The helicopter safely landed on the flight pad, Tseng began to power down the vehicle. He was certain that Reno would be out here shortly to make sure that nothing had happened to the redhead’s ‘baby’, and was almost tempted to leave something flipped the wrong way. However, he was exhausted after a very busy day and just wanted to get some rest, not start a fight with a fellow Turk. He’d wait until Reno did something to truly annoy him to get back at the man.
"We’re done for the night," he told Elena as his partner quietly sat in the seat beside him. "Go to your room and get some rest."
She nodded and removed her headset, careful to set it aside properly since she too had dealt with an overprotective Reno in the past. "We haven’t eaten dinner yet. If you like, I can make something for the both of us." Despite how tired she appeared, a warm smile formed on her lips and her brown eyes were bright with hope.
He gave the offer some consideration before shaking his head with obvious reluctance. "I need to see Rufus, and I’m not sure when I’ll be finished talking with him." At her crestfallen expression, he allowed himself to relent a little. "Make the food and I’ll stop by when I’m finished. It may not be until late so eat once it’s ready, all right?" He felt a bit foolish giving in like that, but Elena was special to him and trying so hard to gain his approval and respect that he humored her as much as he could.
"Yes, Tseng." Her smile restored, she bowed her head slightly before climbing out of the helicopter. He remained behind a few seconds to ensure that everything was all right before heading to the President’s cabin.
Now that the world knew that Rufus Shinra was still alive and determined to rebuild ShinRa Electric Power Company, the Turks spent most of their time running errands for their president. The work was more dangerous than it seemed since some people still blamed ShinRa for most of the troubles a couple of years ago, and the Turks were more circumspect than they’d been in the past. Regardless of those two facts, they were getting a lot done and soon Rufus would be able to leave Healin Lodge.
Since the latest defeat of Sephiroth, Rufus had been able to pull more of the Turks back to him, no longer having to hide his resources so much. Tseng was pleased by that since it helped relieve some of the responsibility of guarding the President. He nodded to Rod and Jared as he approached, forgiving the Turks their slouched stance since it was a bit boring standing guard outside the door of a cabin located in the middle of a huge forest. "I assume it’s been quiet all night?"
Neither of the men laughed at the usual joke. Jared took to staring down at
the wooden floorboards between his feet while Rod chuckled nervously and combed
a hand through his reddish-brown hair. "You could say that, I guess."
Sensing that something wasn’t right, Tseng’s slight smile turned into a suspicious frown. "What’s wrong? The President is inside, correct?" Perhaps Rufus had tried to slip off or something, or had called for some ‘entertainment’ from the Edge now that he was healed of the Geostigma.
Rod chuckled again while Jared flinched, ever so slightly. "Ah, yes, Tseng, he’s inside." However, neither of the two Turks moved from the door when Tseng stepped forward. "Look, maybe it’s a good idea if you come back in the morning," Rod offered in a weak voice.
"Who’s in there?" Tseng stared at the men and had to repeat the question when there was no immediate answer. "Don’t tell me you allowed someone without proper clearance to be alone with the President!" he snapped.
Jared flinched again while Rod actually tugged on a strand of his reddish-brown hair. "No, we wouldn’t do that, sir." When he didn’t elaborate any further, Tseng scowled at the man and folded his arms over his chest, a clear warning that his patience was wearing thin. "It’s Reno."
Whatever Tseng had expected to hear, that wasn’t it. A sick feeling bloomed to life in his stomach and made his throat tighten. He had to clear it before he could speak. "Are they discussing work?" he asked, his voice so quiet that it could barely be heard above the wind and rustling leaves.
None the less, Rod and Jared heard it and shook their heads. "We were ordered to stay out here and not come in unless told to do so." Rod let out a slow breath and tugged once more on his hair. "I think that extends to you, sir."
Oh, Tseng was certain that he wasn’t wanted inside at the moment, but that wasn’t going to stop him. Not when he’d done his best to keep the two men physically apart for the last couple years – had made a *promise* to do so to a respected mentor – and knew something that neither of them were aware of. Something that made what most likely was happening inside if he was to judge by Rod and Jared’s reactions a potentially damaging event.
One virulent look from him was enough to make the Turks step aside. Rufus was their president but Tseng was their commander, a difference that was very important after the years when Rufus’ father was in charge of the company. Rufus had gone a good ways to gaining their trust and respect, but Tseng was still the person in charge of the Turks.
At least, he was to most of them. One Turk in particular seemed to have ignored his carefully worded orders to stay a healthy, respectful distance from the President at all times. Tseng hadn’t been able to word things any better than that, not when Reno was the type to chase after what he’d been warned to ignore, and the situation the last several months had made it difficult to enforce the command. Rufus was always to be protected, and with only four Turks on hand for that duty, it meant they all had spent a lot of time with him.
Stalking into the cabin, Tseng noticed the crumpled black jacket lying on the floor not far from a long white coat, then the rest of the clothes. With only a quiver of apprehension, he threw open the door to the bedroom and stepped inside.
He had half-expected to be shot for barging in like that upon two dangerous men, and for a moment thought that had happened when all the air left his lungs. However, he hadn’t been hit by a projectile weapon, fist or spell, just the sight of the man he’d sworn to protect and obey sitting naked in the bed beside a trusted coworker. Both Reno and Rufus had weapons in their hands, Rufus one of his pistols and Reno his baton. Clothes seemed to not be a concern to them and the tousled sheets didn’t cover much.
"Fuck, Tseng, you nearly got fried!" Reno turned off his baton but didn’t set it aside, merely let it fall onto his lap as he leaned forward. He was seated on the edge of the bed, mostly in front of Rufus. His hair was unbound and mussed even more than usual, his pale skin marred with scratches and bruises. Behind him, Rufus put the gun down on the bed and snaked his arm around Reno’s upper chest in a move that could only be considered very possessive, an amused smirk on his face and his blue eyes chillingly cold as he stared directly at Tseng. "Knock next time, okay?" There was a slight blush to Reno’s face, either from adrenalin or embarrassment, Tseng wasn’t sure.
"Reno, get dressed and leave," Tseng ordered, taking the coldest tone possible with his subordinate. In a way, this wasn’t Reno’s fault, and he was off-duty tonight, but a line had been crossed that even Reno should know to leave alone. Add that to the secret that Tseng so closely guarded and Tseng just wanted him gone right now. He needed to focus on fixing things as much as possible, and Reno would just be a hindrance.
Frowning in earnest, Reno hunched forward but didn’t get off the bed.
"Look, Tseng, I’m not working tonight so-"
"*Go*." Tseng pointed to the door, unwilling to argue about this any further. Either his furious tone or expression finally convinced Reno to listen to reason for once. "Return to your quarters and stay there until I arrive."
However, just as Reno began to move Rufus tightened his hold on the redhead and shifted closer. "Leave for now, but come back in half an hour." Rufus’ voice took on an edge that Tseng had never heard before, an almost purr thick with confidence and seduction. "Bring the toys I had you buy the other day." His right hand slid down Reno’s chest, inching closer to where the line of curly, dark red hair began just below Reno’s navel. "And the handcuffs."
Reno inhaled sharply and shivered, a low moan slipping past his parted lips as he exhaled. "Okay, boss." He tilted his head back to nibble along Rufus’ jaw, until the president grabbed a handful of red hair and mashed their mouths together, a kiss so savage that a trickle of blood winded its way down Reno’s chin.
"President." Tseng felt the pain in his chest grow as the kiss went on. "*President!*" The word reverberated around the room, and a few seconds later Rufus broke off the kiss with an aggrieved sigh.
"Go now," he told Reno, who appeared more than a little dazed with lust. The redhead shook his head in denial, stopping when Rufus leaned in close to lap up the trail of blood. "Go." He gave Reno a slight push, a smile on his bloody lips as Reno laughed and moved off the bed.
"You just want to play with those toys." Reno had no shame about showing off his naked body, making Tseng want to cringe when he saw the many signs of passion that marked the Turk’s fair skin. Reno noticed his stare and stopped grinning, turning quiet as he picked his boxers up from the floor.
"Stay in your-"
"*Thirty minutes*, Reno," Rufus said, cutting across Tseng’s command with a gravity that he usually reserved for business matters.
Reno looked back and forth a few times, to Tseng as he stood immobile a couple of feet from the door, and Rufus as he sat on the bed, appearing perfectly at ease even with his nudity barely concealed by a sheet. Just when Tseng started to recover from the shock of finding the two men together, his chest grew tight again when Reno nodded to Rufus and slunk out of the room, his regretful gaze meeting Tseng’s for a long moment.
That’s when he knew that Reno was Rufus’ now, that despite all their years together as Turks, of watching each other’s backs and taking blows meant for the other, that Reno would always look to Rufus for the orders. His left hand, which seconds ago had itched to grab the redhead by the arm and order him to not come back to this room, twitched once and remained at his side.
Tseng and Rufus were quiet until Reno left the cabin, the door closing behind him sounding as if had been slammed, it was in such stark contrast to the faint sounds of breathing and silk sheets rustling.
"I assume that you have a very good reason for barging in here against my orders," Rufus said as he left the bed, as unbothered by his nudity as Reno had been. However, he didn’t waste any time with picking up any clothes off the floor, instead crossing the room to fetch a white robe that hung from the opened bathroom door. "I don’t recall sending you and Elena out to retrieve any information important enough that the matter couldn’t wait until morning."
Tseng’s right hand raised to touch the computer disc that he’d placed in the inside pocket of his black jacket. "I’d wanted to talk to you about something we uncovered during the retrieval, sir." Suddenly it didn’t seem very important to discuss the fate of supposedly dead company scientist, not when something he’d done his best to keep from happening for so long had done just that behind his back. How long had he been oblivious to the truth?
Busy tying the belt of his robe, Rufus stood across the room, blond hair falling onto his face and blue eyes cold. "And? You’ve a little less than half an hour to do so." He folded his arms over his chest, appearing as untouchable as if he was safely behind a wall of ice.
"Sir, I believe you’re making a very big mistake," The last thing Tseng wanted to discuss right now was business. "Reno…." For one of the very few times in his life, he was at a loss for words, driven to this point by the horror that he had sworn to keep secret. Yet he tried again to get some sort of logic across. "Sir, Reno can’t-"
Once again, Rufus cut him off, a cruel smile on his lips that reminded Tseng of the young man’s father. "Try in any way to keep Reno from me and you’ll regret it. Not only that, but you’ll fail as well." His tone was calm, as if he were discussing every day events. "He’s my lover now, and I will never allow that to change."
For a moment, Tseng’s stomach threatened to heave. He’d believed to have left so much behind when he’d exiled himself from Wutai, but some customs were ingrained too deeply to be pushed away. "That is unacceptable, sir." Desperate to end this nightmare, he latched on to whatever might possibly reach Rufus and make him listen. Where had the young man gone who had turned to him for advice? "He’s a Turk, President, a subordinate who doesn’t even know his bloodlines past his mother. There are better choices for… for a lover." At this moment, he could even accept Rufus expressing an interest in Elena, anything to deflect the man he trusted, who he’d raised from childhood, to stop wallowing in a horrible sin.
Rufus’ chuckle just then was so reminiscent of Reno’s a few minutes before that Tseng shuddered in disgust. "Oh, Reno might not know about his ‘bloodlines’, but I’ve a feeling that you know them just as well as I do." When Tseng stared at him in shock, not believing that things had taken such a perverse turn, Rufus went back to the bed and sat down in the midst of its disheveled sheets. The scent of sex tainted the air, his smile once more cruel as he picked up a long strand of crimson from the formerly pristine sheets and begun twining it around his left pinky. "After all, isn’t that why you’re objecting to this relationship? Because we’re brothers?"
The wind knocked out of him yet again, Tseng swayed where he stood, his right hand lifting to cover his eyes. This had to be a nightmare or a torture of sorts, something carefully devised to drive him mad. "Sir…."
"Well, half-brothers, to be exact." Rufus laughed, his head tossed
back as the deep, very pleased sound filled the room. "Ah, yes, the huge
secret that you, Veld and my father did your best to keep from me all these
Rising from the bed, he approached Tseng, a sympathetic expression on his face that clashed with the bright victory in his blue eyes. "The secret that I was never supposed to find out, correct?" The authority that Tseng had responded to all these years, that had held him and others by Rufus’ side even after ShinRa’s fall, compelled him to answer.
"No, you weren’t." He easily remembered the day when Veld had revealed the truth to him and exacted a promise, shocked both by the secret as well as the realization that his beloved mentor was planning for a time when he wouldn’t lead the Turks. Tseng didn’t want to know how Rufus had found out, that didn’t really matter, what he wanted most was for this incestuous, disgusting relationship to end. Brother and brother… bile flooded his mouth at the thought of what had happened in this room. "You *have* to stop this!"
Rufus smiled at the hysterical command and held up his left hand, the crimson hair like a ring of blood around his pinky finger. "You never should have allowed Dr. Alim to collect his blood, you know. We both were curious as to why transfusions that came from Reno seemed to stave off the worst of the Geostigma attacks, and I must admit that it answered a question that had bothered me for years." When Tseng didn’t answer, too busy cursing himself for allowing his emotions to get in the way of sabotaging those blood transfusions, desperate as he’d been to find some cure for that awful disease, Rufus chuckled again and continued.
"Why would my father force a gutter-rat from the slums into becoming a Turk, hmm?" Rufus rubbed his thumb over the ring of hair. "Why would he allow said Turk to commit such brazen acts of disobedience, would constantly test him with the most difficult of tasks? Normally, my father would kill such a delinquent outright, not push him to his limits and deal with the fallout of his actions." Blue eyes looked away from the hair and stared at Tseng, full of the anger that was echoed in his voice, anger and possessiveness.
His throat suddenly dry, Tseng forced himself to swallow several times before
he answered. "Your father was keeping an eye on a potential threat."
Despite Reno disobeying him, he looked after a fellow Turk, protecting him as
best he was able.
"Tseng." Rufus shook his head and clicked his tongue in an exaggerated manner of disappointment. "My father dealt with threats by killing them outright, not harboring them in the heart of his company. No, I’m positive that what he was doing was making sure he had a… a ‘reserve’ on hand, just in case. A spare son he’d made loyal to ShinRa, ready to step forward if by some chance I proved unworthy." He didn’t sound upset at the thought of being replaced, yet Tseng knew him too well to fall for the composed act.
Fear won out over the disgust that Tseng felt. "No, you’re wrong, sir. Reno’s nothing, just a by-blow your father kept around for amusement sake." This was why Veld had sworn him to secrecy years ago, to keep Rufus from killing one of their own out of jealousy. That was what Tseng had dreaded for so long, until he noticed the growing heat between the two men, the attraction that drew them closer no matter how much he strived to keep them apart. Opposites and yet not, so alike in too many ways. Yet despite his best efforts, the attraction of flesh and blood had won out, an ancient taboo broken and now Reno’s life in serious danger. "He’ll never be worthy to take your place. Let me send him away." Reno would hate him for that, but at least he’d be alive.
One moment Rufus stood there, calmly listening to what was being said, and
the next he had his gun leveled at Tseng, pulled from some inner pocket of the
robe. Too distraught over tonight’s events, Tseng was ashamed to admit that he’d
never even noticed it before it was a mere arm’s length away from his face.
"*Never* attempt to take him from me, Tseng." There was no emotion
whatsoever on Rufus’ face or in his eyes, his voice as cold as a wintry night.
"He’s your *brother*, Rufus." Unlike Rufus’ voice, Tseng’s was harsh with emotion, too many emotions for him to make any sense of as they roiled inside of him like lava. "What you’re doing with him is *unnatural*!"
"Oh, I feel it’s very natural." The gun never wavered, yet the cold façade was replaced with cruel amusement. "In a way, he’s part of me, thanks to our shared DNA. He’s Shinra, which makes him *mine*."
This was worse than a nightmare. Tseng knew that Rufus had been raised not to care about social mores, to only concern himself with what he wanted, but surely he had… had some decency to see that this was wrong. And if he didn’t, wouldn’t Reno? "Do you think that Reno would accept this relationship if he knew that you shared a father?" He truly was grasping at straws now, desperate to bring this travesty of a relationship to an end.
As if knowing that Tseng had no more weapons to use other than that, Rufus put away the gun, then slicked back his unruly bangs. "Do you honestly believe that Reno gives a damn about whoever the trick was that knocked up his mother? Even if you could convince him of the truth, all he’d want is a raise and a chance to spit on our father’s grave."
The sad part was, the words were true. Their father had done too good of a job destroying whatever morals Reno had managed to hold on to after such a neglectful childhood, except for loyalty. Then Tseng and Veld had done everything in their power to turn that loyalty away from the old president and toward Rufus and the Turks, and now that action was here to haunt Tseng forever. Somehow Rufus had taken that loyalty and centered it on himself, and Tseng knew that he’d never reach Reno.
The bile was back in his mouth as he thought about the two siblings in this room, that very bed, and there was nothing he could do to stop them. If he told them about the grave sin they committed, after years of death, manipulation, blackmail and corruption…. "What you’re doing is wrong, Rufus." One last time, he tried to make the man he’d devoted his life to see sense – to acknowledge what was right.
He was surprised to see Rufus’ smile and the kindness it contained. "Only you feel that way, Tseng." The kindness fled, replaced by the ruthlessness that had driven Rufus to fight back against his father with whatever means he could, that had kept him alive while being destroyed by Geostigma and left him calm in the face of Kadaj’s threats. "Do not interfere. That is the last warning I’ll give you on this matter."
Tseng nodded, knowing that he was the only person who could have said what he’d dared to say to Rufus, the only one who could be blatant in his disapproval and still be trusted. If he continued to push…. As much as it galled him, he knew the inevitable when faced with it, and Rufus had never willingly parted with anything that was his, not without a high price.
Seeing Rufus pointedly look at the clock, Tseng refused to allow himself to gag and bowed low. "If you’ve the time tomorrow, there are some important details you should know, President." It took all of his control, but he kept his voice even and his face impassive.
"Be here by eight." Rufus returned to the bed and sat down on its edge. "We’ll discuss Reno’s future assignments then, as well."
Biting the inside of his lip for a moment, Tseng bowed again. "Yes, President." When nothing else was said, he took that as a silent command to leave the room.
He found Reno outside of the cabin, leaning against the railing as he smoked a cigarette, a black, non-descript bag dangling from his right hand. Rod and Jared had been grinning about something, their expressions changing into boredom once they saw Tseng. However, he wasn’t interested in them, just in Reno.
They shared a look for several heartbeats, Reno’s defiant and his reproachful, and when he shook his head in an attempt to clear it of unwanted thoughts, Reno shrugged and flicked the cigarette aside. "The boss always gets what he wants," Reno said, too nonchalantly for Tseng to believe that placid emotion.
This time he did grab Reno by the arm. "And what do you want?" If the answer wasn’t Rufus, then he’d drag the Turk to the nearest helicopter and fly him as far away as possible, never mind the hunt they’d unleash in response. For a moment, he had hopes of doing just that, even if he had to throw everything that mattered away. To save two people he held so dear from themselves….
Reno sighed and patted him on the shoulder, a rare seriousness in his demeanor. "I want to go inside." His voice was quiet, his expression lacking its usual taunting grin, and Tseng knew that for once, Reno spoke the simple truth. No matter what Tseng told him, he’d head straight to Rufus, uncaring about the cost.
For Rufus and his fellow Turks, Tseng had killed thousands, blackmailed innocents, lied until the truth was an unrecognizable notion, shed liters of blood and suffered excruciating pain. He’d faced death so many times, almost succumbed to it at least twice, and sacrificed so much. If it didn’t hurt so much, if the disgust wasn’t so sharp, he’d laugh over how one surprising moral remained – and even that he would have to give up, to lose yet another part of himself. There was no other choice.
But first, he would go to Reno’s empty room and find whatever alcohol was stashed there, surely enough to grant him some oblivion tonight. Dinner with Elena would have to wait for an evening when he didn’t feel so tainted, when he wouldn’t have to face Rufus tomorrow and pretend that nothing was wrong. One thing his life with the Turks had taught him was to recognize a battle he’d never win, and this was one of them. By his own hands, he’d spun many of the ties binding Rufus and Reno to each other, and now it was time to pay for some of his actions. A small, bitter part of him just wished that Veld and Rufus’ father were still hear to reap the pain along with him.
*******Return to Archive