'Tseng knew that he was useless...' In which Tseng blames himself too much and the world too little. Rufus/Tseng.
No matter what Rufus had told him, no matter what his own calm, logical mind had told him, Tseng had always blamed himself for Rufus's injuries and Geostigma. It was his fault that he was unable to protect the President when Weapon attacked, never mind that he was in coma during that time. It was his fault that Geostigma had infected Rufus, never mind that it was Lifestream that had spread the Jenova cells all over Midgar and it was purely by coincidence that Rufus was caught in it. Never mind that, if the President had not landed on top of the rubble and had been drenched in rain, he would have died because of his injuries anyway,
Never mind that, because it was Tseng's job to protect his President, and he had failed miserably.
He had watched Rufus clench his fists and bite his lip until they bleed as the pain of Geostigma and his injuries both shot through him, burning like fire even if black liquid oozed out of his skin. Tseng had kissed Rufus then, and tasted the coppery taste of blood and salty tears that almost overwhelmed the taste of coffee and grapes that was uniquely Rufus. Blood and tears... Blood and tears that he didn't manage to prevent.
The Ancient had once said that nobody had ever seen Rufus Shinra bleed or cry.
Somehow, Tseng knew that he was alive for a purpose, because somebody needed him. He scoffed at himself, for he was useless, useless at protecting his President, useless at encouraging his Turks. He could not do anything for the people he cared for most. All he could do was to hold his President when the pains, the tremors, came, but he could not stop the fear and disgust that welled up when he felt the black pus soak through his shirt. He couldn't stop the slight flinch at the smell.
He couldn't get the look of betrayal and hurt that Rufus had sent him out of his mind.
Tseng knew that it was hopeless, that Geostigma was incurable and many people, too many, had died from the disease. But he could not help the small frisson of hope whenever Rufus managed to stand up on his own, only to have it crushed when the blond stumble. When he rushed to catch him, he was thanked with a glare and a harsh word even when Rufus grimaced in pain.
Not even Rufus Shinra was impervious to pain.
Christmas came and went, and Reno and Rude celebrated with a crate of booze while a reluctant Elena was dragged off with them. Rufus celebrated by walking his first step after the incident with Weapon, only to fall on his knees while Tseng watched helpless, bound to the door by an order while his heart broke as Rufus cried out. He disobeyed when Rufus started to scream, beating his fists futilely in frustration even as Tseng carried him to bed.
His suit was drenched with tears that night.
Tseng knew that he was useless, for he was unable to protect his President, no matter how hard he tried. However, he knew that he was still needed by those he cared about most. For Reno depended on him to reprimand him for drinking too much, a sense of normalcy that was rare in this broken world. For Rude depended on him for orders, senseless though they might be sometimes. For Elena depended on him to be her idol, stoic and steady and never unwavering, someone for her to worship to take away the edge from her grief. For Rufus depended on him to be his rock, always there no matter what harsh words and glares that was exchanged.
For Rufus had whispered, "Don't leave me" in his sleep.