I know I'm not your first one,
But I pray I'll be your last.
I've never seen you cry before,
But I know when I make you laugh.
I know and you know you've heard this all before
These arms are for holding on.
This heart won't stray from home.
If you didn't want this and I didn't need it,
Then how has this interest become an addiction?
If you didn't want it, then why can't you do without?

     --Deep Blue Something, 'Halo'

"This," Reeve said, holding up a chocobo wing semi-disdainfully between his thumb and index finger, "is not really my idea of a traditional home-cooked post-Yule feast. But I guess it'll have to do." He reached over and held the wing to Rufus's lips.

Grinning, Rufus snapped his teeth and bit off half of the proffered morsel, getting sauce all over his upper lip. "Post-Yule takeout," he said, chewing. "It's a tradition; it's just not your tradition. Therein lies the difference."

Reeve smiled a little and reached for a napkin. "And I let my grass roots show once more. Silly me."

"You hick, you." Rufus insisted on eating the other half of the chocobo wing before consenting to have the sauce wiped clean; the scowl he wore during the process seemed to indicate that not only was he too dignified to have someone wipe his mouth for him, he was too dignified for the sauce to have landed there in the first place.

"That's right. A backwater hick with a family who insisted on his presence at every single moment of the Yule celebration." Sighing, Reeve wiped his hands and leaned back on the couch, settling himself against Rufus's chest. Both men were dressed down to various degrees -- Reeve had on his boxer shorts from the night before and an old t-shirt of Rufus's; Rufus wore only his threadbare favorite pair of sweatpants. Outside the weather might have been horrible, all clouds and high wind and cold, but the weather outside had very little to do with the interior of the climate-controlled ShinRa executive residences. Particularly those residences equipped with fireplaces, as Rufus's was.

Rufus nuzzled Reeve's hair and stared into the flames. "I wouldn't know," he said softly. "The only things I was ever expected to do for the holidays were putting on my dressiest suits and smiling pretty at official functions. The old man figured that if he only saw me once a year, it was best if it happened while we were both smiling for the cameras at opposite ends of the banquet table."

Reaching up, Reeve twined his fingers with Rufus', stroking the back of the blond man's hand comfortingly. "Oh, it's not all it's cracked up to be," he said. "Family, I mean. Ten thousand people who are related to you only through your mother's second cousin's stepdaughter's lame dog's babysitter's mother's maternal great-aunt, all of whom knew you when you were this big and now you're this big, and even though it's probably been less than a year since you saw them last, they want to know every single little detail that's happened to you since last they saw you." Reeve shook his head, though he was smiling just a little, almost sadly. "And then you have to sit politely while all those ten thousand people open twenty thousand presents, and you have to smile when your old maid aunts give you big lumps of ugly-coloured wool they call sweaters that they knitted especially for you.... What?"

Rufus's shoulders were shaking; Reeve twisted around and made a face when he saw Rufus snickering. "Oh, sure, it's funny to you," he huffed, rolling his eyes. "You've never had to wear the big green-and-yellow muffler your Aunt Myrtle knit. Or the socks your Aunt Sarajane made that are each big enough to house a small dog inside."

"You really have an Aunt Myrtle?" A tear made its way from the corner of Rufus's eye; he bit his lip to try and keep from laughing harder.

"No," Reeve confessed. "But I do have an Aunt Sarajane. And an Aunt Dixie, and a great-aunt Lila Beth, and a great-aunt Shug, and a great-uncle Albert, and his twin brother Elbert, and a great-aunt Bill...."

"Aunt Bill?"

"Wilhemina," Reeve explained calmly, as though everyone must have family members like this. "Everyone called her Bill. She wore her husband's old blue jeans and carried a shotgun everywhere she went. Said you could never be too careful, you know."

It was too much; Rufus let his head fall back and laughed aloud. Reeve pouted beatifically. "It's just my family," he protested.

Rufus righted himself long enough to kiss Reeve squarely on the lips. "I'm certain it is. But I suppose you got off light with just the boots. And the accent."

"What accent?" Reeve made his customary protest, but the combination of his mild agitation and the casual setting brought out the lazy twang to his speech. "I have no accent. Got rid of it years ago."

"Uh-huh." Rufus reached up to stroke Reeve's dark hair, pushing it out of his eyes. "None t'all," he said, imitating Reeve's drawl. "Sound jus' like a Midgar cityboy."

Looking preciously indignant, Reeve reached for the plate of chocobo wings again and helped himself to a small one, taking care to dip it generously in the Choco Bob's Super Nuclear Flaming Death Insanity Sauce before putting it into his mouth. That would be one wing Rufus would have no interest in stealing. Food, Rufus said, should not possess the capacity to burn the lining off the inside of your mouth. Reeve figured spiciness that could kill a lesser man was the only redeeming quality to most Midgar takeout.

"You don't talk about your family much," Rufus noted, drying the remnants of tears from the corners of his eyes with the back of one hand.

Reeve shrugged, going for the napkin again. "Yeah, I know." He crumpled it up, laden with the sauce, and threw it into the fire; the fire seemed unimpressed by the sauce's purported Flaming Death. "They're just ... a long way away. Doesn't seem like it has a lot to do with my life here."

Streching out almost to reclining, Rufus reached for Reeve again and pulled him close. "Do you miss them?"

"Yeah," Reeve nodded. "Not all the time. I mean, I have my life here, I've got friends, I've got ... I've got you," his cheeks coloured slightly, "and I mostly don't think about it. But sometimes ... yeah. I do."

"Like around holidays."

"Like around holidays, yeah. Somehow doesn't seem the same without Mom's cooking." Reeve traced little patterns on Rufus's chest. "Well, she never really did much of the cooking. Not by herself, anyway. Everyone helped out. All the women would be in the kitchen working with pots and pans, and all the men would be outside cooking the meat over open fires."

Rufus smiled, placing his lips next to Reeve's temple. "All in all, I think takeout is less barbaric."

"Nothing barbaric about barbecue," Reeve countered. "Except maybe the first syllable."

A log in the fire cracked and split, sending a shower of sparks up the chimney; both men grew quiet for a moment, tucking next to one another warmly. It was only early evening, but felt like some curious combination of morning and night -- due to the lateness of the Yule Ball the evening before, both had slept until long past noon, but the oppressive sky gave the light from outside the impression of dusk.

Rufus had stumbled from the shower the night before, fallen face-down in the bed, and started snoring almost before his face had hit the pillows. And Reeve had hovered over him, stroking the golden boy's beautiful back, petting him lovingly and mulling over their conversation: Couldn't find anyone to keep you company? Didn't look. Junon must have been crawling with eligible men and women, beautiful men and women trying their hardest to get inside the company vice-president's impeccably pressed and tailored linen pants. Rufus wouldn't have had to go looking; he would have had to have turned his head intentionally not to see.

The thought made Reeve's heart skip a few beats. And his cheeks flush pink, as he was certain they were doing now. Only now he could blame it on the heat from the fire and hope Rufus didn't notice.

But Rufus's attention was fixed elsewhere, and it took Reeve a moment to realise that something visible through the door to the bedroom was worthy of Mr. Shinra's special attention. He lifted his head, and his jaw fell open a little when his eyes focused not on what was in the room, but what was beyond it. "Snow!" he whispered.

Rufus nodded, grinning. "Feel a little more like a real Yule now?"

Reeve couldn't find it in himself to answer. Sure, he'd seen snow in Midgar before, but he'd seen it once it had fallen and collected on the ground and turned into a big pile of dingy grey sludge inconvenient enough to stop traffic for miles while city workers cleared it. No, he'd seen it fall once -- but he'd been at slum level at the time, and by the time the snow had fallen that far through the Midgar air, no child in his right mind would have run out among it, trying to catch the dirty flakes blowing sideways from the side of the plate on his tongue. Reeve had become convinced that clean white snow existed nowhere in Midgar.

But it did, this far up. He sat up a little, holding on to the back of the couch, and he watched the flakes dance through the air, on their way down to corruption but for now pure and beautiful. The wind caught them in gusts, and they moved sideways, then resumed their gravity-given courses downward. "It does," answered Reeve, smiling. "I mean, it's not homemade gravy, but...."

Rufus's answer was a gentle laugh. He reached up and took Reeve by the hand, slipping his legs away and standing up. "Come on," he smiled. "I bet we can see it better from the bedroom."

Of course the view would be better in the bedroom rather than the sitting room, as the bedroom had windows. The request might have been a completely innocent one. Reeve knew better. He wrapped his fingers tigher with Rufus's and stood. "Okay," he smiled, reaching up to scratch his slightly scraggly, slept-upon hair.

Winking, Rufus led him through the door into the bedroom -- where the view, Reeve acknowledged, was indeed better, through the windows that made up an entire wall of the room. The lights of the city, the lights that never really went to sleep, lit each individual snowflake in its turn, casting them in shades of orange, blue, and red, but mostly clear white. Reeve stopped in front of the windows, and Rufus came up behind him, slipping his bare hands around Reeve's waist and kissing his neck.

"If it's keeps falling like this it's going to be a mess by tomorrow morning," Reeve commented, dream-like. He reached out one hand to rest against the glass, feeling the cold against his fingertips.

He could feel Rufus's shrug against his back. "Don't think about tomorrow morning," Rufus whispered, kissing lower and pulling back the collar of Reeve's shirt to expose more skin.

Reeve laughed softly, shutting his eyes halfway. "You pay me to think about tomorrow."

Rufus shook his head. "You're off the clock, Reeve." His hands slipped up beneath the shirt Reeve wore, pushing up until Reeve reached above his head and Rufus slipped the shirt away, running his hands back down the soft skin of Reeve's bare arms. He set in his teeth gently at the base of Reeve's neck, and Reeve let out a soft sigh that wasn't quite pain-related. "Think about me now."

Easier orders had never been given. Reeve's hands splayed flat against the glass, leaving smudges where his fingers made contact. Someone else would clean it, much later; the mess they might make in the minutes to come fell fairly low on Reeve's list of priorities. He let his chin fall to his chest, exposing the back of his neck, which Rufus began to kiss at. One of Rufus's hands passed across his chin, and he bent down to catch a finger in his mouth, gnawing at it gently.

Nipping gently, yet hard enough to leave a mark, Rufus chuckled softly. "I thought about you while I was in Junon," he purred lazily. Reeve felt a chill travel down the length of his spine. Rufus trailed a hand across the flat of Reeve's stomach, brushing the soft, dark trail of hair that led down below the waist of his boxers. "Did you think about me, Reeve, while I was gone? Did you?"

Reeve managed to nod his head, swallowing around the finger he held between his teeth. He leaned against the window for more support; outside, the snow began falling harder, making the lights hazy.

"I see." Rufus began kissing his way down Reeve's bare back, down the length of his spine and across the curves of his shoulder blades. Withdrawing his finger from Reeve's mouth, he traced a line down Reeve's neck, down to the curve where neck met broad shoulder. "You missed my hands." Reeve nodded. "And my mouth." Reeve nodded again. "And my skin." Swallowing drily, Reeve nodded once more.

Still with a manic grin Reeve could hear more than see, Rufus leaned over and took Reeve's earlobe between his teeth, tuggling and suckling. Reeve let out an audible moan, leaning against the glass now not simply for strength, but for dear life. One of Rufus's hands reached down to rub against his cock, still covered by the soft cotton of Reeve's boxers. This time Reeve's reaction sounded more like a whimper. "Rufus...."

Rufus's breath was hot, so hot, compared to the ice of the windows. "Yes?"

"Rufus, please," Reeve whispered through clenched teeth. He could feel himself shaking slightly. "I missed you so much."

Suddenly, Rufus's arms were around him, holding him tight; Rufus had pressed his cheek to Reeve's back as though to listen for a heartbeat, to make sure the man in front of him hadn't forgotten to breathe. It was a fierce embrace, and one that lasted not nearly long enough, but Reeve took one hand from the glass and placed it, cold palm and all, over Rufus' forearm.

And then it was over, and Rufus had taken Reeve's hands and led him to the bed, and had placed him down upon the expensive sheets, and was hovering over him, smiling the smile Reeve had no hope of resisting. One hand stroked Reeve's scruffy cheek. Reeve smiled a little apologetically. "I didn't think to shave this morning."

Rufus shook his head. "It's okay." His smile didn't budge.

Reeve reached up for Rufus's body, putting his hands on the blonde man's waist. Carefully, he hooked his fingers under the waistband of the sweatpants -- so easy, as the garment was so old it often threatened to fall off it looked at the wrong way -- and began to push them off Rufus' hips. He didn't get far, owing to simple matters of reach and position, but he made his point clear enough. With one well-placed wiggle that made Reeve's mouth go a little dry, Rufus loosened the pants enough to kick them off gracefully without so much as disturbing his body above his hips. They fell to the floor, forgotten.

Laughing softly, Reeve brought one of his hands up to Rufus's face. Rufus immediately snapped his teeth at Reeve's fingertips, growling softly behind his perfect smile. Then, moving just as swiftly, he leaned down and kissed Reeve so hard their teeth clacked together for a moment.

The sensation took Reeve by surprise, and he gasped for air for a moment before settling into the kiss and wrapping his arms around Rufus's waist. The bedroom suddenly seemed too cold, and Rufus's bare skin against his was so warm. His fingers scraped lightly against Rufus's back as he tried to draw their bodies closer, and Rufus hissed against Reeve's mouth. "Did you think about me like this, Reeve? Was this how you pictured me, when you thought of me?" His teeth closed briefly on Reeve's lower lip. "Here, pinning you to the bed, crushing you?"

They were not the kind of questions that required spoken answers. Reeve knew this; he responded by returning the kiss as fiercely as he could. He could not claim; it was not his place to do so. When Rufus kissed, his mouth said mine with every movement of his lips, with every pinch of his teeth. Reeve knew he had no right to claim Rufus as his -- no one could claim Rufus; Rufus was his own -- but he couldn't help the urgency, the possessiveness he felt.

Maybe he didn't own Rufus; maybe he could never. But perhaps he could convey the degree to which Rufus owned him. That much he knew for certain.

Rufus pushed Reeve back further against the unmade bed, back towards the expensive headboard and the pillows that, more often than not, ended up on the floor rather than underneath a head. Then he pulled away, and Reeve let go, letting his hands fall back on the bed, and he regarded with a nervous smile the man kneeling above him. Of course Rufus still made him a little nervous; it was in Rufus's nature to make others nervous. It was how he kept his natural air of authority. He couldn't help it if his very being made Reeve's palms sweat a little sometimes, or made his voice catch in his throat.

"Tell me, Reeve," Rufus purred, reaching down to liberate Reeve's boxers. They found themselves on the floor somewhere in the vicinity of Rufus' sweatpants, to be dealt with at a later date. "You said you thought of me while I was gone." He bent his head to kiss at the skin around Reeve's navel, nuzzling the light dusting of hair there. "What did you think?"

Reeve's mouth dried up completely. Now he was certain that even in the dim light of the bedroom, the fierce colour in his cheeks could be seen; he turned his head so at least half the blush would be hidden among the pillows. "I ... thought of you," he managed, his voice little more than a whisper.

"So you said," Rufus replied with a grin, dragging the tip of his tongue along the curve of Reeve's hip. "But what did you think? Details, Reeve; I don't pay you for generalities."

"You said ... I was off the clock," he breathed, reaching out to touch Rufus's hair with the ends of his fingertips.

Rufus made a small thoughtful noise. "So I did. Pity, that." He brought his mouth down to the soft skin inside Reeve's thigh, nuzzling it with his nose; Reeve fell back agains the pillows, mouth open and eyes fixed at the ceiling. "But that doesn't mean you've answered my question."

"You," Reeve repeated. The process of talking through sex, though something Rufus did naturally, had never seemed anything to him but an effort, and a distracting one. Distracting in as much as it kept his mind away from what he more than anything wanted to concentrate on, which was Rufus's perfect mouth against his skin. "You, like this." He swallowed. "Touching me. Kissing me."

Rufus's lips passed over the base of Reeve's cock, nuzzling drily at his balls. "Kissing you," he repeated dreamily, and his words vibrated a little from his lips. "I like kissing you. You taste good." To punctuate the sentiment, he dragged his tongue from the inside curve of one thigh all the way up to the tip of Reeve's rather insistant erection.

Reeve squirmed and gasped, laughing a little, mostly out of nervousness. "Like that.... Rufus, I'm not very good at this...."

"Oh," Rufus countered, "I think you're doing just fine." His tongue made one long, lazy swirl around the head of Reeve's cock. "Because the more I have to talk, the less time I have to do this." Down again, down Reeve's length and back to his thigh.

Despite his best efforts, Reeve shivered so violently his head thrashed to one side, spilling his loose, dark hair into his face. "No, really, Rufus," he protested. "I don't know what to say.... I can't concentrate...."

"You're doing just fine." With an impossibly long reach, Rufus leaned over and retrieved from the bedside table the small jar so new it hadn't even been opened; Reeve could hear him roll his eyes as he took a moment and devoted both hands to removing the plastic tamper-resistant wrap. "Oh, the lengths we go to to make sure we're safe," he commented off-handedly, then returned to his former position, nestled between Reeve's knees. "You were saying?"

Reeve laughed. "Not much."

The jar opened with a little pop as the vacuum seal released its hold on the lid. "Well, say more."

Whatver moisture Reeve had left in his mouth was mostly gone by now. He tried to lick his lips and found the gesture just aggrivated things. "I ... thought about you. Doing this."

"Doing this?"

Reeve was certain his face was going to leave scorch marks against the pillows. He took a deep breath. "Like this. Like ... holding me and being gentle." His voice trembled slightly. "And touching ... touching me, and...."

Rufus brought his lips down to kiss Reeve's cock again, swirling his tongue around the soft skin there. One cold finger teased at the inside of Reeve's other thigh, leaving a thin trail, tarrying for moments before it slipped inside Reeve, and he gasped. It had been too long. "Like this," he managed. "Inside of me. I ... when you're inside ... of me...."

"When I'm inside of you," Rufus prompted, pulling away for a few moments before taking Reeve's cock completely into his mouth. Rufus had once mentioned, casually, that he had been giving blowjobs since he was fourteen. Reeve had never once found this difficult to believe.

"I ... I don't know, Rufus," Reeve whimpered. "I ... just want more. That's all. More of you."

Another finger, just as slick as the first, joined its mate pushing into Reeve, cold upon intrusion but warming with friction and time. At the same time, Rufus took Reeve's cock fully into his mouth, back into his throat, past a gag reflex that, if once was there, wasn't anymore. Reeve's hands clenched around the sheets; his back arched a little, and he let out a moan completely unrelated to language.

Though he couldn't have found the words to articulate the sentiment, this had been exactly what Reeve had dreamt about, what he had thought about the nights with one hand slipped inside his pajama pants and the other fisted tightly across his eyes. Rufus's hands, Rufus's smile, Rufus's pushing him back against the bed and wordlessly telling him to rest, to relax, not to worry, that he was safe. No matter what Rufus did to him, he'd never hurt him. Not here. Ironically, he had dreamed about the most dangerously desirable man in the world and what he had missed was the safety.

Rufus was just full of ironies, Reeve had decided a long time ago. No complaint; just an observation.

What brought Reeve out of the fog of sensation he had fallen into was the sudden feeling of emptiness -- Rufus had withdrawn both his fingers from Reeve's ass and his mouth from Reeve's cock. Unconsciously, Reeve whimpered, and Rufus laughed gently in response. "Enjoying that, were you?"

Without opening his eyes, Reeve nodded. His lips hung open slightly; sometime he had begun breathing through them, though he couldn't remember when. "Yes," he whispered.

He could hear another soft peal of laughter, then felt Rufus's lips against his hip again. "Patience," Rufus whispered, drawing away for only seconds before returning, guiding his cock gently inside Reeve.

The sensation of being fucked is not particularly a natural one -- not along the lines of swallowing, say, or sneezing, or yawning -- and despite all his mental preparations, Reeve still had to hold his body still for a moment to let it acclimate, to let it register that, yes, not only was this acceptable but was going to feel very good in a few moments if he could just relax.... And relax he did, his shoulders falling from their tensed bow back to the sheets, his neck loosening and letting his head fall back against the pillow. He opened his eyes and nodded at Rufus.

Smiling, Rufus leaned forward, pushing Reeve's legs apart, and found his way to Reeve's mouth, kissing him deeply. He thrust once, and Reeve gasped against Rufus's lips, but Rufus held the kiss fast, and Reeve soon figured out how to breathe around things. He lifted his arms to twine his fingers in Rufus's soft hair, pulling him closer and kissing him harder.

When Reeve felt the fog of sensation begin to overtake him again, he did not resist. His mind, finding itself unnecessary for the moment, began to wander in its spare time, brushing over everything from memories of his family to the contents of Rufus's liquor cabinet. That part of his mind was completely capable of entertaining itself; the rest of him was devoted to fucking -- or being fucked by, he couldn't really tell the difference anymore -- Rufus. As Rufus thrust into him, at first, each thrust elicited a slight gasp, then a whimper, then each a rough moan. He wrapped his legs around Rufus's body, encouraging him deeper, something he might not have thought possible minutes ago. But here it was, and here he was, and he once would not have thought this possible at all, so things change. Everything changes.

In a preciously brief moment of clarity, he opened his eyes, pulling back enough to watch Rufus's face. Rufus was beautiful always, but something about him now, so close to orgasm, made Reeve stop and marvel. The tiny little line between his eyebrows, the beads of sweat across his forehead -- what would mar anyone else's loveliness just served to enhance Rufus's to an inhuman degree.

Moving with the crisp decisiveness one can only reach on the other side of the fog of arousal, Reeve reclaimed one of his hands and put it on the side of Rufus's face. "So beautiful," he whispered, not even thinking about what he was saying. "You're so beautiful. Has anyone ever told you that?"

Rufus laughed. "A few." He turned to kiss Reeve's palm.

"That's good," Reeve decided matter-of-factly, sounding very much like a man barely out of a dream. And then he let go, let his head fall back and arms slip to the bed; he whispered Rufus's name as he came, eyes closed tight, body shuddering so much he feared he might not be able to stop. But that worry would, as it were, come later.

He was only vaguely aware of Rufus's orgasm -- which might have come moments or minutes later, he wasn't particularly certain. But regardless, when he felt Rufus's body slump against him and his cock slip wetly from between his legs, Reeve reached his arms out and held Rufus's warm body to him, petting the impossibly soft skin of his back.

For a while, neither of them moved more than a few inches in any direction, even to breathe. It had been far too long, ridiculously long, but now it was over and it felt right. To Reeve, anyway, and he supposed that was all he could be held responsible for.

Finally, it was Rufus who chose to move first, lifting himself and grabbing his towel from the night before, then using it to clean first himself and then Reeve. He blinked as he did so, looking a little dazed; when he was done, he collapsed next to Reeve again, sprawling over most of the bed.

Reeve laughed, turning and throwing an arm in kind around Rufus's waist. "Comfy?"

Still blinking, Rufus nodded emphatically, though the gesture served mostly to muss his already ruffled hair. He yawned and stretched, then threw himself anew over Reeve. "Wake me for dinner."

"Dinner?" Reeve asked. "Didn't we just have breakfast?"

"Whatever." Rufus waved a hand dismissively. "So long as they deliver it to us and it gets eaten, it can be dinner."

Turning his head so he could watch the snow fall, Reeve settled back against the pillows and stroked Rufus's hair idly. He wasn't particularly tired, though he was a bit sore and could probably use a shower. He scratched his face. And a shave. But now wasn't the time for that. He got so little time with Rufus, awake or asleep, that he didn't want to waste any of it needlessly. And the snow was so pretty.

It was several minutes before Reeve felt the sensation of being watched; he turned his head and saw Rufus's brilliant eyes smiling sleepily up at him. Rufus reached up a hand and touched Reeve's lips. "I'm glad you stayed here. Instead of going home, I mean."

Reeve kissed the fingertips. "Wouldn't have missed it for the world."

With a smile, Rufus let his arm fall; within minutes, he was snoring softly. He'd wake up in an hour or so, Reeve knew, and they'd order more wings from Choco Bob's, maybe, or a pizza, or Wutaian, and it would be dinner, and then maybe they'd fall into bed again, and maybe Rufus would smile in the way that let him know it'd be much appreciated if he'd spend the night. Maybe. Reeve was careful not to let his hopes climb too high, because his grandmother had taught him that the higher hopes are, the easier they are to topple.

But here, holding Rufus's softly sleeping form and watching the blankets of snow drifting past the windows, Reeve found he couldn't help hoping that maybe, just maybe, it'd all be all right. If not forever, then at least for a little while.