Final Fantasy - All Series Fan Fiction ❯ Trapped in Paradise(With Someone You Hate) ❯ Part II: New Order ( Chapter 2 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
Part Two: New Order
Reno awoke to a screaming headache, along with the rest of a massive hangover, and the sound of his cell phone ringing in his jacket pocket. He groaned softly, sat up, and found himself in the bedroom of an expensive beach house.
A few feet away was another bed in which Cloud was asleep peacefully. He was shirtless and sprawled over the sheets and comforter. Reno's eyes lingered over him, taking in smooth, pale skin and such a nice build, muscular yet compact. In his half-awake state, Reno imagined climbing into bed with him, running his hands down Cloud's chest. Maybe he'd nibble and suck on his nipples…sweep the tip of his tongue along the edge of his navel….
His cell phone was ringing again, interrupting his little fantasy, which was just as well. Any longer and he would have been sporting a hard-on and Reno really doubted Cloud would take too kindly to him having a wank at the foot of his bed.
Reno checked the caller ID, recognized Rufus's number, and took it into the living room. He draped himself over a large sofa as he answered it. “Reno, yo.”
“May I ask why it took you so long to take my call?” Rufus inquired rather icily.
“Well g'morning to you, too, Boss,” Reno drawled.
“Where are you?” Rufus asked abruptly.
“Where do ya think? Still stuck in Costa del Sol,” Reno furrowed his brow. His mind was slow to catch up without ample amounts of coffee and nicotine buzzing through his brain.
“I meant specifically, Reno.”
“Oh yeah. Well, from the looks of it, Strife's got a beach house here. Real nice set up too, the kinda place that you'd like.”
“I'm sure,” Rufus replied smoothly, all irritation drained from his tone, “Is Cloud there with you?”
“Yeah, ya wanna talk to him?” Reno couldn't help the bit of sarcasm.
“No need,” Rufus sounded somewhat distracted, “I have a new order for you.”
“Really?” Reno yawned, “You going to keep me in suspense?”
Rufus made an annoyed sound, “Honestly Reno, my tolerance of your smart mouth is starting to wane.”
“Sorry `bout that, Boss. Guess I haven't had a very pleasant couple of days.”
“Hm yes, I suppose that could put anyone on edge, but it still doesn't justify your behaviour. Do remember in the future that your problems are not always among my highest priorities.”
“Yessir,” Reno cast his eyes down, studying the scuffed toe of one boot. He felt vaguely embarrassed for being reprimanded over something as stupid as smarting off too much. Maybe Shinra's more or less diplomatic policies of late were starting to get to him.
“Now then, I want you to keep an eye on Cloud; in other words, stick close to him.”
That got his attention. He sat up straighter in his seated position. “What? Why? I thought we were tryin' to work on him as an ally.”
“We still are,” Rufus practically purred and it made Reno shiver a little. He wondered just what was going on in that devious mind. “But how will we ever secure him as an ally if we have no idea what truly drives him?”
“I dunno,” Reno chewed his lower lip, “You think I'm the best for the job? Manipulation isn't exactly my forte.” Of course that wasn't entirely true, but if Rufus couldn't completely mind-fuck Cloud then he certainly didn't have a chance in hell.
“Reno,” Rufus's voice had taken on that silky-smooth tone that he used when he was trying to get what he wanted or blow smoke up someone's ass, “When did I ever tell you to manipulate your way into Cloud's confidence? I think we both know that won't work. You just be your charming self, and I'm sure things will work out just fine.”
“Alright,” Reno drawled as he idly thought of the deliciously narrow curve of Cloud's hip. He licked his lips and silently promised himself that if he ended up sleeping with Cloud that it would be out of personal desire and not for Shinra. He was a Turk, not a rent-boy, after all.
Cloud awoke to a terrible taste in his mouth, something sweet yet vile, and remembered the bottle of rum he'd helped Reno polish off. He wasn't hung over, not by far. Cloud hadn't experienced a hangover since before becoming Hojo's unwilling guinea pig. Though he didn't really mind the lack of hangovers, he did sometimes mourn his inability to get good and properly drunk.
Cloud rolled over in order to look at the bed Reno had crashed in last night. It was empty, which caused him to groan softly. Great, he thought, he's gone….
Cloud lay in bed and considered his options. On one hand, Costa del Sol was a small town, and it would be easy enough to track Reno down. Not only was he fairly predictable, but he stuck out like a sore thumb among all the bronzed locals. On the other hand, Cloud doubted that Reno could get into much trouble here. Costa del Sol had never been known for its crime rate aside from the occasional mugger. He was quite sure the Turk could handle a third-rate criminal….
“Oh hey, you're awake.”
Cloud was startled out of his musings by the appearance of Reno in the bedroom doorway. He had a Styrofoam cup full of coffee in each hand and looked appealingly rumpled, like he'd just rolled out of bed. Of course, he always looked that way but for some reason….
Cloud's mind snapped shut against the thought before it could go any further. Instead he blinked at the man, “Where on earth did you find coffee?”
“I know a place,” Reno shrugged nonchalantly as he handed Cloud one of the cups. “Hope it's not too sweet. I didn't know what you liked and you were…y'know, sleeping.”
“Thanks,” Cloud replied uncomfortably as he sat up. He was oddly aware of Reno's eyes on him as the Turk sat on the other bed, his long legs crossed in front of him.
Cloud watched as Reno set his coffee on top of the bedside table, next to a pristine ashtray that hadn't been used since before Sephiroth's first defeat. It was an ugly ceramic piece of junk that Tifa had bought from a souvenir shop having gotten sick of Cid leaving his cigarette butts in the potted plants.
That had been a long time ago, Cloud realized and felt strangely sad.
Reno pulled out a pack of cigarettes and smoked while he drank his coffee. He looked awfully serene for someone who was stuck hanging around a former adversary. Cloud didn't understand how he'd so easily made the switch (aside from a few scuffles every now and again). He was inclined to think that it was part of some Shinra plot, but he supposed that he was just being paranoid. The only interest Rufus showed him these days was that of an ally.
It was good business, after all.
“Why are you still here?” Cloud blurted, quite without meaning to.
“Hm?” Reno looked genuinely confused, “Well…I figured, why not? You got a nice little place to crash and you're not horrible company.”
Cloud scowled, “And if I toss you out right now? It's not as though you asked my permission.”
Reno shrugged, “Yeah? Well you did bring me back here, didn't you? Can't blame me for thinkin' I was welcome.”
“You were falling down drunk, Reno. I didn't have a choice.”
“Sure you did. You're just too nice a guy. Goes with bein' the hero, I suppose.”
Cloud frowned, knowing that Reno was speaking the truth. It certainly didn't help that he'd made a roundabout promise to Rufus and he kept those too—even if it had been to a manipulative bastard like Rufus Shinra. How bad could it be anyway? If nothing else it would only be two weeks even if the transport hadn't arrived by then. He could punt him off to the local inn once a room opened up if he was really getting on his nerves.
Satisfied by this decision, he took a sip of his coffee and nearly gagged. It was sugary-sweet, overwhelmingly so. He swallowed thickly, set aside the cup and glared at Reno sullenly. “Okay, if you're going to stay here, I'm at least setting up some ground rules.”
“Sounds reasonable to me,” Reno smirked around the filter of his cigarette.
Cloud thought hard for a moment, “Okay, first off, no guests and second, you're to buy your own food and alcohol and anything else of that nature. Also, don't expect me to socialize with you or bail you out of trouble. We may be allies but that doesn't make us friends, understood?”
“Got it,” Reno nodded, appearing alert and quite suddenly serious. “Anything else?”
Cloud paused and was somewhat flummoxed by Reno's lack of protest. He supposed that he shouldn't have been surprised. Reno was used to taking orders. “Um…I guess not. Just…use common sense, okay? Try to keep things neat, clean up after yourself, that sort of thing. I think we're going to want this cohabitation to be as simple and painless as possible.”
“I couldn't agree more,” Reno drawled as he stubbed out his cigarette.
Something in Reno's tone made Cloud anxious. He felt a touch of trepidation and somehow knew this could possibly change everything between them. How, he didn't quite know or perhaps, he just wasn't ready to think about it.
They spent most of the rest of the day apart, but that was because Reno was stockpiling. He wasn't being paid as well these days, but that was alright. He'd never really considered himself a very high-maintenance person.
After shopping for food and picking up just about anything that he was marginally sure he could cook, Reno went straight to the port city's only liquor store. As he browsed the aisles and checked out the prices, he inwardly began cursing Sephiroth, Hojo, and Jenova all over again. Since alcohol was considered a luxury these days, and a lot of people still weren't even thinking about luxuries much less affording them, all but the cheapest stuff was incredibly expensive.
He eventually settled on a bottle of spiced rum, Wutian plum wine, and a case of the local brew.
Reno knew that he couldn't stay idle for more than a couple days despite how much he outwardly bitched about hard work and overtime. Reno had been living for thrills since his adolescence and had a hard time not looking for trouble.
A little bit of drunkenness might go a long way until he was back on duty.
Cloud couldn't remember the last time he'd done absolutely nothing all day. While Reno was out, he'd caught up on the sleep he could never keep up with between his work and living above a popular bar. When he was awake, though….
There was nothing to do. This beach house had never really been much of a home to him. He'd bought it with all the excess gil that had somehow built up while they'd been on Sephiroth's trail. It had been a stable comfort amidst the uncertainty of sleeping in a different hotel every day, camping out, or staying with friendly strangers.
Cloud wandered around the beach house with memories in his head, of the days that he had been so confident of what was right and wrong. These days things were different, all upside down and he didn't know what to make of it. Between Shinra gaining favour in the public's eye and Cloud's insecurity over his role in the world, his life sometimes seemed inordinately complicated.
By nightfall, Reno came back with groceries as well as alcohol of all things. Oddly, the man seemed just as out of sorts as Cloud was feeling. His constant, frenetic energy was subdued and there was a touch of humanity to him.
It was strange to think that the Turk had always seemed so surreal to him, more an effigy of vibrant words and startling violence than a real person. Perhaps he'd despised what Reno had stood for in the past, but Cloud was beginning to wonder if he'd ever truly hated him on a personal level.
It was all too confusing.
Things got even stranger when he found himself sitting on the back patio with Reno, watching the moon reflect off the ocean's waves and drinking beer. It was almost companionable.
Reno, of course, seemed unable to let the silence last and Cloud didn't know if he was grateful for the noise or hated being so forcibly engaged. Most of all, he hated how he could never seem to make up his mind about anything when it came to Reno.
“So what is this place, Strife?” Reno asked, “Some kinda love nest for you and Tifa?”
“No,” Cloud bristled. He didn't understand why everyone was so eager to assume that they were together. It felt like an arranged marriage even though he knew that it wasn't a fair comparison. They loved each other, but nothing else felt right. He was afraid that he'd never feel any passion for anyone ever again.
That didn't explain why he liked the way Reno's skin seemed to glow under the moonlight.
“I'm not with Tifa,” Cloud confessed softly. “We're not lovers.”
“Good to know,” Reno nodded, looking quite pleased.
Cloud made an annoyed sound. “You know, I really don't get you. I can never tell if you're being serious or just playing around.”
Reno just grinned at him crookedly, “I guess we're even then, aren't we?”
“How so?” Cloud queried.
Reno shrugged, drank his beer, and offered no explanation. Once more silence reigned between them, but now Cloud was thinking…..
Well of course he'd been treating Reno a bit more civilly since that whole situation with Kadaj and Sephiroth reborn, but that didn't mean he was interested in friendship or even something more.
Cloud's eyes strayed to Reno again and he found himself studying the pale curve of the man's throat, the strong sweep of his jaw line, which was smooth and free of any blemish or stubble. He let his gaze wander up to Reno's face, taking in his slightly wide mouth and full lips, the stark tattoos, and the strange angular shadows that his hair cast over his face. Okay, so he was gorgeous, and the fact that Cloud couldn't help but notice unnerved him.
Why did it matter? It really shouldn't have.
Cloud sighed softly as he sipped at the beer warming in his hand. He had to admit that perhaps the root of the problem was it felt like it had been ages since he'd been attracted to anyone. Cloud didn't know how to react; he didn't know what to do with himself.
Did he really hate Reno or did he just hate how the man could overwhelm him and turn his emotions upside down and inside out?
To be continued….