Author's Note: Just a random thought I had while re-watching Advent Children. This is just the dialogue from the bedroom scene with Cloud and Tifa in the bar, reworked to fit with Reno and Rufus and how they cope with Rufus's geostigma.
Disclaimer: The Final Fantasy series and all of its associated content are property of Square Enix. I am making no profit from this whatsoever.
There is no doubt in my mind that this disease will kill me. It's only a matter of how long I should be allowed to live until then.
Not that you could call this living. After the first month with the disease, the Turks insisted that I begin using a wheelchair. The momentary flares of the disease would cause me to collapse at the most inopportune times. It was only a matter of time until it occurred in a stairwell, intersection, or somewhere equally dangerous. Thus, the wheelchair.
I don't mind it as much as it seems I do. To be honest, the disease has left me with very little energy to do much beyond taking care of myself, which is pushing it. Even without the flashes of pain throughout the day, I doubt I would have enough energy to be up and walking.
It's the worst at night. The aches come on more frequently, to the point where I can't sleep for more than an hour at most. I spend most nights seated by the window, watching the night breeze roll through the trees surrounding the lodge.
Each night, one of the Turks stays with me. In the past, I would never have allowed them to stay in the room with me at night, but the disease has proven to be fatal in adults, so I'll err on the side of caution. Tseng is stoic, as always. He'll take up a stance near the door and maintain it until the dawn breaks. Rude is much the same. Elena prefers to sit and read to pass the time, since we're in no danger here.
Reno is a different matter entirely. Two years ago, it was Reno who pulled me from the wreckage of Shinra Tower. He was the one who nursed me back to health, despite having no obligation to do so. It was then that I had fallen for him – him and his subtle ways of treating me like a normal person.
With everyone else, it's always Mr. President this, or Mr. President that, even behind closed doors. With Reno, I was simply Rufus. For the whole day after we got the wheelchair, he had referred to me as "Wheels". I quickly put a stop to that, but it truly exemplifies our relationship. Though he would never be insubordinate in front of the other Turks, when it is just the two of us, he brings me down to the level I've yearned to be at with someone for years. Equal. Life at the top of the world can get a little lonely, you know.
Reno is staying with me tonight. He's resting on my bed, eyes closed, but not asleep. He says that he won't sleep unless I do, and since I can't, well, he can't either. I use the small remote on the wheelchair to dim the lights in the room so that I can see outside better. I can see Reno glance over at me once before closing his eyes again.
I must have dozed at some point in that hour, but I suddenly woke with a flash of pain from my arm. I double over, holding my arm to my chest in an attempt to keep everything in. The pain starts to spread to my chest, and I can't help but let out a low moan.
In an instant, Reno is out of bed and at my side. "Rufus, let me help you."
"No," I choke out. I didn't need help; I was capable of getting through this by myself. Besides, there was nothing we could do but wait it out.
"Please," Reno asks, resting his hand on the back of my head. "Let me make you more comfortable, at least."
I could allow him that much, I suppose. In a matter of minutes, he has me out of the wheelchair and resting in bed. The lights in the room go out and the pale light of the moon is the only thing enabling me to see him crawl into bed next to me. My upper body still aches and the pain is coming in low pulses. Reno reaches out an arm to drape over me, which I slap away. The pain is subsiding now.
Next to me, he sighs. "Why won't you let me in? You need me now more than ever."
"I need you. I don't need your pity," I reply as I adjust myself. I hadn't lain in this bed in what felt like ages. It is lumpier than I remember.
"I don't pity you, Rufus. I just don't want you to go through this alone when I'm right here, capable of taking care of you," he replies. His voice is low; he doesn't want our conversation to carry to the rest of the lodge. This place isn't as sound proof as my old office. Despite the fact that we had been at this for two years, the other Turks didn't know about our relationship, or what was left of it anyway. Lately it seems as though more and more of Reno's fire is flickering out as my disease worsens.
My pain is mostly gone now. I reach down and kick off my shoes before crawling under the blanket. "When this is all over, you'll be alone. You know that, right?"
There is nothing but silence for a moment. I look over, to make sure he hasn't fallen asleep, and he sat staring back at me with the saddest eyes I'd ever seen. "So that's it? You're just going to give up and die?"
What else was there to do? I close my eyes and look away. This conversation has to happen sooner or later. He needs to start wrapping his mind around the idea of me not being around anymore.
"So it is," he says softly. He rolls on his side to face me, though I make no attempt to look at him.
"There's no cure, Reno," I reply coldly. It is a fact – there is no getting around it. I could only live as long as this disease would allow me to. He reaches a hand out, slowly, and takes my hand in his. I turn my head slightly to look at him.
"That's not stopping all those kids out there. Stop running, we can fight this together," he whispers. He gently squeezes my hand before continuing. "But I guess that wouldn't work for us."
Us. 'Us' only exists here, in the midnight hours behind the locked door of my bedroom. Reno slowly sits up, releasing my hand and facing the wall away from me. He stands and paces the room a few times before coming to stand at the foot of the bed in front of me.
"Who are you and what have you done to the Rufus Shinra I fell in love with?" He asks. His face is hard and serious, not at all playful despite his words.
I smile ruefully, understanding what he means but refusing to acknowledge it. Rest assured, I would still be the same Rufus Shinra that I had always been were it not for this disease. "Reno, please just come back to bed."
"No, not until I understand," he replies, crossing his arms. "The old Rufus would've fought this until the day he died. And you're content to just lie there!"
And it is at this point that my porcelain façade finally cracks. A lone tear snakes its way down my cheek before I can stop it. Reno's eyes grow wide. Even throughout all of the pain and broken bones that I received leaving the remains of the Shinra Building, I hadn't cried, especially not in front of him.
"I'm too tired to fight anymore. The pain is only getting worse, and I just want this to be over," I say softly. I raise a hand to cover my face – the tears are coming more quickly now. "Please try to understand."
He doesn't speak anymore, but instead crawls back into bed with me. He rolls me onto my side and then wraps an arm over me before kissing my forehead.
"I understand. But just because you're too tired to fight doesn't mean I can't fight for you," he whispers against me. And with that, I give into the need for sleep that had been building in me throughout the night. I know Reno won't sleep tonight, but I'm finding an odd sort of comfort in that for once.
Maybe tomorrow I would start fighting back. But tonight, I just need this.