Title: Babysitting

Canon: FFVII: Before Crisis

Challenge: Rufus/Reno, fics in an arc, 1000+ words each

Characters: Them.

Wordcount: 2755

Rating: T to be safe, probably more like K+

Warnings: None

Summary: Reno has the job of keeping an eye on Rufus. Neither are happy about this.

Spoilers: If you're not familiar with BC canon.

Note: This only counts as including a pairing because it's part of a continuity. The farthest they get in this is not entirely hating each other. And that's even iffy. But! It is part of the same arc, and thus I say it counts. The seeds of later relationship are here somewhere, but have a while yet before they take root. Meanwhile, the snarking is a lot of fun.

There was not, Reno was sure, any real reason to keep an eye on the boy twentyfour-seven. He was unlikely to run off; as far as anyone else was concerned, he was on a business trip somewhere, and most of the people who would be interested in knowing that wasn't the case would be all too happy to kill him. Reno had to debate whether he would be counted among those people were it not his job to protect him. Meanwhile, here Reno was, sitting in a room most people didn't know existed with a boy most people didn't know was there, babysitting. Maybe he should have tried to avoid thinking of the Vice President of Shinra, and thus his superior, as a boy, but it seemed appropriate. It was Rufus who broke the silence, looking up from a screen of assorted information with which he had previously appeared fascinated.

"You clearly don't want to be here, so why don't you leave?"

"Not in my present job description. I'm supposed to be watching you." Rufus turned to look at Reno seriously.

"I won't leave." Reno peered back at him, and came to the conclusion that he was telling the truth. His eyes looked like they were trying to burn through Reno and make him disappear, but not like he was lying.

"It would be stupid if you tried," the Turk replied simply, emphasizing the point. That unfortunately did not mean Reno had any less of a job to sit here watching him. Thankfully this constant supervision thing was likely to go away in a couple of days once the boy had proven himself relatively trustworthy, and at the very least it looked like he wasn't planning on trying to leave.

"And I'm not stupid," Rufus commented, turning back to the screen.

"Mm." Reno figured that one didn't deserve an actual comment. Not stupid, granted. Not exactly smart, either, from what he could tell.

"I also can't make full use of my security clearance if you're looking over my shoulder." Which was true. The Turks ended up having access to just about everything, but not quite as much of everything as Rufus would. Which Reno thought was probably a poor decision on the part of President Shinra.

"How proper of you," Reno mumbled, though he would give a point to the boy for being conscious of that. He sighed, leaning back in his chair. "Not like I was paying attention, anyway." Which was a lie. There wasn't much else to pay attention to. The room was fairly small--a desk and chair, where Rufus was currently sitting, the chair Reno was sitting in, a bed, a small cabinet, and enough room to move between them. That was about it. So there wasn't a whole lot to look at. Besides, spying was something he was used to, and good at.

"Then you're a bad Turk," Rufus noted without looking up from the screen.

"What?" It was more of a gut response to the statement than anything else. It would be sort of stupid if he actually hadn't been paying attention, and he knew that.

"You should always be aware of everything that's going on around you. Particularly when it's useful information." Reno frowned slightly. Somehow when Rufus said it, it sounded like it was coming out of a textbook or something.

"Your father tell you that?" It was his best guess. Rufus, still staring at the screen in front of him, noticably bristled.

"It's common sense," he replied icily. Which, of course, it was.

"True."

For the next few minutes they sat in silence, Rufus enthralled with his information networks and Reno following over the boy's shoulder while slumped in his own chair only semi-comfortably. It didn't take long for the brief silence to get frustrating. Reno wasn't a fan of silence, unless he was trying to sneak up on something.

"So, AVALANCHE, huh?" Reno wanted to get a conversation going again, and that was the first topic to come to mind. Rufus bristled again.

"Idiots," he muttered, "I'll get rid of them someday." Reno raised an eyebrow at the sheer absurdity of that statement coming from Rufus.

"Didn't you start the whole thing?" he reminded. Rufus turned away from the screen to face Reno, and responded as if what he was going to say should have been completely obvious.

"They turned on me." Reno gave the boy a long, hard look. The frequency with which this boy's loyalties changed was nothing short of disturbing. Of course, disturbing was something Reno dealt with on a daily basis.

"Is that your solution to anything you find inconvenient, then? Kill it?" Not the most well-developed strategy Reno had ever heard.

"It's effective," the boy replied simply.

"It's also idiotic." Rufus opened his mouth, certainly to refute that statement, then apparently changed his mind.

"...why?"

"Well, maybe it works if you think a perfect world consists of you and a pile of corpses." Which, Reno decided, it would if Rufus was able to do everything he wanted. As far as he could tell, Rufus found everyone inconvenient. Rufus blinked, apparently mildly perplexed by Reno's comment.

"I'd keep the useful people."

"Like who?" Reno questioned. "Didn't your useful people just turn on you? And didn't you just try to kill the people who are protecting you?" As far as Reno recalled, the only reason nobody had directly attacked the Turks was because his AVALANCHE buddies weren't listening to him.

"Shut up." Reno resisted the urge to laugh.

"Why? If I keep talking are you going to shoot me?" Rufus was silent for a moment while Reno stared at him, one eyebrow raised. After seeming to ponder the question heavily, the boy muttered an answer.

"...I don't have my gun." And he said it in a way that had a definite connotation of 'yes, but.' Reno resisted a very strong temptation to roll his eyes.

"Well, that answers that, then, doesn't it?"

Rufus was silent for a moment, then turned back to the screen.

"You're not as respectful as you should be," he noted, sounding half annoyed and half curious.

"Oh?" Reno had to wonder if the boy was only just noticing this now. Not like Reno was the type to worry about showing the proper respect to anyone, unless they actually deserved it. Or unless his life was on the line.

"I'm your Vice President," Rufus pointed out. "You aren't acting in accordance with our relative ranks."

"You're also a kid," Reno pointed out in response, "and under house arrest." Rufus turned around again, this time pointedly looking Reno in the eyes.

"I'm not a kid." Reno peered back at him, unphased.

"How old are you again?"

"Fifteen." Yes, Reno thought, clearly an age where most kids set up a terrorist organization targeting their father. Normal teenage rebellion phase. Right.

"...you see my point." Reno himself wasn't all that much older, but he had a few years on the kid anyway.

"I would have thought I had proven otherwise by now." Reno sighed.

"Alright, a kid who plays with dangerous toys." Really, this is why you don't give a five year old an army. The boy was smart--too smart for his own good, maybe. Reno would give him that. He also was pretty naive in his own way, and lacking enough experience to know when he was being stupid. Reno would admit that he did kind of stupid things on a regular basis himself, but at least he knew he was doing them. Rufus, at this point, apparently decided that denying the charge wasn't working, and switched tactics in favor of fighting fire with fire.

"How old were you when you became a Turk?" Reno blinked at him. Alright, fair enough point. Not fifteen, but not a whole lot past there, either. A couple years. Though, not an entirely fair comparison, either.

"...that's different," he replied, not quite sure what else to say. And because, you know, it just was.

"Is it?" Reno opened his mouth to say something, and couldn't manage to come up with anything useful to say.

"Shut up." Rufus laughed and mimicked Reno's earlier question.

"Why? If I don't, are you going to shoot me?" The Turk frowned and responded far quicker than Rufus had.

"I'm protecting you." It had a strong connotation of 'and man, I wish I wasn't.' Besides, he wouldn't shoot him, anyway. He would beat him up. Very painfully.

"Really? I thought you were just annoying me." The boy turned back to his screen with a smug smile.

"The feeling is mutual," Reno muttered, wondering again why exactly it was necessary for him to be sitting here. He was ninety-nine percent sure the boy wasn't going to run off, and as for any other damage he was capable of doing, there wasn't much any of them were going to do about his security clearance. Right now he didn't seem to be doing much with it other than monitoring things elsewhere, anyway. Meaning Reno was pretty sure he didn't actually need to be here. But he was. Because it was his job. And it wasn't annoying him quite enough to just walk away. Besides, he didn't trust the kid as far as he could throw him (which, he pondered briefly, was probably decently far), so he may as well keep an eye on him.

"So why don't you leave?"

"Job, remember?"

"Mm."

They fell into silence again, and this time Reno let it slide. Much as he had instigated most of it, he was getting sick of the boy snarking at him. He was also getting sick of the boy proving him wrong. He wasn't a kid, not really, and Reno would say he hadn't really been a kid at that age either. Just, you know, Reno hadn't had the desire or the ability to do what Rufus had done. Reno had been perfectly happy to be a new and rather young member of some group called the Turks, which he would probably also admit that he hadn't entirely understood at the time. That wasn't all that long ago, he realized. He learned quickly.

But then, this kid seemed like he didn't actually have a group. He had a lot of money and a lot of influence, and a lot of people who listened to him. Also a lot of people who didn't.

"Do you have any friends?" Rufus jumped slightly at the question, startled either by the breaking of the silence or the question itself.

"Why?" If it was possible, that had sounded even more skeptical than usual. Reno shrugged, though the boy wouldn't have seen it.

"Just wondering. It doesn't seem like it."

"I have Dark Nation," Rufus murmured, his thoughts clearly more focused on the screen than the conversation at hand. Reno wasn't quite sure what to make of that statement. Who or what was a Dark Nation?

"You what now?" Rufus looked over his shoulder at the Turk.

"My pet. Dark Nation." Reno peered at him incredulously.

"...you named your pet Dark Nation?" What a bizarre name. But, he had to admit, it sounded like something the boy would have come up with. Rufus shrugged slightly and went back to staring at the screen.

"Is there something wrong with that?"

"I guess not," Reno replied, then remembered what the original question had been. "Your friend is your pet, though?"

"He listens to me. And he doesn't annoy me with questions." It was a matter-of-fact answer, if clearly a pointed one. Also one that produced in Reno's mind an image of Rufus sitting alone with his dog discussion plans of world domination. Which might have been even more disturbing than thinking about how quickly the kid had switched sides. And kind of depressing on top of it. Kid really had nobody to talk to other than his pet?

"I... that's kind of sad, yo." Rufus shot Reno another sidelong glance, along with a frown.

"Why?" Reno just looked at him, debating whether or not he was actually feeling mildly concerned. If nothing else, that probably explained some of the kid's apparent insanity.

"You seriously don't have friends?" At that, Rufus turned fully toward him and crossed him arms.

"You seem awfully concerned about this." Reno shrugged in response.

"Not really."

"Then why do you keep asking?" It was a question Reno chose to ignore in favor of more questions of his own.

"Do you have a girlfriend?" Rufus, very briefly, looked mildly confused then went back to displaying what was apparently his equivalent of a poker face. A particularly irritated-looking poker face.

"No," he said simply.

"A boyfriend?" Rufus' eyes narrowed as he fixed Reno with a glare.

"What is your deal?" Reno was still unphased by the many looks Rufus had come up with that seemed like they should have been capable of killing him, and couldn't quite resist harping on that lack of an answer.

"Wait, do you?"

"No," the boy replied emphatically, seeming nothing short of exasperated. "Okay, how about you?" he returned, "Do you have friends?" That was an easy question for Reno.

"The Turks are my friends." Rufus emitted a noise that was not quite a chuckle.

"Lucky you." Reno regarded the boy curiously, and a bit defensively.

"What does that mean?" This time it was Rufus' turn to ignore the question.

"You have a girlfriend?"

"Sometimes," Reno replied. Not currently, and not usually for very long, but he didn't feel the need to say that. It was hard to maintain a relationship and be a Turk at the same time. Rufus continued parroting the earlier line of questions.

"...Boyfriend?" he asked. Reno shrugged and gave the same answer as he had to the last question, for the same reason.

"Sometimes."

"And you're happy?" That question sort of threw Reno off guard, and his face probably showed it for a second, but he recovered quickly.

"Usually." And it was true. Yeah, being a Turk could be a pain. Often literally. But overall he was pretty happy with his life. Why shouldn't he be? Rufus went on with his line of questioning.

"And you think I'd be happier if I had friends?" Reno thought about it for a second.

"I think it might help."

"You sound like my old man," the boy concluded dismissively, turning away again. "You say it, but you don't want to be my friend and you don't actually care." Reno blinked at the back of Rufus' head. Maybe the kid was human, after all.

"That depends on you," the Turk replied simply. He might be able to be friends with Rufus. You know, provided the kid stopped going out of his way to be irritating. Which, on thinking about it, Reno decided seemed pretty unlikely.

"So you're saying you would be my friend if I was a different person," Rufus replied. "That's useless." Reno sighed.

"...you think too much."

"It's what I do."

"Along with set up terrorist groups."

"Shut up."

Unlike the last time Rufus had said that, Reno fell silent. There wasn't much of anything else to talk about. Rufus had succeeded in inspiring a miniscule amount of compassion and curiosity from the Turk, but it was clear he wasn't too interested in trying to make friends. So why should Reno try? He wasn't curious enough to subject himself to the frustration.

"...you actually did." Rufus commented a moment later, and Reno had to run the last minute or so back through his head to figure out what that meant. Right.

"There wasn't anything else to say," he explained.

"That didn't stop you before," the boy noted with a hint of bitterness. And Reno didn't really have anything to say to that, so he didn't say anything. It was Rufus who spoke up again a few minutes later.

"Could you do me a favor whenever you're done here?"

"Maybe," Reno responded cautiously. Provided it wasn't something ridiculous, which Reno thought it might have a good chance of being.

"Could you get a message to my father for me?" The Turk raised an eyebrow. Surely with all his access to assorted networks, getting a message to his father would be easy.

"Can't you do that yourself?" Rufus glanced at Reno briefly, then back to the screen.

"Not can't. Shouldn't." Reno figured that was reasonable. Enough people were probably trying to track him.

"What message?" the Turk asked, and Rufus replied emphatically, though without looking up again.

"Tell my old man he had better be taking damn good care of Dark Nation."