My names for the BC Turks in this story: Kit = Katana, Rod = Rod, Trig = Two Guns.
As Good as it Gets
Down time, down under the plate. Tseng, Rude, Kit, Rod, sitting close around a corner table in a smoky dive run by some Nibel Mountain small time racketeer. He's called Diederich; the place is called The Wunderbar: bad pun, good beer, better hooch.
Reno's at the bar. Tseng's apparently not watching him. When it comes to covert surveillance, Tseng is the best they have. He can carry on a conversation, half of his mind following arguments, listening, responding appropriately, while absorbing a completely different discussion unfolding somewhere else in the room.
When Reno glances back, Tseng's smiling slightly at some joke of Rude's that has Rod spluttering into his beer. From Tseng that half smile's as good a response as you get. Reno figures Rude's a real comedian tonight.
Watching without looking like he's watching, Tseng registers the impact Reno has on the other customers. Those three women over by the door, for example – eyeing him from the moment he walked in. The blonde one's beautiful and she knows it; reckoned she had it all sewn up when Reno returned her first inviting smile. Now she's not so sure. Neither's Tseng. With Reno, it can go any way, and tonight his mood is contrary. Although she doesn't know it, the plumper, slightly round-faced girl who's usually the wallflower of the group, has higher odds tonight. Sometimes Reno likes to snub the obvious beauties – sometimes he feels like variety – sometimes he does it just to make other men (Rod, mainly) wonder what he knows that they don't.
Tseng answers Kit's question, and when he glances up again Reno's leaning casually on the bar, that ridiculous hair a bright streak down his back over the seriously expensive-looking black shirt Tseng is suddenly sure he's seen before, on Rufus Shinra. Hardly a surprise, that, and neither is the jolt of jealousy. Tseng turns to say something to Rude, taking a slow sip from his glass. He swallows, the whiskey warm in his throat, and when he looks back at the bar he sees a narrow but masculine hand - square silver ring on the middle finger – moving over Reno's ass. Tseng's right hand convulses fractionally, his brain transmitting imagined sensations – soft denim, firm flesh beneath. He wonders what Reno will do. The owner of the hand could equally be in line for a fist in the face or a kiss, and usually it's impossible to figure out what makes the difference. Listening to Rude, Tseng focuses for a second on Reno's would-be suitor: slum, young – perhaps two or three years younger than Reno – pretty-boy looks that Reno sometimes goes for and sometimes doesn't. His hair is as long and dark as Tseng's own. There's something of Trig in his appearance and style - if one of Trig's parents had come from Wutai.
Rod stretches, relaxed, and downs his third beer. "Needed that!" he sighs, content. "Good as it gets, right Boss?"
Tseng nods. Rod's probably right. Anything more would be – inadvisable. Watching is what Tseng's good at – and besides, there's Rufus to consider. But this is becoming a bad habit – watching Reno – and Tseng doesn't allow himself to indulge bad habits. He rarely even smokes, despite knowing that Cure fixes the damage, on the whole. It's still risking dependency, and that Tseng won't do. Reno must not become an obsession. Must not.
Kit comments, "Reno's not wasting any time tonight," and when Tseng looks back towards the bar, he wishes he hadn't.
Reno keeps his eyes open while he kisses the stranger who has caught his attention so close to completely. There's something he can't resist in this kind of shameless want – no wasting time on subtle flirting, dancing, all that shit. Not that Reno minds a little flirting and dancing usually – but tonight – from the moment he turned, anger dying as he saw this boy's face... His hand moves to stroke over the stranger's hair, and the soft, heavy flow of it over his fingers is just like he always imagined it would be.
"What's your name?" Reno asks.
"Xin," his soon-to-be lover replies.
Reno smiles. "Close enough."
Xin doesn't ask what he means. "You're Reno," he says, offering a cigarette. Reno takes one and Xin lights it for him. "Seen you here before."
"Hitting on girls. Leaving with girls. But I wondered –"
"Problem?" Reno asks, impatient.
"Good. Let's get out of here."
Reno leaves the bar, Xin at his heels. He passes the table where the Turks sit, and doesn't look to see whether or not Tseng is watching. Why should Tseng be watching? Means nothing to him who Reno chooses to sleep with - who chooses to sleep with Reno. If he is watching, it'll only be for Rufus. Rufus, who says casual, but who was never brought up to share.
Anyway, Tseng won't be watching.
Rod will be. Rod thinks Reno can have whoever he wants – but what the fuck does that kid know? Reno was born in the slums, and he knows that some things you just can't have. It's not like there's a lot of light in Reno's apartment, and he reckons, with a couple more beers inside him, Xin will be good enough – or, at least, as good as Reno's ever going to get.
Tseng barely looks up as Reno leaves the bar without a second glance at their table. When he's gone, Tseng breaths out quietly; takes another sip of whiskey.
The beautiful girl at the far table looks across at them, catching Rod's eye. Rod looks away, disdainful, and the girl almost flinches, crestfallen. Tseng pities her for a moment: she has no way of knowing that Rod's rejection is based on the mistaken idea that she wasn't good enough for Reno. But, Tseng thinks, it's only a matter of time. He'll be sitting here again – tomorrow night or a week from now – and this time Reno will be leaving with that girl, or another one like her. Rod will be staring, wondering how the hell Reno does it, wishing, now, that he'd made a move when he had the chance. Rude and Kit will be talking, indifferent. Tseng?
Tseng will be a part of the conversation without really listening, focussed entirely, as he always seems to be these days, on not watching Reno.