Rufus Shinra was feeling particularly dragonish, and he hadn't even put on his mask yet.
"This whole ordeal is simply an annoyance." He fidgeted with his cufflinks, scowling. "Not to mention an insane waste of gil. If my father would ever listen to me--"
"You know you're Vice President in name only." Tseng picked up the sparkling gold and blue dragon mask, tilting it to the light to watch the colors shimmer. "Besides, abolishing the Festival would lead to utter rebellion. It's a popular holiday, and the public is fond of parades and cheap gold beads and an excuse to get roaring drunk."
"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were looking forward to this." Rufus stripped the dry-cleaner's plastic off his costume, casting a wistful glance at his favorite white coat, slung carelessly across the bed.
"Yes, I admit. I grew up with loud festivals and firecrackers; there's at least one such celebration a month in Wutai." Tseng took Rufus by the shoulders and retied the silk cravat until it met with his satisfaction, long fingers nimbly doing up the buttons on Rufus' gold-embroidered vest, despite Rufus' protests. "I am rather fond of such things."
"Barbarian." Rufus teased, smiling.
Tseng raised one elegant black eyebrow. "I'm not the one wearing dragon-skin this evening."
Rufus made a face, not fond of the reminder. "I still don't know why I have to wear all this... frippery."
Tseng shook out the blue velvet frock coat, holding it out for Rufus to slip into. Rufus was quite capable of dressing himself, but Tseng wasn't going to allow him to stall. "Costumes are traditional, are they not? This one suits you quite well."
"I feel like a rock star." Rufus frowned at his mirror. He half turned, looking over his shoulder at the way the long cream-colored boots flattered his legs.
"You look ravishable." Tseng smiled as Rufus had the grace to look guilty, caught admiring himself in his glass. "Come on, what's really bothering you? You won't fool me, I know how you like to deck out and be adored, why so reluctant now?"
"I'd just as soon not be flaunted on the company parade float, that's what. My father has been downright pleasant of late; I wonder what unsavory plot he has in mind for me. He's up to something, I can just tell."
"I haven't heard anything," Tseng's tone suggested that if the Turks hadn't heard anything, there was nothing to hear. Tseng paused, considering. "It wouldn't have anything to do with him placing this celebration over his own son's eighteenth birthday, would it?"
Rufus lowered gold eyebrows in an expression that, after two years of training, was honestly deadly. "How did you know about that?"
Not that Tseng had anything to fear from Rufus' glacial scowls. "First rule of the Turks, Rufus-sama. Know your employer." Tseng reached into his greatcoat and removed a small package, wrapped in silver paper. "I was going to wait until later, at La Vitesse, but--" Tseng shrugged. "Happy Birthday."
Rufus took the parcel slowly, a faint smile ghosting the corners of his mouth. "I haven't gotten a birthday present since I was twelve."
"All the more reason to get one now." Tseng folded his arms over his suit. "Open it."
Rufus removed the paper carefully. The hinged box creaked open to reveal an elegant silver wristwatch, unique in its simplicity and twin to the one Tseng wore, as part of his rank as a Turk. Rufus blinked surprise. "Tseng, this is..."
"Usually given on promotion to the Turks, as I'm sure you know. This is the same as ours, not a civilian model." Tseng deftly removed the custom timepiece from its flocked velvet box, and fastened it around Rufus' wrist. "It has a tracking device, so you can find us, or we can find you. The radio is activated here." Tseng twisted the dial, and his own watch bleeped discreetly in recognition. "It's set to my call signal."
"I'm not a Turk, Tseng." Rufus held out his arm, his voice pleased as he surveyed the band of silver around his wrist. "Not even my father--"
"Of course not." Tseng might have smiled, just barely. "Call it honorary, if you wish. Reno and Rude thought you should have it as well."
Rufus smoothed a finger over the crystal, watching the numbers light up at his touch. "It's exquisite, Tseng. "
"A Turk's most valued possession. It's the only uniform we wear." Tseng's dark eyes narrowed. "Forgive me for giving a jealous kind of gift, lover. I want to be able to find you, to keep you close."
Rufus draped azure crushed-velvet arms over his bodyguard's pinstripe tailored shoulders, one slim thigh pushing brazenly between Tseng's legs. "How close do you want me, Tseng?" His lips brushed Tseng's as he spoke, and the Turk wrapped his hands possessively around Rufus' waist.
"Closer than that," he murmured.
Rufus was more than happy to comply.