Doves Cry: Scars

by Tenshi

Warnings: Violence, non-consensual sexual activity, language, and YAOI.

"Touch if you will my stomach
see how it trembles inside
you've got the butterflies all tied up
don't make me chase you
Even doves have pride.
How can you just leave me standing
Alone in a world that's so cold?"

When Rufus' doorbell chimed the next morning, the Shinra heir apparent was not even out of bed, much less at his usual spot behind his desk, reviewing his studies. The shrill electronic chime seemed to ricochet around in his skull and yank on his optic nerves, as if trying to get his attention. Rufus groaned and shoved his head further under the pillow.

"Go away!"

He didn't remember much of what happened last night after the garden; they'd gone back inside and Rufus had spent a good three hours drinking whatever Reno put in front of him. Rufus' stomach heaved at the memory, and he barely made it to the bathroom before his stomach decided to forcibly eject what felt like everything he'd ever eaten since he was twelve.

He leaned his forehead on the blissfully cool porcelain and scowled at the doorbell that had not stopped ringing at thirty-second intervals. "Dammit to hell, Tseng, you know the fucking code, just open the damn door!" Rufus ran some cold water in the sink and stuck his face in it, slicking back his wet hair and groping for the white plush bathrobe on the bathroom hook.

"Stupid fucking Turks and their damn decorum," Rufus slammed his hand against the opening mechanism for his apartment, making the electronic door whoosh open. "Tseng why didn't you just open the-" Rufus blinked. He may have been hung over, but Tseng was redder, spikier, and six inches shorter than he'd been last night.

"Sorry," Reno drawled. "Tseng didn't give me your door code."

"Where's Tseng?" Rufus demanded. When had he seen Tseng last? Oh yes, he'd driven him home last night. How had he gotten into bed? Rufus's brain muzzily tried to retrieve this information, but all that would come forth was a blinking 'searching' icon.

"His day off. I'm your watchdog today. So can I come in or what?" Reno tapped his nightstick impatiently against his thigh.

"Do what you want," Rufus snarled, and would have spun on his heel, stalked off and slammed the door to his bedroom, if the usually well-behaved white pile carpet of his apartment hadn't lurched up toward his face.

"Whoa, whoa, easy!" Reno dropped his nightstick and caught Rufus before he could hit bottom, and aimed a kick behind him to close and re-lock the door. "Shit, you're in no shape to be up. C'mon, back to bed."

And before Rufus could protest the entire room shifted perspective, and he was shortly thereafter deposited back in his rumpled sheets. "You don't have to treat me like a baby-"

"I ain't. You drank a helluva lot more than most babies I know. Stay put." Reno vanished out the door and a few seconds later there was the sound of him moving about in Rufus' small kitchen area. "Nice pad you got here!" Reno called, over the brief rumble of the blender. "Thought it'd be bigger, though?"

"What for?" Rufus sank back against his pillows. They did feel awfully good. "Less time the cleaning lady has to be in here."

"Heh. Good thinking. You must have her in here a LOT tho'. The whole damn place is fucking white." Reno reappeared in the doorway, carrying a glass of thick red liquid with a frond of celery stuck in it. "Here. Drink this."

"I LIKE white." Rufus protested, and stared at the beverage. "I'm supposed to trust you after last night? What is it?"

"A Bloody Odin. Just drink it, kay? It'll make your head feel better." Reno rattled the glass at him.

"What an attractive name." Rufus grimaced, but swallowed obediently. "Bleah." He'd never been much on tomato juice. The only reason he had any in his fridge was that someone else did the shopping for him, and Tseng had asked for it. Tseng. The smell of roses came back to him, laced with the heady rich cinnamon of Tseng's exotic Wutai cigarettes. Rufus wondered briefly if he was going to toss up again. Who had undressed him last night?

'Information currently not available,' his brain responded, unhelpfully.

"Tseng took a day off? Is he sick?" Rufus tried to sound nonchalant, gnawing absently on the celery stick. It tasted good, and took the sour flavor out of his mouth.

"Nah." Reno shook his head. "Even he has to take a break once in a while, ya know? Is that helping?" Reno tapped the rim of the glass with one finger.

Rufus realized that his drink had been reduced to nothing but a few gory pieces of ice and some celery bits. "Yes, it did, actually. Thank you."

"No problem. So ah, what's up with you and Tseng?"

"What?" Rufus' fingers tightened on the glass.

"C'mon. He didn't say two words after you came back from the garden and you concentrated on drinking about two dozen consecutive Hell Bubble Fizzies." Reno grimaced. "No wonder you're hung over."

"As if it's any of your business," Rufus raised an eyebrow, "nothing is 'up' with me and Tseng."

"Heh." Reno plucked the glass from Rufus's fingers before it spilled on the perfect white sheets, and stood up to dump the contents into the kitchen sink. "Maybe that's the problem."

"I'll thank you to keep a civil tongue in your head." Rufus swung his legs out of bed, and stalked over to Reno, who was leaning on the sink and looking unimpressed. "I may be younger than you but you ARE my bodyguard, at least for today, and-"

Reno's eyes drifted down lazily, a dangerous glint flickering in his green irises. He smiled slowly, bringing his gaze back up to meet Rufus's. Rufus stopped his tirade mid-sentence, ears burning. His hands fumbled for the trailing belt of his seriously undone bathrobe.

"Don't you have any manners at all?" Rufus hissed, turning around and hastily knotting the strip of velour. If Tseng had undressed him last night, he'd been damn thorough about it.

Well, it was Tseng, after all.

"Hey, hey, I got it." Reno put his hands on Rufus's shoulders, spinning him back to face him. "You want him, don'tcha? Fuck, maybe you are human after all. Here." Reno reached out, undid Rufus's haphazard knot, and retied it expertly. "I hate to tell you this, Rufus-sama, but we're all in love with Tseng. Down to a man. Get used to disappointment."

"Do not," Rufus hissed, eyes cold, "Touch me again without my permission."

Reno backed away, hands up. "Hey, hey, GEEZ. You got a real pole up your ass, you know that? What's your problem, anyway? You were a lot nicer last night."

"The situation differed." Rufus went back into the adjoining bedroom, and, just to show he didn't care what Reno saw, tossed his bathrobe across his bed and began rummaging in his closet. "It was a different atmosphere. Pleasure, not business. Now if you-"

"What do you know about either, brat?" Reno leaned against the doorframe, looking belligerent. He didn't bother hiding the hunger in his eyes, devouring Rufus visually. Rufus dug his bare toes in the carpet, wishing he'd not given up the security of clothing. "Business or pleasure? No wonder Tseng was in a sulk. You probably thought you could make him do whatever you wanted, right?"

Rufus clutched his shirt to his chest. "Get out."

Reno folded his arms. "No."

"You are under my orders and I am telling you to get the fuck out of my room."

"You are a spoiled little boy and your father wants you watched." Reno stared pointedly at the juncture of Rufus' legs. "So I'm watching you."

"If you don't leave this instant I'll-"

"You'll what?" Reno stood up straighter. His nightstick was suddenly in his hand, held loosely and dangerously casual. "Beat me up?" Reno was looming over Rufus in a matter of seconds. "What are you gonna do, huh?" Reno lifted Rufus' chin with his nightstick, his other arm pulling him in closer. "You know what I think you need, little boy? You need a good fuck. You need some stains on those perfect white sheets of yours; some stains on your perfect little sterile life." The steel-capped end of Reno's nightstick was cold as he traced Rufus' lips.

Rufus, shaking with fury, could not move. "Get your hands off me."

"You don't like my hands?" Reno switched his grip on Rufus, the weapon moving away from his face and pressing its cold tip against the back of Rufus' thighs. Rufus hissed, turning his face away. "I'll give you something else, then."

Reno's arm moved and Rufus cried out in mingled rage and alarm, something cool and smooth pressing against him, into him. "Let go."

"You let go first." Reno lifted Rufus against his hipbone, making Rufus spread his legs and stand on the end of his toes as Reno slowly moved the nightstick in and out. Rufus, hands clutching Reno's lapels, did not release him. "Ummm. You like it, don't you?"

"You... have no right... to..." Rufus arched back, crying out. Reno grinned ferally, and pushed in harder with his nightstick, until Rufus was sobbing, beating his fists weakly against Reno's chest.

"No. I don't. The world isn't fair, Rufus. And you can't make people do what you want if you don't have anything to back." Shove. "It." Shove. "Up." Shove. "With."

Rufus folded his hands between his legs, out of modesty or need he wasn't sure. "I... I..."

Reno slowed down, reaching up to make Rufus meet his eyes. "Now. Have I hurt you yet? Besides your pride, I mean, and that could stand it."

Rufus, given a little leverage, took a deep breath, shook his head. "No."

"Does this feel nice?" Reno slid the nightstick out almost all the way, and back in again. "You like it? If you don't I'll stop now."

Rufus moaned, resting his head on Reno's shoulder. "'s good."

Reno nuzzled Rufus' hair. "Make you wanna touch yourself? Don't get shy on me now, we all do it."

Rufus pressed back experimentally on the smooth slender weapon inside him, now hot from his body. His fingers slid over soft swollen skin, and he nodded. "I like it."

"Good." Reno kissed Rufus' hair. "Cos if you wanna ask Tseng for anything you have to know what you want. And what you're getting into. Trust me, it'll hurt a lot more than this."

Rufus' hands tightened around himself. "It... doesn't hurt." He pushed his hips back and gasped,

then did it again. "Unnnn..."

Reno grinned. "That's right. Now you're in control. Go ahead and take it, Rufus. Take what you need." Reno slid his palm along the warm shaft of his nightstick, holding it in place for Rufus to rock onto it. Rufus shook violently, legs trembling with exertion.

And Rude asked him why he didn't prefer guns.

"Ah.. ahhunnn...Reno--!" Hot white spilled over Rufus's shivering hands and on Reno's uniform navy pinstripe, Rufus collapsing against Reno's chest and panting for air. Reno eased his grip on Rufus and slowly removed his weapon, pressing the tip in and out a few times, just to make Rufus sob.

"There, there now, I got ya. Feel better?"

Rufus made a vague noise of affirmation, curling onto his side as Reno laid him crosswise on the bed and grimaced at the condition of his nightstick and suit. Not that he was the tidiest of the Turks, but still... "Hey, you just stay there a sec. I'm gonna clean up."


By the time Reno came back out of the bathroom, Rufus had found his gun.

It didn't matter that he'd never been trained to use one, that hadn't prevented him from keeping one in his bedside table since he was thirteen.

"Aw, shit." Reno made a face at the silencer-equipped muzzle pointed in his direction. "What the hell's that for, Rufus?"

"You will address me properly in the future, if you have one." The pistol wavered slightly, and Rufus shifted his grip on it, hands still sticky and knees trembling as he stood next to the bed.

"What, you gonna shoot me? You don't even know how to use that. C'mon, givit here." Reno took a step closer. There was a soft noise and the plaster next to his ear exploded as the bullet embedded itself in the bathroom door. "Hey! Be careful with that! What's your problem, anyway?"

"I do not appreciate being taken advantage of." Rufus tossed his head, managing to haughty even in nothing but his skin. "You had no right to-"

"Did you even listen to a DAMN thing I said?" Reno looked exasperated. "Now dammit, Rufus, put down the gun before I gotta hurt ya-" Reno made a grab for the pistol and Rufus lunged back, off-balance. The gun bucked in Rufus' hand and Reno went limp, making Rufus stagger with the sudden weight as they both tumbled onto the bed. Rufus twisted himself up, heart hammering, eyes wild. Reno's hair tumbled across the pale sheets in a smooth red wave, curving around the bright red stain as if loathe to touch it. His face was turned away, into the pillows.

Rufus' gun slid from his fingers, leaving a ghostly trace of gunpowder on the perfect, white carpet.

He did not remember getting on the train. Or getting dressed, for that matter, or leaving the Shinra building. Reno he remembered, in a still pile on his bed. Surely he hadn't killed him.

Had he?

Rufus stared grimly at the floor of the train, and an empty beer bottle that rolled back and forth with the motion of the vehicle. He'd only come to himself a few moments ago, on a vacant train car with the automated clock reading well past midnight.

How long had he been here? Too long, judging by the dead feeling in his ankles. He hauled himself to his feet and winced, wiggling his toes in his shoes until sensation returned.

~Attention Midgar line Passengers. This is the last train to Sector Four. All passengers please depart at this station. Thank you for riding Midgar Lines~

Rufus chewed his lip thoughtfully. Did this mean he was stuck? He'd never been on the train before, so when the lights went out suddenly a few seconds later, he had no idea it was a routine ID check. He didn't have time to ask about it when they came back up, either, because a very sharp object was pressed to the collar of his shirt.

"Hello hello hello. Lookie what we got here, Renku." A pair of green eyes surveyed Rufus thoughtfully. "Don't you know it's not SAFE to ride trains alone at night? Hey, how about we keep you company? For a fee, of course."

Outside of Rufus's line of vision there was a chorus of chortling agreement. "Heh heh, what are train fees running these days, Bansu?"

"I don't know. He looks broke to me."

"Hmmm." The green eyes pulled back, and Rufus saw that they belonged to a long face, with lank pale hair. "I don't know. Those are expensive togs you got on there, blue-eyes." The knife did not move as Rufus' assailant dug his fingers into Rufus' pockets, groping a bit more than necessary. "Ehh... he's got nothin' on 'em. Hey, pretty boy. Who'd you steal your clothes from?"

Rufus tried to summon the glare that worked so well on his secretary. It was difficult, with a butterfly-knife nuzzling up to his jugular. "I didn't steal them. They're mine. If it's money you want I can get it for you."

Growled laughter and now Rufus could see the others, three of them, all equally hard-eyed, even the small one that looked younger than Rufus was, his pupils dilated to nothing, eyes bloodshot. Junkie, probably. They hung on the seats and clutched the ceiling straps for support, hunched and lean like animals. Like predators.

"Can ya, now? You hear that, boys? He can GET us some." He leaned in closer, breath hot. "Well, how are you gonna GET it for us, huh? Maybe we wanna take it for ourselves. We don't do IOU's, you know. Just aren't trustworthy."

The small one twitched a little, rocking on his heels. "I want 'im. I want 'im first, Tsuratsuki. You had the last one. Twice. Right? Right, Herumhozu?"

Herumhozu, the most civilized looking one, shrugged. "As if I keep track."

"Well, well." Tsuratsuki ruffled Rufus's hair. "So, whatcha gonna do, huh? We've been protecting you for three minutes now and we ain't got a damn thing for our pains."

"Unhand me." Rufus snarled, fists clenching. "You mangy guttershit, I'll have you know I'm Ru-"

"Ah! THERE you are! Hey, Tsuratsuki. How's it goin'? You found my bitch for me, 'uh?"

Rufus blinked, and tried not to pass out from sheer relief. "Reno! I thought I-"

"Hey, now!" Reno's eyes were bitter. "You just shut up, you little fuck. I'm damn tired of chasing you all over Midgar. You think I pay you what I do so you can pull stunts like tonight?"

Bansu, the small one, frowned. "Is this YOUR whore, Reno?"

"Whore!" Rufus spluttered, but Tsuratsuki slapped him hard, across the face.

"Don't talk back to Reno, now. He's an old friend."

"Yeah." Reno walked across the train car, hips swaying with the motion. "Yeah. Little shit tried to run out on me." Reno grabbed Rufus by the front of his shirt, glaring at him. "You better not say ONE MORE WORD, got it?"

Rufus, hoping he did, nodded.

"Well," Renku drawled, rubbing his chin. "Gee, Reno, We'd like to give him back to ya and all, but you know the rules."

Reno smiled amicably, holding out his hands. "C'mon, guys..."

Tsuratsuki's blade fluttered from Rufus's throat to Reno's. "Sorry, old pal. But you know how it goes. We let you go we gotta Mark ya."

Rufus quickly began to realize he wasn't as saved as he thought he was.

"Geez." Reno put his hands on his hips, almost pouting. "Some friends you guys are! I could set you up with some gil-"

"It's not a matter of gil." Herumhozu stood up straighter. "Honor. Rule of the streets, Reno. Don't tell me you forgot. We're letting you go easy."

Reno nodded, glancing at Rufus for a second. "Hey, hey wait. How bout you give 'em both to me. He gets one and his career's over. C'mon, guys, for old time's sake. Whaddya say?"

"HIS career?" Bansu purred, creeping over to Reno and slipping a hand inside his jacket. "What about YOUR career, Reno? You used to be the best in Sector four, maybe in Midgar."

Reno carefully removed Bansu's hand, but not without a smile, and not before Rufus saw him wince. "Hey, knock it off, there. You know how ticklish I am. Besides, you probably got more cash now to spend on your candy and not on me, right?"

"Candy candy," Bansu muttered, waving a hand in disinterest. "I need more now that you're gone. Being a Turk pays more than spreading for me?"

Rufus blinked at Reno, astonished. Reno used to--?

"It must." Tsuratsuki jerked his head in Rufus's direction. "He can pay for this piece of cake. Must be what, 3000g or so a spread, huh?"

Reno shot Rufus a glare that could have warped the train tracks. "Yeah. A real arm and a leg."

Rufus stared at the floor. He really had no idea what was going on outside his room. Maybe Reno was right.

"Well," Herumhozu flicked a slender dagger out of nowhere. "Since you don't need to sell your pretty face anymore, and cos they'd look better on you than on your pet, I'm for it. Guys?"

"Shame," Bansu sighed. "Such a pretty face, Reno." He tilted his head. "Give him nice ones, Herumhozu. Make 'em neat."

"I know what I'm doing," Herumhozu carefully polished his dagger on his sleeve. "You want Renku to hold you down, Reno?"

Reno shrugged. "Nah, I'm fine. Cheaper than a tattoo, anyway."

Rufus looked around the train in alarm as Herumhozu advanced. Reno was just going to-? "Wait! Reno, you can't-"

Tsuratsuki cuffed him again, against the back of his head. "It's your fault, you little snot. Next time don't run away."

"S'okay, kiddo." Reno winked at him. "Why they pay me the big bucks."

"Please hold still, now, Reno." Herumhozu requested, politely. "I wouldn't want you to lose an eye."

Reno went motionless, not even blinking as Herumhozu's slender dagger flashed out once, twice in the flickering light of the train. For a second there was only thin thread of white on each of Reno's cheeks, and then they welled up with red, spilling in bloody tears down his neck and soaking into his open collar.

Herumhozu bowed, and fastidiously wiped off the knife before putting it away. "Very few have gotten away with just one, Reno. Nobody with two. Wear them proudly."

Reno might have smiled, but it obviously was agony. "You always did good work, Helm."

Tsuratsuki shoved Rufus towards Reno and left the train, offering an affectionate pat on Reno's shoulder. "Better get a doctor to look at those cuts, Reno."

The gang members filed out of the train car, Bansu lingering a moment to eye Reno speculatively. "Come and see me when they're healed, eh, Reno? I bet they make you look tough." He fondled Reno's ponytail and then followed his companions to the next car.

Reno did not watch them go, but waited until he heard the door slam. Then his knees gave out.

"Reno!" Rufus moved forward, hands making small useless motions. He had no idea what to do, and Reno's blood was spattering on the floor of the train. "Reno, I thought I shot you! I didn't mean to I- I was just confused and oh, fuck, Reno your *face*..."

Reno grabbed Rufus for support, pulling himself to his feet. "NOW you get it, huh? Stupid kid. When I feel better I'm gonna take you out and SHOW you how to use a gun." Reno winced, pressing his hand against his side. The dark fabric was damp; Reno's hand had left a red print on Rufus' sleeve. "C'mon. I'm taking you home."

"But you're hurt and I don't know where-"

The train squealed to a halt, sending Reno sprawling into Rufus, Reno's face staining the cool expensive fabric of Rufus' shirt.

~Midgar Lines, last stop. Sector Four. All passengers please depart. Next train will be at 3:27 a.m. Thank you for riding Midgar lines. Mind the gap, please. Repeat...~

Reno staggered out the opening into the cold streetlight of the lower city, Rufus following blindly. Nobody at the station even looked at them twice. Rufus had never been in the slums before, and it took a moment before his eyes sorted out the jumble of rubbish and scrap metal to recognize one of the Shinra helicopters in a small clearing of dirt, Rude standing stoically beside it, waiting.

"Rude!" Rufus ran over, forgetting for the first time in his life exactly who he was. "Reno's hurt! Get us to Midgar General and-"

"It's good to see you alright, sir." Rude spoke unhurriedly, holding open the door to the helicopter. "Would you like to go home now?"

"I would like," Rufus said, through clenched teeth, "To go to the fucking hospital right now."

"Sir, Reno will be quite alright. He can be tended to once you're home. Unless you are injured?"

"NO, goddammit I'm perfectly fucking fine!" Rufus's eyes went hard, and something in him was no longer a demanding little boy but someone used to being obeyed. "But by Odin you are NOT to take me anywhere until Reno is taken care of first, is that clear?"

Rude looked at Reno, who lifted his shoulders weakly. "Heh... let the punk do what he wants. I mean... I know he comes first and everything but I wouldn't mind a little... R and...R..." Reno slumped against Rude, out cold.

"He got these for me, Rude," Rufus said, quietly. "Please."

"Alright." Rude said, and he must have been worried about Reno to yield so easily. "But then you are going-"

"I'll go to the moon if you want, Rude, just get us out of here. I never want to see this place again." Rufus climbed in the chopper, holding out his arms. "Give him to me."

Rude carefully arranged Reno in Rufus' lap and fired up the helicopter, the blades scattering debris as it lifted off to Midgar's upper level.

Tseng hated days off.

SOMETHING always went wrong when he wasn't there, no matter what. He would rather have sent Rude to watch Rufus but President Shinra had needed him for something, and that was that. Reno was impulsive and hadn't learned to not say what he thought, and around Rufus that could be very bad indeed.

The message said to come straight to Midgar General when he got back. It was from Rude, and therefore not long on details. Reno was nowhere to be found, Rufus' room was abandoned, sheets stained with blood, gun left lying on the floor. Worse than even Tseng anticipated.

He REALLY hated days off.

He strode down the corridors of the hospital with cold fury, his eyes narrow, unconscious of the nurses who scrambled to stay clear of his path. If that little shit had killed Reno...

The room was dark, Reno a still shadow in the bed with both sides of his face bandaged. Curled in a stiff hospital chair in one corner was, wonder of wonders, Rufus Shinra, wound in a rumpled ball and fast asleep. Tseng was investigating the bloodstains on Rufus' jacket when Reno stirred in the bed, his green eyes gleaming in the dimness.

"It's all mine. He didn't get a scratch." Reno's voice was soft, blankets shifting as he sat up carefully.

"I hesitate to ask what happened." Tseng left Rufus where he was and bent to examine the bandages on Reno's side. "He shot you?"

"Weeeellllll... I kinda deserved it."

"Because you made him angry?"

Careful grin around the bandages on his face. "Nah... I forgot to get the gun out of his bedside table BEFORE pissing him off. Besides, I don't think he really meant to shoot me. He was more surprised than I was."

Tseng chuckled in what he pretended was not relief, fingers sliding gingerly over Reno's side. "Looks like he just clipped you. What about these?" Tseng did not touch the gauze on Reno's cheeks, as if knowing how much they must hurt. "He didn't...?"

"Nah. I ran into some old friends of mine in the Trains, looking for him. He ran off after he shot me; musta scared the holy hell outta him. Don't think he'd ever pulled a trigger before in his life." Reno ran a finger down the side of his face. "One of these is for me, but the other one's for Rufus. Maybe someday he can have it back, but he's too young for that shit now."

"He's only a year younger than you." Tseng raised an eyebrow.

Reno's eyes narrowed. "Heh. We both know different. I got eight younger brothers and sisters to look after, Tseng. Every one of them knows more about life than that spoiled..." Reno hesitated, gazing thoughtfully at Rufus. "Well I dunno. Maybe he's learning. I didn't expect him to stay."

"Wouldn't go home, hmm?"

"Nope." Reno sighed. "Maybe there's hope for him yet?"

"Maybe." Tseng looked at the future president of Shinra Inc. "Maybe so. Where's Rude, by the way?"

"Went to go find some real coffee. You wanna take his Royal Highness home?"

"It's probably best. Now that I know you're alright, that is. I expect you back on the job in two days, of course. Don't forget to-"

"File a report, I know." Reno smirked. "It's gonna be an interesting one."

"Tell Rude he's off tomorrow." Tseng looked at his watch. "Make that today. I think I can cover things back at HQ."

Rufus made a sleepy noise of protest as Tseng bent and scooped him up, but did not wake. "Get some rest, Reno. And next time you want to teach Rufus a lesson, make sure he doesn't have any bullets, hmm?"

"Right, sir." Reno nodded, sinking back against his pillows. "I won't forget." He gestured to his face, smiling ruefully. "I've got a good reminder. Oh, Tseng?"

Tseng had started out the door, but Reno's voice made him hesitate, pivoting slowly so as not to disturb the young man in his arms. "Was there something else?"

"Yeah. You find that gun he used and toss it out the window, would ya?"

"Why?" Tseng tilted his head. "You have a grudge against it just because he shot you with it?"

"Nah." Reno chuckled. "It's a piece of shit, though. I wouldn't use it for a paperweight. I couldn't stand the thought of getting done in by some rich boy's gold-plated peashooter. Get 'im a shotgun or something useful. And teach him how to use it. He's a lousy shot."

Tseng smiled. "Any other orders, sir?"

"Just one." Reno looked at Rufus, sound asleep and quite possibly drooling on the shoulder of Tseng's jacket. "Take care of him. I'm afraid I did a shitty job at it."

"On the contrary, Reno," Tseng freed a few fingers to run them down the side of Rufus' face. The only mark he wore was a red indentation from where he'd fallen asleep on the chair. "You did your duty exceptionally. He's safe."

"I'm a Turk, sir." It was the only answer a Turk should give when praised by his superiors.

Tseng's eyes narrowed in a near smile. "Yes, you are that, Reno." Tseng shifted Rufus in his arms. "Don't forget about your report. I want full details."

Reno listened as Tseng's footsteps echoed down the quiet early-morning hospital corridor.

"I was afraid you might," he muttered to himself, before the painkillers pulled him back down into unconsciousness.


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