Bed of Flames

Rufus/Reno. PG-13. 5×100 words. Co-written with Ponderosa.
His eyes are green, cat-bright, unsettling.

lies [ stage one: attraction]

The cocky expression Reno’s wearing in the photograph matches the one currently plastered across his face.

“Yo, boss. Hungry yet? I’m starving to death over here.”

Height, weight, age. Aptitude tests, full psychological profile. Updated weekly, the listing of vital statistics stretches back to Reno’s hire date. Rufus flips through the pages. Absently, he notes that Reno is a candidate for mako-infusion.

“You see anything interesting in there, or you hoping I’m gonna shut up?”

“That would be a vain hope.”

Reno grins, teeth flashing white in the limousine’s muted lighting. His eyes are green, cat-bright, unsettling.

Rufus continues reading.

lust [ stage two: romance ]

Reno stands behind the woman’s chair, stun baton held tight against her throat. Above her head, his gaze is trained on Rufus.

“I’m giving you a chance to correct your mistake.”

She makes a sound like a sob. “I didn’t know. I followed orders. Just like always. I didn’t know.”

The bloodstain on Rufus’s arm spreads, red on white, like the ShinRa logo.

“She’s a grunt, boss. The facility’s toast.”

Tears tremble in the corners of her blue eyes. The gun dropped at her feet is ShinRa issue.

“Anything viable, we keep.”

Reno picks up the gun. She screams, once.

truth [ stage three: passion ]

“What’re you gonna do, boss? Off me?”

Reno’s on his knees. His posture is easy, relaxed. Rufus strokes hair away from his face with the shotgun’s muzzle.

“Perhaps.”

Rufus drags the gun to his mouth. Reno’s lips part with just a touch of pressure. The life expectancy of a Turk is negligible.

There’s something manic about Reno. If Rufus didn’t know better, he’d have categorised it as a simple lust for life. Things that should break him, don’t.

Reno’s lips are cool from the metal, his tongue hot. His kisses are precisely the way Rufus anticipated: hungry, holding nothing back.

trust [ stage four: intimacy ]

Dust coats Rufus’s lungs. The ceiling is still falling, chunks of it smashing into the bucking floor. The acrid stench of smouldering wires sears his nose, his throat. His vision is blurred.

“Son of a fucking bitch.”

Reno’s hands are clutching Rufus’s side, long fingers stained a thick, dark red. He’s holding the wound shut.

“Crater?”

“You got it, boss. Punched straight through.”

The tower tilts, metal girders screeching. Somewhere, another widow shatters under the pressure.

Reno’s grip slips and the wound gapes. Rufus blacks out with the image of his guts spilling over Reno’s hands burned into his brain.

unmatched [ stage five: commitment ]

The speech is complete bullshit.

A new generation of SOLDIERs line the pavilion. Hybrids, with mako eyes and smiles that bare fangs instead of teeth. Security trumps fear.

Behind him, Midgar stretches out in a sea of glass and steel. ShinRa HQ rises from the centre. The reactors are gone, dismantled. There’s no more plate. This is the new world.

ShinRa unveils a newer, more efficient power source. ShinRa will always provide. The people cheer.

Reno leans against the sleek black limo. Smoke curls from the cigarette at his lips. The baton dangling from his wrist is spattered with blood.

End

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