Learning to live with another person is never simple. But who'd have thought that grocery shopping could be so...interesting
If you'd asked Reno how his life had changed since he and Rude decided to live together, you'd have most likely gotten a facetious answer along the lines of "We can have sex first thing when we wake up in the morning."
In truth, though, one of the things that made living with Rude so much fun was their day off.
First of all, before they'd declared themselves a couple, their days off had seldom coincided. And while Reno was more than capable of keeping himself entertained, he'd discovered having Rude around while he was doing it kept things interesting.
Secondly, as mentioned above, was the access to easy (and immediate) sex.
The third, oddly enough, was grocery shopping.
Before he and Rude had moved in together, most of what Reno ate was either take-out or bought at one of the several thousand mini-marts that had sprung up around town. There were days he'd have sworn there was one on every corner, which made it all the more convenient should he suddenly have a craving for, say, Wutai Cinnamon BBQ Chips or a hot dog. He was, in fact, fairly sure he hadn't set foot in a market since he was a kid.
All that changed when Rude moved in. Once he'd weeded out Reno's wardrobe so there was enough room for his suits (several boxes of clothes Reno had no real memory of having either bought or worn were sent to various charitable organizations in and around Midgar), brought in some of his own furniture (muttering something about how could you have a decent Poker Night if you didn't even own a card table?) and scrubbed the bathroom, he'd discovered, much to his shock and dismay, that Reno's refrigerator held nothing but half-empty take-out cartons and pizza boxes, some of which were growing things Hojo would've paid good gil to access for use in his lab.
Thus was born the weekly trip to the market.
The market amazed Reno. Big, well-lit, carrying both Wutai Cinnamon BBQ chips AND hot dogs, and chock full of fresh fruits and vegetables and meat (that you could actually watch them cut up for you). Aisle after aisle of both the exotic and the mundane (who'd have guessed they sold the ingredients to make chicken with black mushrooms to the general public?), and you could buy as much of it as you wanted. Of course, there was the small matter of cooking it once you got home, but that was another good thing about having Rude around; the man took his cooking very seriously, and he was damn good at it.
Of course, just as into each life a little rain must fall, this whole business of living together involved some compromises. He'd been basically okay with Rude's insistence that the bathroom be kept clean. Mostly because he'd discovered taking showers together was a lot nicer than showering alone, and he was fairly sure Rude would refuse to shower with him if there was mildew growing on the walls. He was picky that way.
Taking turns washing the dishes, which had, for a while, threatened to possibly cause them to part ways, had been resolved when Rude bought a dishwasher. Even Reno couldn't complain about washing dishes when all it involved was rinsing them off and putting them into a machine that did all the work for him.
Even the kerfluffle that occurred after two of the places Reno's clothes had been donated to sent them back, with polite notes attached thanking him for his kindness, but pointing out that the garments inside 'were not appropriate for our residents to be wearing' only lasted a few days, ending when Reno finally realized that, despite how he felt, it was highly unlikely the residents of the Shady Home Retirement Community or Midgar's Home for the Elderly and Indigent were going clubbing any time soon. Especially not the kind of clubs he frequented.
No, the trouble, when it came, came from an unlikely source. And that was Rude's unwillingness to shop without a grocery list.
Originally, Reno held no definite feelings about grocery lists. He'd never made one, but then, he'd never shopped in a market before either. Perhaps a list was required to gain entrance? He quickly discovered this wasn't true; the purpose of the list, Rude said, was to (1) Help you remember what you needed to buy, and (2) To keep you from impulse buying.
This was the first time Reno had ever heard the phrase 'impulse buying' (thought it certainly wouldn't be the last). Only gradually did he realize that 'impulse buying' was a polite way of saying 'Keeping Reno from putting every goddamn thing he sees and wants into the basket.'
But he honestly couldn't help it. There were so many things there that looked good, and (as he pointed out to Rude) it's not like they couldn't afford it. Rude was willing to concede that point, but insisted his mother (whom Reno had talked to once on the phone, and who'd been remarkably chatty for a woman who'd raised a son who could go for hours without saying a single word) had never gone to the market without a list.
The problem, Rude had said, was that most of what Reno bought was just junk food. It had no nutritional value. Furthermore, it frequently cost more than it was worth.
This had really gotten up Reno's nose. He had, he informed Rude, been eating this sort've stuff for years and it hadn't killed him yet. Furthermore, he was a working man, just like Rude, and if he wanted to buy something, he'd damn well buy it, and to hell with its 'nutritional value' (whatever that meant).
Rude just shook his head. "It's all gonna come back around and bite you in the ass someday, Ren. I mean, look at how skinny you are." To which Reno replied (somewhat frostily) that he'd been skinny his whole damn life, thank you very much 'Mr. Not all of us can be built like a brick shithouse.' Furthermore, he'd managed to live 27 years surviving on very little that qualified as home cooking, and he didn't see any reason to change now.
Thus the battle lines were drawn. Now when they went to the market, each of them got their own shopping cart and paid for their own purchases. Rude's cart was, as always, filled with things that Reno had to admit tasted pretty damn good when cooked. But he wasn't ready to give up the battle just yet, and so he went his separate way, buying whatever he saw that happened to catch his fancy at the moment.
All he had to do, he figured, was wait for Rude to get over it. Which he would, because in all the years Reno'd known him, he'd never seem him carry a long-term grudge.
Just in case, he had a back-up plan. Because Turks always have back-up plans.
A month into the stand off, Reno was beginning to get worried. Rude showed no signs of backing down. Oh, he hadn't said anything, but he didn't have to. Reno knew when he was being viewed with disdain. Despite his obvious displeasure, Rude never once remarked about what Reno bought. He continued to cook delicious meals (as a matter of fact, Reno would've sworn the quality of the food had actually improved since there argument). Their relationship at work and in bed remained unchanged(at least from Rude's side). There were times Reno was so pissed at him for refusing to give in he'd actually plead a headache when Rude was feeling amorous. Even that didn't work; Rude always just brought him some painkillers and massaged his neck, and his headache almost immediately went away.
Later, lying in the afterglow, Reno would curse his body for it's betrayal and vow to be stronger next time. Perhaps it would've been easier if his back-up plan hadn't involved refusing to have sex. That had been a definite strategic error. It obviously should've involved something he wasn't that fond of, like scrubbing the shower. Except that wouldn't have worked either, because no matter how he figured the equation, everything he could quit doing in retaliation for Rude's slur against his person invariably led back to sex.
It might have helped if he could've resisted the temptation of eating what Rude cooked. Unfortunately, that resolve was even less successful. Reno'd never really learned how to cook, as there didn't seem to be a need for it. Why should he cook when he could pay other people to do it for him?
Furthermore, he'd discovered watching Rude cook turned him on. The man had a sense of focus to him that Reno had always kind've envied, and he approached everything he did (be it making love, cooking fried Chocobo, or killing some idiot who'd been stupid enough to cross Rufus Shinra) with that same intensity. It had struck Reno that watching Rude shop for groceries was like watching a Cuahl stalking its prey. He prowled the aisles, eyes constantly on the move, every muscle tensed and ready. The fact that he was really checking prices to see which brand was the better buy gave Reno weird little butterflies in his stomach.
It was when he realized that watching Rude grocery shopping turned him on, that Reno admitted defeat. Between that and the fact he ended up at the check out with an empty cart, he'd been thoroughly pwnd. And Rude, bastard that he was, didn't even have the good grace to not look pleased.
Driving home, he was still feeling kind've snarky. "So I suppose you're happy now?"
Rude glanced at him, smiling slightly. "Never was a question of being happy, Ren. Just a matter of letting you figure it out for yourself."
Reno hadn't thought of it that way before. He had noticed, kind've off-handedly, that he'd been buying less and less of what Rude referred to as 'junk food' over the last month. The question was why?
And the answer was simply that he was now eating at least one good meal every day. Breakfast tended to still consist mostly of coffee and doughnuts (Rude had a very real Jones for sweets, which Reno was already planning to use against him at some point), and depending on how busy they were, lunch was either nothing at all, cafeteria food (now that he'd eaten Rude's cooking, Reno realized why Rude had always referred to it as 'shit ala Shinra'), or (and the knowledge gave Reno some sense of having not failed entirely) something from one of the mini-marts.
"Fine. But I'm not giving up Wutai Cinnamon BBQ chips."
"Wouldn't want you to. Haven't you noticed I always buy some when we shop?" He looked at Rude, who smirked. "All your fault, too. I didn't even know the damn things existed till be moved in together."
Reno grinned back. It was a small triumph, but a significant one. It meant that Rude wasn't quite as inflexible as he wanted to seem. Already, his mind was plotting ways to convince his lover to go clubbing with him. After all, he had all those boxes of spare clothes just sitting around unused.
And he bet taking Rude shopping for the appropriate clothes would be a real turn-on, too.