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29 July 2007 @ 11:47 pm
What You Carry With You : Dazers. (12/30)  
Series: What You Carry with You...
Title: Dazers//019
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII : Advent Children
Pairing: Rufus Shinra / Tifa Lockheart
Rating: PG-13

Characters Herein: Rufus Shinra. Tifa Lockheart.

Note: Finally. D:

AVALANCHE didn't show like I thought they would. They might be around via flashback in the next chapter, but I'm still not one hundred percent sure. They WILL appear here in there as I get around to future chapters. WE SHALL SEE.

30_kisses submission. The prompt is "Invincible; unrivaled."

Full chapter guide and information.



.Dazers//019

Tifa Lockheart never considered Rufus Shinra invincible. She never imagined the young executive as some sort of unrivaled, untouchable force.

Never.


Not when she was young and supposedly more impressionable and the glossy magazines portrayed him haughty and devil-may-care. Not when she joined AVALANCHE and he became her enemy. Not when he stared her down and coldly proclaimed that he had no choice and she had to die.

No, Rufus Shinra was just a man. The media could inflate his ego as well as his image all they wanted, but in the end he could bleed just like the rest of them. He wasn’t a god figure. The world could – and briefly did move on without him. She knew the truth and would never concede, nor back down.


And maybe, she thought as she stood unwavering in the Grand Junon ballroom… maybe that was what separated her from everyone else the President dealt with.


His eyes had met her own; homing in and paying no regard to distance nor the distracting clacks of heels on marble and the swaying of curiously elaborate gowns. Their eyes had met, but she would not react. As it was, she was internally counting the seconds until he would make some remark about her outfit, a simple and slightly shimmery red gown. Considering how he had acted the last few times she had seen him, it was only a matter of minutes, really. She would have to brace herself. Why couldn’t he have just stayed in hiding?

And then he was mere feet away, his customary half smirk ever present and Tifa found it difficult to stay quiet. “You look pompous as always, Mr. Shinra. Like a cat who thinks he’s caught a mouse.”

Rufus smiled and grabbed a glass of champagne from a passing server before cocking his head in thought. “Oh, I’ve always been more a cat-person. You, however…” He paused to sip his drink and Tifa couldn’t help but cross her arms in front of her chest, tapping a manicured finger against her upper arm. She could think of two possible responses Rufus would fall back on. He would either play it cool and brush off her comment with a derisive quip of his own or he would say something vaguely nice to her… which was always so much more disturbing and obnoxious.

“Going by what little I know of you personally, I would say you’re more of a dog.”

Tifa blinked. That was… new.

Rufus continued to smile.

“…A… Dog.” It had taken Tifa a moment to fully recover from the shock of what he had said – and another moment to realize what Rufus had meant. There was no way he was going to insult her like that. Knowing Rufus, had he been attempting to mock her, he wouldn’t go so… junior high. No, he was attempting a compliment, attempted the ‘nice’ route. His methods, however… almost made her doubt his proficiency with the basics of human interaction, or rather his proficiency with the basics of interacting with the general populace.

Or maybe she was overthinking things.

Canis Familiaris. A domesticated creature commonly traced back to the Nibel Wolf. A…” Rufus twitched a little, running his fingers through his hair and Tifa could have almost believed him surprised and a little embarrassed. Ah… she thought to herself, trying her hardest not to smirk. He’s finally realized it…

“Which… shouldn’t be seen as an insult, mind you. The dog is commonly seen throughout literature and history as a noble creature. A loyal one.” He cleared his throat and took a sip of the champagne.

She watched him finish off the drink and wondered – if this was Rufus Shinra sober, then what must he be like drunk? But the notion of Shinra tripping over words as he just had was almost too much for her to bear. The thought of him reeling and intoxicated was truly the stuff of unbelievable fiction.

“Always the charmer, Shinra.” She chuckled softly and shook her head.

But this was Rufus Shinra, after all. And though he had been almost vulnerable in a manner of speaking, he had quickly reverted to his old, unreadable demeanor. It was as if he hadn’t slipped up seconds earlier and appeared human. “Which begs the question… Why aren’t you chasing me? It’s in your nature, after all.”

Her eyes almost narrowed. Back to normal so very soon, of course, but she best not let it get to her. She opted to play along, but not play right into whatever he was up to. “Come to think of it… I’m sure I’ve wanted to see you trapped in a tree at one point or another. Who knows? You might be right.” And that was when Tifa turned on one heel and left in the general direction of the hors d‘oeuvres. She could have sworn she spied Reeve somewhere by the cheese platter, looking more nervous than hungry, and some of her friends should have been around… somewhere.

Tifa needed some sane conversation.




Two hours later, mingling had grown tiresome.

Tifa Lockheart had prided herself on being a bit of a social butterfly in her day. As a general rule she enjoyed people – perhaps that was why she truly found happiness in her bar. The Seventh Heaven constantly put her in contact with people from all walks of life. Just the sound of people talking was fascinating and hearing the stories they would tell – whether they be true or obviously laden with lies… it was enough to keep her occupied and sated in her less than stellar days.

She could remember feeling this way even as a teenager, giving tours of her town. Back then she couldn’t imagine visiting Mideel or the Northern Crater, so hearing of others’ travels was the kind of bliss that she needed to get by in her small town.

So much had changed, but still… it was interesting to her. The human condition. People living their lives.

She truly did enjoy mingling, but still there always came a point when too much was too much and her senses felt overloaded. Thankfully the crowd had thinned a little after all the speeches. Reeve had seemed so hopeful… so full of life and in his element, despite his earlier bouts with anxiety. He wasn’t a pro at taking charge, but he was getting better. Then again, few individuals that she could think of had been cultivated into such a lifestyle…

Rufus Shinra hadn’t spoken, though.

It was… surprising.

Tifa passed a table of various champagnes and wines, barely giving the glasses a glance. She had always been adept at handling her liquor, and she had to admit that from what she had tried, The Grand truly had an exquisite stock. What she really wanted, however, was air. Maybe some silence.

What she found beyond soft, barely transparent curtains, however… was…

She couldn’t help but double take. Tifa had expected the small balcony to be vacant – or at least she had hoped it would be so. A cool ocean breeze and a beautiful nighttime view before she set out back to Edge – that was what she wanted. Instead there sat the young president looking thoughtful to a frightening degree and sitting on a wrought iron chair. He was staring, but at what she wasn’t sure. All she could surmise was that he hadn’t noticed her presence.

“I was surprised you didn’t speak tonight.” Her words were neither curious nor accusatory. It was merely a statement.

Rufus jumped a little in his seat before turning and giving her a quizzical look. Tifa smirked and continued on her way, leaning against the balcony railing. “…Or would you prefer I bark at you?”

He shook his head, smile broadening. “Don’t hold back on account of me… Although truthfully you are far more interesting when speaking a language I can understand.”

“Interesting, now? Why Rufus Shinra! It’s almost as if you’re attempting to flirt with me.”

“You can hardly contain yourself?”

“Something like that,” she murmured before looking upward, toward constellations and moving clouds and darkness. Junon was far too bright at night and she could barely make out most of the stars that lingered within her memories. Nibelheim, small as it was, always had such a great view of the starry sky; rivaled only by Cosmo Canyon. Junon, however… well, it was better than Midgar.

The air was cool, though and she almost felt at peace.

Almost.

…There was no way she could block out the presence of the blond man who shared that small space with her at that moment. Sure he hadn’t been nearly as insufferable as usual that night, but he was still there and it occurred to her that he was almost staring into her. For whatever reason. Tifa didn’t much enjoy attempting to peek into his mind.

Silence.

“What are you thinking about?”

Tifa was unable to stifle the ‘huh’ that escaped her as she looked down into Rufus’ unwavering gaze. She hadn’t expected him to break the silence quite like that. She had no doubts that he would, at some point, say something, but… “Don’t tell me you’re suddenly caring about the inner workings of my mind, now.”

He smiled and flicked back ashen blond hair. “Humor me.”

“Why is that any of your business?”

Rufus sat back silently and Tifa knew -- knew that he was plotting something in that mind of his. Just the pause in itself sounded warning bells in the back of her head.

“How about a deal, then.”

“A deal?”


“I do believe that’s what I said.” He was appeared far too comfortable for Tifa’s tastes, lounging back, and she had to wonder what happened to that almost pensive look he had been wearing mere minutes before.

Still, that was the least of her worries. Something about making a deal with Rufus made Tifa’s insides squirm. He was too cunning. Far too cunning and Tifa knew that one misstep could lead her to a place she didn’t want to even fathom. As it was she was still stuck with him thanks to the last pseudo-deal they had struck.

But at the same time, Rufus was frightfully persistent when he wanted to be and Tifa had a gnawing feeling that reached deep into her gut that no matter what she said, he would persist until she threw him off the balcony or she gave in. Unfortunately the former was simply not an option.

She sighed.

“And what would this deal be?”

Something seemed to brighten on Rufus’ face and Tifa had to fight back the look of utter distaste that threatened to bubble over. Oh, there was simply no getting out of this predicament.

“I’ll let you ask me anything.”

“And why would I want-- ”

“I know you have to be curious about something Ask me anything. It can be big. It can be as trivial as my favorite food or my first kiss.” Rufus shrugged.

“And?”

“Don’t play dumb, Ms. Lockheart. In exchange you tell me what’s on your mind.”

She was somehow not surprised. Rufus was stubborn and childish at times, it seemed. Not immature. Tifa doubted that Rufus ever truly had been immature in a traditional sense, even when he was younger. What it all came down to was that he had been denied something as simple as an explanation and he would do anything to win.

But now that she had already agreed to this idiotic deal of his, she had to think of something. Something good.


He was right, though. Tifa was more than a little curious when it came to Rufus Shinra, and while she didn’t care enough to really pursue the truths behind his personality, the questions were still dormant.

And suddenly her mouth was moving much too fast for her brain to fully take over.

“What’s your greatest regret?”

Rufus’ brow furrowed a little. Had this been anyone else, Tifa would have sworn that he was thinking very carefully about his response – perhaps weighing several different regretful situations; rating and compartmentalizing. But this wasn’t someone else and as time had wore on, Tifa found it easier and easier to predict his responses.

He would of course say something about the execution because it had to do with her and for reasons that she wasn’t entirely sure of he had started wooing her. Or at least attempting to do so. Either way the fixation was truly alarming, and--

“The Promised Land.”

Her gaze shot up before she even realized she had been staring down at the wrought iron table that matched Rufus’ seat.

“It was a foolish error. I should have been smarter than that.”

“What?”

She didn’t know what to say. For only a second, Tifa had been taken aback by the fact that he wasn’t trying to impress her, or rather mock her by impressing her.

Something told her what he was saying was the truth.


And then the moment was gone.


“I don’t recall you getting a second question.” He smirked, looking as composed as ever, in stark contrast to how Tifa felt at that moment – roughed up and almost confused. “Go on.”

It took her a second to realize what he was motioning for. Her end of the bargain. And sure she had figured what she wanted to say, but all her logical planning seemed to have vanished with that one glimpse of a sincere Rufus Shinra.

“Nibelheim. It’s really quite beautiful… this time of year.” She didn’t like the way her voice sounded. It lacked conviction and it didn’t sound nearly as forceful as what she was used to when speaking with him.

“Are you sure it isn’t just nostalgia?”

Tifa forced a wicked smile, despite the strange feeling that shot through her gut with his comment. Maybe. Maybe it was. Nibelheim as she knew it didn’t even really exist anymore, though she wasn’t keen to delve any deeper. “I… don’t recall you getting a second question either.” And then she was crossing the balcony and passing Rufus and heading toward the curtain clad sliding door.

“No doubt you expected me to say your public execution was my greatest regret.”

Tifa didn’t turn around. Didn’t breath. What was he getting at?

“Don’t worry. I fully expected you to mention a certain Cloud Strife as being on your mind, though I suppose he might be part and parcel with Nibelheim.”

“What are you getting at?” She still felt flustered over where this conversation was going, even while impatience was slowly inching itself into her spectrum of emotions.

“I’m not entirely sure.” He stood up and looked her over. “I suppose I may be trying to say that you think you know me a lot better than you truly do, however it is clear that the inverse is just as true.”

“And?”

“I would very much enjoy getting to know you, Ms. Lockheart.”

She rolled her eyes. So much for a sincere Rufus Shinra.

He beat her to the balcony exit, and although Tifa had been so adamant about leaving, she now just felt the need to be away from the man. If he wanted to be the first to leave, so be it. She opened her mouth to reply, but was cut off.

“So be ready six o clock, Thursday night. Oh, and before I go…” He nodded before flashing that smile once again. “Red is a nice color on you.”

And then he was gone.

Tifa backed up a step and sat on the chair that Rufus had been occupying, shaking her head and trying not to notice that the seat was still warm from his body heat. What had just happened? She had no clue and part of her didn’t want to know.

“I should have just asked him about his first kiss…” she muttered to herself as the Junon stars twinkled overhead.
 
 
Current Mood: boredbored
 
 
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deepblue) Star: Rufus - Smileelvaron on July 30th, 2007 12:58 pm (UTC)
*still so much in love with this fic* (moar!) It's still the quintessential Rufus/Tifa in my book, because it's snarky, believable, and both of them are so, so, so stubborn. And in character. And Rufus has this wonderful mix of amazingness and vulnerability. Thanks so much for the update! :D
★ christmas cake ★: [toa; peony/saphir] don't stand so closevalorously on July 30th, 2007 06:29 pm (UTC)
That it's believable makes me so unbelievably happy! :D

That sentence almost makes my head spin.


I'm trying to update it not once every... erm. Millennia. And by trying I possibly mean failing miserably but it's the thought that counts? XD;
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )