“Good morning,” Tseng says calmly. He's only half-dressed, lacking a shirt, and his hair is still wet from the shower; although it's already pulled back in its characteristic ponytail, a few strands cling damply to the back of his neck. It's distracting.
His first response is somewhat unintelligible, but when he clears his throat and tries again, Rufus manages to reply in kind. He's not all that certain about the 'good' part; he's not a morning person, and it's vaguely annoying that Tseng can be awake and alert – and working – at this time of morning.
Tseng nods in acknowledgement, then starts typing, silent except for the quiet tap of fingers on keys. Rufus, still not quite awake, is preoccupied with trying to figure out what it was that was bothering him about those first few moments, and finally the sound penetrates his consciousness. He hadn't heard anything when he awoke, no muted clicking of keys as Tseng worked, because Tseng hadn't been typing. He'd just been watching Rufus sleep.
And that is the source of Rufus' discomfort. Tseng was watching him while he was unaware, and he can't help but wonder what the other man had seen. It's not like Tseng hasn't seen plenty of him before; he knows what Rufus looks like naked and spread open, but that's still different. Rufus knew that he was looking, then.
“I have a conference call with Junon at eight, about some new security measures for the upcoming parade,” Tseng tells him a few minutes later, “so I'll be going in early today.”
Rufus frowns, trying to remember what his own schedule for the day holds. It would be easier if he'd had some coffee, but Tseng's cupboards only hold tea, and green tea at that. He won't get any coffee until he reaches the office. “I'll come with you. There are some things I should get sorted before the board meeting.” Things like coffee.
Tseng nods, and continues typing. Reluctantly, Rufus pushes the covers aside, and staggers off to find the shower. Maybe that will succeed in waking him up properly.
It's been several months since he first started having sex with Tseng, and somehow the occasional casual encounter has turned into Rufus sleeping over several nights a week. He even has keys for Tseng's apartment, given to him when Tseng had to leave unexpectedly in the early hours of the morning, and wanted Rufus to be able to lock up when he left. He hasn't asked for them back, and Rufus hasn't offered.
It's longer than most of Rufus' relationships last, and he should probably be bothered by that. Of course, most of his relationships have been with money-hungry young (and even a few not-so-young) women. It's better to cut those short before they start thinking that they have any claim on him beyond his picking up the tab for dinner and a hotel room. And satisfying, too, to watch the thwarted fury in the eyes of those who though they had him where they wanted him. Rufus wonders how many of them realise they're all thoroughly investigated by the Turks before he even thinks of asking them out.
Not that he's asked them to investigate anybody recently. He should, though, because he's pretty sure that if his father finds out who he is sleeping with now, there will be hell to pay. He wonders if he can find a compliant woman to take to official functions that won't require much actual attention from him.
Of course, it's usually Tseng he asks to check into such things. Rufus is torn between thinking that maybe that's a bit too much to ask of the man you're sleeping with, and that at least Tseng would pick someone who wouldn't cause either of them any trouble.
The truth is, their current arrangement has a lot of benefits for Rufus. He's busier now that he's back in Midgar, with less time to waste on social frivolities, and Tseng is far less demanding of his time than any air-headed socialite. In fact, Tseng is a workaholic, but Rufus doesn't care about that; he's been known to pull ridiculously long hours on his own projects when needed, and the company will be his, one day. He lives outside the Tower, so Rufus doesn't have to worry about his father discovering that sometimes he prefers to sleep with other men. And of course, Tseng is a Turk, so he has no concerns about his own security. From the occasional glimpse of a familiar face, Rufus suspects more than a few Turks share this particular apartment building.
And none of this even touches on the fact that Tseng is one of the most attractive people Rufus knows. It's not just his looks, although Rufus definitely appreciates those. It's the calm air with which he handles most situations, as if nothing can happen that he can't deal with in one way or another. It's the fact that he's never felt the need to fawn all over Rufus like so many do, because he's perfectly confident in his own abilities. It's the way a slight narrowing of his eyes can make Rufus abruptly aware of just how dangerous he really is, and that turns him on more than he's willing to admit.
Rufus, of course, has no intention of ever sharing any of this information. It's enough that Tseng is the only man he's ever bottomed for. Rufus has spent his whole life aiming to come out on top, and he'd never previously considered doing anything else in the bedroom. He's surprised to find that he enjoys it.
It does bother him that he doesn't know what benefits Tseng sees in their relationship, because he's sure the man is no more sentimental about it than he is. Other than the pleasure of fucking Rufus, of course. Rufus knows that sometimes he is... difficult to deal with, and he's honest enough to admit that some days, that's probably satisfying in more ways than one.
It's that moment of discomfort that makes him realise, sometime around mid-afternoon, that he's never actually seen Tseng asleep. He's usually still awake when Rufus drifts off; sometimes he even gets up and goes back to work. And he's always the first to wake up. Unlike Rufus, Tseng seems to have no trouble with mornings.
It's a small thing, but it leaves Rufus feeling vaguely dissatisfied. And because Rufus has never been one to put up with anything that doesn't satisfy him, he decides something has to change.
He's not stupid enough to think that he can order Tseng to sleep in, or to go to bed earlier, so the first thing Rufus does is set the alarm clock in his own apartment to an earlier time. It only works when he's sleeping at his apartment, but Tseng has a week-long business trip scheduled. The first time it goes off at 5.30 am, Rufus is convinced that he must have been insane to even contemplate this, and that no amount of coffee could possibly begin to compensate for that lost hour of sleep. But he's never been one to back down from anything, and by the end of the week, he's waking up a few minutes before the alarm, in a pre-emptive attempt to avoid being jarred out of a sound sleep by the horrible buzzing noise it makes.
Then Tseng's back from his latest assignment, and Rufus discovers that 5.30 am is still not early enough. He also discovers that one of the first things Tseng does in the morning is go for a run. Rufus is amazed that he's clearly slept through this before. It's true that some mornings he's come out to find Tseng sitting at the table, showered and dressed and drinking tea, but the idea that he could be that oblivious to what is going on around him leaves him both chagrined and a little disturbed.
He has his doubts, but the next time Tseng goes away, he sets the clock to 5 am instead.
The earlier time is slightly more successful. Rufus doesn't beat Tseng to wakefulness, but he does manage to catch him before he leaves for his run. This leads to the discovery that Tseng isn't quite the morning person Rufus initially thought. Before his run, Tseng is actually a little bleary-eyed and slower moving. Afterwards, he moves with the easy grace Rufus is more accustomed to, silent and watchful.
“Maybe I should go, too,” Rufus says one morning, watching Tseng dress himself in nondescript sweatpants and a tank top.
Tseng blinks at him. “I'm not sure that's wise,” he finally answers. “It's scarcely safe for you to be running around the streets of Midgar in the small hours of the morning.”
“It's five in the morning, Tseng, not three, and you've never objected when it's because I haven't been home from the nightclubs yet.” Not that he's done that recently. Rufus shrugs. “Besides, nobody's going to expect to find the ShinRa heir out running the back streets of the Plate at five in the morning, and I have my very own Turk to accompany me.”
It's only then that it occurs to Rufus that perhaps Tseng doesn't want his company on his morning run, and he opens his mouth to say something that will allow him to take it back before Tseng does.
“You'll need something to wear.”
Tseng loans him a tee shirt that stretches too tight across his shoulders, and sweatpants that are a little too snug about the waist. Feeling terribly under-dressed, Rufus' only comfort is knowing that this latter fact is because Tseng is ridiculously skinny, a long, lean column of whipcord muscle. His own form holds considerably more bulk, but at least it's not fat. Wielding his favourite shotgun takes considerable upper body strength; he started weight training when he was twelve to manage it. And he has a personal trainer for the rest.
Halfway through the run, Rufus decides it's time to fire his personal trainer.
He suspects that Tseng cut his usual route short. He knows that the other man slowed his pace. Both are annoying, but when they get back to the apartment, Rufus still breathing hard, Tseng says, “Running any real distance is different from other forms of aerobic exercise. It takes time to get used to it.”
Bent over in one of the cool-down stretches Tseng suggested, Rufus nearly snaps something in reply. He doesn't need him to make excuses. Then he realises, looked at from another direction, it might be an oblique invitation. He lifts his head, and stares hard at Tseng, but as usual, the Wutaian's calm face gives nothing away.
Rufus buys himself some running clothes, and starts joining Tseng on a regular basis. Before long, Tseng's no longer giving him any breaks regarding pace or distance, and he's enjoying it more than he thought he would. One morning, they're coming down the stairs of the apartment block when Reno wanders up them, looking more than a little worse for wear. He blinks at the pair of them in their sweats and running shoes. Rufus catches a muttered, “What the fuck?” as the redhead stumbles past, but Tseng ignores it, so he does the same.
The run is quite a successful method of waking up, and Rufus grows to like the extra time he now has in the morning. The next time Tseng goes out of town, he finds himself at loose ends, at least until he decides to give Reno a call. The Turk curses him roundly over the phone, but drags himself out of bed and to the Tower nonetheless. He glares at Rufus when he opens the apartment door and steps out, ready to run, but Reno keeps up well enough, and asks, at the end of it, “You doing this again tomorrow?”
“I was planning to, although I can ask one of the other Turks to accompany me,” Rufus admitted.
“Nah, Tseng'd have my head if something happened to you just 'cos I wanted a bit more sleep.” Neither of them mention that morning they met on the stairs. Rufus isn't sure whether or not his... thing with Tseng is common knowledge among the other Turks, but at least he trusts they won't make it common knowledge within the rest of the company.
Time passes, and things change. AVALANCHE becomes more active, and the Turks are kept quite busy. Rufus, having seen the Turks in action, is aware that there are several layers to what is going on: there is what they are ordered to do and what they are actually doing; what they're reporting, and what Tseng is ordering them to do, which in no way matches his father's orders. He has his own opinions on how to deal with the terrorist group, but he knows Tseng doesn't agree, even if he won't say so outright. Tseng will wait until he has the arguments he wants to make clear in his own head before sharing them with Rufus. But there's a slight lowering of his eyebrows that would, on a more expressive face, be a frown whenever Rufus raises the topic. And they've never really discussed his personal history with the group. It's possible he's a little biased because of it.
Although he would prefer to stamp them out entirely – he doesn't forget betrayals - Rufus can see the value in having an enemy to hold up to the public. Their time will come.
His father is dead. Rufus suddenly finds himself in the position of President, and even if it's what he's been working towards all these years, it still comes as somewhat of a shock. He's furious that he didn't get to kill the bastard himself, and it's hard not to let that spill over onto other things. There's a lot of scrambling within the company; he needs to deal firmly with some of his father's cronies, who think that they can walk over him just because he's young. He's never let anybody walk over him before, and he's not going to start now.
Tseng's not entirely happy with him, but there's no time to discuss why. Rufus suspects it comes back to AVALANCHE again, and that girl the Turks have watched for years. Another thing that Tseng won't talk to him about, and at first he's furious to realise that the orders he gives and the orders the Turks receive don't always match, but Tseng has always played a double game. He does it well, too, and Rufus admires that. For the most part, he trusts that Tseng is not actively working against his best interests, even if they disagree on what those best interests are. He's not his father.
Some days, he feels like those words are trapped in his throat, building up to a scream.
Rufus's own schedule is hectic; he's keeping long hours, and in the first week or two of his presidency, it's hard to find time to sleep, let alone for his morning runs. Finally he gets a chance, dragging Reno bitching and grumbling behind him, and the steady thap-thap-thap of his running shoes on wet concrete does a lot to settle his mind.
By the time he returns to the Tower, he's made a few decisions, not the least of which is that he has to talk to Tseng. The Turk Leader may prefer to keep his own counsel until he's sure of things, but Rufus has a company to run, and needs to assert his control over it as quickly and firmly as possible. Half-formed thoughts and conclusions are still more than he currently has in regards to some situations. Tseng has always been an astute observer of human nature. It's one of those things that makes him dangerous.
Two days later, Rufus has his opportunity. He has no late meetings, and the paperwork is going nowhere. Tseng is outside Midgar for most of the day, but he's due back that night. Rufus lets himself into Tseng's apartment, something he's only ever done a handful of times before, and settles in to wait. As the minute hand of the clock ticks steadily towards midnight, he decides he might as well do that waiting in bed, because he's still short on sleep and there's no telling what time Tseng will return.
It proves a wise decision, because the glowing numbers on the bedside alarm clock read 2:34 am when the sound of somebody else entering the apartment wake him. Rufus glares at the numbers resentfully, and wavers a little, wanting nothing more than to go back to sleep. But he came here to talk to Tseng – perhaps more, as it's been awhile and he's not in the habit of going without - and it seems foolish to forget that in favour of nothing more than a little sleep.
He rubs at his eyes, swallowing a yawn as he reaches the bedroom door. Tseng stands in the middle of the living room, staring blankly at nothing. Some noise that Rufus makes catches his attention, and suddenly, Rufus is staring down the barrel of Tseng's gun. It's several long seconds before he sees recognition and surprise creep into Tseng's expression.
Rufus swallows, all too aware how close he's just come to getting killed because his lover was too tired to notice his presence. His briefcase is dumped on one of the armchairs, long white coat draped across it, but Tseng honestly had no idea that Rufus was there until Rufus moved. Looking at him, Rufus can see the subtle signs of exhaustion: his suit is slightly rumpled and torn, suggesting he's come straight from whatever mission he was on. His hair is coming slightly loose from its customary tight ponytail and there are dark smudges under his eyes. Those eyes are still a little blank as he slowly lowers the gun.
“You should have a shower before coming to bed,” Rufus says, as if near-death experiences are nothing. They aren't, once you've had enough of them. Tseng nods, and Rufus turns to go back into the bedroom, flicking on one of the bedside lamps. Conversation can wait until his head Turk isn't so tired he can barely keep track of what's going on around him. Even the thought that Tseng could be that exhausted causes him no small amount of concern. There's still so much to be done, and things are far from safe.
He hears the sound of the shower running, and picks up his keys from where he left them on the nightstand. He fingers the trio that give him access to the apartment building, and this apartment in particular. For the first time, he considers giving them back. Things are different now; he has no need to hide anything from his father, or from anyone. If he brings a lover, be it Tseng or someone else, back to his apartment at the Tower, it's nobody's business but his.
Things are different now. He's Tseng's employer, his boss, and perhaps he's intruding by being here now. They've not spent any significant amount of time together since before his father's assassination. Maybe things have changed in more ways than he knows. But Tseng would say if that were so, wouldn't he?
In the end, Rufus drops the keys back to the lacquer surface with a sound of disgust. He lays back down and closes his eyes as the water shuts off, because Tseng won't fall asleep before he does. And he drops off quickly enough that he doesn't even feel the mattress dip beside him.
However tired Rufus is, habit is a hard thing to break. It's only a few hours later that he wakes again, and something feels off. He holds still for several long moments, listening to the even sound of breathing from the pillow beside his, before opening his eyes.
Tseng is still asleep.
Rufus props himself up, looking at him in the dim light coming through a gap in the curtains. Tseng's hair is loose, something Rufus has only rarely seen, and spread across the pillow behind him. His eyes are closed, lashes fanned against his cheeks, with no sign that they'll open any time soon. His mouth is loose and relaxed, lips slightly parted.
He is, Rufus thinks, beautiful. Not a term usually used in reference to another man, but it's true. Awake, Tseng is elegant and deadly, the sharp edge of a finely-crafted blade: although some might think its purpose nothing more than display, it carries within it the knowledge of violence. Asleep, he looks softer, more touchable, and for a moment, Rufus isn't sure which is the lie.
It's safer, though, to disbelieve this one.
Once he wanted to see Tseng like this, without masks. Looking back, it seems foolish, intrusive. Childish. Even now, there are times when he thinks perhaps he is still too much the child, taking things for granted; the spoiled ShinRa heir playing games without proper heed for the consequences.
Anticipating consequences is something Tseng excels at.
Resolutely, Rufus lies back against the pillow and closes his eyes. A few more hours sleep won't hurt either of them, and he'd prefer that Tseng never knew he was awake.
He might be President now but, picturing a dark-haired man in a suit watching him with calm, expectant eyes, Rufus knows he still has a long way to go.