A Night Out with the Turks

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seven

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"You’re still here?"

Rufus looked up from his computer screen to find Tseng standing in the doorway of his office, black suit still impeccable after a long day at work. He couldn’t help but think of what Reno had told him a few months ago – that Tseng was even more fussy about his appearance than any of the women Turks – and found himself smiling in response.

"I believe I’ve been looking at the same report for half an hour," he told the Turk, pushing away from the desk and leaning against the padded back of his leather chair. He took a moment to straighten out the black vest and two white coats he wore, a habit ingrained in him by the man standing across the room. "What about you?"

Tseng tilted his head to the side for a moment. "I have the dubious pleasure of saying the schedule has been completed for the next two months." There was a dry note to his deep voice that made it clear he was mocking himself; doing the schedule for the Turks that far in advance was a waste of time and effort, since it had to constantly be adjusted for unexpected incidents and injuries.

They both were quiet for a minute after that, then Tseng sighed and walked further into the room. "If Elena was going to send a mission update, she would have done so an hour ago."

"I see." Rufus hated the way the tension in his shoulders and chest increased at those words. Reno had left with Rude, Elena and Kali eight days ago for an undercover mission in Wutai, and was expected back at any moment. Part of what had kept Rufus here so late tonight was the hope of Dr. Alim calling him at any moment to complain about the destruction to Medical that Reno caused while being patched up for a minor injury. There was a shiver of fear that he barely suppressed at the thought of his lover being seriously injured.

The Turks – four of the organization’s best – had been sent out with limited means to contact ShinRa, under orders to sneak into and out of Wutai to avoid an incident that would be embarrassing for the company. Not for the first time, Rufus wished that he’d managed to place a tracer on his lover, either subcutaneous or even part of the earring that Reno could never remove. Unfortunately, R&D had yet to come up with a tracer that’s signal couldn’t be picked up by a rival company or organization. Yet. Rufus had given the department some rather strict orders in that regards this past week and expected to see some results soon.

Noticing the similar tension in Tseng’s shoulders, Rufus came to a sudden decision. "Have you eaten yet?"

Tseng frowned and shook his head twice. "As a means of distraction, arranging the schedule worked very well."

"Good, then surely you won’t mind joining me tonight." Rufus powered off his computer before rising from his chair. "I’m in the mood for eating out, which is more enjoyable when one has company."

"Especially when that company isn’t in any danger of setting the restaurant on fire." Some of the tension in Tseng’s shoulders eased as he fell in step beside Rufus, his voice warm with amusement.

"That’s why several of the city restaurants no longer offer a flambé dessert." Rufus chuckled as he remembered that night, the look on the poor server’s face as the whole cart went up in flames. To this day he still wasn’t sure how Reno had managed such a feat, but had an incredibly pleasurable time back at the penthouse when his lover had been forced to have his dessert there.

As they walked past the outer office, Rufus informed his secretary to call the Hyeholde and arrange for two tables within the next half an hour. She hurried to comply the same time that Rod and Cyril took their places in front of and in back of Rufus, respectively.

His eyes narrowed a little at the sight of the older Turk, still a bit angry over the incident three months ago. It was a shame that Rod and Cyril had just returned from Wutai, or else they could have participated in the mission instead of Reno and Rude. However, he didn’t let his emotions get the better of him, not when Reno and Rod went out of their way to make it known that they thought of each other as nothing more than coworkers and friends.

Besides, this set of Turks knew their job well enough to not get on his nerves, and their presence was probably the only reason that Tseng agreed to a dinner out. Despite the fact that he’d rather be dining with his lover, Rufus would take the company he could get at the moment, rather than put up with another meal alone in his penthouse.

"The Hyeholde?" Tseng asked as the elevator descended to the garage, where the limo should be waiting. "I was thinking of taking Elena there for her birthday, but wasn’t sure if it was up to its reputation."

Out of the corner of his eye, Rufus noticed Cyril’s excited expression, most likely from the thought of a nice dinner at a very expensive and exclusive restaurant. Even Rod, who was used to meals like this, appeared impressed despite himself. "The food is exceptional and the wait staff haven’t been completely traumatized by Reno yet, so I would recommend the place. Although you can form your own opinion shortly."

Tseng nodded in a way that told Rufus he would do just that, and everyone was silent as they made their way to the waiting vehicle. Rod and Cyril did a quick visual check even though Dominic had already cleared the limo, before Cyril held the door open for Rufus and Tseng.

Once settled in the car, Rufus examined his Head of Turks for any sign that Tseng was holding something back from him about the mission. "You’ll join me for some drinks with dinner, correct?"

There was only a moment’s hesitation before Tseng answered. "Of course." His smile just then made him appear years younger. "It might not be up to the standards of some of the more legendary Turk nights out, but I won’t be amiss to a bottle or two of wine tonight."

"I’m not sure the restaurant’s wine cellar and bar would be up to a legendary night of Turk debauchery," Rufus pointed out with a smile of his own, "but I see no reason why not to do our best." He waited for Tseng’s response, well aware that the man wouldn’t over-indulge if there was a chance that he felt Elena was in any danger.

"If you’re buying, Sir, then I see no reason why not to do so, either." Tseng both surprised him and gave him a sense of relief with that answer. "Although I must say, I’m sure Reno will be very unhappy about not being present tonight."

"Then he should have returned by now." Anger crept into Rufus’ voice despite his best efforts; he knew that Reno was one of the most talented people around for the assignment, and that the redhead was following orders to return home without raising any suspicions, but being told ‘we’ll be home soon’ wasn’t exactly what he had wanted to hear at Elena’s last call-in. As bad as it was to do nothing but wait during the mission, the wait for it to be officially over left him too distracted to focus on much beside how he was going to make up for the past week without his lover once Reno arrived home.

Tseng sighed before leaning forward to open up the limo’s small bar. "I refuse to worry until tomorrow evening; if they’re not back by then, I’ll assign Rod and Cyril to track them down." His jaw grew clenched as he placed several ice cubes into the two glasses, then filled them with a liberal amount of gin and a quick splash of lime juice.

About to order that Reno no longer be given any missions that required ‘radio silence’, Rufus merely accepted the glass and took a long swallow of the drink instead. Reno was still one of the best Turks on active duty, and it would negatively affect ShinRa if he was only given ‘safe’ assignments. There was also the fact that Reno’s time as a Turk was most likely running out now that Rufus had acknowledged him publicly as his lover, so Rufus only had to be patient a little longer. As it was, the redhead was mainly working undercover assignments when not guarding Rufus, forced to cover his brilliantly colored hair and the striking tattoos. That Reno’s eyes were still glowing at times was another thing that would soon enough force him from any fieldwork.

Gin wasn’t one of Rufus’ favorite drinks, but Tseng had a preference for it so they enjoyed two more gimlets on the way to the restaurant. The alcohol filled him with a pleasant buzz, so much so that he actually chuckled when the maitre‘d expressed exaggerated relief when he failed to spot Reno among Rufus’ entourage.

Tseng noticed the man’s behavior as well, but waited until they reached their table to inquire. "I don’t recall anything in particular about the last time you and Reno dined here."

Rufus settled his napkin in his lap before replying. "As evenings out with the terror in question went, it was a relatively tame one. He only sent his steak back to the kitchen eight times before yelling at the top of his lungs to be given a rare piece of meat that he could cook himself with his baton." He kept to himself the incident in the men’s room, rather certain that Michael and Ling had left out standing guard in front of it for almost twenty minutes while Reno ‘assisted’ Rufus in washing out a drop of wine before it stained Rufus’ coat – amongst other things.

He ordered two bottles of wine when the server appeared at their table, unwilling to let the faint sense of inebriation evaporate just yet. It wasn’t often that Tseng joined him for dinner like this, and he was in a mood to enjoy himself tonight. There was a limit to how long he could allow constant worry to affect him. Having a few drinks and a wonderful meal were a much better way to spend the night than waiting for Dr. Alim to call.

*******

Tseng refused to smile as he watched Rufus line up the dismembered heads of his jumbo prawns in a straight line. The president’s face was flushed, and he’d long given up on combing back the blond hair that fell onto his forehead. That thought made Tseng sit up straighter in his chair and carefully tuck back the strand of hair that was ticking the right side of his face. "I must thank you for a very enjoyable meal." To his relief, there was no obvious slurring to his words despite all the gin and wine he’d had tonight.

Rufus looked up and blinked for a moment, in the process of dismembering another prawn. "Don’t tell me you’re full already. We’ve still dessert to look forward to." He waved the prawn around as he spoke, its partially removed head coming off and flying through the air to land on the table several feet away from them. Rufus held up the remainder of his meal and glared at it. "I dub thee ‘Jenova’," he told the prawn before biting it in half.

Tseng snickered as he cut into the last part of his steak. "If you suddenly go grey-haired and green-eyed, I will have no problem at all over shooting you."

"As you’re not a… what does Reno call him? An ‘over-juiced blond bastard with a serious addiction for hair gel and angst’, I don’t believe that you’ll manage to do anything more than wing me," Rufus replied, his voice thick with disdain and his eyes slightly unfocused. "I have serious doubts that you are, since Elena’s chest isn’t big enough to pass for Lockhart’s."

Now that wasn’t anything that Tseng had expected to hear from his boss. "What do you know about the woman in question’s chest?" He wasn’t aware of Rufus paying any of the former AVALANCHE members other than Reeve, Strife and Valentine any heed.

"Too much." At least this time, Rufus’ hands were empty when he waved them about, though the couple dining several feet away ducked as if expecting to be hit by another piece of shrimp. "It took quite a few bottles of tequila, but I finally found out why Rude let his guard down at the Reactor that one day. According to Reno, the man had a thing for Lockhart."

"I merely think Rude prefers women with dark hair and… abundant assets," Tseng replied, a little surprised that Reno had shared that particular secret with Rufus. He’d known about it thanks to various psych evaluations and by paying careful attention to Rude’s behavior, and had been ensured after the incident in question that Rude would no longer allow his emotions to take control when Lockhart was concerned.

"One could never tell, judging by his recent girlfriend." Rufus glared at the shrimp heads, the only things left on his plate other than the garnish. "Do you really think that-"

Tseng knew what his employer was about to say and cut him off. "*Yes*, I’m sure it won’t cause any problems during this mission." There was no way he’d send Elena out there if he thought Rude and Kali’s relationship would be a problem, although he stopped short of telling that to Rufus. "They’ve finished the job and are on their way home." That was the only reason he was sitting here tonight and drinking enough to leave him inebriated.

Rufus grunted as he poured the last of the bottle of wine into his glass. "I think the bastard’s deliberately keeping quiet. He’s probably trying to smuggle several cases of sake into the country or something."

Tseng laughed despite himself. "Then he better be prepared to share some of that with me if he doesn’t want to be stuck behind his desk doing paperwork for the next month." There was a slight pang of remorse and homesickness when he thought about his native country – and anger when his thoughts turned to why he could never go back. "Make that two months." If it weren’t for the fact that many of his family thought of him as a traitor, even when his actions had saved their lives, then he could have gone with Elena to ensure that the mission was a success.

Perhaps he was drunker than he thought, because Rufus reacted as if something had shown through in his voice. Rufus sat up straight in his chair and pushed his plate aside, then waved their waiter back to the table to order a bottle of dessert wine and the molten chocolate dessert. The stare he gave Tseng while the waiter asked if there was anything else to be ordered was a bit too assessing for Tseng’s comfort.

"I’ll have the crème brule," he told the young man, who nodded once before leaving to place the order. "Do you have something to say, Sir?" he asked when Rufus continued to stare at him.

"I was wondering just how drunk you are, if you’re willing to put up with Reno being outside your office for the next two months," was all Rufus said after a moment’s pause.

Again, Tseng was startled into laughter. "Would he really be near *my* office?"

It was now Rufus’ turn to laugh, the sound causing almost everyone in the restaurant to turn to look at ShinRa’s president in surprise and some concern. "Very true," Rufus admitted with a slight bow of his head. "Which means I wouldn’t get any work done at all during his punishment."

Emboldened by all the alcohol and the fact that Rufus clearly didn’t invite him to dinner as the Head of Turks, Tseng smiled and leaned forward. "I feel compelled to point out that you often don’t get any work done even when he’s not being punished."

Instead of appearing offended, Rufus smiled and waved his right hand about several times. "I was under the impression that you preferred for me to be distracted from time to time." Even if his tone was amused, his blue eyes were narrowed in a suspicious manner. "You’ve certainly taken no steps to correct the situation."

No, and that was because Veld had been proven right about Rufus’ relationship with Reno benefiting the Turks, but that wasn’t anything that Tseng would ever admit to Rufus. No, that would most likely make Rufus and Reno do their best to end the relationship, all because they would refuse to accept that they’d been manipulated in any way or form.

"The way I see it, I can usually guess where the two of you are and what you’re doing, so it’s less trouble for me in the long run," he admitted instead, smiling when Rufus rolled his eyes in response.

"I’ll remind you of that the next time you think to lecture me about missing a few meetings." Rufus leaned back in his chair, his hair still disheveled and his face flushed, but there was a gleam to his eyes that told Tseng he wasn’t as drunk as he appeared. "I certainly give you no grief over your relationship with Elena."

Tseng’s back immediately straightened at the insinuation. "I fail to see the correlation here, Sir. My office has only been used for work purposes."

That sharp gleam in Rufus’ eyes brightened. "You may only use your office for business matters, but I highly doubt the two of you spend all your time searching for office supplies together in the storage room on the twenty-sixth floor."

To his relief, Tseng didn’t stutter out anything telling along the lines of ‘how did you find that out?’, but he knew from the look on Rufus’ face that there was no way of denying things. "Is this your way of asking me to stop?" he said instead, wondering what he’d done to give away his and Elena’s secret.

"By all means, enjoy yourself." Rufus laughed as he rested his left elbow on the table and used his hand to prop up his chin. "I’m thoroughly delighted to know that you’re human, after all."

There had to be more to it than that. "And what would I find if I searched the room for hidden cameras?" Tseng experienced a sinking sensation in his stomach when Rufus’ smile widened.

"*I* would never do such a thing," Rufus answered, the picture of innocence.

Tseng had learned well over the years to never let such appearances or assurances mislead him. "No, I’m sure *you* wouldn’t," he said, forcing the words past his suddenly clenched teeth. Now he knew why Reno had suddenly taken to pestering Elena into fetching some office supplies for him. "Is it at all possible to persuade you to find another lover, Sir?"


Rufus seemed to have guessed his intention. "I’m afraid not, after all the hard work I’ve put in to training him. And I’ll be *very* disappointed if he’s injured during a sparring session in the near future." When Tseng scowled at that indirect order, Rufus chuckled, the sound low and very amused. "It’s only fair, don’t you think? You should have known that he’d find out your secret with the way that Elena berates him over his lack of any sort of work ethic."

Finding out that they’d have to come up with a new location to ‘relieve’ any sexual tension during the work day wouldn’t do any good in quieting down the almost sibling-like, mildly antagonistic relationship between Reno and Elena. Tseng felt a throbbing in his temples and was very grateful for the waiter to arrive with their desserts and wine. Despite its chilled and very sweet nature, he tossed back the glassful that had just been poured for him.

"I have never felt a stronger urge to shoot Veld than I do right now," he muttered without thinking.

Fortunately, Rufus took it for something else entirely. "Because he hired Reno? There are times when I seriously question the man’s sanity myself."

If Rufus knew that Veld had hired Reno mainly in hopes of a relationship forming between the redhead and Rufus, then Tseng foresaw a trip to the cemetery that would result in Rufus firing an entire clip of bullets into Veld’s grave. "The only question is if he was completely mad or sadistic as hell. Quite honestly, I’m leaning toward both at the moment." To think that Tseng still idolized the man, even after taking over the Turks and dealing with Reno and Rufus on an almost daily basis.

Rufus paused in eating his dessert to smile. "What does that make you, his chosen successor, then?"

"At the moment, all I can think of in way of an answer is a gullible fool," Tseng sighed. Ah well, despite being much too involved in Rufus’ love life, he enjoyed his job. "All I ask is to be the one to tell Reno about his next physical at Medical, and for the right to escort him to the appointment."

"Hmm, I suppose that’s only fair, although every time he goes there means that Medical’s budget has to be increased." Rufus’ expression turned distant for a moment, a frown on his face for the first time in almost two hours. He patted his right breast pocket as if checking to see if his phone was still there.

Certain that Alim would contact him if the doctor couldn’t reach Rufus, Tseng put his empty wine glass aside and picked up his spoon. "I’m positive that he’s fine," he said, his voice pitched low so it didn’t carry very far.

Rufus grimaced and poured them both more wine. "I refuse to be concerned about him any more tonight."

Which was what Tseng told himself in regards to Elena, but it wasn’t doing him much good. Despite all the alcohol and the delicious food, he wasn’t having much luck distracting himself from the fact that his lover should have called tonight. He could only hope that she was close enough to home that she considered the call unnecessary.

The rest of the dinner passed by with incident, their attention focused more on finishing their dessert than talking. At least the buzz of alcohol in his system distanced the concern Tseng felt for Elena, and he was sure that the same could be said for Rufus.

He escorted the president home, cautious of the night ending without any problems considering that both of them weren’t in the best of conditions. Rufus refused to be seen to his door, waving Tseng aside with a reminder that he hadn’t any meetings until the afternoon tomorrow, and so would take his time showing up for work. Since that meant he’d have a couple more hours to recover from tonight, Tseng bowed in gratitude and allowed Cyril and Rod to take him home.

Everything seemed normal as he returned to his apartment, the door locked as usual and the lights off. It wasn’t until he realized there was an extra pair of shoes by the door – and that they weren’t his – that he dropped his keys to the floor and stalked through the apartment, focused attention noticing that his bedroom door was now partially closed. Not suspicious in the least, he opened the door and stood in the doorway for several seconds, staring at the person sleeping in his bed.

Elena had pushed the covers down to her waist, revealing the fact that she wore one of Tseng’s pajama tops. Her clothes were neatly folded and placed on the chair by the dresser, a worn shirt and long skirt that she never would have worn for anything other than a mission.

Disrobing himself, he pulled on the pants to the pajama set that Elena was partially wearing and slid beneath the covers. She woke up when he settled behind her, his left arm draping over her waist.

"When did you get back?" he whispered against the nape of her neck as he pulled her closer.

"Hmm." She lifted her head to look at the clock. "Hour ago. Thought you’d be home, and when you weren’t, that something happened."

He accepted the offer, doubting that in Elena’s groggy state that she was up to creating a plausible lie. She’d probably been afraid to disturb him if he was taking care of a problem, and he was willing to bet there was a voicemail on his work phone. Since she’d already informed him that the mission was a success on her last call, there was no pressing need for a debriefing.

Truly at rest for the first time in over a week, Tseng closed his eyes and allowed himself to fall asleep, his last thought on how he wasn’t expected to report into work until late morning, at the earliest.

*******

Rufus leaned back against the bed’s headboard, his breathing still fast and irregular and his skin damp with sweat. Reno was partially sprawled out on top of him, long hair clinging to his skin and a few strands even finding their way into his mouth. He spat them out and gave his lover a poke in the side. "Move."

"Not on your life," Reno mumbled, his pointy chin resting against Rufus’ stomach. "Too damn tired."

Rufus snorted at that statement, about to mention that his lover had a hell of a lot of energy up until a few minutes ago. "Let me guess, you’ll still be too tired to go into work tomorrow."

Rubbing his chin against Rufus’ skin, Reno laughed before closing his eyes. "All I gotta do is email Tseng my mission report, which I can do from home." He snaked his left arm around Rufus’ waist and let out a slow breath. "Haven’t had a day off in about two weeks."

That was true, Rufus supposed, his right hand busy playing with strands of his lover’s hair. "I see, so the lack of any time off must be why you didn’t think to inform Tseng and me that you’d returned home." He’d been quite surprised to return to the penthouse to find Reno in the shower, and after yelling at the inconsiderate bastard for at least ten minutes, they’d ended up in bed.

Mumbling something under his breath for a few seconds, Reno then sighed and looked up at Rufus. "We didn’t shake the assholes who’d followed us from Wutai until just outside the city." Judging from the cruel smile that twisted his lips, it would probably best to assume that by ‘shake’, Reno meant killed the Turks’ followers. "By that time, we figured there was no sense in risking being tracked again and that we’d just go home." He did the poking now, jabbing a finger against Rufus’ right ribs. "But *someone* wasn’t home."

"You’re not the only one entitled to a night out." Rufus managed to shift his lover onto the bed and scooted downward until he was lying with his head resting on his pillow. Reno groaned at being moved and slowly stretched out beside him. "I expect to see a copy of that report by 2pm, tomorrow."

"Slave driver." Reno managed a slight smack to his shoulder before closing his eyes again, this time with the obvious intent to fall asleep. Still feeling a bit inebriated from dinner and pleasurably sated from the sex, Rufus figured that it wasn’t a bad idea and reached for the duvet that had been shoved down toward the foot of the bed. His lover protested him moving about, but was quickly unconscious a few seconds later.

Quite pleased with the way the night had turned out, Rufus soon joined him.

*******

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