Swan Dive

Rufus/Reno. R. ~2500 words. Alternate timeline. D/s.
Long way down, ain’t it?

It’s just a couple hours shy of dawn by the time Reno trudges home. Been one hell of a long day. There’s ash in his hair and the stink of shit stuck in his nose. He might have a swanky new place in Sector 2, complete with keycard security and a balcony to the stars, but beneath the Plate never changes. Some things never do, doesn’t matter who’s in charge.

The lights go to autodim when he bangs the door shut, the sack of cold take-out he’s been lugging around for the last half hour carelessly dumped in the hall beside his filthy boots.

He moves through the quiet rooms one by one. Bedroom first, to stash his work tools in the closet. The built-in safe takes up more space than his neat line of suits. He fingers the lapel of one, mouth slanted in something like a grin. His place has never been so tidy.

Bathroom next. His jacket’s probably a lost cause but he chucks it towards the hamper anyway. Never know what magic the cleaners have got up their pristine white sleeves. There’s blood soaked through his dress shirt, Rorschach splotches of it still tacky. There’re a couple dried smears on his face, probably some in his hair. Calls for a shower but a quick wipe with a cloth is all he’s got the patience for. Been worse on the sheets before, anyway.

In the living room, the balcony doors are thrown wide, the distant noise of the sector below a low hum at this time of night. The kid’s shadow stretches out thin in the darkness.

Reno settles his back to the wall. The chill breeze kicks up a notch, whisking his hair back from his face. “Long way down, ain’t it?”

Tension snaps Rufus’s spine straight. “Sir,” he says, as warm and sweet as a bullet to the brain.

“Didn’t have the balls to jump today, either, huh.” Reno moves to the doorway, hand stretched out on the glass. “Get inside.”

Mouth set in a stubborn line, Rufus ducks inside beneath Reno’s arm. His clothes are flimsy and cool, meant for nowhere but indoors at this time of year, and white only because it’s the colour he used to favour. His bare feet are pale and silent on the carpet.

“Where’d you put your money today?” Reno asks, looking out over the splay of Midgar. “A Kisaragi bullet or one from an old friend?”

The silence stretches on. Just as Reno resigns himself to one of those nights, Rufus says, “They don’t have anything to gain from killing me now.”

“Except the satisfaction of a job well done,” Reno tosses back. Done with the view, he pulls the doors shut and flips the switch to darken the glass. “I didn’t drop all that cash on you just for the pleasure of steaming your brains outta my carpet one day.”

“Yes, sir,” Rufus says, but it sounds an awful lot like ‘eat shit and die.’

On his way to the fridge for a cold one, Reno says, “Maybe I should take you out. It’s only been a couple months, kid, but it ain’t your Daddy’s world anymore. Shinra’s toast and Kisaragi is bringing home the bacon these days.” He leans back against the counter, ankles casually crossed and eyes on the kid’s face for any sign of trouble. “Don’t think you’d last too long out there.”

Rufus says nothing, arms clasped behind his back and face blank.

It’s been this way for about two, three weeks now. At first the kid had been all piss and vinegar, cussing a blue streak at the top of his lungs. It’d been funny, then pathetic, then really fucking annoying. He’d raise hell over anything and everything, from his clothes to his food to the thin black collar moulded around his neck. Reno had caught him trying to hack through it with a steak knife on the second night. He laughed so hard he thought he’d busted something.

The collar is linked to a materia and that materia is linked to Reno. The only way it’s coming off is if Reno lets it.

Kid hadn’t like that much, either.

Then, a couple weeks ago, the kid shut down. Didn’t say a word, hardly moved a muscle. Snapped out of it on his own a few days later and since then, it’s been yessir this, nosir that, apartment spic and span right down to the grout. Not for a second does Reno believe the kid’s broken in but it’s a hell of a lot better than dealing with a tantrum every half hour.

Reno takes a long, slow pull on his beer. “That it, you wanna go outside?”

“I don’t have any shoes. Sir.”

“How long are you gonna keep this shit up?”

“Sir?”

Reno snorts. “Nope, still not buyin’ what you’re sellin’.”

A red flush starts low on Rufus’s neck. The lines at the corners of his mouth tighten up, dig in deep. “Tired of your slave already?”

The beer goes sour on Reno’s tongue. “Tired of my slave’s fucking saucy mouth. You tryin’ to make me put you up at the Wall again?” The second he says it, he realises it’s true. Stupid little shit really hasn’t got the first clue what’ll happen to him. There’s a list of dirtbags longer than Reno’s leg that would kill to get their hands on him, just to mess up his pretty, pissy face.

“You want out?” Reno asks.

Rufus bares perfect white teeth in a sneer. “Are you stupid?”

“Starting to think you are. Tell you what,” Reno says, searching for the unfamiliar thrum of the slave materia sunk into his flesh. “I’ll give you a free preview. Because the gig you got in here’s pretty cushy for a body slave, kid. Down, on your knees.”

Disbelief widens Rufus’s eyes. “What?”

“Thought it’d be pretty funny to have the great Rufus Shinra folding my socks, y’know? What goes around, comes around, ain’t that what they say?” Reno got a crash course on slave materia from the sleezebag running the Don’s books. He was a pretty creepy guy as sleezebags go, eyes crazy bright as he went on about some strain of Manipulate, splicing in Sense, and presto. New materia for an old idea. “So how about you get down or I’ll put you there.”

Rufus’s gaze hardens to pure, icy hate. Sometimes, Reno has to give the kid credit. Push him hard enough he’ll show a sliver of a backbone. It’s just too damn bad he never has the upper hand to go along with it. Things might’ve gone down a hell of a lot differently if old man Shinra had let his kid near the reins.

Standing five feet away, Reno can feel the warm leather circling Rufus’s throat. It’s soft and pliable, meant for permanent wear. A symbol and a reminder more than a disciplinary tool. Reno would put good money on the fact that nobody bothered to give Rufus the ins and outs of the deal before they snapped that thing around his neck.

A thought is all it takes. Rufus’s hands fly to his throat as the leather tightens. “What-”

“Promise is a promise, kid,” Reno shrugs. “Can’t say I never did you any favours.”

It doesn’t take long. Rufus manages to suck in a few shallow gasps before he drops straight to his knees. He claws at his throat, trying to get blunt nails beneath the smooth leather, just marking himself up for his trouble. Reno snaps the connection before he blacks out entirely, though the thought’s kinda tempting because at least then he’d get a moment’s peace around here.

As Rufus slumps forward, gulping down great big, greedy breaths, Reno fishes out a fresh beer. Instead of opening it, he holds it out in front of Rufus’s face, waiting for the kid to finish wheezing.

“You done?” Reno finally asks, deciding the glare Rufus tries to dust him with between coughs is a yes. “I want you to go to the kitchen and open this for me. Don’t care how you get it there or how you get it back, but you keep down on both hands and knees the whole way. And I want it to be the best damn frosty beer I ever tasted, got it?”

Rufus’s hot glare jumps to the bottle, one hand still gently massaging his throat. His voice comes out like a smoker’s rasp when he starts, “How-”

“Like I said, don’t care.” The couch is a lot more comfy but Reno slings himself in the big overstuffed chair in the corner, making sure he’s got a clear view out to the kitchen. He props one ankle casually on his knee. “Guess your first lesson is do it or die.”

“You wouldn’t fucking dare,” Rufus hisses.

“Try me, kid.”

Rufus drops the bottle.

Two minutes later he’s collapsed face-first on the carpet beside it, fingers clawing into the weave as he forces oxygen down his bruised throat. Reno’s not sure why either of them are even fucking trying.

“Gonna argue s’more?”

The look Rufus aims his way then is one he’s seen a dozen times on a dozen different faces. Resentment, fear, caged animal just waiting for a chance. It’s not a bad look for him.

Rufus heaves himself to his knees, grabbing up the bottle in a white-knuckled grip. “This won’t last,” he hisses, not looking up. “Enjoy it while you can.”

“Goes around, comes around,” Reno concedes. It’s not like he’s got a retirement fund.

Stiffly, Rufus shuffles to the kitchen, bottle dragged across the floor in one hand. Once he’s there, silence, then, “I have to get up to open it.”

Reno’s a bit shocked the kid actually stopped to think about that one. “You try stashing a knife up your sleeve again and we’re gonna have a problem.”

“No, sir,” the kid says, words hard like they’re shoved from between gritted teeth.

It wasn’t exactly permission but Rufus gets to his feet, the clunk of the bottle against the counter followed by the pop-clink of the cap. He hesitates again before sinking back to his knees.

The trip back is a smooth, sinuous crawl. He keeps his head bowed, mouth of the bottle clenched awkwardly between his teeth. When he reaches the chair, he sits back, hand pressed to the ache in his mouth and bottle thrust out for Reno to take.

“Have a drink,” Reno invites instead.

Rufus opens his mouth and thinks twice about whatever he was going to say, instead drawing in a deep breath. He lifts the bottle to drink, wincing when the beer hits his throat.

“You think that’s rough,” Reno says. “People who had an eye on you, kid, they’d call me crazy for wasting your pretty mouth. Keep going,” he adds as Rufus offers the bottle again. “‘Course, word is, you wouldn’t mind.”

Rufus takes another drink with obvious distaste. “Is that so.”

“Gonna prove ‘em wrong or right?”

“Is that an order?”

Reno props his chin in his hand. The kid’s pretty and Reno’s not picky, so the thought’s crossed his mind plenty of times before. Rufus is also a snotty little drama queen, which just pisses him right the hell off. A good dicking would probably serve the kid right.

Dropping his foot to let his knees fall wide, Reno says, “C’mere.”

Rufus sets the bottle down and warily edges closer. His gaze jumps from Reno’s face to the hand Reno has resting casually on his thigh. The red welts on his throat have already started to fade, leaving behind the darker, angrier scratches speckled with blood.

“Fuck, kid,” Reno says, catching Rufus’s chin in his fingers to tilt the kid’s head up and get a better look. He ignores Rufus’s flinch but can’t really blame him–still got that collar around his neck, after all. “There’s a medikit in the bedroom. C’mon.”

“Bathroom,” Rufus corrects, pulling away from Reno’s grasp. “It was in the way. I moved it.”

Reno cocks an eyebrow and jerks his head for Rufus to hurry up and follow. He’s in the bathroom, rooting through the cupboard, wondering what the hell he’s doing with the kid instead of handing him over to Tseng, or fuck, even Rude, before he realises Rufus is trailing behind, still down on all fours.

Plunking himself down on the tub’s edge to wait, Reno thinks about all the really damn good reasons why he should call Tseng up right now. The Turks aren’t Shinra’s anymore. Haven’t been for awhile, not since long before the Kisaragis started paying the bills.

Tseng moved fast when they caught wind of Shinra’s bailout, fast enough to make sure Reno snapped Rufus up before most people knew Daddy Shinra had sold off his heir. Reno’s got more fingers on one hand than people he trusts, but Tseng’s one of them. He’d just like to know what the hell he was thinking when he volunteered to take the kid in.

Rufus turns the corner of the hall, head angled so he doesn’t have to look up at Reno as he crawls across the shiny white tiles.

Reno pops open the medikit, digging out a low-grade potion and dampening a swab with it. “Right here,” he says, pointing at the space between his spread knees. “Lemme see how bad you fucked up my property.”

Nostrils flaring on a sharp breath, Rufus jerks his chin up, baring the marred line of his throat. The collar shifts slightly as he swallows.

“Don’t get pissy at me just ’cause it’s true,” Reno says. He tucks a couple fingers beneath the leather, feeling Rufus’s pulse against the backs of them as he daubs at the scratches. “Got the papers to prove it. All nice and tidy. Legal.”

Gaze fixed somewhere north of Reno’s shoulder, Rufus says, “For now.”

Reno flicks the used swab into the garbage. “Maybe,” he says. “You remember that next time you’re out there, thinking about taking a swan dive.” He runs his thumbs along the line of the collar, smoothing it back into place. By morning, Rufus’s throat will be healed. “Put the kit away and go to my room.”

If the kid’s got anything to say about that, Reno doesn’t stick around to hear it. He heads for the balcony, snagging the beer on the floor along his way, and throws both doors wide. There’s a pack of cigarettes left on the ledge, just a couple left kicking around in the foil. He lights one up since they’re there, wondering if he left them out the other night or if Rufus has picked up the habit out of sheer boredom. Kid just doesn’t seem the type, though.

Leaning back against the rail, Reno looks up, up and out over Midgar’s artificial glow to the darker sky pressing in at the edges. One of these days, Rufus is going to ask why he doesn’t just change the code on the balcony doors.

Reno probably won’t have an answer for him.

End

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