Title: An Unexpected Visit
Timeline: Shortly after the end of the original game.
Prompt: Rufus/Reno - reminiscing - You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive. Well, you said that we made such a pretty pair and that you would never leave. But you gave away the things you loved, and one of them was me. Special thanks to the poster of that prompt, as this was the first time I ever wrote either of these characters, and I ended up with a new OTP and a Rufus muse that has since eaten my brain. But without further ado, on to the fic.
"You're not dead."
Apparently that, along with a confused blink, was all the redheaded Turk could muster at the sight of Rufus Shinra in his doorway.
"Yes, nice to see you too," Rufus muttered in reply, a moment later adding a slight nod toward the interior of the room, presently blocked by the Turk's frame in the door. "Are you going to invite me in?" Reno blinked a second time.
"Er, yeah. 'Course," he replied, and shifted out of the way. As Rufus stepped inside the apartment, he added, "So what brings you here, Mr. Not-Dead President?" Rufus' first impulse was to cringe at the title, but he reminded himself that Reno was the sort who would just keep going if he knew he was effectively being annoying. He opted for a simple reminder.
"No need for a title, Turk. As always, Rufus will do." The 'as always' was a bit of a shot, he had to admit. Reno, like everyone else, had been encouraged to append 'president' when the term applied. The fact that he wasn't asking for it now was a hint at the answer to the redhead's question, which Rufus would generally prefer to avoid. Former president of Shinra looking up old ties because he had nowhere else to go? He hadn't gone so low as to say that outright.
"And 'Turk' is a bit unnecessary too, dont'ya think? I don't precisely work for you anymore. After all... well, you're not actually dead, I guess, but that's what everyone assumed." This time, Rufus did cringe.
"And if you would quit the line of discussion as to whether or not I am deceased, it would be much appreciated. I would suspect, as I am presently standing in your apartment, that the answer to that question should be obvious." With that, he took the opportunity to flop into a nearby chair. Only in the present company would the former president of Shinra flop, but given the generally disheveled nature of Reno's living room, it seemed appropriate. Amending his last statement, his living self was now sitting in Reno's apartment.
"Make yourself at home." The rolling of eyes that accompanied the sentiment did not go unnoticed by Rufus, nor did he choose to acknowledge it. "Coffee?" the redhead continued in such a way that Rufus couldn't track the level of sarcasm. He would assume it was an actual offer.
"Mm," Reno responded, disappearing through a door, leaving Rufus to take in his surroundings. The room in which he presently sat consisted of two chairs, a small coffee table, and various objects, food wrappers, liquor bottles, and who knows what else strewn about in such a way that just barely allowed paths for walking. Rufus, dressed neatly in white and sitting as if he were attending a business meeting, would stick out from the scene like a sore thumb. The president would have expected as much from his present company, but he would admit to not quite being able to fight back some vestige of disgust.
When Reno returned, he was carrying a half-full pot of coffee and a couple of mugs. Rufus resisted the urge to insist that if the Turk was going to offer the beverage he should make it new. In his current position, he reminded himself, it was probably best not to complain about trivial things. As the redhead had already pointed out, they no longer exactly had the relationship of superior and subordinate. What relationship they did have exactly was an issue Rufus presently chose not to think about.
"So," Reno continued as he took the seat across from the one Rufus was occupying, filled a mug, set it on the coffee table between them, "you never answered my question. Why are you here?" Rufus sighed and muttered a quiet, polite 'thank you' as he grabbed hold of the mug and took a sip of the offered beverage and watched Reno pour a second cup for himself. Not especially hot, he noted.
"Yes, why am I here?" Rufus repeated, managing somehow to give the rhetoric an air of authority. Actually, it was a good question. The truth being that Rufus was looking for somewhere to stay while he got his life back in order and when Tseng seemed impossible to find (if he wasn't dead himself. Rufus wasn't entirely sure), Reno was the next contact to come to mind. As for what he expected out of the redheaded Turk, he wasn't entirely certain himself. "Re-establishing what ties I can, I suppose," he finally concluded. It was a nice way of not quite admitting that he was scrambling for support. Needless to say, Shinra was not the powerhouse it had been, and while Rufus' first goal was obviously to get himself out of the wreckage of what had once been his office, whatever followed was not quite so clear.
"And what sort of tie are you hoping to re-establish with me?" Reno replied, raising an eyebrow. Rufus sighed quietly, reminding himself that Reno managed to be both astute and persistent (when sober at least, and for better or worse that seemed to be the case at the moment, though it wasn't so much that those qualities disappeared when he was drunk so much as he would be much less likely to care), and was likely to see through any attempts on Rufus' part to avoid giving a direct answer to things. The most frustrating part of it was that Rufus didn't actually know the answers, himself. There had been a time when he had a plan to establish himself as the new Shinra president and change the way things were run, and that had all been going fine. Except for the fact that Rufus' plan had never had a contingency for the Shinra building getting blown up, the company going under, and everyone assuming he had died. You know, that constituted just a bit of a set-back.
"Oh, hell if I know, Turk," he uncharacteristically spat. He was frustrated, and as appearances go, he was in the company of one of the few people who had glimpsed some of the less public aspects of his personality anyway. Reno crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair, smirking lopsidedly.
"So you're here because I'm a Turk, then," he commented. Rufus peered back at the other questioningly.
"Meaning there was a time when you thought of me as something other than a lackey. Wasn't sure if that was the relationship you were trying to put back together, or the professional one." Reno's smirk grew wider and his voice took on a vague teasing tone. "By the way, if your intent was the first, you're failing miserably." Rufus frowned, mildly perplexed by the redhead's comments.
"Are you saying you have some interest in reviving ancient history?"
"All I'm saying, Mr. President, is that if you're looking for a place to stay, you might be out of luck. I only have one bed here, and I'm not too anxious for you to be in it." With that, the Turk grabbed the coffee pot and disappeared again into what Rufus assumed to be the kitchen. The former Shinra president opened his mouth as if to say something, but closed it again. Frankly, he wasn't quite sure what to say to that. If nothing else, Reno's thoughts were ever difficult to track. A moment ago he seemed nothing short of amused (though about what, Rufus had no idea), but then his last words had been almost bitter. Rufus played the scene over in his head, trying to make sense of it.
"You're still angry," he observed when Reno reappeared at the door. Admittedly the end of their relationship hadn't exactly been pretty, but he would have thought the Turk had long since gotten over it.
"Am I?" Reno replied, voice edged with sarcasm as he leaned against the door frame. "Really I thought I had done a good job of playing platonic lackey, Mr. President. Couldn't have any other relationship to you, after all. Appearances and all that."
"You know how much I had at stake," Rufus retorted coldly. No one ever seemed to quite understand what it took to win more or less instant support in place of his father. It took monumental effort and a number of sacrifices, Reno being only one of them. But in the end, it had worked, hadn't it? That is, until the whole situation rather literally blew up, but that hadn't been his fault.
"Enough that your reputation was suddenly the only thing that mattered,"
"My reputation always mattered," he corrected. It was a simple matter of exactly who he was trying to impress. "And clearly," he continued with noted sarcasm, "dating Mr. Reno I-Will-Fuck-Anything-Attractive-and-Willing would have been a good way to earn respect." Reno moved as if to protest, but instead paused and replied more calmly.
"You were different. You know that." He had been, and he did. But.
"Did anyone else?" That was what mattered, after all. What other people knew.
"Who knows?" The Turk sighed, slumping back into his chair. He muttered the next statement as somewhat of an afterthought. "And I would note that you were both back then." Rufus cocked his head to the side inquisitively.
"Attractive and willing," Reno replied simply, shifting to look Rufus again in the eye. "It's that last one that changed, hmm, Mr. President?" Rufus attempted to avoid bristling visibly, and probably failed completely.
"Would you please stop calling me that?" It was one thing to call him president as a mark of respect, even though the title wasn't presently a functional one. Reno, however, was using it as a weapon, and that simply wouldn't do.
"Anything you say, Mr. President," Reno drawled back, the earlier amused smirk reappearing at the corner of his lips. Rufus sighed emphatically. Some things just never change.
A long moment, though undoubtedly a shorter span of time than it seemed, passed in silence as the two seemed temporarily to have run out of jibes. Now, having a moment to think back on it, they had never actually talked through what had ended up being a rather abrupt halt to their prior relationship. Rufus had explained the necessity of his decision, Reno had sulked almost imperceptibly for a few days (it takes a trained eye to figure out when Reno is sulking), and life had simply gone on. For Rufus, the whole matter had been decided, concluded, and shoved neatly into a little mental desk drawer of assorted personal matters. It hadn't quite occurred to him that it might not have been quite the same from Reno's perspective.
"...I don't suppose you have a couch?" Rufus finally ventured, in an admission of helplessness that was almost tangibly painful, but not quite so much as would be an apology for the aforementioned ancient history. Reno peered back at him with a quirked eyebrow.
"I have a floor," he replied with a shrug. "You can probably tell it's not too fancy around here." It was rather an understatement, from what Rufus could tell. Reno was certainly never known for being a neat and tidy kind of person, nor a fan of the particularly ornate. Most likely, the rest of the apartment consisted of nothing more than a small kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom, and most likely all in the same general state of disarray. In terms of surroundings, he would certainly do better in a hotel-- even an average one. But the simple fact was that Rufus was also not accustomed to being alone. He had always had people to serve him, people to protect him. On rare occasions even people who cared about him. Since the incident with Diamond Weapon, Rufus had been more or less completely alone. That. more than anything, was what had driven him to seek out familiar faces and what eventually led him here. And if being in proximity to one of said people again involved staying in a tiny disheveled apartment, well, it was a sacrifice he was willing to make in return for some shred of sanity.
"Don't tell me you're actually thinking about crashing on my floor." Reno's expression showed a mixture of amusement, confusion, and something hinting at concern. It was such an odd look that Rufus almost wanted to laugh, aside from the fact that on some level he actually was considering crashing on Reno's floor (provided it was at least cleaned up and proved sufficiently sanitary first) and was having about the same reaction to himself. Clearly there was something wrong with him.
"Why did you come, Rufus?" Reno asked when he didn't receive a response. "What is it you want? And it's not a place to sleep, because I know you can afford a very nice hotel room, and you've been staying somewhere since the last time I saw you." Alright, Rufus would admit the redhead had him pinned there.
"Company," Rufus replied simply, his gaze landing on the half-empty cup of coffee sitting in front of him, which was now probably room temperature. He frowned, though more in response to being more open than he would prefer at the moment than the coffee.
"Really," Reno muttered incredulously. "Rufus Shinra lonely? That's a first."
"Yes, a first," Rufus repeated bitterly. "Rufus Shinra minus a large, powerful company, a first; Rufus Shinra generally being considered dead, a first. There are a lot of firsts here, Reno, and none of them are good. You think I have a reason for finding an old companion? There you have it."
"And you picked me," Reno said--an observation, though there was a hint of question to it. Rufus blinked back at him, wondering about that small hint in the tone.
"Is that strange?" He must have looked more confused than he had thought, because Reno laughed. "What?" he added petulantly, though he couldn't quite find it in himself to actually feel offended.
"Let's just say it's funny to see you so distraught that you don't even have any idea what you're looking for," Reno explained, accented by that smirk. The comment, though, caught hold of Rufus' curiosity.
"What, may I ask, do you think I'm looking for, then?" he prodded, prompting Reno to shift forward in his chair and fix his gaze on Rufus in the way he did in the rare times he was saying something serious and pointed, and he knew he was right. Despite not bothering much with appearances most of the time, he was a master of the dramatic when he wanted to be.
"What you want," Reno informed him, "is not a friend. What you want is someone to call you Mr. President and make you coffee." He leaned back in the chair again. "And for the record, that's not me."
"So far you've done both," Rufus retorted, not so much trying to form a coherent argument as simply to avoid being so utterly beaten. He wasn't supposed to need to have other people tell him what he was thinking. It was supposed to be the other way around.
"No, you know what I mean," the redhead replied. "Why me, Rufus?" He was half tempted to reply that the reason was because he couldn't find Tseng, with whom he would undoubtedly not be having this conversation, but decided against it. It was weak, just like everything else. He could have gone to any number of loyal followers, and he didn't. No, the plain and simple fact was that Rufus Shinra for the first time in his life had not a clue of what the hell he was doing, and Reno never seemed to have that problem.
"Maybe because the world is upside-down and you've always been better at coping with things than I have," he spat, hating the words. It was the verbal version of crawling on his hands and knees. Reno just looked at him for a long moment, eyes widened in surprise. Rufus wanted nothing more than to crawl under a rock.
"Is that all you can say?" Rufus asked frustratedly. He wasn't about to have bared a fraction of his soul to get nothing in return.
"Hey, you surprised me," Reno retorted. "You must really be shaken. I was sure you were going to make me guess that." Rufus frowned yet again.
"And? What's your secret?" For a moment, the Turk only laughed.
"I don't have one," he explained through chuckles. "You know why I recover easily when shit happens? It's because I don't give a damn about anything." Which was a true enough statement, Rufus decided. It seemed likely that someone could set Reno's apartment on fire and he wouldn't care as long as he got out of it alright. As far as he could tell Reno had exactly two priorities: keeping his job and beyond that doing whatever the hell he felt like at the moment. Unfortunately for Rufus, not caring about things was certainly not in his nature, nor was spontaneity. Not caring about people, maybe, but that was something different. Reno continued. "Yeah, so, that's the secret. I never cared about anything. Except you, once, and, well, look how that turned out."
"I," Rufus began and stopped abruptly. He had no words. Apologizing was even less in his nature than not caring about things. He was grateful that the redhead seemed not to be interested in pressing him on that one. Another awkward pause ensued as the conversation yet again found a stopping point. It was only a few seconds, certainly, but Rufus felt as if he spent a good hour or so rolling things over in his mind: this conversation, his future, their past.
"You still find me attractive," Rufus commented, having latched on to an earlier bit of conversation that had escaped his notice at the time. It wasn't that odd (after all, Rufus would rather like to think he iwas/i attractive), but it managed to have been a bit so in the midst of Reno being angry and bitter.
"Huh?" came the reply from the redhead, who had gotten lost in his own thoughts. When Rufus thought about it, that observation would seem as if it had come out of the blue.
"Earlier you said that I had been both attractive and willing and that the latter had changed," he explained matter-of-factly. "I am merely extrapolating data." Reno leaned forward in his seat again, fixing Rufus with a lopsided grin.
"One out of two doesn't count, you know." Rufus watched him for a moment in silence, wondering whether or not Reno would be willing to forgive the past. He didn't dare assume that he still cared in the same way, though he supposed that was why he had sought him out-- because Reno was one of a very few people who had ever cared about Rufus for any reason not related to his social standing.
"Well, yes, but what if...?" In a move more tentative than would have been expected of him, he lifted a hand to lightly touch Reno's cheek, then slid it around the other's neck and pulled him into a kiss. He wasn't sure if it was smart, and he certainly had no idea what effect it would have on his social standing, but he did know it was what he felt like doing at that precise moment.
Yes, clearly, something was wrong with him. But then, Reno seemed to inspire this sort of behavior. Meaning the impulsive rather than the romantic, though the latter also applied.
The truly amazing thing was that Reno wasn't fighting. On the contrary, he deepened the kiss (and somehow without breaking the kiss managed to get himself over the coffee table and end up in Rufus' lap, who chose not to ponder it too heavily). It was Reno who broke the kiss, though he remained draped over the former Shinra president.
"Hope you're not doing this just so I'll let you sleep in my bed, yo," the redhead murmured in Rufus' ear, "Cause, you know, that would be pretty low." That time it was Rufus' turn to laugh.
"Let me assure you, I'm not that desperate." Actually he would be hard pressed to identify a motivation, aside from to say that perhaps ancient history wasn't so terribly ancient. He hadn't quite realized just how much he missed this.
"Good," Reno replied in a half-whisper, nipping lightly at the skin peeping out from Rufus' collar.
"I take it this means I do have access to your bed, though?" Reno backed off enough to nod and shoot back a smirk.
"But you make your own coffee." That got another small chuckle out of the president. If they were going to set up a sort of contract, there would be more things to be worked out. Like the layer of clutter on the floor. But for the moment, and for the most part, he decided this was an arrangement he could live with.
"I think we have a deal," he replied. And for the first time since he had arrived, Rufus genuinely smiled.