Title: World Enough and Time
Pairing: Tseng x Rufus
Rating: R to be safe
Set immediately right after Advent Children, with many spoilers.
Summary: In the aftermath of the defeat of the Advent Children, and his cure from Geostigma, what goes through Rufus' mind?
The last rays of the setting sun shafted low through the glass between the parted curtains of the window, surrounding the young man standing before it in a golden nimbus. One pale hand, long shielded from sunlight, reached out to push the heavy fabric further apart, to allow a better view outside.
And what a view it was. The city spread out beyond, a mangled conglomeration of steel pilings, fragments of concrete and glass from shattered homes and the remnants of roads resembling a spider's web of cracks-- detritus from the titanic battle to defeat the monstrous summoned creature Bahamut Sin.
Yet not all was ugly and waste-- whole stretches of the City of Edge prevailed, intact and vibrant, in the shadow of the ruined skyscrapers of Midgar. Particularly one Shinra Tower. It was to this that Rufus Shinra focused his contemplative attention.
"Is everything all right?"
Rufus swiveled around to address the dark suited man by the door. "Yes, I'm fine, Tseng."
The leader of the Turks rocked back, as if still unused to the reality of Rufus, alive and well, standing on his own two feet and not confined to a wheelchair, his flesh healthy if pale, no longer stained by the terrifying marks of Geostigma. He cleared his throat, as if trying to find the correct words to express the depth of his emotions and failed. At last, he settled for the mundane.
"Reno, Rude and Elena have gone back to the Healing Lodge to get our things. This is a secure enough place to set up our base, until you decide otherwise."
Rufus nodded in acknowledgement, his emotions hidden from long practice. He gazed back at Tseng, glad that the man didn't see any rush to leave his company.
"Are you all right, Tseng?" he asked at last. The Turk didn't seem the worse for wear, standing tall and straight, barely five paces away, impeccable as always in his suit, not a single strand of his long hair out of place, falling gracefully behind his back. But Rufus had seen the blood on the tags that Kadaj had thrown in taunt at his feet and his mind was still unwilling to accept the actuality of Tseng's presence.
"I had thought you were dead... again."
He tried to keep his admission bland, matter-of-fact. But something must have shown in his face, a crack in his impassive facade, either that or Tseng simply knew him better than anyone else on this planet and understood his distress.
Tseng was beside him in a flash, reaching out to place a comforting touch on Rufus' shoulder. "I'm fine... we're fine," he said, including Elena, knowing that Rufus was just as concerned for her. "Vincent came to where they were holding us and took us away. When we were healed, we hurried back as quickly as we could."
Tseng's lips pulled up in a wry smile as he chuckled. He decided on an attempt to lighten the mood. "I didn't expect that when we tracked you down, you'd be falling off a building."
The young Shinra president had the grace to look embarrassed. "I lost my temper," he confessed in an action rare to the extreme, which his pride would normally have never allowed of him to show to anyone. But this was Tseng. It was safe.
"He was like a child, playing with dangerous toys and not caring about the consequences. I couldn't risk the chance of Sephiroth returning. It made me angry to see him laughing as he destroyed my city. And it felt good to throw that damn thing away and see the look on his face." Rufus allowed a playful grin to break from his lips. He'd been restricted in that chair, holding onto the box, upon which he'd believed his life depended but helpless to advance in his search for a cure in the face of Kadaj's single-minded focus. It was good to be free.
"You shouldn't be so reckless," Tseng admonished, shaking his head. "This is not a good habit. Every time you think I'm dead, you end up jumping off tall buildings." His tone was light but his dark eyes were sombre.
Rufus dipped his head, accepting the scolding for what it was worth. "I had a parachute the other time," he pointed out, trying to deflect some of the rebuke. "And it really was golden."
Tseng merely gave him a long assessing look, vastly familiar with Rufus' ways to weasel out of inconvenient situations. He lifted his hand from the shoulder to stroke the tip of his finger lightly against the corner of Rufus' left eye, defective from staring at the burst of energy from Diamond Weapon.
"You waited too long."
Rufus shrugged. He'd pay the price and move on. If life handed him lemons, he'd open a concession lemonade stand and figure out a way to sell the franchise. "I never thought I'd live to see my 18th birthday, let alone my 21st. Now I'm 23, I figure I'm ahead."
The words may be flippant, but Tseng understood the wealth of pain beneath them. Rufus had never had a childhood, forced over and over to deal with the denigrating words of his cold father, trotted out for the public to fawn and praise for appearances sake and sent into exile whenever he proved inconvenient. It was a wonder the reckless madness that sometimes lurked in the young Shinra's blue eyes didn't flare up more often.
Tseng leaned close to brush his lips against his brow in caress, a gesture meant to comfort and reassure, and was taken aback when Rufus suddenly flinched away. "I'm sorry," he said, not quite sure of the reason for the reaction. Had they grown so far apart?
"No, don't be," Rufus said quickly, reaching out to grab Tseng's hand, enfolding it in a iron grip. He was not letting go. He gazed up at the cast of dismay upon Tseng's features and hastened to explain. "It's just been so long. An automatic reaction. I haven't let anyone touch me since I got sick. I just got used to avoiding contact. It wasn't safe..."
"It's been two years since we did anything. Since the night before you left to confront Sephiroth... I mean I know how you feel about me, but I didn't know if you wanted... more..."
Tseng wound his fingers about the hand, squeezing it in reassurance and a measure of relief. "I understand. Rufus, I will always want more, but no more than you're willing to give."
A slight tug and Rufus was snugly flush against him, legs to chest. This time, Tseng took his time pressing his kiss upon that perfect brow. "You have to trust me. I can't promise that I'll always be by your side, because I can't be effective for you that way. But you have to trust that I'll come back to you, no matter what."
And with that, Rufus was content.
Notes: I'm guessing at Rufus' age here. I figure he's about 15 in BC, 21 at the end of the game, and since this is 2 years later, he's 23. In crux, this line describes how I see Rufus: If life handed him lemons, he'd open a concession lemonade stand and figure out a way to sell the franchise. My Rufus just does not angst. I also don't think him and Tseng are very demonstrative people, though in private, they'd be a lot more honest and open. And while he usually succeeds in being very controlled, he does lose his temper. I mean when he said to Kadaj, "Figure it out, you foolish child" before he tosses Jenova away, it just made me go squee.
Also if you want to read some of my earlier work, I have:
Title: Rufus, his wheelchair and the silly sheet
Pairing: Very very slight hints of Tseng x Rufus.
Summary: Why is Rufus in that wheelchair and wearing that shroud during the movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children? Inspired after reading an interview with Tetsuya Nomura about Rufus.
Fake LJ-cut to Rufus, his wheelchair and the silly sheet