There's a message on the wire
and I'm sending you this signal tonight
you don't know how desperate I've become
and it looks like I'm losing this fight
And there's a heart that's breaking
down this long-distance line tonight
You have ...3... new messages.
Tseng sighed, cradling the phone against his ear and dipping one hand into the front of his jacket, nudging aside the comforting weight of his pistol holster and drawing out an elegant silver ink pen. The drone of the helicopter would probably have drowned out any telecommunications system less sophisticated than the one used by ShinRa, but Scarlet's voice was unpleasantly clear in Tseng's ear.
"So do be a good boy and go pick up the shipment from Junon on your way, mmkay?"
The corners of Tseng's mouth tipped downwards in a way that would have been imperceptible to anyone but the other occupant of the helicopter, and Rude was busy confirming his flight clearance from the Junon helipad. The materia shipment had already been retrieved; Tseng was not the head of the Turks because he failed to anticipate the desires of the upper echelon. He only wished the head of Weapons Development didn't, on voice mail, sound as though she was charging 99 gil a minute for her services.
Tseng shivered, ever so slightly. Scarlet sighing in his ear, even on a recording, was something he could well do without.
Tseng drew a line through the aborted note he had started for Scarlet.
"Tseng, it's Rufus."
Tseng's eyes narrowed, and not in displeasure. Rufus always said his name, as though Tseng wouldn't know his voice.
"Reno's just dropped off the materials we need, and the data looks good. Report to me as soon as you get in. Rude too. That's all."
Tseng did not need to write that down. Of course they would have a meeting as soon as they landed. They always did, and Rufus did not need to call to tell him so. But Tseng knew what the message was really for, as well as every other bland message from Rufus played back on his cell phone during the two weeks he had been in Junon.
I miss you, is what Rufus ShinRa said, in those businesslike messages between regular reports from Midgar, in no way that anyone but Tseng would have heard, and there was no other way Rufus would ever say it. Come back as soon as you can.
"Cleared for takeoff," Rude said.
The rotors hummed and roared contentedly as the chopper lurched forward and up, and Tseng switched his phone to the other side. The earpiece beeped obediently and Junon lights fell away below, but the sudden downward pitch of Tseng's stomach had nothing to do with the surface of the planet dropping out from under the chopper, and everything to do with the muffled, throaty moan in his ear.
He would have said it was Scarlet pranking him, had it not been a voice he new quite intimately. He also would have said he didn't expect Rufus ShinRa to be making it with Tseng himself a hundred miles away.
The name Rufus said at the beginning of this message was Reno's, and it seemed neither one of them was aware of the small, blinking redial light on Rufus' phone. Tseng had any number of theories how it might have been pressed, and none of them were remotely innocent.
"That's a bit forward of you, don't you think?"
Tseng silently agreed, and wondered if Reno's face had worn the look of smug confrontation he suspected it had.
"I think they've been gone too long too, boss."
"That still doesn't--"
There was a moment's hush as Rufus was cut off abruptly, and the silence was heavy. It was broken by the distinctive noise of Rufus' pen holder falling over and disgorging its contents on the white tile floor of his office. There was a muffled thump, as of a body falling heavily across a desk, and Reno's breathless laughter.
"You haven't been patient for two weeks, don't tell me you're going to start now just because they're coming back."
"I don't think I'm the impatient one, Reno."
Indistinct sounds then, but Tseng thought he knew the rustle of fabric, and there was no mistaking the tiny metallic purr of a zipper. And then Rufus made a low growl down his throat that-- even through the speaker--- was capable of shooting a hot ache low into Tseng's belly.
Reno's long silence was telling, as was the gasp Rufus made at the end of it, his breathing quickening and going suddenly still. Reno made a soft satisfied noise. Rufus let out all his air at once. Tseng's phone casing creaked protest under the pressure of his hand.
"Heading niner five bravo, fuel mixture is rich," Rude said, in response to an insect-like whine from his own headset. Tseng was quietly grateful that Rude was not the sort to ask why his boss had such a long voice mail and what it entailed. He just flew the chopper.
"Not even a thank you?"
Reno did not sound even a little bit insulted.
"It's not like you were doing me a favor.". Rufus was pulling his jacket back on. Tseng, with his eyes closed against the fading green glow of Junon's lights, could see the Vice President clearly in his memory: pale cheeks flushed, sleek hair falling across his cold eyes, his dark shirt rucked up over the flat planes of his belly, exquisitely tailored pants undone.
"I guess not." Reno's pause was as loaded as the holstered Quicksilver pressing hard against Tseng's heart. "You really just need someone to fuck you."
Rufus' response was blurred slightly by a loud intrusive beep; Tseng had the phone held so tightly against his jaw that he had pressed a button on the keypad.
"...more your area, wouldn't you say?"
"It doesn't mean you don't want it."
Tseng felt Rude's eyes on him for a moment, the Turk glancing sideways at him behind his sunglasses. Tseng scribbled "Palmer" on his notepad, and tilted it so Rude could see. Rude nodded, understanding flickering like the reflected instrument lights on his face. The director of the aerospace program was notorious for twenty-minute long, pointless voice messages. And for once, Tseng was grateful for that.
Rude turned his attention back to piloting, and Rufus' desk began to make distinctively rhythmic creaking sounds.
"Say it." Reno's breath came short. "You know you want to."
Rufus' response was obscured by the scraping sound of his desk scooting forward from the force of the activity going on atop it.
"Can't hear you." In a detached sort of way, Tseng was unsurprised that Reno didn't even shut up when screwing. He could hear the lopsided grin even if he could not see it, imagining Reno's sharp green eyes to go with his laugh. "And neither can he."
A moment of deadly silence followed by Rufus, no doubt flat on his stomach and with Reno pressed hard inside of him, sounding icily, dangerously calm. "What?"
The phone receiver clunked in Tseng's ear, and Reno said, as though he was standing by Tseng's shoulder, "Hi, boss. Having a nice flight?"
Rufus' response to this revelation was not a coital sound, but more like a man reaching for his shotgun. There was a thump, a clunk, the desk moving another five inches with a screech. And then Rufus' breathing was much closer all of a sudden.
"Let him hear you," Reno said, further away. "You've been saying it for two weeks, and it's not been for me."
Rufus' voice caught, the name was a bare whisper caught by the finest telecom equipment on the planet. "Tseng."
Tseng's ballpoint pen bit hard into the gloved palm of his hand, the point made a jagged checkmark across the pad of paper.
"C'mon," Reno coaxed, as the desk took up its cadence again, drawers rattling in their stainless steel tracks. "So he can hear you."
"Uhhhngod," Rufus' frosted tones were full of heat, purring into Tseng's ear. "Tseng... I can't...Tseng--!"
Twenty miles away, at five thousand feet above the ground, Tseng closed his eyes and listened to Rufus coming for him.
Reno swore, a long satisfied sigh, and then laughed. The other end of the line picked up. "Soooo, yeah. Don't forget that meeting, boss." Reno was clearly winded, and still laughing. "Ja!"
"Tower, we have vectors for approach, this is ShinRa Oh-Oh-Two." Rude leaned forward and twiddled the stick towards the growing glow of Midgar on the horizon.
End of new Messages.
Tseng calmly replaced his pen-- bent at a sharp right angle in the middle-- back in his breast pocket, and pressed the save button before flipping his phone shut. "ETA?" he asked, briskly.
"Ten minutes," Rude said, as the chopper arched elegantly sideways.
Tseng leaned back in the seat as Midgar came into view like a fallen star, still glowing. "Make it five."