[OOC: Started up a new log because the other thread disappeared off my f-list]The need for air was getting overwhelming.Rufus staggered away from Scarlet's very drunken attempts to get one arm around his shoulders and another down his pants, banged his leg painfully against the table, split punch down his jacket, and figured that a strategic retreat was called for. Perhaps he would even return to his room for reinforcements. No one, however drunk, messed with one large panther, black, fully equiped with enough jaw strength to crush bone. And tentacles. Two tentacles.Abandoning the now empty glass, he staggered towards the doors of the ballroom, wondering why the world seemed to insist on listing slightly to the right. Surely it wasn't because the room had been built on a slope. He'd have been... notified if it was. He'd have to take the Head of Building Administration to task very seriously about allowed sinkage to this extent. No wait.He paused just outside the doors, shaking his head violently as his senses caught up rather belatedly with him. How many glasses of punch had he drunk? It had been one. Then another when he'd talked to Reeve's secretary. And another when Heidegger had started telling his... jokes. And... oh gods.He groaned as he dimly recalled several more in between that one and the one he had split. Well, maybe he simply wouldn't be back. After all, it wasn't as if anyone would miss him----the world listed again, and sharply, and he stumbled, lost his balance and staggered into the wall. Except that there was a Turk in the way.[Tags: doublegunshot]
With navigational skill born of years of babysitting the Don's drunken parties, Rafe wove his way through the clusters of corporate suits, around groups of pipe-smoking foreigners, and finally, past the completely sloshed waiter in the corner to arrive, thankfully intact, at the exit. Just as he was congratulating himself on making a spotless retreat, Rafe turns once more to find himself neck-to-face with the Shinra Vice President. A 15-year-old, very inebriated, Shinra Vice President.Cue the warning bells."Sir?" Rafe quickly steps back, reaching out automatically (another skill he'd learned at the Don's, if by skill one meant useless piece of shit reflex that usually ends in chauffeur duty) to catch the young blond. "Do you need some help?" He casts about the room, praying for someone, preferably sober - wasn't that redheaded Turk on bodyguard assignment tonight? - to intervene.
White black white--uhblackAh shit.Rufus realises that firstly, there's a suit somewhere in front of him, and secondly that there's an arm around him to stop him from hitting the wall, and thirdly that it's Undignified with a capital U."Let go of me," he growls, trying to shove -- who is it, anyway? -- whoever it is away, and not succeeding very well.Room.Bed.Water.Maybe not in that order. Damnit world, stop trying to go in circles already--"I'm going to kill whoever spiked the punch." He squints unsteadily at whoever it is. Turk. Tie. Not Reno, then. Black hair. Tseng? No, get a grip, Rufus...
Well, so much for gratitude when it came to drunks. Though he suspected he'd have a hard time prying gratitude from the dead fingers of the sober either. With immense effort, Rafe resists the temptation to just let the kid go like he had been ordered and high-tail it out of there at top speeds.Except...that probably wouldn't go over very well with the management here. Specifically, Veld. Who was probably watching him right now."You might want to sit down, sir. There's a chair over th - " Rafe trails off as his eyes search the room for a suitable relocation. Finds none. Next to the exec table? No. By the orchestra stage? No. Back to the bar? God, no. Rafe sighs inwardly. Chauffeur duty it was tonight then."Maybe we should go to your suite instead."...Which brought up a very good question. Where did the Vice President stay anyway?
Suite? What suite? Fucking jail cell you mean. He gulps at air, grateful that it brings along with it some coherence in mental thought. He isn't tracking well. Losing chunks of conversation. Someone must have put beer in the punch, because alcohol normally doesn't hit so fast, unless it has beer mixed in, because that facilitates-- oh wait, what the hell does that have to do with anything? "I'm fine." He brushes off the Turk, swaying only slightly. Party snacks do not make for dinner, he recalls belatedly, along with the thing about alcohol on an empty stomach. And beer.Turk. Wait. It isn't Tseng, despite the crazy hair -- no wait, because of the crazy hair. The recent memory of one uncleared MP wandering around the secured floors floats hazily to mind, along with the memory of several assassination attempts involving imposters and fake clearances..."Who are you and who cleared you to be here?" he demands, automatically reaching for his shotgun.
Oh, this was wonderful. Now he had not only a 15-year-old Shinra Vice President, not even a slightly inebriated 15-year-old Shinra Vice President, but a completely and utterly sloshed, trigger happy, nose-in-the-air Shinra Vice Presidential brat to contend with....Along with a panther. Where did kids find these things these days?"Rafe, sir," he clips testily. "With the Turks. New recruit by Veld." He starts to reach for his ID, thinks better of it after a glance at the other's wandering hand, and instead just taps the plastic nametag (how utterly yuppie upper-class) on his suit.
Damn Veld. Recruiting all these new Turks and not even assigning him one when people were shooting at him. How the hell is he supposed to believe him, anyway?Apart from the fact that he hasn't put a dagger through his ribs yet. Or wait. He can't do that in plain view, which is why he's trying to get me out of the way...Pure habit makes him snap the shotgun out of its holster, letting it dangle by his side. He--oh damnit--gags, abruptly, stomach heaving as the world takes another spin, and claps his free hand over his mouth. Embarrassment with a capital E. Fortunately, the wave of nausea passes without any actual spewage, but now the Turk is giving him a pitying look, and if it's one thing Rufus can't stand, it's being looked down upon..."Damnit," he slurs, "Get that bloody look off your face."[OOC: Goodness knows what look Rafe has on his face at the moment, but whatever it is, Rufus' Issues are acting up. Especially the 'everyone is looking down on me' Issue. ^^]
Rafe watches the blond's clumsy actions unfold with much varied amusement, though he fixes his face carefully in that state of non-judgmental blandness he always uses when the Don suggested something particularly stupid (like running off to Wutai to kidnap a wife. Hah, what an idea that was). "Look, sir? I'm just worried about your health." And that of the expensive Oriental rug, he adds silently. "Let me get you to a restroom where you can sit down." Without waiting for an answer, he heaves the 15-year-old up and half-props him unceremoniously across his shoulders.
WHAT THEAlright, this guy was definitely an intruder out to murder him, even if this was one helluva stupid way to go about it, considering all the STARES they were garnering...Rufus vaguely recalls the Turks having trained him on how to break an enemy's grip, but coordination seems to have failed him. He knees his captor, but the man doesn't even grunt. And in his present position, he can't bring the shotgun around to an angle where he can fire without mutilating himself. And his shoulder holstered pistols? Useless unless he's planning on shooting himself in the hand.The urge to scream for help comes streaking down mental pathways to collide heavily with overburdened and presently overtaxed dignity. Screaming for help launches a pre-emptive attack on Dignity, but it suddenly, belatedly occurs to him that this might be a real Turk after all, in which case the sheer embarrassment would kill him...That thought lets Dignity get a headlock on Screaming for Help, and succeeds in wrestling it to the floor."Let me down this instant, Turk!" he hisses, beating ineffectively against the man's back. By the Ancients. Elevation + nausea? Not good idea. "Or I'm going to puke all the way down the back of your suit. I don't need a bloody restroom!"
It was an epic struggle, really. One Rafe had gone through many times, though it was his first on the upper plates. And in front of such an elite audience. He could just imagine the conversation back in the slums now.So, Rafe, how was your first mission for those bigwigs up over at Shinra?Well...I escorted an intoxicated executive board member to the nearby facilities...Oh, so ya were playin' taxi driver for that blond kid, eh? Daaammmn, that's gotta be your side job or somethin'Or perhaps, later on, the note on his permanent record.Rafe - Excellent marksman, skilled stealth fighter, disciplined professional. However, cannot steer drunken passengers back home worth a damn.Ignoring the stares and chuckles, he ducks his head, mutters something along the lines of alcohol and punch not agreeing with the young Vice President, and makes a quick dash out the door.Once outside, a good hallway's length away from the festivities, he finally lets the struggling, hissing fiend of a Vice President down. And looks quickly for the nearest elevator/escape shaft/hole in the ground to crawl through.
Bouncing up and down on -- what's his name? -- someone's shoulder is the last straw that breaks the camel's back. His stomach spasms horribly, and Rufus finds himself on his knees throwing up on the carpet. And once started, this isn't an activity that's particularly keen on stopping. Fortunately, the lack of food means that most of it is still liquid and thus easy to expel......"Stop standing there like a goon," he hisses in-between retches. "Get me a bin! Or something!"
Rafe blinks. From Turk to janitor in 5 minutes flat. This must be some kind of record in the establishment. No time to worry about that though.Turning, he grabs for the nearest receptacle available - this time, some kind of glass plant vase - dumps its contents onto the nearby table, and pitches it in front of the now utterly sick, utterly bedraggled, yet still somehow utterly snarly 15-year-old VP. "...I'll ring up a maid to get rid of this mess." Rafe hurriedly excuses himself toward the kitchen area.
He was never, never, never EVER going to drink so much again. EVER.And he was also going to kill Reno.Once he could stop retching.At least, he reflects sardonically, the Turk -- okay, the man is probably genuine -- hadn't taken the opportunity to kill him. Oh please, he thinks fervently at any deities who might actually still be listening, Don't let him be one of the political ones. The capacity for blackmail and scandal is endless.He flops bonelessly against the wall of the corridor, fighting the urge to fall asleep there and then. The best solution, possibly, would be to get up and leave and pretend that this never happened. And blackmail the Turk into never revealing it. Which he will do. The moment he can get his legs to respond again. Right.Will do.Just get to your feet, and walk off. No sweat----he leans back against the wall, and his consciousness gets swallowed for a long moment.
Rafe trots through the crowded kitchen, scanning left and right for available personnel that looked both a) competent, and b) sober, until he finally manages to collar a harried maid who looked less than pleased with having been tagged with clean-up duty. Women these days. He gives her a steely gaze, finds the combination of slum rep and Turk badge can do wonders for people's cooperation, and points the way back down the hall.Clean-up goes without much incident.After the maid had left, Rafe turns his attentions with some irritation and not a little disgust back to the situation at hand. Rufus Shinra. Drunk. Dishevelled. Passed out in the middle of a lavish dinner with tons of politicos and journalists crawling the place.Decisions, decisions.1) Leave him here for the good Samaritan conniving blackmailer and claim innocence. Except half the room had already seen them together.2) Find a lackey to take him back. Except those who weren't already occupied in the dining room had already gone home, and Rafe'd still get pinned for any trouble that might occur.3) Drag him to the suites himself. Except Rafe hadn't a clue where the boy was staying and wasn't about to go rifling through the VP's pockets for keys.Which only left...Actually trying to wake up a drunken 15-year-old and extracting viable directions from him through the maze of Shinra corporate headquarters....This was going to be a long night.
Rufus unwittingly saves Rafe a little bit of trouble as he claws awake on the edge of some nightmare: "Not the chocobos!"The shriek bounces off the walls of the corridor as he furiously blinks blurry eyes, realising that he has latched onto the lapels of a Turk jacket. And comes face to face with that Turk from before.He hastily releasees said jacket lapels and attempts -- if it's even possible -- to pick up the shreds of his dignity. "That was well done," he says, indicating the vase and the clean up job that must have occured. "I don't suppose you're actually an assassin."The moment he says the words, he realises how utterly stupid that sounds, and the embarrassment of the entire evening comes crashing down on his head to manifest in a slight blush. He looks hastily away and engages in an attempt to get to his feet. At least, he reflects sardonically, he didn't actually throw up on himself. Or anyone. Or in public view... he hopes.
Rafe winces visibly at the echoed shriek, forces back a reflex to catch the other's arms and twist them in a lock hold after getting dragged unceremoniously to his knees. Breaking the wrists of the Vice President of Shinra, inc was not his idea of a satisfactory end to this already bording on catastrophic evening."No, sir," Rafe responds tightly. "As I said before, I'm one of the new Turks recruited by Veld to deal with AVALANCHE." He reaches for the ID in his pocket, hoping to dispel any further forays into this assassin business (not to mention quell the trigger happy kid). What was the VP doing with a shotgun anyway? A double-barrelled one, even, in the middle of a company party? Weren't there enough security risks as is without mixing firearms and alcohol and a drunken 15-year-old? Rafe sighs inwardly and pushes the questions out of his mind. Orders were orders, no matter how inane. The brass's eccentricities were none of his business. Reaching out, he grabs hold of Rufus's arm and pulls the other up into a semi-balanced position against the wall.
"People lie. ID cards can be forged. Badges can be forged. Bloody assassins get everywhere," Rufus babbles, unhappiness seeping into his voice as he retrieves his gun and reholsters it. He blinks, studying the corridor, his face a mask of intense concentration. Carpet. Long corridor. Table. He thinks he knows this place, but at the moment it keeps slipping away from his mind. You, a mental voice hisses at him, Are so drunk."I'm not drunk," he retorts at it, unaware that he has spoken out loud. "I'm just lost." He turns to the Turk. "Where are we?"
Rafe chuckles inwardly at the obviously false statement. Of course. Just a spontaneous case of stomach flu. Nothing to do with booze at all.However, his mirth dies quickly at the second question. Location. Directions. Place. "Ah..." Where were they indeed? That was a good question. In his hurry to get out of the party and clean up the mess and find an excuse to make a speedy exit, Rafe had managed to steer them down several twists and turns he now had very little recollection of taking. Not that it was a reflection on his recall ability - oh no, he had excellent memory when it came to navigating the maze of alleyways in the slums. But even alleyways had their identifying markings, unlike the cookie cutter corridors around here.And besides. He had been banking on the Vice President at least knowing his way around his own company."Somewhere near the north entrance, I believe," he conjectures.
The old man seems to change the internal decor of this place every time I go away, Rufus thinks sourly, glancing sidelong at the Turk. New recruit. Probably not even from the upper plate. Of course he would be totally lost in this rats' nest.Shaking off the Turk -- Rave, was it? Or Raze? -- he turns and considers the corridor. There doesn't appear to be any choice other than The Way They Came From and The Way They Didn't Come From, and the last thing he wants to do is to do is to go back The Way They Came. "You should return," he says, setting off down the corridor. Sooner or later he'll run into a landmark he recognises. Hopefully it'll be the elevator. "Thank you for the assistance. I'll see myself home."
Rafe watches with some unease at the Vice President's unsteady steps down the corridor hall. Not that the steps alone were his sole reason for concern. He'd seen enough drunks stagger their merry way way home without too much injury. No, it was the fact that the hallway ended in the press room (he'd been stationed there earlier to ward off the sharks) that had him worried."Perhaps I can call you a cab..." He hints, trying to think of a diplomatic way to steer the VP away from what was most likely certain disaster.
Rufus pauses, glancing wearily back. "Aren't we at Shinra HQ? I thought we started the evening there, at least. I have a room on the 40th floor." He sighs, reaching up to flick a stray lock of hair away in what will become a habitual gesture (even if he doesn't know it yet).The ground lurches abruptly, and he has a split second to wonder about earthquakes before he finds the carpet up against his nose. Argh.Cue trying to pick himself up. Cue the weight of the shotgun abruptly dragging him down on one side. Cue falling over again. He groans under his breath, finally unholsters the shotgun and uses it as a prop to push himself to his feet. And stands there, swaying, torn between asking for help or attempting to navigate his own way back and running into the risk of making an even greater fool of himself.Pride vs pride. How utterly... stupid."Perhaps you could give me a little assistance here," he murmurs at last.
"Of course, sir." Rafe strides forward the few steps to wrap a strong arm around the Vice President and prop him up with ease. The boy was actually quite light for his age, in contrast to his father, who looked well on the way to a heart attack. Must be all that shotgun practice, he thought wryly, as his gaze trails over the heavy weapon. Quite magnificent make and finish. Looked to be imported from Gongaga, none of the usual cheap factory trash he encountered in the slums.Only the best for the President's son, of course.Turning a corner, Rafe scans the area for a suitable exit. If there was one thing you could say about Shinra HQ, it was that they had no shortage of elevators. He makes a beeline for the nearest one."The 40th floor?" Rafe shifts his weight back up against the glass to better support the boy, hoping no onlookers below had an eye on their movements. The position was suggestive enough without further invention.
[OOC: Rufus is so skinny because he spends all his timing running from bullets XD]Long seconds of his consciousness are starting to drift away again. He thinks of something, and then there's a gap, and the next he knows they're in an elevator."40," he mumbled in reply to a query that he's not quite sure he actually heard.Wonderful image you're creating for yourself, the inner voice continues to say, sounding positively irritated.He blinks, thinking vaguely about keycards. "Do you have access to those floors?" Glass elevators, he thinks crazily. People who live in glass elevators should not cast stones..."Was there a commotion?" he asks again, without waiting for a reply. "Did anyone notice I was gone?"
"By elevator, yes. But the residential suites will require your keycard to unlock. As for commotion..." Rafe recalls the chuckles and stares from the party's guests. He also recalls the copious amounts of alcohol being gulped down like water by said guests. It was obvious which would win out by morning. "...There wasn't too much of a fuss. Most of the guests were on their way out anyway." A soft ding announces the elevator's arrival at the 40th floor. Slinging the boy's arm over his shoulder (by now, he wasn't so much supporting the VP as practically carrying him), Rafe trots down the corridor toward the presidential suites at the far end of the hallway. At least, it looked to be the presidential suites. No other place in the building had three separate ID checks just to get past the first door.
Black suit jacket against his chin. Black hair brushing against his cheekbone.It has to be...No. It can't be.Tseng?But hadn't that Wutai bastard managed to disappoint him every time? Getting himself reassigned -- of course, babysitting the Vice President was a job no one wanted -- and the way he hung onto Veld's every word and took his side and even if Rufus had tried his damnest to be nice to the man, he'd only ever gotten cold professionism and even colder professionism back. Would it kill the man to show a little warmth for once? They had, after all, known each other since Rufus had been a kid......he remembered something vaguely about giving up, about resolving to give up, but then here was ...Tseng...? carrying him back to his room, so perhaps something had changed, something----sudden desperation welled up in him as the doors to the suite swished shut behind them, and he worked his arm free in a single action, spinning and pinning Tseng against the nearest wall, fully intending to exploit this opportunity before--He stopped short as reality caught up with him and cashed its checks. All of them. At the same time.Compromisingly close proximity with a Turk, and not the Turk he'd thought it was. And yet he was frozen, rigid with shock and mind frantically querying locked muscle as to what the hell it was supposed to do now.
Rafe finds himself suddenly and quite unexpectedly pinned up against the wall by a boy that, five seconds ago, had been all but passed out over his shoulder. Of all the surprises to round off the evening. Hadn't the kid gotten over his assassin bit yet? Or was he still -Realization of the awkward position he was in slowly dawned upon him. A leg sliding up the side of his thigh. An arm wrapped around the back of his neck. Parted lips bare inches away from his face. He could've sworn he'd seen this exact scene in one of the Don's porno movies once."...Sir? Something the matter?" In the form of a horny teenager's runaway imagination, he nearly adds.
"I--"I am such a fool.Rufus pushes himself violently away, hard enough to make himself stagger back and collide against the opposite wall of the entrance hall. Resisting the urge to groan and slide to the floor, he blurts out a hasty apology, trying not to meet the Turk's eyes. It's not so easy to deal with the sudden surge of alcohol induced upset, that fate is just so unkind and he's never going to live this down, and he doesn't even know this Turk well enough to judge whether he's the type who will go and spill the beans to Veld (like Tseng), or spill the beans full stop (like Reno). "I'm sorry," he repeats, rather inanely. "That was unforgivable. It won't happen again." Clutching the wall for support, he continues mentally railing at himself for being 9 kinds of fool and then some. Giving seriously drunk and doing stupid things is just about number one on the list of Stupid Things Not To Do, and he suspects that he's broken most of the rules on that list already.He waves hastily, almost desperately. "Thank you for the assistance. I'll ... I'll talk to Veld about a commendation, or something. I suppose it goes without saying that all of this is strictly off record and confidential. Even as regards Department personnel and Veld himself." He pauses, and when the Turk doesn't quite respond, plunges on: "I apologise for ruining your evening. Don't let me detain you."
"Not a problem, sir." Rafe watches levelly as the boy simultaneously tries to apologize and bribe him at the same time. Internal politics again. How he hated these backhanded deals over mere trivialties and imagined threats to ego. It was the same kind of shit that had driven him to abandon Wall Market, a secure position at the side of the Don, for a gamble on the upper plates. "Your gratitude is appreciated, but unnecessary." He pauses, considering his words. Replies with a sincerity that surprises even himself. "I joined the Turks to escape petty politics, not instigate them."
Why is he still here? Why isn't he running the hell away? Rufus thinks, blinking in slight confusion. Most people can't wait to get away from the Vice President. He suppresses a bitter smile at the Turk's next words, restraining the urge to tell him that if he wanted to escape the politics, he came to the wrong place. Maybe he was right and he'd actually be able to escape them, though, being a rookie Turk more likely to get killed in the line of duty than to get promoted to any position where the politics would eat him alive. But he looked to be fairly experienced -- one of those they must have drawn from somewhere, then. The urge to talk bubbles up in him -- whether stemming from some sense of loneliness or, he tells himself, because it's good to get to know certain people, especially Turks. Rufus finds a chair and staggers over to it. At the same time, it's quite evident that this isn't a good time to hold any sort of intelligent conversation. He has the nasty, nasty feeling that he just said something stupid, but he can't quite pin it down.Compromise solution, then?"To escape politics?" he asks, instead. "Who was your last employer?"
"I worked for Don Corneo in the sector 6 slums. Mostly enforcement and bodyguard duties, though there was the occasional freelance hire on the side." Rafe wonders how much of his real work made it onto his file. Probably a lot, or the Turks wouldn't have come after him. Even though relations between Corneo and Shinra had been strained in the last few years (not the least because of that nasty incident involving the marketing head and a certain bottle of wine - after that mess was smoothed over, the Don kept his hunting strictly below plates), there still remained a steady flow of information between the mafia don and his connections within the corporation. "But I grew tired of the Wall Market rat race, so when an offer from Shinra came up..." Rafe shrugs. "At least it takes care of job security." There was a lot more to the story than that, but he doubted even Veld knew the full details.
Rufus blinks.Don Corneo? The self-same Don?Something that has been vaguely hoping that the Turk would misinterpret his movements earlier screams and withers and dies. Tragically.He musters a tired smile as he glances over. "Shinra's a huge rat race, itself. Although I dare say that we dress it up a little-- a lot more-- expensively than Wall Market would."Alcohol makes him talk. It's a bad habit, but at least he's still in possession of enough of his senses that he's not likely to talk about anything he isn't supposed to."Not that I've ever been to Wall Market, myself. What's it like? Is it as dangerous as they make it out to be?"
The Turk chuckles wryly. "That depends wholly on two things - how much money you have, and which people you know. One usually follows from the other." He shrugs. There were exceptions to the rule, of course, but generally they came under cover of darkness and left quickly afterward, always with a slightly guilty air about them. No one said the only thing that passed between upper and lower plates was gil."It's not that bad a place once you get used to it, so long as you carry cash and don't cross the Don. He keeps the gangs in check." And the chickies lined up at his door. Rafe neglects to inform the VP of that little aspect of every marriagable (and some not) girl's life in Wall Market, though he's sure by now Corneo's adventures have become infamous. "Anyway, Mr. Vice President, perhaps you should retire to your rooms now. I'll be glad to answer any more of your questions once I'm off duty."
Is he not in his rooms--?Oh.Wait.Antechamber. Right right right.He gets to his feet -- remarkably steady now that the world has (momentarily or otherwise) stopped spinning, giving the Turk what he hopes is a nod and not a drunken bob of the head. "I trust I can find my way from here. Don't let me detain you." A Turk from Wall Market, he speculates, as he focuses on walking on a straight line and trying not to miss the card reader as he swipes his ID through it. Fascinating. Doubtless an interesting fount of information, and given that that is one place the old man frequents that he doesn't, Rufus thinks that it would be in his best interests to find out more. Perhaps a trip in person...?Tseng would throw a fit, but Tseng, as always, is never around. Perhaps......Zack.Hm.Possibilities unfold as he finally gets the card through the reader and steps through. There are weapons vendors there. He knows some people who would rather appreciate additional supplies.In the meantime--The bed suddenly seems way too far away. Kicking off a shoe, he vaguely recalls shedding his jacket before he falls faceflat on the couch and passes out.[Tags: Sephiroth or Tseng or anyone who has access and would like to drop by.]
It was bad enough, Sephiroth reflected as he swept through the hallways like the world's most imposing, trench-coat wearing avalanche, that he had to put up with the ridiculousness of Shinra and Shinra corporation's policies when it came to making decisions that were, inescapably, military decisions that ought to be made by military personnel. Things like how many troops to send where, (none, to Fort Condor, the ornithologist cultists weren't actively harming anyone and meanwhile there were innocent people dying in the jaws of unhunted dragons up in the mountains), and why it wasn't a good idea to requisition armored tanks to handle guerillas in the middle of a Wutai swamp. Bad enough, if one wanted to get technical, that Shinra brought him these problems at all. As though they expected that he was going to be able to solve them after they'd already gone in and mangled the situation beyond repair as only they could. How could he, when he was a product of Shinra himself; Shinra training, Shinra genetic experimentation….the entire Shinra mentality, perhaps, brought on from overexposure. He had never lived anywhere except Midgar. Or so he thought. He could never remember anywhere except Midgar and that wasn't truly the same thing.He was a soldier. Not a politician and not a bureaucrat, no more than the product of training and clinical thinking and that cold eyed logic that came so naturally, possibly nothing more than the inhuman killing machine the rumors coming out of Wutai had painted him as. Zack always vehemently denied such things. Zack got into the few true arguments they had over similar statements. Zack was doing this to him on purpose.The blue eyed, blond SOLDIER under Zack's command trotting in his wake had an expression close to sheer terror; the carefully restrained temper still had irritation rolling off Sephiroth in waves. He was not happy about this turn of events involving the Vice President. He was not happy about his second in command acting out of turn and involving both himself and Sephiroth. He was especially not happy that there was not a damn thing he could about it now.There were days when he wondered if he might press his luck and see if President Shinra really would overlook murder on his behalf. They would never find Zack's body. Midgar had plenty of shallow ditches. The Turks had certainly proved it.Speaking of the Turks, it's a very irritated looking Tseng that he nearly runs into turning the corner; an irritated Tseng and a very, very smug auburn haired SOLDIER. Smirking. With Tseng's hands on the wall on either side of his head. Oh how very compromising, the entire scene suggested, and Sephiroth did not believe for a minute that it had not been staged. No wonder Zack had been confident that no one would see to the Vice President before Sephiroth could get there. Irvine made for a very convincing diversion.Behind him, Zell let out a squawk of surprise. "What the hell, Kinneas?!"Exactly. Kinneas. Green eyes narrowed.Tseng's expression had slid into horror and then full blown rage, glancing back at the SOLDIER he was …doing whatever it was he was doing with. Berating, likely, although that wasn't how it looked. The impulsiveness of youth. Irvine wasn't looking very chastised, which was probably the point.There were, it seemed, no depths to which Zack's devious mind would not sink when he was making an effort.
"Xian," the General acknowledged coolly, while the Turk stepped sharply away from the wall and his erstwhile captive pinned against it. Irvine straightened but made no effort to put himself together otherwise, just tossed off a salute with his shirt mussed and the top few buttons undone. "Dammit, Irvine," Zell hissed. "You are in so much trouble…""Private." "Yes sir!" The blond snapped to attention so quickly he quivered. "We are wasting time here." Tseng's suspicious and furious gaze bored into Sephiroth's, misplaced anger but there was nothing to be done for it now. He could make no promises on this thing that an overly altruistic idiot had set into motion. "So we are, sir," Irvine drawled. To his credit, he neither paled nor flinched when both Turk and SOLDIER immediately glared at him. Another moment of tension and Sephiroth simply strode off, Irvine and Zell at his heels and Tseng staring daggers at his back. He was past caring at this point. He might have been required to play, but he was not required to play diplomatically. A few minutes later saw their collective arrival at the VP's rooms. Sephiroth left his unwanted escorts outside with a wordless icy look and keyed the access code, irritated at being forced into a role he was completely unsuited for. This should have been Tseng's job. This was Tseng's job. But now it was Zack's job, because Zack had opened his idiot mouth, and now it was Sephiroth's job because Zack had taken it into his head to play politics at the most inconvenient point possible.The door slid open.
"Later, Dark Nation," Rufus mumbled, caught in that zone where he wasn't quite asleep and certainly not awake, and probably closer to the former than the latter. Something shifted at those words, soft fur brushing the edges of his fingertips where his arm hung over the edge of the bed. Huh? Not Dark Nation pawing at the door asking to be let out, then. Belated, he thought that it might have been the sound of the door opening, which meant that----he flung himself over the edge of the bed, except that it wasn't the bed and his reflexes were wallowing somewhere in cotton candy land, all fluffy and happily sticky. He hit the side table instead, sending something crashing to the ground, and Dark Nation took off with a yowl. He pulled a pistol from its concealed jacket, noting fuzzily that his shotgun was not by its usual stand beside his bed -- wait, this was the living room, not his bed room, what the hell -- and tried to keep his head down behind the very inadequate protection that the couch offered. It took him three tries to get the safety off, and with the world dancing the way it was, he knew that he wasn't going to be able to aim worth a damn.Weren't there supposed to be guards? Wouldn't he have heard a commotion if someone had tried to force his way through all the layers of security to break into his room?If you're caught sleeping, sir, it's better to pretend that you aren't awake. It makes our job easier, sir. Tseng's voice nagged him, belatedly, and he groaned mentally. Dark Nation was growling, somewhere out there, and he hissed at her to return to his side. Oh crap. Party. Post party. He was still drunk, and there was no way he was up to this. Where were the Turks?!
Upon entrance into the outer room, Sephiroth had certainly not been expected to hear several crashes along with an abrupt assault by---a cat.A very big cat with very sharp teeth. And tentacles.He eyed the cat. The cat eyed him, and growled. Sephiroth was tempted to do the same right back.“I’m not going to argue with you,” he said aloud instead.The cat made a peculiar yowling sound. A few moments later her fur rippled and smoothed down, and she sat back on her sleek haunches, regarding him with her unblinking feline gaze and periodically sniffing the air.There was some strange thing about Sephiroth’s presence around animals, they’d discovered, that either pacified or drove them wild. The scientists had given some vague explanation about the sheer amount of mako in Sephiroth’s body causing strange reactions in living things that could sense it. Zack expounded a crazy theory that predators recognized predators, either as threat or no-threat, which didn’t at all explain why every chocobo Sephiroth had ever encountered had felt the need to snatch at his hair with their beaks.That’s just because of the shiny, Zack had said, tugging on a handful. I know that explains yourfascination, Darklighter, but I was talking about the birds.Har har, sir.Sephiroth folded his arms. “May I go in, now?”The cat lifted a paw and began to wash, ignoring him completely. He took that as a positive sign and strode forward.….what was not a positive sign was the pistol wavering above the edge of an overturned couch. Instinct whispered and he turned his head. A neat hole appeared in the wall just beyond his right ear, sizzling and its edge faintly blackened. Good aim for an inebriated child, he observed. Or else it was a fluke.“My apologies for disturbing you, Rufus,” he said mildly to the impromptu couch fortress, pretending that this wasn’t completely ridiculous and All Zack’s Fault. “However, I would appreciate it if you did not try to shoot me again. It would seem to be very hard on your decor.”
They say that certain scares can cause the alcohol to completely evaporate from your system.Rufus, frozen in shock behind the sofa, vaguely hoped this was true. Because that voice was utterly unmistakable, and utterly unwelcomed at this time. The esteemed General. The only one Rufus really considered a threat in the Company. The one person he needed on his side more than the entire Board combined.And here he was, clutching a pistol, having shot at the guy, and drunk out of his mind. He groaned softly, despite himself."General," he replied. Because no one, not even the most skilled of actors, could imitate that smooth tone, or that sheer presence that made even his hair stand. He hoped Dark Nation was okay. The yowl hadn't been promising. He snapped the safety of the pistol back on, gratified to note that it was rather easier than his attempts to get the safety off. Maybe he was sobering up. But ... good grief. What did a man have to do get some sleep around here?Hastily combing his hair flat, he stood, clutching the edge of the couch. He truly did not trust his balance at this juncture. A pity his jacket was lost somewhere. He hoped that the General was one who would not place an overemphasis on appearances."I am deeply sorry. I wasn't expecting visitors." And my security phobia is getting worse by the day, I swear."To what do I owe the honor of this visit?" he asked, scanning the area for his tentacled panther. If the great General Sephiroth had hurt her, he didn't trust himself not to launch a suicidal attack on the man.
The great General Sephiroth had indeed not hurt her, but he did wish she would stop batting at the edge of his coat. He waved off Rufus's apology. "It was an honest reaction." Refreshing, actually. He hadn't been shot at by children since Wutai. And as for the dubious honor of this visit, there were a few answers, but only one of them was the truth, and did not involve inquiries about the boy's health. "Blackmail, actually. Your new security detail.."--self appointed, no doubt--"..went to a great deal of trouble to arrange it." Cold green eyes swept the young man before him, assessing, and Sephiroth dropped a lure to see whether Rufus knew just what it was that Zack had been up to. "I am not sure myself what prompted such intervention on your behalf."
Ah. Dark Nation. Safe and sound and professing an interest in the General's hair. It probably reminded her of a ball of yarn. A very shiny, unravelled ball of yarn.Rufus wasn't up to cryptic hints and suchlike. And even if the General was hinting that SOLDIER might be aware of certain plots stirring in the upper echelons of the Company, specifically, the ones targetted at the Vice President, well... Rufus hadn't stayed alive as long as he had by telling everyone everything he knew. Tucking the pistol into belt, he waved the General over to one of the chairs still standing after the debacle. "Please, take a seat." The mannerisms were automatic. "Can I get you something to drink?"Still clutching the edge of the couch, he meandered over to the wall and flicked on the lights as he did so, staring unhappily at the hole in the wall. Hopefully, they'd be able to get that fixed."Captain Darklighter?" he asked. Rufus turned eyes that he were sure were bloodshot and black-rimmed on Sephiroth. "A chance meeting in the hallways. I requested assistance in the form of possible escorts from SOLDIER ranks from him. Although I didn't expect him to volunteer, himself."It was all rather unplanned, actually. The Captain was rather more enthusiastic than I'd expected." He smiled, deprecatingly. "It was all signed, sealed, and approved in record time, even for this Company."
"No, thank you, I won't be disturbing you much longer." The boy very obviously needed sleep and Sephiroth had no intention of keeping him from it for more than this obligatory first contact required. Not that Rufus would probably remember half of what was being said in the morning with his hangover.Zack volunteered. Of course Zack volunteered. Before training had beaten it out of him, Zack had been the type to have his hand up in the air before the person requesting assistance could even say what they needed volunteers for."Typical," Sephiroth muttered. "Enthusiasm is one of his more .." he bit back the phrase 'colossally idiotic' "..endearing traits. No doubt he offered to do the neccessary paperwork himself?"
"That he did," Rufus said, willing himself not to fall flat on his face or zone out. His brain had a distressing tendency to do that when sentence length exceeded 10 words. Water. He had to remember to get water. A lot of it. "He also had a certain innovative way of filling out the paperwork. And I believe he used the back of a takeout menu."Good grief. He was babbling."Either way, I hope he filed it properly in the end. Or..." sharp glance at Sephiroth here, "Is there a particular reason you're here?" That took you long enough, his brain shouted at him. The General himself turns up on your doorstep, claiming blackmail, and you end up gossiping about his second in command? What do you think he's here for? To talk about Chocobos?He could feel the beginnings of a headache blossoming in his left temple. Early hangover, yay.He dug his fingers into the back of the couch to prevent himself from swaying visibly. "To be perfectly honest, I've been having a problem" -- he hoped his tone had kept quite level there, rather than giving way to the sarcasm he knew was lurking behind it -- "with my security detail. The last ones got killed, unfortunately, and the Turks are presently too busy to spare their number on extended business trips. I apologize. I should have approached you directly instead of going through the Captain."Except you would likely have thrown me out of your office as soon as listened to me, wouldn't you? Or asked me to ask Heidegger, which largely amounts to the same thing. The great General doesn't play politics, they say, doesn't get involved, especially when the lives in question are as insignificant as one dispensible heir still in his minority.