So, what WERE Reeve and Rufus doing while Sector Seven fell? (continued from Doseki's "Nil Admirari", finished in her story "Ante Prandium")
He did not, in general, like Junon. It was a jumped-up military port with no grace or beauty to recommend it; if anything, it had all of Midgar's faults with none of its benefits, and Reeve never visited it without a deep and abiding desire to take the Mayor of it aside for a heart-to-heart involving the Mayor's testicles, a hydraulic vise, and a freshman textbook on civil management. But that was what you got when Heidegger was allowed to organize and manage a city.
Well. never up to now/, anyway. Now his mind was full of Midgar, his own Midgar, and the fact that he wasn't there - wasn't going to /be there - when a huge chunk of it got blown to hell. And he'd snapped at Rufus - never a wise thing on its own - and Rufus had fought it harder than he himself had, but there remained a twitching fear that it had been for the wrong reasons, that he was misinterpreting, that -
It was entirely possible Reeve had managed to redefine 'jet lag', crossing the ocean twice in as many days. It was certain that he'd managed to redefine 'caffeine addiction'. And there was nothing he could do/. He stepped out of the helicopter onto Junon's small helipad, hoisting his bag over his shoulder as he tried to remember where in Junon you could get a good espresso. Or whether the sun he was glaring at was rising or setting. /Setting, I think. Glare over water...
Which was all, in its entirety, a way to avoid thinking about Rufus, and whether he should call, or whether Rufus already knew, and whether the plate had dropped yet, and what the hell was in fact going /on/, and when, and where, and how many people would be likely to be shouting at him about it.
Rufus stared at his phone in disbelief, and then rubbed his forehead irritably. Rude, sitting across the table from him, gazed at him steadily.
"Reeve's in Junon," Rufus said, putting the phone on the table. "That was the pilot letting me know that he'd be staying in Junon for a few hours to refuel."
"Going to call him?" Rude ventured, picking up his glass of wine and sipping it. Rufus looked out over the water. Junon had some okay restaurants. This one was one of the nicer ones, and it had a terrace so you could dine outside. They'd both already finished dinner, though Rufus figured his wouldn't be sitting well that evening. Damn it, what is he doing here?
"Yeah, I guess I will," Rufus said shortly. The Turk got up from the table, taking his glass and Rufus', using the excuse to get refills to go inside and offer him some privacy. Rufus hit the speed dial on his phone, drumming his fingers against the glass tabletop.
Reeve had found a decent coffee shop, and was working his way through some when his phone vibrated. Caller ID told him that the question of whether or not he should call Rufus had been taken out of his hands; he wasn't honestly sure whether that was a relief or not. He hadn't actually announced his intention to drop in, nor was he at all sure of his welcome - which, this being /Junon/, could include a firing squad on demand.
On the other hand, not answering a call from the Vice President certainly would not offer much in the way of long term career prospects. He flipped open the phone and accepted the call. "I'm here."
Rufus watched as Rude peered through the door out to the terrace. He shook his head at him, and waved a hand. Rude nodded and went back inside, just as Reeve spoke. "I noticed," Rufus snapped back, picking up his fork and stabbing his napkin in a distracted motion. "/Why/ are you here?"
Ah. Advanced philosophy, and on ...what day was it, anyway?... and possibly too much espresso. "Because there's got to be something I can do," he said quietly. It was that or crack, and he wasn't going to do that in public. He got up to pay his tab, left a tip, and grabbed his bag. Whatever he could do - if there was anything at all - he probably couldn't do it on this little sleep. He needed to find a hotel. Or something. Goddamned vacations. "I intend to find out how much it would take to rebuild, but..."
"Where are you?" Rufus asked, looking at his shredded napkin. He put down the fork and began to pull strips of of napkin off with his fingers. "Far from the main avenue right now? Within walking distance?" He realized the napkin looked like confetti now and wouldn't shred any further. He started to stack the strips up on each other, listening to the silence on the other end. "Reeve?"
"Uh..." Reeve blinked. Great. Fog. Not good. Lack of sleep was going to nail his ass one of these years, he was sure of it. He looked around. "/On/ the main avenue, actually. Looking for a place to crash for the night. Or next few, depending on how long it takes -" /them to blow things to hell/, but he bit down before that got out. Verbal censors malfunctioning. Great. He really should crash. "Why?" It wasn't as if Rufus were sounding particularly attracted just now. Unless by attraction one also meant that state in which panthers were attracted to rabbits as a kind of appetizer. But hell...did it really matter?
Rufus was a bit startled at how Reeve sounded. He's exhausted. Oh. He would be. He was still snarly, though he tried to tone it down a bit. "It won't take long. You can stay where I'm staying, the other suite's empty, and it'll be quicker just to add it to my bill. I'll be there shortly. Junon Regal. Five, ten minutes tops. Meet you inside." As per his custom, he didn't wait for an answer when giving an order, he merely hung up. He threw a few hundred gil worth of tip on the table, slipped the phone into his pocket, and went back into the restaurant to meet Rude and pay the bill.
Junon Regal? Reeve blinked at the dead line. Rufus, I'm not the vice-president, how the hell would - oh, wait. He'd offered to pay. Reeve was aware that something wasn't adding up right, but the promise of a bed that wasn't going to chew further into what funds he had was welcome. Closing the phone and slipping it back into his pocket, Reeve looked around to get his bearings. He'd been to the Junon Regal, just never on his own dime. Company-sponsored trips only. Which...I guess...this is. He shouldered his bag and headed in the requested direction, considering to himself that vacations were clearly bad for him. Not as bad as an exit interview conducted by the Turks, of course, but pretty bad, definitely. He made sure the corporate logo pin was visible on his coat's lapels as he stepped into the Regal's lobby - he knew damn well that a set of transoceanic flights meant he looked more like a harried auditor than someone with clout enough to put the place out of business. Not that he /would/, or even wanted to, but it was the way of the world, after all...
Rufus and Rude both arrived into the lobby as soon as they could. Rude went over to Reeve while Rufus marched up to the desk, and made the arrangements to add the free top floor suite to his bill. "I don't know how many nights. Just do three for now, and if more are needed, I'll them on."
The receptionist looked a bit doubtful and tried to explain that it would be an extra fifteen-hundred gil fee for immediate booking, which Rufus waved aside. He slapped his credit card down on the counter. It took a moment to process. He glanced over at Rude and Reeve to see how they were getting on. Rude was silent, as usual, and Reeve looked honestly like he was about to drop. He turned back around to scrawl his signature on the dotted line, retrieved his card, and gestured to Reeve to follow him to the elevator. Rude took that as cue to give the Vice President privacy again, and remained in the lobby.
"So," Rufus said, looking at Reeve. "Turks told me you were sent off to Costa del Sol for a vacation."
"I was," Reeve replied tiredly, leaning back against the elevator wall as he set his bag down. "Then I found out you were on the same vacation, for the same reason..." There was logic and reason involved somewhere, he was sure. What came out of his mouth was, "I thought I owed you an apology in person."
"...really?" Rufus' eyebrows went up in disbelief. For the first time since being hauled out to Junon, his expression softened. "Apology accepted... but... why?" he queried. If it'd been anyone else, he would've taken the apology and that would've been that, but this was Reeve, and he wanted... needed it to be something more than mere fear of his position.
Reeve's voice dropped, and his expression - usually poker-straight - showed pain. "You fought it," he said, pained, and then picked his bag up and shouldered it again as the elevator doors opened. You fought it. I just...ran. He was going to have nightmares about this for...well, for however long he had nightmares about it, he deserved worse.
Rufus frowned. "Reeve..." he started to reach for him, and checked himself. Instead, he led them out of the elevator, and pulled the cardkey out of his pocket to Reeve's suite. "We do things differently," he murmured, opening the door for him. "You need to sleep," he added, louder. "Meet with me tomorrow?"
"I've had too much caffeine to sleep yet," Reeve admitted, but tossed his bag on the bed with gratitude. "But it'll probably wear off by the time I've set my laptop up and connected. I'll say this for Junon - its easier to have a working vacation here than a real one." The travel-coat came off next, slung across a chair. He gave Rufus an odd look. "...Meet with you?"
"You know. To hang out. Maybe do lunch or something. Talk... unless you've got things you'd rather do?" He gazed at Reeve steadily. "I know you've got plans to work, but I'm sure you can spare an hour... half an hour at least." Please. "I'll leave you to your work then. But do try to get some sleep. May be a working vacation, but it's still technically vacation, you don't need to put in sixteen hours."
"No....I do," said Reeve quietly, flatly, opening his bag and lifting out a laptop case and cords. "I can't stop him from blowing up an eighth of the city, but I will damn sure shove down his throat how much it will cost him. From here I can at least patch into the networks..." It took rather longer than usual for subtle hints to get through; he had the laptop plugged in and was booting it up before he turned and said, "...Half an hour?....And I didn't thank you for getting me the room, did I..."
Rufus gave Reeve a fleeting smile. "You're welcome," he said. "Half an hour then? Say twelve-thirty to one? We don't even need to go somewhere upscale, can just go out for coffee if you want." Again, there was that unspoken Please. He glanced at the laptop as though it were an alien object to him, and gave a little shake of his head. "Like I said earlier, I'll leave you to it."
There were, on this little sleep, no brakes. Reeve just spun, and caught Rufus in a quick, fierce hug. "Thank you," he said, and meant it. "If I lose track of time...just come get me. I won't mind."
Rufus looked bewildered but pleased at the hug. He threw his arms back around Reeve for good measure, embracing him. /God, he feels good/, Rufus thought to himself. "I will," he said, not wanting to let go. He'd wanted it so much, wanted more... maybe...
There was a loud knock on the door. Rufus slowly let go of Reeve and went to answer the door, figuring it could only be Rude or an MP. He got on his toes to peer through the peephole. Rude. "'s Rude," he said to Reeve, before opening the door.
"Yeah?" he asked. Rude's face unreadable behind the dark glasses, but his voice was hard.
"My apologies for the interruption, but I wanted to tell you that the helicopter has refueled and left for Midgar."
Rufus gave the Turk an odd look, which was followed by a tight, "Ohhh. Any other news?"
"Not yet," he said quietly. "Tseng's the one who called me to tell that." It's probably going to happen soon, so brace yourself. "I'm sorry to have interrupted, but your phone doesn't seem to be working."
Rufus pulled it out of his pocket and opened it. The screen was dark. "Yeah, I'll recharge it tonight. Later, Rude." Rude nodded, murmured a 'good night' and left.
Rufus shut the door and looked at Reeve. "Not yet," he echoed, suddenly feeling very drained and very tense at the same.
Reeve looked tense enough to vibrate. "Nothing I can do," he said tightly. "Nothing I can do. Nothing I can do." If he repeated it enough, maybe he'd even believe it.
"There's nothing anyone can do right now," Rufus said quietly. "What were you going to do before? Shove it down his throat about how much it'll cost? Do that. Don't let this stop you." He gave a little sigh and leaned heavily against the wall, banging his fist against it. "God damn it. I'm gonna go charge my phone, I guess."
Something felt...off, broken. Reeve turned back to his laptop, fingers on the keys. "I'll be here," he said quietly, sliding into the chair.
"I'll be right back," Rufus said shortly. It was several minutes before he came back, sans coat, and the sleeves pushed up on his shirt. "'s hot," he explained to Reeve, still busy on his laptop. He'd brought the cord for his phone with him, and plugged it in to a free socket, and then sat down on the edge of the king sized bed. He cleared his throat, trying to get Reeve's attention. Am I going to be a distraction?
Reeve clicked highlighting into place and looked up. "Hmm?" he asked, and then caught sight of Rufus' coatless state and blinked. ...Of course he must go casual sometimes... but his mind wasn't managing to come up with any examples. He hoped he could find the thread of thought again; it felt pretty thoroughly lost. Rufus went well past beautiful and into stunning with very little effort. Say, taking off a coat.
"I'll take that as a 'no'," Rufus said, running a hand through his hair. "You know... I don't understand how the old man thinks anymore, if you can call what he does thinking. He's been making bad choices for some time now. Stupid choices. There is no. Fucking. REASON," Rufus snarled. "If I were in his place, I'd find some way to catch and corner the terrorists - and I wouldn't kill them right off the bat, either. Find out what makes them tick, find out why they did what they did. Not that I can do this now, but... god damn him! I don't even know if it's him, wouldn't put it past those stupid asskissers of his..." He paused to take a breather and organize his thoughts, getting up to pace. "I... didn't... the Turks..."
That's what your father asked of me, of Cait/, thought Reeve, blinking, watching Rufus blearily. /But he's ordered this before Cait was ready...manipulating me? "...The Turks?"
"The Turks are /mine/," Rufus snapped, though not at Reeve. "They... they should know better. They shouldn't be going along with this... I know they're loyal but..." Rufus was having to work hard to eke words out, his utter rage with the situation, at what was about to happen. "If I were in charge, this wouldn't have happened," he managed to say, gritting his teeth. He let out a heavy breath. "I'm sorry, you're trying to work and I'm ranting."
"Rant away," said Reeve tiredly. "Someone should. I was going to...I just picked a bad target. The Turks...it's a job, isn't it?"
"I guess," Rufus said, leaning against the wall and slumping down. He pushed his bangs back and then rubbed his eyes. "I'm glad you're here... this way, at least I don't have to sit alone in my room and seethe." He looked over at Reeve and ventured a hint of a smile. He felt as tired as Reeve sounded and strangely heavy.
Logic and reason and even a very healthy sense of self-preservation had taken a hike somewhere in the hours of flight time and the overwhelming feeling of helplessness. He was tired, and Rufus was tired, and he didn't really care at this point if a little human comfort signed his death warrant later. He should probably have died in the headquarters, anyway. Being aware that it was mostly exhaustion and helpless grief talking didn't change his mind.
Reeve got up, and took off his tie, his shirt, his belt and shoes....decided that was probably enough for comfort and flopped onto the bed. "If you want to stay....I won't tell anyone."
Rufus gave Reeve a grateful look and pulled off his boots before getting up, hesitating for a second before pulling his turtleneck off. After all, Reeve was shirtless, and he would overheat if he slept in it. Shirtless Reeve. It wasn't a sight Rufus had seen before, not that he was complaining in the least. He tried to keep from staring too much, dropping his wadded up shirt on the floor and then going over to the bed. He stretched out next to Reeve. "Thanks," he said, laying his head on the pillow and stifling a yawn. "It's... thanks."
"Can listen better to rants once my sleep schedule's on the right continent and time zone," said Reeve sleepily, curling around the smaller man. "...Best I can offer right now." Rufus made a contented noise and felt his neck and shoulders relaxing. It was nice... not something to get used to the back of his mind told him. Well, he wouldn't. He could just enjoy it for now... he blinked a few times and tried to focus. Fuck it, he thought to himself, and drifted off.