Series: What You Carry with You...
Title: Speed Drink//020
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII : Advent Children
Pairing: Rufus Shinra / Tifa Lockheart
Characters Herein: Rufus Shinra. Tseng.
Note: Here lies the calm, placid little chapter that bridges Tifa laying some light smackdown on Rufus and Rufus being stuck with Avalanche in a formal setting. In other words : I quite want to get on to the next chapter, but first this was needed to moooove things forward.
Expect Chapter 12 up by the end of the month. I absolutely NEED to get that out before June when I'm going hunker down and focus ENTIRELY on my screenplay.
30_kisses submission. The prompt is "In a Good Mood."
Full chapter guide and information.
“My face is numb.”
Tseng’s lack of a real reaction at the slight whine audible in the president’s voice was not a surprise. In fact, had he even raised an eyebrow in anything but mockery, Rufus would have had cause for alarm. The Turk cared, sure. But he cared in his own way. That was the way things worked between them.
Also he was standing beside the coffee pot, watching. Waiting. It would be foolish to get in between this Turk and his coffee.
“Had I already not heard about Lockheart’s negative answer to your little proposition I would almost think this scheme of yours was actually working.” The sarcasm was more than obvious in his words, but still he tacked on a finishing blow. “Almost.”
“I was curious how she would react. I didn’t honestly want to kiss her.”
“So, did she kick you or punch you?”
Rufus eyed his friend carefully and then settled at the table, propping an arm on the chair-back in a manner most unprofessional. Considering this was – or at least had once solely been, his home, he figured he should be at least afforded that luxury. Tseng hadn’t bothered to fully turn to face him, so Rufus figured he should just answer the man’s back. “You know those reports as well as I do, Tseng. Or have you forgotten?”
Tseng snorted, still staring down the coffee-maker. The man was usually so patient. He would have to be, after all. One didn’t climb to the top through brute force and bravado alone. No, Tseng was a man of skill, precision, and timing. So to see him staring to intently at the inanimate object, itching to pounce whenever the drip seemed to stall a moment was amusing to say the least. And Rufus did not want to barge in on such a duel, of sorts.
He’d been meaning to replace the machine, but now with a smile creeping on his face, he thought better of such haste.
“I make it my business to know these things, either friend or foe.” Tseng grimaced and placed his mug on the counter, most likely giving up on the machine for a moment. He had to have finally realized that to move the carafe from it’s spot prematurely would be folly. Drippy, scalding folly that he would undoubtedly have to eventually clean up. He turned to Rufus, an all too controlled calm settling on his face. “Of course had she kicked you, you would probably not be in such good condition. I was merely humoring you.”
“Humoring me?” Rufus seemed almost surprised, but it was clearly all a ruse. “Why Tseng. I never knew you were capable of…”
“Trying my patience…” the older man muttered under his breath.
“Who? Would you be addressing me or the coffee pot?”
Tseng appeared thoughtful, “I’m not entirely sure, come to think of it. You’re both noisy on occasion. Stubborn. And in all honesty you have the tendency to turn red and steamy when you’re angry.”
“No need to become poetic on my count.” Rufus pulled himself to his feet, halfway grimacing at the notion of being anything like that clunky piece of metal and plastic, grabbed his own mug and settled at his friend’s side. This was most definitely the way things worked out between them, but perhaps they had just known each other for far too long. Tseng was a bodyguard, assassin, and – as strange as Rufus felt in admitting such a thing – a confidante all rolled into one.
He made a good cup of coffee as well, but that was nothing new. The Mideelan roast however… Rufus hadn’t had that particular blend in a while.
“I take it your little rendezvous with Lockheart ended decently, despite what the state of your face might imply.”
Rufus smirked from behind the steamy porcelain mug, “I’m working on it. I suppose I should let her cool off a while before I contact her again.”
“Ever the diplomat.”
“That is, after all, what I do.” And with that he was making his way across the room, smile on his face. Whether the smile had to do with the caffeine or his current situation, Tseng had no clue.
And really, neither did Rufus.
Hours later all of Rufus’ planning would be thrown by the wayside, despite his wishes.
All it took was a simple phone call.
He had truly meant it, when he told Tseng that he wanted to give Lockheart time. Despite what his actions suggested, Rufus didn’t want to completely throw Tifa over the edge. Needling her was immensely amusing, sure but he wanted to get to her and as such he had to give her some time to stew in her own thoughts. Let her settle a bit and then return when the time was ripe.
Rufus hung up the phone a bit too forcefully and stared at his desk. It wasn’t so much who had called but rather what the call referenced that left the president scowling.
And he had been in such a good mood.
Reeve had contacted him. This was nothing new, considering their respective positions and the state of the planet as it was. What was new was the request that he attend an WRO banquet, now that he was no longer entirely existing in shadows.
He immediately remembered a small white envelope that had been quickly pushed aside with the pile of junk mail and vague death threats he usually received.
Rufus sighed and leaned back on his chair, eyesight trained on the phone. A party. Rufus Shinra did not like parties. Never really had. They were noisy and fake and smacked all too much of pandering. Pandering for attention, for money, for selfish causes that he couldn’t be bothered with… Women dressed in much too little, hanging over him all lips and perfume and hairspray. He blinked and repressed a shudder.
Unfortunately, no was not a viable answer.
Especially not now. Not now that everyone knew he was still alive and active in the world. Sure Gaian news and tabloids had yet to learn the truth about his involvement with WRO, but it was clear that Shinra was still running, though barely. This would be his first formal segue back into the public and he knew it would have to attend for publicity’s sake.
He could feel a headache coming on.
Get togethers of this type really weren’t Rufus’ thing. He could remember attending balls Shinra had put on during his father’s presidency – standing aside sipping champagne and internally marking the hours until he would be the one with all the glory. Vice President didn’t hold the slightest bit of weight with his father in charge. It was just for show and he was just a placeholder of sorts. Rufus was the first to admit it. He was, for the most part, just as powerless as anyone else. His only advantage was by proximity.
He was a figurehead. A pretty, charismatic face that helped appeal to the masses.
This was especially evident during those grand, extravagant parties his father would approve with a well flourished signature and a nod. Rufus remembered even as a pre-teen vowing not to have such gaudy affairs during his own reign.
Of course, in the end he didn’t get the choice either way.
Pinching the bridge of his nose and closing his eyes, however, Rufus knew he would have to give in. For the greater good of his name and the name of his company there was no way he could sit this one out. After all, the general sentiment of the public was tenuous at best. He didn’t want to appear as if he had anything to hide. He was, after all, hoping to boost his popularity in any way he possibly could.
And that was precisely when his thoughts returned to the bartender and his currently sore cheek. So much for using time to his advantage. Rufus knew that he could safely bet anything that Tifa Lockheart would make an appearance. He wouldn’t put it past Cloud Strife to show up either. It would be a surprise if anyone in their little gang didn’t show up. Each of them played some role in helping restore Gaia. Each of them knew Reeve Tuesti. There was no doubt that they too were on the man’s little VIP list, possibly getting phone calls at that very moment concerning the festivities.
And it was with that little revelation that the last remaining bits of Rufus Shinra’s good mood plummeted into twitching headache.
But… Rufus opened his eyes a crack, staring up at the ceiling. This dinner was likely to be trying at best, but… it would be interesting to see what Tifa Lockheart looked like in formal attire.
And though he wasn’t entirely sure how it happened or why, that thought – that image that emerged from some strange nether-region of his mind made him smile.