Well, I did have this marked as complete…but wwgost convinced me to add another chapter. And I'm glad I did! I really like this pairing, and it's one that I don't see often enough.
Usual disclaimers apply.

Things haven't been the same
Since you came into my life
You found a way to touch my soul
And I'm never, ever, ever gonna let it go

Happiness lies in your own hand
It took me much too long to understand
How it could be
Until you shared your secret with me

"Secret" - Madonna

Two months later...

It was a Friday afternoon, just after one o'clock, in the Turks' office, and it had been a relatively uneventful day. The only activity going on was clock-watching; even Reno, the king of procrastination, had caught up on his huge backlog of unfinished paperwork.


The clock-watching came to a screeching halt, as the shrill tone of Rude's cell phone broke the silence. "Yeah?" Rude said quietly into the phone, as Tseng, Reno, and Elena looked on. "Okay. Sounds good...looking forward to that." As he pocketed his phone, Rude's face broke out into an uncontrollable - and uncharacteristic - smile. Reno and Elena exchanged a curious glance as they witnessed this.

He hung up his phone, and turning to Tseng, asked, "Boss? Something...just came up suddenly. Since it's quiet here, mind if I clock out early?"

Tseng looked up from the novel he was reading, and shrugged. "Fine by me. We can hold down the fort. I may send everyone home early anyway, but feel free to clock out now, Rude. Just be available via cell phone if I need to call you back in, as usual."

"Of course," Rude murmured, and quickly exited the office, nodding at Reno and Elena as he left.

As soon as Rude was no longer within earshot, Reno spoke. "The fuck was that about, yo?" Reno demanded, staring at Tseng.

"What?" Tseng replied, in a bored tone. "Rude never asks to leave early, and nothing's happening here, so..."

"Not that," Reno interrupted irritably. "No, I mean that phone call he got. Then all of a sudden, he has to leave...and, he fucking smiled? That was a damned booty call, yo. Rude's havin' a nooner."

Tseng groaned and rolled his eyes, while Elena tittered. "A booty call?" Elena repeated, giggling. "Really, Reno. That was probably just Rude's bookie calling. Maybe he won some money, or something."

"Nah," Reno replied, shaking his head vehemently. "I know Rude, and that wasn't it. Damn it! My partner all these years, he's getting laid, and hasn't even told me about it? I mean, what the hell!" Reno said indignantly, sitting back in his chair.

"Even if Rude is..." Tseng began, trying not to laugh, "getting laid, as you say - why is it any of your business anyway?"

"Because, yo," Reno replied. "I tell him all of my secrets."

Elena laughed out loud. "You don't have any secrets, Reno. Everyone knows you and Cloud are in love with each other, and you're both too stupid to do anything about it."

"Oh, piss off, Elena!" Reno snapped, his face reddening. "That's not fair." The Turk sat back in his chair, seething silently. It really bothered him that Rude hadn't confided in him. I'll find out what he's up to, though, Reno vowed. He smiled as he recalled that all Turk cell phones had homing devices installed in them; if a Turk went MIA, it helped in determining their location in the field.

Yep, Reno thought, his wheels turning as he formulated a plan to find out what - or who - Rude was up to. Time for a little unofficial, off-the-clock recon work, I think. Putting his feet up on his desk, Reno leaned back in his chair, and dozed off into a nap, as sleep took over.

Rude practically ran down to the underground parking level where his black sedan was parked, in the basement level of the Shinra building. He was glad Tseng agreed to let him leave early - and happier still, that Reno hadn't had a chance to badger him with uncomfortable questions about his personal life. Rude and Vincent had been quietly seeing each other since that one night a couple of months prior, where the pair suddenly succumbed to their mutual attraction. It had been a fiery, yet quiet, love affair ever since. Neither of them were much for airing their private lives out for everyone to see; after all, that's what private meant, Rude thought. It wasn't as if either one of them was ashamed of their relationship, either. Rather, they kept it to themselves, just because it was part of their natures to do so.

Plus, Rude thought it made things hotter, to keep something like this a bit of a secret. For now, he was enjoying the sneaking around, the meeting after hours, the stolen glances between him and Vincent, when they met with their friends at Seventh Heaven. Rude slammed the car into gear as he peeled out of the garage, racing toward home. He'd given Vincent a key to his apartment, not that it was needed; the man had an uncanny ability to pick any lock, as it was. Rude smiled as he imagined what Vincent might be wearing - or not wearing - once he arrived home.

A short time later, he pulled into the parking bay at his apartment complex, parked and hastily exited his vehicle. He glanced around him briefly, to see if he'd been followed. Wouldn't put it past Reno to tail me, he thought bemusedly. Nosy bastard. Rude knew that Reno was starting to suspect he was doing more after hours than just drowning his sorrows in a bottle of stout at Seventh Heaven each evening. It amused Rude, somewhat; but, he also knew how doggedly stubborn his partner could be, when kept in the dark about something he was convinced was his business.

Rude jogged up the three flights of stairs to his apartment. He frowned, as he observed the front door was slightly ajar. The Turk stiffened suddenly, and reached for his duty weapon, holstered against his waist. What is going on here? he wondered. Slowly, he crept along the wall, checking up and down the hallway for anything remotely suspicious looking. Heart pounding he carefully pointed his weapon toward the slightly opened door, and nudged it open slightly with the barrel of his gun.

Before Rude could even react, a hand shot out of the darkness, and grabbed the barrel of his gun, forcing it down. The Turk was pulled into his darkened apartment, and pinned against the back of the door as it slammed shut. Unseen hands ghosted up his torso, as a hungry kiss was planted on his lips.

"Damn it, Vincent!" Rude growled, breaking the kiss, and panting as he came up for air. "Why do you do that, I could have shot you!"

"But you didn't," Vincent chuckled, peppering Rude's neck with kisses. "And you never will. You seem to forget that I used to be a Turk, too."

"A long time ago," Rude said teasingly. He slid his hands over Vincent's bared arms, and grinned as he noticed his lover was clad in only sleep pants.

"Thought about you all day long," Vincent murmured, pulling Rude toward the bedroom. "Thought about…this, all day long."

"Hmpf," Rude grunted, grinning. "Guess you couldn't wait a few hours until I clocked out, huh?"

"Neither could you," Vincent retorted, chuckling. "I heard you peeling into the parking garage…just how fast were you going, Rude?"

"Fast," Rude growled, pushing Vincent back on the bed, pouncing upon him. "Damned fast. You're right, though...I couldn't wait, either." Smirking, Vincent reached up and grabbed Rude's ass, grinding up into him. He slowly slid his hands up inside Rude's jacket, shrugging it off easily, and grinned at him as he pulled Rude down toward him by his necktie.

"So," Rude murmured, sliding a hand underneath the waistband of Vincent's sleep pants, "just what have you been up to all day?"

"I was here, waiting for you," Vincent replied, carefully removing Rude's sunglasses, and setting them on the bedside table.

"Oh," Vincent added suddenly, smirking at Rude. "I might have jerked off a few times, while I was thinking about you, too."

Rude swallowed hard. The mental image he was getting, of his lover touching himself in that way, was driving him to distraction. Not to mention, it was causing him to become incredibly aroused.

Vincent rolled over on the bed, and flipped Rude onto his back, straddling him. He carefully removed the last of Rude's Turk uniform, and returned to kissing him. Rude roughly grabbed a fistful of Vincent's hair, and tugged at it, pulling Vincent's face into his, their mouths meeting in a crushing, hungry kiss. Vincent brought up a knee and gently parted Rude's thighs. His long, raven hair tickled Rude's torso, as Vincent made his way down toward his ultimate goal.

He murmured appreciatively at the sight of Rude's erection; it still amazed Vincent just how well-endowed Rude was. Vincent, of course, had no problem with this, at all; he loved giving head, and he especially loved knowing that he had the ability to make the silent, stoic Rude turn into a melting puddle of goo under his touch.

"Gods, Vincent," Rude groaned, as his lover began his ministrations with gentle, teasing licks to Rude's swollen cock. "You torture me."

"And you love it," Vincent replied, kneeling over Rude and taking his length into his mouth. Rude moaned and arched his back, placing his hands on either side of Vincent's head. Vincent was good at this, Rude realized, thrusting his hips upward in time with Vincent sucking him.

"Vin," Rude grunted. "Fuck me." Vincent smirked, raising a curious eyebrow, but said nothing – just reached over to his table to grab the lube – and a cock ring, which he slid over Rude's erection, grinning as he did so. Rude moaned at the sensation of the cold metal touching his penis.

As much as Vincent loved it when Rude topped – nothing felt better than Rude's enormous girth filling him – even so, Vincent had no problem fulfilling Rude's request. He prepared himself, and slid himself easily into Rude, who wrapped his legs around his lover, groaning in ecstasy. What Vincent lacked in girth, he more than made up for in length; it wasn't long before he was hitting Rude's sweet spot. A guttural growl escaped Rude's lips; the cock ring was constricting, and delaying his release, and it was driving him mad.

"Vin," Rude gasped, as Vincent thrust in and out of him. "Take it off now," he pleaded. "Please…"

"I love it when you beg," his lover purred. Vincent complied, and removed the cock ring, tossing it on the bed. Rude immediately began stroking himself, Vincent's hand joining his, as they both reached their climax, almost simultaneously. Vincent emptied into Rude with a final thrust, and collapsed on top of his lover, completely spent.

"Damn, Vincent," Rude whispered, kissing Vincent's veil of hair that kept falling over his eyes. "Where have you been all my life?"

"Well, I was resting in that coffin for a while," Vincent cracked, burrowing underneath the comforter, and curling up next to Rude, resting his head on his lover's chest. He kissed Rude's bare shoulder and said, "But that's in the past…and this is now. My place is with you."

"I love you," Rude blurted, surprising himself. Three words I never thought I'd say to another man…gods…

Vincent smiled, and kissed Rude softly on the lips. "I love you too, Rude."

They fell asleep after their lovemaking, limbs entwined, the sheets roped around them in a wrinkled, sweaty mess. Vincent, with his highly attuned senses, was the first to awake; he knew right away, that something was amiss.

"Rude," he hissed, shaking his lover awake. "At the door. Someone's trying to break in."

"What the fuck?" Rude muttered irritably. Exchanging a glance, they both reached into their respective nightstands for their guns, and quietly proceeded out of the bedroom, not even bothering to put their sleep pants back on. Rude was more annoyed than threatened; between himself and Vincent, a Turk and a former Turk, he had no doubt that they could easily dispatch the intruder. The bald Turk was irritated that a nice, quiet tryst with his lover had to be interrupted in such a fashion.

Vincent and Rude flanked each other as they crept through the living room. "Someone's picking the lock," Vincent whispered. Rude nodded in acknowledgement, and trained his weapon at the front door; Vincent did likewise, aiming Cerberus at the peephole of the apartment door.

The lock quietly clicked, and the door slowly opened. Rude and Vincent exchanged a look, as they advanced toward the door. As they cocked their weapons, the darkness was split in two by a crackle of electricity. EMR, Rude thought briefly, as it registered in his brain just who carried an EMR with him at all times.

"Reno! What the fuck!" he barked irritably, as his partner's red ponytail suddenly came into view. Vincent flicked on the overhead light. Reno was standing there, EMR in hand, eyes wide at the sight before him – his partner and Vincent, standing in Rude's living room, naked as jaybirds. There was no question in Reno's mind now, what Rude had been up to after hours.

"Partner?" Reno said incredulously, making sure he maintained eye contact with both men, and didn't let his eyes drift…elsewhere. "You…and Valentine…you guys are, uh…?" It seemed foolish to even finish the sentence, Reno suddenly realized; it was rather obvious, now, exactly what Rude and Vincent's status was.

"What is the meaning of this?" Rude asked him icily. Vincent had retreated back to the bedroom, and returned with two bathrobes. Taking the robe from Vincent, Rude murmured, "Thanks, babe," and continued to glare at Reno. Rude's endearment to Vincent did not go unnoticed by Reno, either.

"You…ah…" Reno stuttered. "Well, I was wondering what you were up to, if you were seeing anybody, and…"

"And you decided that breaking into my apartment was the best way to find out, instead of just asking me?" Rude retorted.

"You wouldn't have told me anything even if I did ask you," Reno said stubbornly.

"No," Rude agreed, smirking. "Probably not."

"Understandable," murmured Vincent, who was looking amused at the whole situation. "But one must admire your…tenacity, Reno."

"Look," Rude said seriously, as he ushered Reno toward the door. "We'll talk tomorrow. Obviously…you came at a bad time."

"Yeah," Reno muttered, his face reddening. "Obviously."

Rude paused a moment, considering something. "You know, Reno," he said suddenly. "Instead of following me around with your dick in your hand, you might want to consider doing something useful with it."

Reno gaped. This was the most he'd ever heard Rude speak. Ever. He opened his mouth to protest. "But I—"

"For example," Rude continued, smirking, "you might want to consider sticking it into Cloud Strife. See ya, Reno." He shoved Reno out into the hallway, and closed the door.

Reno stood out in the hall for several minutes, dumbfounded. "Stick it into Cloud? What the hell is Rude talking about?"

The door opened again, suddenly. "Reno," Rude said. "You. And Cloud. Ask him out, for Gaia's sake, get it over with. And please…don't break into my apartment again, or you might be eating Cerberus for dinner the next time." Rude grinned at a stunned-looking Reno as he shut the door, and made his way back into the bedroom, where Vincent was waiting for him.