taking a sad song and making it better. not exactly Rude/Reno's totally excellent adventure; very sorry messiers Lennon & McCartney.
Things you're sure of: Rufus survives. He goes mad after and you have a feeling he sees things nobody else can, through the bloodshot gossamer flickerings of his eyelids, on the white threads of gauze woven neat and tight over his eyes. Nobody says anything, all quiet and bleached as hospital rooms, and you know nothing's changed; people come and go, plagues spread, disasters break, Rufus is ShinRa and he owns you.
Things you're not sure of but you'd rather think about because in a way stupid things are funny, and funny things don't hurt (you): Reno dropped the head of Jenova when he was trying to get away with it, not dropped really but fumbled at and failed to catch and let fall to the concrete when it came flying at him through the smoke and bad light and gunpowder smell clouding the landing pad. For some reason he doesn't think he is due any bad karma for this kind of impersonal if gross negligence, probably because it really was hell down there and the head was safe and tight in an Erlenmeyer anyway and nobody wants to remember Tseng in the condition that he was when he threw it to Reno. (Reno said, afterwards, if he had had time to piss Tseng off and Tseng had enough of anything left in him to be pissed off, Tseng would have thrown it at him, that was what Reno was used to.) Later you realize he just said that because it's too big to be directed only at him; karma, qi, universal payback, it's the kind of bad feeling meant for worlds, not individual people. You've seen it sometimes in your dreams, flying down from a boiling black sky, and your heart lifts up and turns over. Oddly enough Reno is always there beside you, head up and eyes bright, hair a stark stiff flush against the sky. That's kind of always how you remember him, though, and you're starting to think all the stuff they shoot into you to make you bigger stronger faster is fucking up your brain somehow, punching holes in memories and clogging up logic pathways, and sometimes you wonder if this isn't the real reason why you wake up sometimes with your heart in your mouth, clutching at the person beside you who's groggily threatening to put novocaine in your nightcap tomorrow.
There's this one time when it really happens; the dream, not the nightcap--
ii. anytime you feel the pain
"He's really not as harmful as he looks," Rufus once said.
Careless but intelligent, violent but not malicious, never scars twice in the same place (well, once, but he said he did that himself and he kept looking away at his feet when he was telling you, something you've never seen him do, so you never asked him again). You've never been in the habit of classifying people, one step away from a stereotype yourself; you know it's impossible anyway, people are just too different and you just don't care enough, but you find it really really really goddamn annoying that even now you still look at him to wonder where he fits in, still can't look away, still can't say to yourself that you don't really care. "Hey Rude, don't make it bad, take a sad song and make it better," he sings, for you, when you hesitate.
He thinks the world of you. You know.
The way you work is like this: find a star and be the space around it.
"Do I still have the Turks?" he asked you, when once there was a moment of doubt (not a serious moment, oh no, but you can't begrudge him this doubt when you remember Tseng's eyes and Elena's hesitation and Reno's mouth and the slight downward bow of Reeve's head). You can see your reflections in the glass of the skyscraper's windows, yours behind his as though you really are his shadow (you're not, you know; a breath, click of claws, a flurry of movement like oil through water and you're reminded who his true shadow is).
It feels like a long time ago, you can't remember what your answer was. Most likely you didn't say anything at all. Whatever it was, he smiled, you couldn't see it but without moving without changing there was a shift in the air and the distance between you.
iv. don't carry the world upon your shoulders
When he starts telling you, "Hey Rude, don't be afraid; remember to let her get into your heart," you wonder aloud what exactly it was you ever did to him and he replies, in tune: "Oh Rude, refrain!"
v. so let it out and let it in, begin; you're waiting for someone to perform with
On some occasions it happens that you fuck him. It's nothing big; borrowing money, you suspect, is a slightly more sacred institution between both of you. You don't think you're gay and you know you don't love him; it just feels good, something that's better to agree with rather than push it away. It's always dark and you're always slightly drunk enough that it doesn't matter when you look at him the next day or day after and the sunlight lights up his skin the way fresh milk glows in a glass so that you can't look away, even when you're so close to him you can count every freckle dancing like stardust across the sharp starved bridge of his nose and cheeks. The planes of his face like long wide slopes of glass; you wonder how you didn't cut your mouth on them. Sometimes you think if you ever saw him just before you touched him, really saw him, you wouldn't be able to do it, and you'd break there and then in front of him the way space shatters into pieces around the light of a star.
Maybe it's because whatever money you make isn't really yours - you feel that way still even though you know these days you earn what you make, god knows you earn it - and your ownership of it seems so temporary, something that's going to pass on to someone else anyway. So you grab onto it to stop it leaving you, you want to be acknowledged somehow, don't want to be just a transit point for anything at this point in your life.
"Hey Rude," he sings as he comes in the door and kicking it shut behind him, and he drags your name out as he walks over, you put your book down, you can see him walking up to you in the mirror. "Rude," ending finally, and you turn to face him, wondering which verse he's going to sing next - don't be afraid, don't make it bad, don't - and then he says, simply, "Make it better," in your ear, not looking at you, you can feel the cool steel of his shades moving against your cheek as he slides them off their high useless perch on his forehead. His hair falls into his eyes; he can't see you.
The first time you didn't know what to make of it, what to do with him. He wasn't too sure either; it felt stupid, pressed up against each other and his breath condensing on your lenses, you couldn't see him and he wasn't looking at you. Then you got a hand down the back of his pants, all the way down so you could cup his ass, hard, pull him against you and he made a wet hungry noise like something going in for the kill and that was it, five minutes on you were having him up against the wall, all of him, just him and his clothes all over the room in several different somewheres. You remember your hands on him, making him feel good. Making it better.
You're not so sure now the way you used to be. But whatever it is, whether or not you're gay, whether or not you love him, it just feels so good (more amazing than more amazing than amazing like fuck), and no matter what ShinRa pays it feels like you'll never be richer than when you have him.
We're all kings in our own dreams.
He asks you (incessantly) who you fancy, but he won't tell you what he thinks about her. You never ask him who he fancies; maybe you're afraid what you'll think about her.
"It's a fool who plays it cool, by making his world a little colder--"
Once, Rufus sent you out of the room but not Reno, and you never knew what happened then. Only, as you left, the reflection you saw in the window of what the door showed you as it shut, over your shoulder; white hands on the desk, the long smooth stretch of office floor, a column of late afternoon sunlight flooding in between, and his face turning to look at your back as you left, before the door shut. Windows are poor mediums of communication; you have no idea what he meant by that. Maybe he didn't mean anything at all, was just looking to see you go; he's not a sophisticated person. Maybe some people really do things because they want to do them and there's no hidden meaning or motive behind what they do.
"Don't you know it's just you? Hey, Rude," he breaks off and presses his fingers to his lips, his eyes screwing shut, you can hear his teeth wanting to snap out and bite as though the words are blood running in someone's veins, somewhere.
"You'll do," you continue on his behalf, deadpan, "the movement you need is on your shoulder."
He stares at you, mouth still for once, surprise flush like electricity across his face. Eyes bright. Hair stark stiff flush against the sky.
vii. don't let her down
"Hey, Rude, don't be afraid; you were made to go out and get her.
The minute you let her under your skin, then you begin to make it better,"
he looks from you to the door, behind which you can hear her voice, and Cloud's. He's leaning against the wall and his hands are hooked carelessly into his pockets but the hunch of his shoulders is unusual, uncertain, and there's a quirk of hope (for you, his eyes say; hope for you) dimpling each corner of his mouth. The colour of him so bright that the room and his clothes and Midgar through the windows seem like a bad dream.
viii. you've found him, now go out and get him
Sometimes you wish there was a song called, hey Reno, you're a fool.