Rude limped up the several flights of stairs leading to the roof, panting and grimacing as he went. The materia treatments had fixed his leg, but they hadn't taken away the pain yet, pain that Rude felt all too clearly now. Once he reached the roof he doubled over, clutching his leg in one hand as he tried to calm his ragged breathing. He momentarily wondered if what he was doing was even worth the effort, but slapped the thought from his mind quickly. He had looked everywhere else for Reno and this was his last possible hiding place. Rude straightened, leaning on the wall behind him for support as the throbbing in his leg began to dull. He was starting to get worried, finding Reno was usually something he didn't need to do. The red-head hadn't been more than ten feet from him since he had been let out of the hospital, after Tseng's talk of possible assassination attempts on the Turks for their failure Rude had made sure that Reno was almost constantly within arms reach. He could only think of a few reasons why Reno would hide from him. He was either doing something stupid, or doing something reckless. The two options were similar, yet so very different when Reno was factored in.
Rude pushed open the heavy door separating him from the roof and limped across the hard cement surface, his leg twitching with pain he disguised. He quickly scanned the area, his eyes not resting on any one area for more than a few seconds and he almost cried with relief when he spotted a shock of red sitting inside the cockpit of a helicopter, the door opened wide and smoke curling from the entrance. Rude limped to the helicopter as fast as his crippled leg would take him, hoping that Reno hadn't done something stupid. The fact the Reno was smoking forced the idea that he had done something reckless from Rude's mind, smoking was one of the tell-tale signs that the red-head was alright.
Reno looked up as he heard Rude's uneven gait, his healed but tormented leg slowing him as it dragged a little on the pavement. He sighed, smoke curling fro his mouth in languid spirals, "You should be resting."
Rude leaned against the helicopter, bending down to rub his leg while he surveyed the cigarette littered ground, "Why are you up here?"
Reno shrugged, "Just thinking."
"About what?" Rude asked, looking at Reno, the worry in his eyes evident behind dark glasses. Reno had been thinking a lot lately, thoughts that Rude knew usually involved Gareth.
"Nothing." Reno smiled, taking another drag on his cigarette with closed eyes. He didn't mean to worry Rude, he felt his bald friend had been through enough but he had simply needed some fresh air that he could pollute without any interruptions. He had hoped the large set of stairs would deter Rude from following him to the roof, but he hadn't factored in Rude's determination to find him.
Rude raised an eyebrow and stretched his throbbing leg, "Nothing?"
"I honestly don't know what I'm thinking about. I don't know if I'm thinking at all." Reno shrugged, giving Rude what he hoped was a reassuring smile, a smile he knew looked pained as the torment and confusion in his head threatened to spill into his face.
Rude frowned, obviously confused and doubtful, "So you're up here thinking about not thinking?"
"Yup." Reno watched the smoke curl away from his mouth with a smile, "It makes me happy in a depressed way."
"So you're happy, but you're depressed?" Rude scratched his head, trying to think of any hidden implications in that sentence. He could tell Reno wanted to be left alone, but he didn't think he could brave all those stairs so soon after his first attempt.
"Doesn't make sense to me either." Reno shrugged, tossing his cigarette to the ground as the fire at it's end died.
"So you've been up here for three hours thinking about not thinking and feeling happily depressed?" Rude frowned, unable to grasp the concept.
Reno sighed with a smile, "It's okay if you don't get it Rude."
Rude winced as his leg gave another pained throb, "I want to understand what's going on with you Reno."
"Did Tseng fill you in?" Reno asked, changing conversation to a topic that wasn't as personal.
"Fill me in on what?" Rude raised an eyebrow as Reno lit another cigarette.
"Why the building exploded." Reno inhaled the deadly smoke, a blissful look on his face hiding the inner turmoil in his mind.
"No." Rude frowned, he had hoped for a less depressing topic of conversation.
"Those Avalanche fuckers thought it would be a good idea to rig an explosive to the gas tank in the building. Once it looked like they were gonna completely loose the fight they blew it up. Apparently Brandon and Ellie were right next to it when it exploded." Reno leaned his head against the chopper, mental images of the scene rushing behind his eyes.
"How does Tseng know all that?" Rude asked, leaning on the helicopter and straining to stretch out the pained invisible kink left in his leg after his last materia treatment.
Reno had gone to ask their overworking superior just what had been found at the fire that morning after Rude had gone back to sleep. The blackened remains of the EMR worried him and he had wanted to know everything that had happened or could've happened in the building before it went up in flames. He had needed some way to explain why he had the EMR without making anyone think he was crazy, "Went back to the scene after the fire died. Found the swords and guns next to the base of the tank and deduced what he could from there." Reno sighed and pulled a blackened and deformed piece of metal out of his pocket, "He found Gareth's EMR too."
Rude gaped at the thing in Reno's hand, "That's all that's left?"
Reno ran his fingers along the surface of the charred metal, his face somber and broadcasting clearly the confusion and hurt the object in his hands brought him. "There wasn't much left of anything. This doesn't even look like an EMR anymore." Reno frowned with disgust, suddenly throwing the blackened mass away from him with a yell, "It doesn't even look like an EMR anymore! So many people died for no good reason! Someday I'm going to blow up that whole damned sector! Avalanche is going to pay for what they did to us!"
"And after?" Rude asked, almost dreading the answer, "What will you do once you've avenged them?"
Reno blinked up at Rude, "After?"
"After this nice vendetta of yours is completed, will you stay here or join them?" Rude frowned, his eyes on the black metal lump that had skipped across the roof.
"Join them?" Reno raised an eyebrow, realization dawning on him, "You think I'm gonna commit suicide?"
"I don't know what to expect from you anymore." Rude sighed, eyes still focused on the used-to-be-EMR on the other side of the roof. He expected an answer that would either confirm or deny his suspicions about Reno's intentions. What he didn't expect was Reno to start laughing like a madman.
Reno doubled over, the somber expression on Rude's face and the idea of him committing suicide too unrealistic for him to take seriously, "You honestly think I'd commit suicide Rude?"
Rude blinked, confused, "Yeah, you did just loose your soulmate. Most people think about suicide after that."
Reno frowned, his answer almost rehearsed, "Jareth wasn't my soulmate yo. I loved him, that's for sure, but he wasn't my soulmate. And really Rude, suicide? Is that why you've been watching me like a hawk lately?" Rude crossed his arms in front of his chest and glared at him. Reno doubled over laughing, "Holy hell yo! I can't commit suicide! I'm too much of a pussy to slash my wrists, too scared of needles to inject anything into me, too freaked by guns to shoot myself, poison tastes bad, and if I liked nooses I'd be wearing that damned tie."
Rude laughed in spite of himself, "So no suicide?"
"Of course not!" Reno was still laughing, "I don't see why you were so worried. I loved Gareth, but I don't think he'd appreciate it if I tried to off myself."
Rude raised an eyebrow, "So if you don't think he was your soulmate, who is?"
Reno grinned happily, the answer Gareth had helped him figure out rolling off his tongue without effort, "Don't wanna freak ya out yo, but I think it's you." Rude's face suddenly seemed to go blank and it was the only part of him registering any emotion, but for Reno this reaction told him precisely what he thought about his statement. Reno tried to explain his feelings, the worlds easier to find now that he had had hours to look for them, "You've always been there Rude, when the building blew up it was you I tried to carry out of the fire. I looked around to see if Gareth was coming, but I didn't go running through the fire to try and find him. I know if it had been you that I couldn't find I would've been running around like a madman trying to find you. Don't you think that means something yo? You're my best friend, we've been best friends for years. If anything happened to you, then I'd off myself. You know how to fix everything! There's not a damn thing about me you don't know and I barely even tell you anything. I think I love ya Rude."
Rude dropped his arms to his side and tried to understand what Reno was saying to him. He frowned, but only for a moment. Then his arms launched forward and he grabbed Reno forcefully, pulling him into a tight hug. Reno stiffened for a moment and then threw his arms around Rude, resting his head against a broad shoulder with a smug smile as Rude smiled into his hair, "Love you too Reno."
"I know buddy." Reno smiled, "Wanna go bother Tseng with me?"
"Sure." Rude let Reno go, ruffling red hair with a smile that creased the corners of his eyes, "How do you plan on doing that?"
Reno smiled rattling his plan off to Rude as they walked off the roof, glad that his best friend reciprocated at least some version of his feelings. He didn't know just how far Rude's affection for him went, but if the conversation they had had while Rude thought he was asleep was any indication, there was at least a small chance of Rude loving him back just as much. He wasn't sure how ready to move on from Gareth he was, but the dream he had had the night before made him feel better.
As they passed the charred lump of metal Reno stopped and picked it up, hefting it in his hand. Rude raised an eyebrow as Reno shot him a saucy wink and pocketed it, "I think I'll melt this down further to make the big ol' bomb I'm gonna need to blow up an entire sector. You wanna help when the day comes?"
"Don't I always help?" Rude grinned and used Reno's shoulder for support as his leg tried to buckle under him again.
Reno frowned at him, "You need to go back to the doctor, you can't help me blow shit up if your legs won't work."
Rude snorted, "Lead the way partner."
Author's Note: Yep that's it, the end. No more! Story is DONE!!!! Officially the longest story I've ever written....so far. If you're disappointed with the ending because you thought a Reno/Rude entailed much more than me pointing them in the direction of a healthy happy relationship, sorry but if I make this story any longer I'm afraid it will suck because I'm out of plot ideas that aren't cheesy or stupid. Hopefully you all aren't too angry about this being the end.
I'd like to thank everyone who read and reviewed this story during the three long months it took to write it, and to those who read but never reviewed, I thank you for reading even though I have no idea what you think about it.