Veld’s the first one to figure it out.
He likes to think that he knows Tseng pretty well, after taking him in and mentoring him for years. He assigned the boy to look over the Shinra heir for one of his first assignments, hoping that Rufus would be more amicable towards someone his age rather than his previous bodyguards whom he all scared off.
He remembers the first day Tseng came back from being his guard, looking like he had a massive headache, a few stray hairs slipping from his hair tie. It wasn’t until a year later that Veld has an inkling that the two have gotten close.
Tseng stepped into the office after dropping Rufus off at home, a slight bounce to his step as he reported on his day. Veld listened and tapped his fingers on the desk for a moment, in thought.
“Did something good happen, Tseng?”
He chuckles at the memory of the boy blushing and stammering that nothing out of the ordinary had happened. He heads to the elevator, heading back to the hospital wing after reporting to the President about their mission’s success.
It was one of Tseng’s first proper missions out in the field and the poor kid had been crushed by a falling pillar on their way out. He was unconscious by the time Veld hauled him out of the collapsing building and into the medical chopper.
The door to Tseng’s room slides open and Veld pauses mid step at the sight of a familiar mop of hair and white jacket sitting beside the bed. Rufus seems to not have noticed him, busy leaning over the bed and holding Tseng’s hand, looking at his injuries. A few scratches here and there, but his shoulder and chest were wrapped in bandages. It was silent in the room except for the heart monitor beeping beside them.
Veld quickly takes a step backwards and lets the door side shut in front of him. He pivots and heads to the elevator, going back down to his office where he takes a seat at his desk and pulls up the security footage of the medical wing. With a few quick clicks, he splices the footage so that Rufus isn’t seen sitting in the room by any wandering eyes.
Reno figures it out when him and Tseng are walking around Sector 2 on parole.
They separate to go in different directions for a bit, not like there’s anything really happening. It’s a quiet night. Which means it’s boring. Reno walks around casually with his hands behind his head, whistling to himself. He walks past the shopping strip, full of stalls and carts, vendors shouting out to attract customers.
Reno sees a familiar face at the end of the aisle, talking with one of the sellers. He quickly sidesteps into an alley before Tseng can spot him and peeks his head out to spy. It’s not like Mr. Stick-in-the-Mud to frolic while they’re on duty.
Reno squints and tries to see what the vendor holds up. Something shiny from the looks of it. Tseng hands over a wad of cash and the saleslady puts the trinket in a decorative pouch before giving it to Tseng and thanking him for his service.
Reno waits until Tseng’s completely out of sight before he casually walks over, eyeing the goods. Cuff links, huh? He racks his memory, but doesn’t remember Tseng wearing anything flashy like that. He asks the vendor about the pair she just sold and she shows him a collection of similar ones.
“10,000 gil?!” Reno shouts, slapping his own hands over his mouth lest Tseng somehow hears him.
Reno walks away from the shopping strip in a daze. 10,000 gil? That was more than three weeks of pay! Where did Tseng get all that money from? Wait till he tells Rude about this.
He doesn’t even realize he’s bumped into Tseng at the rendezvous point until Tseng calls out his name and tells him to be pay attention. Reno snorts and rolls his eyes, gaze going towards Tseng’s chest where he knows the gift is hiding in his inner pocket.
The next day, Reno’s escorting Rufus to some gala event when he sees it. Rufus smooths his hair back and Reno sees those expensive cuff links shimmering in the light.
“Oh.” They’re gay.
The first rule of Wall Market is to mind your own business. Tseng and Rufus are always safe within the confines of the Trio’s establishments.
Each time the couple stops by the Honey Bee Inn, Andrea makes sure no one’s around and lets them in through the back door and into their most private room, away from prying eyes. Andrea never asks them if they need anything and the two never ask for anything. The two leave as quietly in the early morning as they came in that night. There’s always a hefty tip lying on the night stand. Some nights, Andrea just feels bad for them as he spies them slipping out, hands separating as they put on their facades.
Sam sits on one side of the small table, Rufus on the other with Tseng standing close behind him. It’s always a risky night of gambling when the Shinra heir visits the Corneo Cup. It’s just him tonight, the other two of the trio don’t come unless the match is really exciting. Sam puts a card down and Rufus raises the stakes by another 50,000 gil. Up here in the VIP section of the tournament hall, thick curtains hide their presence away from any voyeurs. As Sam shuffles the deck and deals out the new cards, the heir turns his head to the side, his bodyguard diligently leaning down to listen, their conversation hidden behind the cards Rufus holds up his hands. Rufus comes out the winner again for the night, as he does every time.
Madam M just laughs behind her fan each time she has to let Tseng in through the secret entrance of her establishment. She holds the door open as Tseng inches in, Rufus slung over his shoulder as they head into the couples massage room. Tseng lays Rufus down on one of the tables and she watches as he meticulously removes his jacket and vest and hangs them up with a sigh. After making sure Rufus is okay in his drunken sleep, she urges Tseng to lie on the other table. She pulls a stool up and sits beside him, giving him a slow massage as they gossip in another language, quiet chuckles filling the dim room with each complaint. It’s always a fun night when Tseng visits the massage parlor.
Zack figures it out after he starts dating Aerith. Well, more like she spells it out for him.
He’s building her third flower cart while she’s tends to the flowers. She gathers a few and makes a bundle of them, tying them together with a ribbon she brought along with her and places it in one corner of the cart before going back to the flower bed, cutting enough to fill the space. Then, they leave to start selling around to customers.
An hour later, they’ve already sold all their flowers. Except the small bouquet in the corner. They start walking back to the church and Zack can’t help but ask about it.
“Uh, what about this one?”
Aerith laughs and brings a finger up to her lips. He whines and asks her again about them, but she won’t budge. They get back to the church and a familiar suit is standing there, waiting.
Zack watches as Aerith grabs the bouquet and walks over, handing it to him.
“W-Wait!” Zack runs up to them, looking between them before settling on Aerith. “You’re not dating him too, right?” He pouts.
They both give him a chuckle and Aerith shakes her head. “No silly, I’m already dating you!” She pats his head and thanks him again for the flower carts before sending him off with Tseng.
Zack walks next to Tseng and eyes him suspiciously, eyes darting from the flowers in his arms, to his face, then back down again. Agh- he can’t take it anymore! He hops in front of Tseng with his hands clapped, head bowed a bit so he can look up at him with puppy eyes.
“We’re friends, right? Tell me if she’s interested in anyone else!” He pleads, bottom lip jutting out.
Tseng leans back, a hand on his hip and just gives him a fond smile before shaking his head and walking past him, ponytail swishing behind him.
Zack continues pouting all the way back to Lazard’s office, reporting about his day quickly before dragging his feet to the elevator. He wants to know who the flowers are for!
The elevator pings open and Zack’s met with the sight of Rufus Shinra holding Aerith’s bouquet, Tseng standing slightly behind him. It clicks.
“OH!! You two are da-mmph!” Tseng reaches forward clamp a hand over his mouth before he can shout his findings to the whole building.
“Zack, remember?” Tseng pulls his hand back and brings a finger up to his lips, shushing him.
Zack just gives him two thumbs up and a big grin, “secret’s safe with me!”
Rufus lets out a big laugh as Tseng reaches around him to press a button on the elevator. Zack watches the doors close and it takes him a moment to remember that he was supposed to get in the elevator too.
Rude has no choice but to “figure it out.” Reno won’t shut up about it. He feels like the paparazzi with how often Reno updates him on things he’s noticed about the couple.
There’s no time for him to see it for himself though between Veld being stripped of his position and Rufus being found as the information leak. He starts to question the validity of their relationship with the house arrest and Veld’s life on the line.
It’s not until Rufus recruits Reno and him and saves Tseng’s life from execution that he starts thinking about them again. There’s no time to dawdle on the thought though as the alarm goes off because of an attack on a reactor.
A few days later, Rude is begrudgingly dragging his feet back to the office late at night. He meant to go home after his parole, but he forgot his key back at the office. With a sigh, he opens the door and freezes.
He tip toes in towards the table, slowly moving his keys into his pocket so they don’t make any noise. He peers over to the couch where Tseng and Rufus are sleeping, lying on their sides facing each other. Rufus’ head is pillowed on Tseng’s shoulder, their arms and legs intertwined together. It’s evident that they hadn’t meant to fall asleep in such an exposed place, both of their jackets still tightly buttoned up.
Rude’s about to silently leave when he spots the blanket folded neatly on the ground. Why did he have to be such a good person? He carefully steps over and unwraps the blanket, slowly draping it over his two bosses. Tseng shifts and Rude holds his breath, pausing. The Chief just pulls Rufus closer to him, nose nestled into his hair.
Oh shit. They’re cute.
Rude lets the blanket fall onto their shoulders before tiptoeing back out of the room, letting out a sigh he didn’t know he was holding. Just wait until Reno hears about this.
Reeve finds out the day they go to the Temple of the Ancients. He’s running down to meet Cait Sith, huffing as he gets off the air ship. He pauses and swallows guiltily once he sees Tseng’s bloody body. It’s much different seeing it in real life than through a screen.
The medics come rushing past him to lift Tseng onto a stretcher, urgently tending to the large slash wound running across his torso. It takes Reeve a moment to notice that one of the white clad people standing around the stretcher isn’t a medic, but his boss. Everyone’s so busy tending to Tseng that they don’t see the rare emotion showing on Rufus’ face. It reminds Reeve of when Rufus was still a boy rather than the cold man he’s become.
Rufus goes down to kneel by Tseng’s head, anguish and worry showing on his face. He watches as Tseng’s body lurches for a moment, a bloody hand coming up to grip at Rufus’ sleeve, giving him a squeeze. Even in this dire moment, Tseng is worried more about Rufus than himself. Reeve sees Rufus mouth Tseng’s name before a nurse pulls Tseng’s hand back to his side.
The medics lift up the stretcher and take him back inside the ship for more extensive healing. Reeve watches as Rufus slowly stands back up. He gazes into the distance, nearly invisible in the snow except for the blood seeping into his jacket.
Elena is the very last one to figure it out. It takes a splash to her face for her to realize.
She didn’t think it was strange for Rufus and Tseng to share the same earring. Maybe they liked the asymmetrical look and decided to split the price of them together. Made sense to her.
It wasn’t weird for Tseng to wrap an arm around Rufus while they prepared tea in the kitchen either. It was admirable for the Chief to do that so Rufus could stand up for longer amounts of time instead of sitting by the kitchen table.
It made sense for Tseng and Rufus to share a room at Healen too. He was the best and longest standing Turk after all. Who else could Rufus trust to protect him at night if not the Director?
Reno kept teasing her about the Tseng and Rufus, but a quick punch to the gut always shut him up quickly.
A few weeks later, she slowly blinks and wakes up to see the glowing trees of the Forbidden City looming above her. She winces at the ache in her side and vaguely remembers being rescued by a man clad in red. She struggles to turn her head to see Tseng and the red man’s back facing her as they talk in low voices. Tseng’s quietly asking about Rufus and something about borrowing a phone, but she can’t hear it clearly before she blacks out again.
She watches in awe as Tseng scales the side of the building to get the Boss down from the nets, Rufus wrapping his arms around Tseng’s neck as they step into the building.
“Elena, start the chopper.” She yells back her affirmation and runs up to the roof, Tseng behind her as he carries Rufus up the stairs and straps him into the back of the helicopter. He takes over the controls and they quickly find Reno and Rude after watching them flop onto the highway beneath them.
They’re all standing around Rufus, back in his wheelchair on the ground as the rain starts falling. They see a green sparkle on his hand and watch in amazement as the black is lifted from it, evaporating into the air. Reno starts hooting and grabs Rude tightly in celebration. Elena feels tears welling in her eyes and covers her mouth in shock as more black starts evaporating off Rufus, his clothes soaking in the rain.
Tseng takes a step forward to lean down and pull the blanket off from Rufus’ head, cupping his face gently. The rain hits the bandages on his eye and the familiar green of the lifestream carries away the last of his geostigma. A splash of rain lands on her lash and it’s then that she finally realizes.
As Tseng leans down and Rufus’ eye flutters shut, she turns away out of respect and is pulled into a one arm hug by Reno.
Aerith prides herself as being the actual first one to figure out Tseng is dating his boss.
After knowing Tseng for a couple of years as her watcher (babysitter), she can tell when something’s a little off with him. He comes walking in her house one day and she immediately perks up.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He deadpans.
She’ll give it to him, Tseng’s pretty good. But she’s better.
“Let me help!” She rushes upstairs before he can voice his chagrin, coming back down and shoving a basket into his hands, grabbing his arm and dragging him outside into the garden.
He just sighs and goes along with it, squatting down beside her as she starts cutting stems and placing them in his basket. She tries asking him what the fight was about, but Tseng just stays silent.
After she’s satisfied with the selection of flowers, they head back inside and she arranges them nicely before pulling a purple ribbon out from a drawer and tying them together in a neat bow.
“Everyone loves getting flowers, Tseng.” She hands the bouquet over.
“I still don’t know what you’re talking about.” Tseng blatantly lies.
She sighs and rolls her eyes so hard that Tseng tells her that she’s going to get stuck like that if she doesn’t stop. She pushes him out of her house and tells him to update her on what happens the next time he visits.
It’s a month later when the familiar knock comes to her house. She opens the door and immediately asks him how the flowers went.
“I loved it.”
Rufus Shinra pops up from behind Tseng’s back, all bright smiles, and introduces himself to her, complimenting her florist skills. They chat for a bit before Tseng clears his throat and is about to go on his usual spiel about her coming back to the Shinra building.
Before he can say a single word, he’s met with both of his charges rolling their eyes at him.
Tseng spends the entire visit sitting in the shade, nursing a lemonade to accompany his headache while watching Rufus and Aerith loudly frolic in the garden.