Doves Cry: Targets
"Dig if you will the picture
Of you and I engaged in a kiss
The sweat of your body covers me
Can you my darling
Can you picture this?"
"There's just one thing I want to ask you, Reno," Rufus leveled his shotgun, finger curled lovingly on the trigger. "And for once just answer me straight."
Reno cocked an eyebrow, unconcerned. "Is that a threat?"
Rufus's lips tightened. "Bastard." The shotgun kicked as he pulled the trigger. He frowned down at his target in faint displeasure. "How, precisely, am I expected to get through to Tseng?"
Reno punched the cycling button, bringing Rufus's target to the front of the firing range and tugging it down from the pulley. "Not with your aim, that's for damn sure." He tsked at the holes in the paper, crumpling it and tossing it aside as a fresh one rotated out. "Try it again."
Rufus rubbed his aching shoulder. "We've been here hours, Reno." He grimaced. "How long am I expected to do this?"
In answer Reno whipped his own pistol out of his jacket and, only half-closing one green eye in a very lazy sort of aim, emptied the chamber at the man-shaped silhouette. "When you can do that."
Rufus pressed the target cycling button and pulled down Reno's work of art, blue eyes flickering with disbelief. "You're a sicko, Reno," he said, but there was a note of grudging admiration. It took a good eye to shoot proper sexual anatomy into a paper target.
Reno surveyed the holes in the target, connecting the dots. "Pretty well hung if I do say so myself." He began reloading his gun. "Now blow a few more holes and then we can go get dinner. Tseng put me in charge of you this week and I don't want him to think I let you slouch around. Besides, if you were in Turk training, you'd be here three more hours."
Rufus scowled but snapped more shells into their chambers, hefting the shotgun again. "You still didn't--" he grunted as the stock jarred his shoulder, "--answer my question."
Reno arched an eyebrow. "You want Tseng to sleep with you, is that it?"
"That's not what I said." Rufus squinted down the barrel. "I'm asking your advice, you know him better than I do."
Reno ran a hand through his hair, oddly managing to make it neater. "Rufus, I don't think anybody knows Tseng, except for maybe Rude. And I don't see him talking. Besides. It's not your personality, see. At least, not anymore."
Rufus narrowed his eyes. "Excuse me?"
Reno grinned. "Case in point. Not so long ago you would have let me have it for that and asked questions later. That bullet broke two ribs, I'll have you know."
Rufus punched up a new target demurely. "You're lucky I hadn't had any training then."
Reno snorted, looking at the mangled paper Rufus had just finished with, pocked with holes in the head and shoulder. "Yeah, I am. Anyway, what I'm saying is it doesn't matter how much Tseng wants you or not. Your daddy is the big boss, he calls the shots on whether we live or die, and let me tell you, kid, it's not a good idea to go screwing the person you're assigned to protect. Didn't you ever watch that movie?"
Rufus waved the question away. "I'm more than old enough to make that choice myself."
"Sure you are." Reno sighed up at his bangs, looking for words. "But it's not your choice. It's Tseng's job that you're asking him to put in danger. All for a shag that, if you'll pardon me, might not even be any good."
Rufus glared. "A what?"
"Logical thinking, Rufus, I'm tellin' ya. It's how he works. If you want him, you're going to have to prove yourself more than President ShinRa's son, the person he's supposed to protect. You need to be more to him than your title." Reno shook his head. "Tseng isn't going to do anything as long as you are who you are."
Rufus reloaded his gun with an emphatic snap. "So you're saying it's impossible?"
Reno lifted one shoulder. "No," he smiled. "But it's pretty damn close."
Rufus's lips tightened, gun firing twice. "That isn't enough to stop me." The target fluttered to the ground, torn through the heart by a double spray of shotgun pellets.
"Time, Sir." Tseng rapped once on the open doorway of Rufus's bedroom. "It would be inadvisable to be late."
"Father is delighted with any excuse to find me inadequate," Rufus said, but fastened the silver cufflinks at his wrist and stood, shrugging into his white tuxedo jacket. "But I make it a point to keep disappointing him."
Tseng smiled just a little, mostly in his eyes.
"Right," Rufus said, running one hand over sleek blond hair. "Let's go." They crossed the carpeted hall of the ShinRa building's upper east wing, and Rufus frowned down the empty hallway. "Is Reno late, or is he not coming?"
"Reno has the president to look after this evening." Tseng stared pointedly at the closed elevator doors, and Rufus felt a small ripple of wariness. "Rude is assigned to your father as well."
"Along with the regular security? Isn't that a bit much for a party?" Rufus checked his watch. The elevator was slow. "It's just a charity gala."
"Yes, Sir," Tseng said, without actually answering anything. The elevator door dinged, and Tseng waved him into the clear tube, but Rufus put his hand in front of the buttons before Tseng could key in the ballroom floor.
"What's going on, Tseng." Rufus lifted his head, forcing himself into Tseng's line of vision. "That's an order."
Tseng's mouth was a tight, unhappy line. "There has been some mild terrorist activity, Rufus. Your father requested extra security."
Rufus was unconvinced. "How mild is mild, Tseng?"
Tseng's coolness reached a level usually reserved for reports to the president. "There was an explosion at the gates of one of the city mako reactors. The group claiming responsibility has made a threat with regard to this evening's events, to which, I might note, we will be late." He brushed Rufus's arm aside and pressed the button, the elevator doors humming closed and the car descending.
Rufus glowered. "You could have told me."
Tseng's expression did not change. "There was no need for you to know."
"I beg your pardon if I think death threats to my immediate family are something I need to know." Rufus grit his teeth slightly at Tseng's continued indifference. "Or did you not tell me that information was my greatest weapon?"
The elevator bell sounded as the car stopped on the ballroom level. Tseng tilted his face upwards, somehow managing to convey a greater difference in their heights. "And fear is the greatest weapon of your enemies, Rufus-sama."
"Someone threatening to off my old man is going to scare me?" Rufus lifted his eyebrows. "At worst I might get my hopes up." The doors to the elevator whispered open, letting in the sounds of polite laughter and the thin, tinkling noise of champagne glasses chiming. Rufus took a step into the doorway and would have entered the room, but Tseng's arm forced him almost violently backwards.
"Rufus," Tseng said, icily and without formal titles, "the threat this evening was not against your father."
Rufus's scowl deepened. "Are you trying to tell me--"
The sound that interrupted him was quiet, almost musical, like softly torn air. Tseng made the barest noise in echo of it, breath hitting hard against the back of his teeth as he stumbled, and his blood spattered in a fine, delicate mist over Rufus's white jacket.
Rufus could not say later that he had an actual thought of what he was doing. Tseng fell against the doors of the elevator that were trying to shut, forcing them back. He wore his pistol in his left armpit, under his jacket, and it was in Rufus's hand before Tseng slid completely to the carpet. Women were screaming in the distance, people were milling in confusion, fine crystal shattered. Rude had the president flat on the floor with one hand on his back, his gun out, chandelier lights flickering across his sunglasses as he searched the upper balconies; Reno was shoving hysterical socialites out of the way in an attempt to make it across the room to the elevators and Rufus. Rufus caught it all in a flash and discarded it, his vision narrowing on the second story balcony above them. The world closed, focused on the one man in the room who must have rented his tuxedo, slightly out of fashion and tailored badly, too long across his shoulders. Metal gleamed in his hand, vanishing back into his ill-fitting jacket; light flared once over the perfect round shape of the silencer.
Rufus lifted Tseng's gun and fired it.
The Turks only bothered with silencers on special occasions. Three gunshots rang out in the acoustically tuned room. The first scattered flecks of marble from a balcony pillar. The second and third ones hit home, and the would-be assassin tumbled over the edge of the railing, caught briefly in the ShinRa flag bunting along the side, and crumpled to the floor with a sound of shredded fabric. He was dead long before he hit the floor.
Reno's boots screeched to a halt in the suddenly silent room. "Rufus, are you--"
"I'm fine," Rufus snapped, flinging the pistol at Reno, and ripping his tuxedo jacket off. "Call an ambulance. Now."
Tseng was breathing only shallowly, his eyes closed, the white shirt under his jacket soaked with crimson. Too high to be through his heart, Rufus judged, balling up his coat and pressing it to Tseng's shoulder, counting heartbeats under the sound of Reno's radio, the rising murmur of startled conversation. He heard his father, pompous and reassuring, as if he had already prepared an official statement. "And get him the hell out of here," Rufus added, to Reno, "before I'm tempted to use the rest of those bullets."
Tseng opened his eyes but they did not focus, his fingers crept blindly for Rufus's arm and wrapped around his wrist. Sirens wailed outside; Reno had dialed up extra security and ShinRa guards to clear the room, their boots a distant thunder up the emergency stairs. Tseng closed his eyes again.
Please, Rufus thought, small inside of himself. Please.
Midgar had very little actual twilight. Daylight was gray and unflattering and most of the residents were relieved when it was over. Night was the only flattering dress the city owned, and it was low cut green-tinged velvet, sparkling with diamonds. Rufus, at the window that comprised the entire east wall of his apartments, watched Midgar slip into her finery. Folds of darkness cleverly concealed the scars of abandoned buildings and construction scaffolding, her jewels shining under the filmy mako-green veil of sky, and she was suddenly beautiful.
Rufus had watched it hundreds of times, the unchanging dance behind the slowly aging reflection of his eyes. He found himself looking for the young man a year gone, in mourning from his mother's funeral, his reflection his only companion. Light flickered from the street below, doubling and tripling his image in the glass. For a moment Rufus saw not himself, but the shadow of his Turks at his back: Reno's dangerous slouch, Rude's imposing shoulders, and Tseng's crisp lines. The ghosts faded quickly and there was only Rufus in his white pants and black turtleneck, half-finished whiskey and soda in one hand, blue eyes indifferent even to himself.
His doorbell chimed. Rufus took a drink from his glass, watched the motion of his throat and a helicopter leaving from the pad on top of the ShinRa building. "Come in."
The door slid open and shut again; a Turk stood mirrored in the window beyond Rufus's shoulder and did not vanish, his white shirt and face hovering phantomlike over the city. "Reporting for duty, sir."
Rufus drained his glass. "They took their time letting you out," he said, "but it's good to see you on your feet, Tseng."
Tseng bowed, his hair sliding forward, against his face. "Someone seems to have insured I got VIP treatment, Rufus-sama. I was quite certain Reno must have been threatening to break some knees."
Rufus smiled faintly at Tseng, in the window. "I've learned how best to use my name, Tseng. I find a small suggestion can get a great many difficulties out of the way." He rattled the ice in his glass, strode across the white carpet to the bar. "Evening lights," he murmured, and dim golden illumination came up from no obvious source, humming to life on framed artwork and the exquisite matched set of Wutai blades on his desk. "Can I get you something?" he asked, emptying the ice into the sink and upending the glass in the drain.
He always asked; Reno would order a scotch, neat, and Rude, if provoked enough, would have a vodka and tonic, decidedly light on the tonic. Tseng always declined, on duty or no, and would order nothing stronger than coffee if he was at La Vitesse in Rufus's company. Rufus had gradually assumed that Tseng simply did not drink, but Reno had cleared him up on that. Tseng only did not drink in the presence of his employers.
Rufus blinked, fingertips hovering over the glass.
"If you don't mind," Tseng added, almost apologetically.
"Of course not." Rufus filled one glass with crushed ice and then, with the barest pause, pulled out another and began making two. Tseng stepped over to the polished black marble bar, and watched Rufus top the glasses, measuring the almond liqueur against his fingers.
"You considering an alternate career in bartending?" Tseng asked.
Rufus gave the cocktail a brief stir with a gilded, sword-shaped swizzle stick, and set the glass down on the counter in front of Tseng, on a ShinRa embossed napkin. "I learned how to mix drinks early," he said, swishing his own with one deft clockwise circle and back. "My mother was particular as to her vices; she only drank things straight toward the end." Rufus strolled around the bar, and clinked his glass faintly against Tseng's. "Cheers."
Tseng took a sip, held it and swallowed, and ran his thumb over the edge of the smoke-colored glass.
Rufus rolled the drink on his tongue and made a point of looking out the window. He would not have been able to say before that it was Tseng's drink of choice, but tasting it now he could recognize part of Tseng's scent in the flavor. Tseng took a long swallow and Rufus watched him from the corner of his eye, the way his lips yielded to the hard curve of glass. "It's only been a week. Did the hospital give you full clearance?"
"The amount of cure materia they used on me would have had a dragon on its feet in a week," Tseng placed his drink down exactly in the square of the napkin. "I'm fine." His eyes caught Rufus's and held them, shadowy and unreadable in the low light.
"Good." Rufus answered. They stared at each other, unblinking blue against black, frost and darkness.
For a long moment there was only the silence of the city beyond, muted violin music playing discreetly on invisible speakers. Ice cracked in the glasses on the bar, and it occurred to Rufus that there was something else giving way, yielding to the chemistry in the room, melting and fracturing into a thousand prismatic facets. He caught his breath and couldn't finish it; his blood was ringing suddenly in his ears, the spacious rooms of his apartments crowded in too close. It was as if he had suddenly realized how high up his window was from street level, mounted further still on the plate, and he was falling, sky to ground, with nothing in-between to catch him. Nothing but Tseng, two feet away, impossibly far out of reach.
And then Rufus was crushed against Tseng's chest, Tseng's mouth on his and his heat seeping through Rufus's clothes to his chilled skin. Rufus shivered unconsciously, his fingers tangled in heavy dark hair and his mouth open under Tseng's kiss. Tseng tasted like almonds and alcohol; every breath Rufus took was full of his scent, cloves and expensive aftershave, gunpowder and leather. Tseng held Rufus's face in his half-gloved hands and did not surrender him, pulling hungrily on Rufus's lips and tongue until Rufus realized he was moaning and his body was shuddering as if for air. Tseng pulled back, his eyes still on Rufus's, his thumb tracing the shape of Rufus's parted wet mouth. No words passed between them and Tseng was kissing him again, his lips and jaw and the hollow of his throat, his hands knowing every line of Rufus under the folds of his clothes.
Rufus staggered, losing his balance and finding again, his hands closing on the lapels of Tseng's jacket and then, realizing the freedom granted to them, unzipping the front of it and shoving it back. Tseng hissed only once, when Rufus's hand pressed too hard on newly-knitted muscle. He swallowed Rufus's apology and nipped at his lips, pulling Rufus's shirt loose and undoing his belt, buckle chiming as it fell on the carpet.
Tseng's hands moved under the black knit shirt, finding the line of Rufus's spine and following it to the base of his neck, molding the shape of his shoulder blades, the fragile indentation at the small of his back. Gloved palms slid down the curve of Rufus's ass, hidden in the crisp ironed fabric of his pants. Rufus made a noise that he had never made for himself, desperate and demanding, low inside his throat. "Tseng."
The bed with its ironed sheets and carefully arranged lilies on the bedside table was entirely too far, and both of them knew it. Rufus's black leather sofa creaked quiet protest as its owner slithered down the arm onto his back, Tseng bearing down on top of him.
"We'll ruin this couch," Tseng warned.
"I'll buy a new one," Rufus growled, dragging Tseng down by his shoulder holster, rocking his hips up against the Turk's cold metal belt buckle. Tseng's fingers were deft and efficient, and Rufus's pants crumpled to the floor, his bare legs pale on the smooth leather. His hands were bare and warm, trigger-finger callous the only rough place on them as they pushed Rufus's shirt up, shadowed the shape of his ribs and belly. Fingertips stroked downward from his navel, maddeningly slow. Rufus started, hissing between his teeth as they closed on the aching hard shape of his sex.
"Now," He said, nails digging into the cushions, hips rising. "Tseng--"
Tseng interrupted him with his other hand, easing a delicate argument into the conversation and Rufus's breath stuttered in the wake of his eloquence. His legs spread, unconsciously wanton, silk-fine hair tumbled free over his face.
"Wait," Tseng ordered, searching briefly in his pockets. Light flashed on glass, and he snapped a vial between his thumb and forefinger.
Rufus bit his lip, his eyes on Tseng's face and the line that interrupted the mark between his brows. Tseng's belt clanked, navy twill brushed against Rufus's backside as Tseng lifted him onto his lap, hands dragging Rufus's legs further apart.
"Hold on to me," Tseng said, and Rufus obeyed, arms wound around his neck, Tseng's pistol-butt digging into his ribs. He could feel himself falling again and tightened his grip, pressing his face into Tseng's shoulder, breathing his scent until the wind stopped roaring in his ears.
Tseng turned his head, his lips touching Rufus's ear. "...Do you trust me, Rufus?" He might have been smiling.
Rufus stilled, loosening his arms, leaning back on the couch-cushion. He remembered a garden, a courtyard, Midgar after rain and a spoiled little boy. His eyes narrowed. "Do you trust me, Tseng?"
Tseng was smiling then, nuzzling Rufus's temple. He brought Rufus's hand up, to his shoulder, bullet mark hidden under his shirt. "Yes, Sir."
Rufus raked Tseng's hair back, leaned up, and touched his parted lips to the delicate, precise dot between Tseng's brows. His words were little more than breathing, unafraid. "Show me."
Tseng's hair fluttered down around Rufus's face as he brought his weight down and Rufus made no noise, pressed open and surrendering, Tseng moving into him. Tseng's eyes were on Rufus's, shining black as he shifted and moved deeper until Rufus cried out and relaxed underneath him. Rufus shaped himself to Tseng, knowing how to move like he knew how to fire the gun in the ballroom, lifting himself up into the cadence of Tseng's hips, rubbing his cock into the soft folds of Tseng's shirt. Tseng's fingers wrapped around him. It was too fast and Rufus knew it, his ice fracturing into a thousand pieces, sparkling and sharp like glass, melting into water like frost under warm breath. All the emotion locked inside him tore loose and Rufus was helpless in the face of it. He could only hold on, afraid to close his eyes, until the torrent was too much for him and he came, hard with Tseng's name on his lips and his heat pooling inside him, all over his Turk's thin fingerless gloves.
"Junon has reported no change in the baseline statistics, but they do note an abnormality in the reactor core shield." Rufus tapped one finger on the edge of his desk and frowned at the printout. "What has my father said about this?"
Tseng shrugged. "The eight point four percent fluctuation is, according to Hojo, a perfectly acceptable variable in the parameters. It will naturally cause a certain amount of mako radiation leakage, but not more than is standard for the current reactor model."
Rufus looked at the thick sheaf of papers, flipping over to the color-coded graph. "Which is?"
"Nine point seven percent, on the average, for reactors outside Midgar." Tseng folded his hands in his lap. "Incidentally, Midgar reactors have a regular leakage factor of five to seven percent. All of which is discharged beneath the plate."
"Delightful." Rufus turned his glare out the window, to the steady blur of rain. "And while I'm not exactly going to lose sleep over sea turtles with mako poisoning, I find it hard to believe that my father is letting that much gil simply ooze into the topsoil."
"I'm sure the president feels it is better than the cost of repairing the current facility."
Rufus snorted. "Yes, it's so much simpler just to build a new one after it explodes, thereby saving the trouble of leveling the town beforehand." He tossed the papers across his desk. "I'm not sure who, exactly, he thinks he's going to hire in such a situation. The wildlife? Any remaining locals are the ones busily trying to plant bombs in his limo."
Tseng raised an eyebrow, expectant. "Your orders?"
"Get the chopper ready. I have to go out to Junon anyway for regular inspection, I might as well take care of my own business while I'm there." Rufus stood and Tseng echoed him, reaching out to gather the vice-president's coat from the chair.
"I'll pass that along to Rude." Tseng shook out the white coat and held it up, letting Rufus shrug his shoulders into it. "He'll want to fly you himself, I'm sure."
"With you escorting me, naturally." Rufus smiled, a thin sliver of amusement. "Father does not permit me to go anywhere out of your sight, after all."
Tseng bowed. "I could hardly be considered a very good spy, then, could I?" His hands lingered on Rufus's shoulders, warm through the folds of Rufus's coat. He lingered, hair grazing Rufus's cheek. "I wouldn't want him to think I wasn't doing my job."
Rufus leaned back into him, looking at their reflection in the rain-streaked window, dark and light and blurred. "Hardly. As far as I can tell you've been excellent at insuring that his bullets fall far from the mark."
"Only one member of your family is a competent marksman, Rufus," Tseng said, smiling into Rufus's temple. "Your father has never actually bothered to shoot anyone himself."
Rufus twisted in Tseng's embrace, bringing the tip of his trigger finger up the line of Tseng's buttons and tracing a circle around his heart. "Bang," he murmured, a second before Tseng's mouth closed over his.