by Tenshi

Sail your sea
Meet your storm
All I want is to be your harbor
The light in me
Will guide you home

-- Vienna Teng

One thing Rufus ShinRa had been trained in extensively was the fine art of the Company Party. Although perhaps in recent years, either his knack for them was wearing off, or he wasn't drinking enough at them anymore. He put down his glass on the glass railing of Junon Imperial Hotel's Grand Ballroom balcony, and gestured to one of the passing wait staff to bring him another.

Tseng intervened, plucking the amaretto sour and hors d'oeuvres from the tray as he returned from the other side of the ballroom.

"You should eat something," he said, offering the saucer to Rufus. "It's two hours before dinner."

Rufus arched an eyebrow at the delicacies, and deigned to pick up a cocktail shrimp between his thumb and forefinger, ruining the artful swirl of hollandaise sauce. "This is the point where you remind me this was a good idea."

"It is a good idea," Tseng said, moving the tray closer into range so Rufus would find the ham-wrapped asparagus tops without having to reach too far, or actively think about it. "Although putting Reeve in as master of ceremonies might not have been the best plan."

"These people barely know I'm still alive," Rufus said. "They've been dealing with Reeve since the project began, he's earned their trust." Rufus allowed himself a very tiny sort of smile, something that didn't often escape when he was wearing his tuxedo. "Besides." He lifted the glass out of Tseng's hands. "I hate giving speeches."

Tseng considered this, only half-listening to Reeve across the hall chatting amicably with the President of the Junon Restoration Committee. "No more taste for the public spotlight, Rufus?"

Rufus' mouth twisted slightly on the rim of his drink. "Something like that."

Rufus thought it strange how in the ambient noise of such events, he always remembered them with perfect silence, the chink of crystal and distant laugher tuned out along with holiday jazz and his father's vaguely sexist jokes. How many of them had he been to? There was the first one, that one he remembered all too well, with his mother's hand in her pure white satin glove holding tight to his own, the icy sparkle of diamonds trickling like tears down to her shoulder. There was a limousine, the slow-motion blast of exploding flashbulbs, the slither of a sequined dress.

She had been wearing sunglasses, even though it was long after dark, and she did not turn her head to so much as look at the Turk holding the door for her.

Rufus wondered now, what had been going on behind that glittering facade. His mother, Raife St. James, the photographers with their cunning smiles behind blinding afterimages. He himself had been bewildered, clinging to Eleanor ShinRa, a shining pillar of white in a sea of knowing smiles.

Rufus looked down at his glass and realized it was empty at the same time he realized Tseng was talking to him.

"Sir? Are you all right?"

Rufus set the glass down with the other two empty ones. "I want some air."

The door to the roof was marked as off limits, but unlocked. Either way it would have troubled Tseng very little. Junon was no balmy spot at midwinter, and cold salty air hit Rufus square in the face as he stepped out onto the roof, wiping memories and alcohol from his mind.

"Shall I fetch your coat for you?" Tseng asked, as the chilly doorknob clicked shut behind them.

Rufus closed his eyes and breathed deep. "No, thank you. I'd like a little honest chill instead."

If Tseng smiled, it was lost in the strands of dark hair whipping his face in the winter wind. The hotel was one of the tallest buildings in Junon, and the view went all the way down the sloping city hills to the harbor, and the dazzling flat surface of the water throwing the city lights back up into the sky. A lone lighthouse traced its golden beam over the water, and a lonely, eerie sound echoed from the sea.

"Tseng," Rufus asked, lifting his head into the wind. "What's that noise for? I've never bothered to ask."

"It's a night horn for the freighters," Tseng said. "So they know where the others are in the dark."

Rufus folded his hands on the icy rooftop railing. "It's a miserable sort of sound," he murmured. "Like a lost child." He looked up behind them, at the cliffs of Junon making an inhospitable rise above the thin stretch of land where the city sat. "The echoes twist it."

Tseng's polished dress shoes made a muffled gritting sound as he stepped closer, warm in the frozen night. "I'm told that locals miss the harbor alarms, when they leave."

"I can't imagine why," Rufus said, and removed his hands from the rusting rail, clenching his fists to get the feeling back in them.

Tseng took Rufus's hands in his own to warm them. "Everyone has a sound that is home to them, Rufus."

Rufus' eyes flickered behind pale lashes. "Sirens? Helicopters? Strains of rather tasteless opera?"

Tseng brought Rufus' hands to his mouth, so that his warm breath tangled with the cold silk of his dark hair, windblown on slowly thawing fingers. "None of those things were ever home to you."

Rufus was studying Tseng's face, made up of sketchy planes of reflection and shadow as the harbor searchlights flared over them and then away, reaching arms of light out to sea. "No," he said, as Tseng resolved back into himself, lowered eyes and inky bastard-mark in the dim reflected cloudlight, "No, it wasn't."

"It's cold out here," Tseng said. "You should go back inside."

The lighthouse beam flashed over them again and Rufus remembered the burst of camera flash, Raife's indifferent hand on his mother's arm as he helped her up out of the car. Rufus' fingers found warmth, tangled in the black silk of Tseng's tie. Closer than the high thin smell of seawater and approaching snow was the clove-scented fall of Tseng's hair, the tangy memory of amaretto and mixer on his tongue. This was home. This was haven in the storm.

From the harbor one boat called out and another answered, and the wind at last swept a shivering burst of snowflakes from the clouds. They caught in Rufus' eyelashes and melted, sliding down his face like diamonds.


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