life for his…if nothing…else…
I would watch over him from the Lifestream. I would watch him scream in anguish when he found I was dead. I would watch him suffer in the hospital. I would watch him as he would silently beg me to come back—that he loved me. I would watch as he would figure out that I loved him too. I would watch as he slit his own wrist to be with me. I wouldn't let him die alone…I reached down and held him as he left his physical body to hold me as we rejoined the Lifestream…together…
…Like it should be…