Final Fantasy - All Series Fan Fiction ❯ Trapped in Paradise(With Someone You Hate) ❯ Part III: Vicious Desire ( Chapter 3 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
Part III: Vicious Desire
It was a comfortable scene that felt tense with Cloud's discomfort. Not only was he having a civil enough dinner with Reno, but it had become apparent that the Turk was not a bad cook. True, it was hard to mess up a pasta dish, but Cloud would have been willing to bet that Reno was the sort to fail at the simple task of boiling water.
He didn't even poison my food, Cloud thought to himself with grim amusement. He immediately felt guilty soon after the thought crossed his mind. Reno had been nothing but pleasant since they'd begun their co-habitation. Aside from the occasionally abrasive aspects of his personality and periodic flirting (which Cloud still didn't know what to make of), Reno was proving not to be horrible company.
“So…Why are you in Costa del Sol anyway?” Cloud asked, feeling like engaging in conversation for once.
Reno sipped his glass of plum wine. He'd insisted that it was better for the meal than water even though Cloud had been suspicious. To anyone else, the set-up would have almost seemed like that of a seduction. Considering Reno's clear interest in him, Cloud was wary, though he wasn't entirely sure that he didn't like the attention.
“You know that I can't tell you that,” Reno replied after swallowing a mouthful of wine and setting the glass aside.
“Why not?” Cloud asked, mildly annoyed by his evasion. “There's no reason for me to care about Shinra's dealings and I have no one to tell.”
“Then why the curiosity?” Reno asked. His tone was oddly cold. “I'm sure you won't find it very interesting since Shinra is so low on the list of your concerns.”
Cloud scowled, “I'm sorry if you don't want to talk about it, but there's no need to be so defensive. Honestly, I couldn't care less.” The truth was, Cloud was feeling strangely hurt by Reno's suddenly icy demeanor. He didn't know why. It wasn't as though he actually liked the man.
Reno sighed and seemed to relent a little bit, “Listen, it's nothing personal, Cloud. Ya gotta understand that I'm not used to talkin' about my work outside of those involved.”
“I guess I understand,” Cloud replied uncomfortably as he shifted his gaze away from Reno's eyes. He wasn't really willing to admit that he really didn't understand. Cloud was so used to everyone telling him everything about themselves and their lives whether he wanted to know or not. Yet even as he thought of it, he realized that he still didn't know much more about Reno than he did when they're first met. Much as the Turk liked to talk, he'd always been more intent on finding out about Cloud than sharing his own experiences.
“Were you sent here to spy on me?” Cloud asked.
Reno laughed, “Nah, Rufus got bored with that after the first year. Hate to break it to ya, but ya ain't that interesting these days, Strife.”
Cloud bristled, “Have you considered that perhaps I don't want to be interesting? All I want is to be left alone. I have enough problems without dealing with day-to-day excitement and intrigue. Don't you ever get tired of it?”
“Of what?” Reno furrowed his brow, “Being a Turk?”
“Sure,” Cloud shrugged, “I mean…Why are you still with Shrinra anyway? You yourself said that the company was done for the day Diamond Weapon attacked Midgar.”
Reno actually appeared quite offended, a first that Cloud had seen. He sniffed in a rather dismissive manner as something dangerous and dark flashed in his eyes. “Yeah? And if I had just left it all behind, what would I be doing now? Mercenary work? Fuck that shit. Anyway, it's not exactly healthy for a Turk to ditch Shinra.”
“We're security risks to the company.”
Reno didn't need to say that they killed Turks who walked. The implication was clear enough. Cloud shivered slightly. Once more he wondered how Reno could be so loyal when everything about Shinra was so…wrong.
“Is it really worth it?” Cloud asked softly.
That cold expression returned and his voice was hard, almost completely devoid of his drawling Wall Market accent. “It's a hell of a lot better than how my life could've turned out, Cloud.”
“What do you mean by tha—“
Reno cut him off with a laugh that seemed harsh and forced, “C'mon give it a rest, Strife. Now I could tell ya a real sad story about life on the streets in the worst parts of Midgar's slums, but I bet your story is much more interesting.” He grinned, back to being playful and irreverent.
Cloud shifted uncomfortably, “Not really.”
“Hmm, you sure about that?” Reno teased, “I mean….you're an amazing fighter and survived mako poisoning on multiple occasions. Not only that but you can kick Sephiroth's ass in an afternoon. Pretty fascinating stuff if ya ask me. So tell me more, Cloud, and maybe I'll be inclined to tell you why I'm perfectly content with my dangerous profession.”
Cloud closed his eyes as he sighed heavily. He really didn't want to continue the conversation. Cloud didn't like talking to his friends about his past and feelings. Why bother with Reno? He had the feeling that the Turk knew more than he was letting on anyway and was just toying with him.
“Never mind,” Cloud mumbled, “Let's just drop it.”
To his credit, Reno knew when to back off. He just shrugged, seemingly unconcerned by Cloud's perpetually guarded nature.
The silence fell between them once more, as thick and heavy as a velvet curtain.
Three days later, Reno's boredom was starting to get the better of him.
Baiting Cloud was far too easy. Cloud didn't like talking about his past and liked even less to talk about Sephiroth. Reno could understand his feelings, but that didn't mean he wasn't perfectly willing to exploit Cloud's hot buttons. Getting emotional responses from him was eternally fascinating. Cloud was just so stoic and reserved that seeing him get angry or embarrassed was such a treat.
Psychoanalyzing Cloud was fun, but still lacked the visceral thrill of great sex or a knock down, drag out fight. He hadn't had much time to hit up the locals due to devoting most of it to studying and annoying Cloud.
It was a good thing that a certain bar was still around or else he might go to root. It was a seedy little hole in the wall, practically hidden, and had once hosted a nightly fighting competition. The Turks had shut that part down years ago, but it was still a great place to get drunk and rowdy.
Reno wondered if he could convince Cloud to come with him. It wasn't as fun to go alone and anyway it was safer. A good bar brawl was usually just that: all the patrons knocking into each other, smashing fists to faces and other parts of the anatomy. It was always best to have someone you trusted watching your back, and since Rude wasn't around, Cloud would just have to do.
He'd bought some new clothing for just such an occasion. Since Reno hadn't expected to be in Costa del Sol for more than a day or two, he hadn't brought an extra set of clothing. He didn't have as many suits to go around as he used to and if he was planning to get into a fight, he certainly didn't want to ruin yet another one.
Reno dressed in the bathroom, idly wondering when it was that he'd last worn casual clothing. Quite a long while, he realized, and it felt almost alien. Despite his momentary discomfort, Reno felt like he looked quite good.
He found Cloud reading in the bedroom and stood at the foot of his bed until he got Cloud's attention. When the blonde looked up from his book, he went very still. Reno watched with no small delight as Cloud's eyes flickered with interest. He quickly upgraded his appearance in his new clothes from “quite good” to “fucking great.”
“…Reno?” Cloud frowned slightly in confusion.
“Get up,” Reno grinned, “We're going the fuck out.”
Cloud set aside his book and arched an eyebrow at him. He looked both skeptical and intrigued. His demeanor practically screamed of reluctant curiosity.
“Oh really?” Cloud replied, his tone slightly peeved. “What makes you think I'd be interested in going anywhere with you?”
“Aren't you bored, Cloud?” Reno asked, favouring him with his best smile, the one that usually got him just about anything he wanted. “I mean, seriously…you just never seemed to be the type content to just sit around and do nothing. See, I know this bar—“
“No,” Cloud cut him off coldly, “I don't see how much different sitting around drinking at a bar is from hanging around here. At least if I stay here, I don't have to deal with other people. It's bad enough that I have to put up with you.”
“You're breakin' my heart, Strife,” Reno put his hand over his chest and mimed a wounded look.
“Hm,” Cloud intoned, appearing intent on returning to his book.
Reno thought fast. He knew that he had to work quickly if this ploy was to pan out like he wanted. Cloud was clearly not interested in social drinking and that was fine. He'd kind of figured it wouldn't be that simple. He decided for a different approach.
“It's dangerous,” Reno mentioned. He carefully measured his tone and words, trying to seem idle and careless.
“Dangerous?” Cloud paused, his interest sparked once more. “What do you mean?”
“Well…it used to host a fighting competition,” Reno explained hastily. “We shut that part down, of course, but it still attracts a pretty rough crowd.”
“So what…people go there looking to make trouble?”
“Pretty much. Look, at the very least could ya just come with me in case things get out of hand?” Reno knew that he was being just a little bit manipulative, but he was sick of waiting around to see if Cloud would do something interesting.
“Is it that bad?” Cloud furrowed his brow.
“Oh yeah,” Reno grinned, “Every time I've gone there with Rude the place ended up a war zone. It's fucking great.”
The blonde sighed, “Okay…okay, maybe I should go with you just to make sure you don't get into trouble.”
Reno laughed and stuck his tongue out at Cloud playfully. “You'll have a hell of a time stopping that from happening.”
“Yeah?” Cloud grumbled as he pulled on his boots, “Well, I can at least make sure you don't end up in the hospital.”
“Aw, I didn't know you cared that much, yo.”
Cloud snorted softly but didn't say another word. Reno couldn't suppress a smirk as he thought about what the night might bring.
Cloud didn't know how Reno had managed to convince him to go out with him. Perhaps it was because Cloud was going stir-crazy. It had certainly helped that Reno looked fantastic. Seeing him dressed in a black sleeveless shirt and loose grey slacks, Cloud was pleasantly reminded that Reno wasn't just a Turk but also quite an attractive man.
Reno brought him to some dive bar that Cloud hadn't even known existed. It was small and its patrons looked rough. Cloud had been used to places like this in Midgar's slums but had never expected to find such a place in Costa del Sol.
They stuck out like sore thumbs, and their very presence seemed to thicken the already tense atmosphere. For quite awhile it was uneventful. Though they suffered the glares and odd, muttered comments, he and Reno were left to their drinking relatively undisturbed.
As Reno teetered closer to intoxication, his inhibitions began to wane. He flirted openly with Cloud, leaning in close and grinning all the time. Maybe he was trying to bait and unnerve the clientele. This made Cloud just as nervous even as it excited him. Reno had given him ample warning about the place but had also insisted that Cloud leave his sword at the beach house. It was all for good reason: he was mako and genetically enhanced. Even in a fist-fight, Cloud would have to hold back considerably. Reno had also left his EMR behind. Though mere mortal, he was a Turk and therefore a cut above the average person.
Eventually they did get what Reno seemed so eager to incite. No matter how Cloud denied himself of his occasional violent tendencies, he found himself swept up into the chaos all the same. It was strange. His desire to fight had nothing to do with hurting people or any repressed sadism. Rather, it was a release for Cloud, a way to feel solid and real. Since Sephiroth's first defeat, Cloud had been feeling formless, ethereal.
Yet caught up in the midst of seething bodies and angry fists, he felt alive and visceral.
Though bloodied and bruised, they lingered by the beach's shoreline. Reno couldn't seem to stop smiling even though he was holding a cold bottle of unopened beer against one swollen cheek. He felt wonderful, relaxed, and happy. Oddly, it had been even better that Cloud had been there by his side. Though he'd seemed ill-used to fighting hand to hand, he'd still been brilliant back-up.
“I have supplies back at the house to take care of that,” Cloud pointed at the livid bruise on Reno's cheek.
Reno glanced at him. Cloud's injuries were already starting to fade. Reno wasn't jealous; he liked the lingering pain of bruises and the scars that other fights had left behind.
“I'm cool,” he drawled as he twisted the cap off his beer and numbed his various aches and pains with alcohol.
Cloud fell to silence but Reno didn't mind it. Other people prattled on about meaningless shit, but Cloud seemed to like to consider and measure his words.
“Did you mean for us to get into a fight tonight?”
Reno chuckled, “See now, that's why I like you, Cloud. You're so observant.”
He felt Cloud's fingers curl around his bare arm and was a little surprised that Cloud was touching him. The blonde seemed to avoid touch at all costs unless violence was involved. Now that he thought of it, he really did wonder why people thought that Cloud was with Tifa. He couldn't recall ever seeing them touch….
Cloud looked confused yet curious. “Why would you want to do something so stupid? I mean, I understand going somewhere dangerous just for thrills, but to actually incite such a situation…? I thought you'd be smarter than that.”
Reno shrugged, “Yeah…maybe it was fucking stupid, but it was worth the risk, right? A lot more fun than moping around the beach house and waiting for someone to call us and tell us when we'll be going home.”
Cloud sighed softly, “You're so reckless.”
Reno noticed that Cloud was staying close to him and decided to prove just how reckless he could be. If it doesn't work out, I can always blame it on the alcohol, Reno thought wryly.
He closed the space between them and draped his arms around Cloud's neck loosely. The blonde stiffened but did not pull away.
“Reno…” Cloud faltered. His eyes were huge, startled. Reno wondered about his reaction. Was it a fear of intimacy or just a general lack of confidence?
“Sometimes ya gotta take risks, Cloud,” Reno leaned in close to him, “but you know all about that sort of thing, don't you?”
“This is different,” Cloud murmured.
“Not really,” Reno replied quietly.
Cloud's pupils were highly dilated and his voice was unconvinced, hesitant, and unsure. It was as though he was desperately trying to talk himself out of a situation he really didn't mind being in. “You're drunk, Reno.”
“Maybe just a little. C'mon Strife, what harm can a kiss do?”
“Nothing I guess,” Cloud licked his lips nervously, “It's just…it's been awhile, y'know?”
Reno nodded, “I figured as much. Don't worry; I can go slow if that's what you really want.”
“That's part of the problem,” Cloud appeared exasperated, “I don't know what I want.”
“Well now,” Reno drawled, “There's only one way to find out….” He kissed him then, careful and slow, gauging Cloud's reaction. At first Cloud was very still under his touch, his lips trembling slightly but otherwise unmoving. Reno refused to be discouraged and let the tip of his tongue trace the soft curve of Cloud's lower lip. Cloud moaned softly and opened his mouth; his tongue met Reno's as it slid past his lips. Cloud's arms slid around Reno's hips as they stood together and kissed.
They were far away from the watching eyes of friends and loved ones; there was no one to judge them, no one to care. Reno, of course, had never given a shit, but he knew that Cloud did.
When Reno broke away, Cloud appeared slightly shaken. Yet he could tell that Cloud wanted him, and that the kiss had left him far from cold.
“I guess I am pretty reckless, Strife,” Reno chuckled softly, “but then again…I don't really think you mind it…..”
In the brief months since Geostigma's disappearance, Rufus Shinra had bought the Healin treatment center and converted it into the new base of operations for the company. He enjoyed the irony of the conversion as well as its isolation from the city.
It was far past nightfall when Rufus finally tore his eyes away from the small computer at his desk and let his mind wander. He wondered how things were going with Reno and Cloud. Rufus dearly hoped that the Turk was on his best behaviour. Shinra didn't need an enemy in Cloud Strife just because Reno couldn't keep his attitude in check.
Rufus didn't really think that he had to worry about that little problem. No, he had other things on his mind…other possibilities that might arise out of the situation in Costa del Sol.
The phone rang loudly in the silence, startling Rufus out of his thoughts. He frowned as he picked up the receiver.
“Shinra speaking,” Rufus answered calmly.
“Sir?” The connection was terrible, “It's Tseng. I have news on the transport ship.”
“Very good. What happened?”
“I'm happy to report that it's nothing serious,” Tseng explained, “There seems to have been fuel problems. The situation should be resolved within the next few days. Shall I contact Reno?”
“No…” Rufus murmured, almost to himself, “I have reason for him to stay in Costa del Sol a bit longer than three days.”
“…President?” Tseng's confusion was clear even over the fuzzy connection. “I thought Elena had been re-assigned to take care of Mr. Crane after Reno lost his trail in Costa del Sol.”
“It has nothing to do with him. We will discuss this later, Tseng,” Rufus replied vaguely. His mind worked furiously. The simple ploy to keep Reno busy while he was out of commission was becoming much more devious. If he could arrange to keep Reno and Cloud isolated who knew that might happen? He couldn't help but consider Reno's attraction to Cloud when he thought of the possibilities.
“I hope so, Sir,” Tseng's voice was laced with curiosity and concern. “When I return?”
“Of course,” Rufus replied smoothly.
As he returned the receiver to its cradle, Rufus couldn't contain a small chuckle. If this worked out as he hoped, Reno and Cloud wouldn't know how subtly they'd been manipulated. Rufus was not above using personal relations to benefit his company.
to be con't….