Hi. Yes, this fic gets an update!
I did indeed change the name. Don't worry, this is the same story. I just got tired of Microsoft Word trying to tell me the words of the old title (L'Amour est une guerre) didn't exist. Plus, I thought the foreign title might've scared some people off. One reviewer said they thought it was a French language fic at first. So yeah. I haven't changed anything else.
This chapter originally, the way I planned it (silly me), had absolutely no Rufus/Tifa interaction. I changed it around a bit and added a fun little scene. Plus, I'm happy to announce that the Turks make their debut here. At a bar, of course. Anyone who has been reading my Yu-Gi-Oh fic as well as this will probably think I have a drinking problem now. LoL Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own FFVII, and I refuse to pay Reno and Rude's bar tab. Rufus will just have to take care of it.
Dedication: This chapter is for a friend of mine. The character of Rufus' aide, Garver, is based on him. This friend is usually bugging me to write Harry Potter fics, but he's been reading this one even though he's never played Final Fantasy VII. He got interested when I was explaining about the Shinra Electric Power Company…because he works for a power company himself! I convinced him to come over to the dark side and work for Rufus. The pay is better, after all! Here you go, pal! An update for you. Slack off at work and read it!
Love is Like a War
Chapter 7: Spinning the Blades
The sound of yet another empty glass being slammed onto the bar echoed through the nearly empty basement tavern in Upper Junon. The room was dark and dingy, illuminated with little more than the sickly glare from obsolete neon signs which hung at intervals along the tobacco stained walls. It could have been Noon or Midnight; no light from the outside world reached the low-ceilinged cave of a bar room. It brought to mind the murkiest of pitch black caverns at the bottom of the sea, where the truly strange and hideous creatures dwelt…
In fact, it was around 2:30 in the afternoon, and the three weary patrons seated at the bar were giving the rat faced bartender little chance to rest. All three were clad in similar blue suits, gracing the ensemble with varying degrees of scruffiness. The two men were rapidly consuming doubles of whiskey, while the lone woman of the group sat slightly off to the side with a Shirley Temple in her hand and a disapproving expression on her face.
"You really shouldn't be drinking like that. We're still technically on duty!" She admonished her companions, stabbing at the cherry in the bottom of her non-alcoholic drink with surprising violence.
The man sitting closest inclined his bald head toward her. He adjusted his dark sunglasses and loosened his tie. "Relax. Nothing more we can do until President Rufus arrives. Our message won't even reach Midgar for another few hours."
"But still! What if—"
The other man interrupted, his unruly red hair crowned by a halo of smoke curling up from the cigarette in his hand. "Just can it, Elena! We did our job. We're entitled to a little R and R."
He drained the remaining liquor from his glass and slammed it onto the bar beside the three others which had accumulated there. "Hey barkeep! Another round for me and my friend here. I'm neat with a twist of lemon, he's on the rocks."
The bartender grumpily poured the cheap whiskey, mumbling to himself about needing to re-order already. The woman gave an exasperated sigh, running a hand through her neat blonde hair.
"Our jobs will be the only thing on the rocks if you idiots are passed out somewhere when the boss arrives! This situation is serious!"
Reno groaned, mashing the butt of his cigarette into the ashtray. "God, woman, will you never loosen up? I dare you to name one time when we've ever been too gooned to do our job!" He leered at her, taking a swig from his fresh drink.
Elena's mouth opened and closed silently, her cheeks flushing red as she shifted her gaze between the two men. "Well, but—"
"Look," Reno slurred, "it isn't our fault that those bitch pills you take have an alcohol advisory on the label. We didn't ask you to come down here and baby-sit us."
Rude snorted in amusement, apparently viewing the ice cubes in his glass with keen interest.
Elena leaned in, her eyes angry and her voice desperate. "Aren't you two worried at all? What we saw in Corel City was not good! That Dio guy is power-mad! And the reactors! He must have ex-Shinra people working for him! Who else would know how to—"
Rude cut her off. "Would you be quiet?" He motioned to the barman, a mere 10 feet away tampering with the broken jukebox. "You always pick the worst times to run your mouth. Maybe it's better that you don't drink…" He lapsed back into his usual silence.
Elena put a hand over her mouth. She never had learned to control what flew out of her mouth when she got overexcited…or in front of whom.
Reno lit another cigarette, shifting slowly to face them. His thin lips twisted into a thoughtful frown. He kept his voice low. "I can think of one more group that had access to detailed reactor schematics. Can't you?"
Rude continued to stare at his glass, nodding slowly. Elena's honey brown eyes widened in understanding. "You don't mean—"
Smoke escaped lazily from Reno's mouth and nostrils. "Yeah. AVALANCHE."
Elena crossed her arms over her chest. "No way! I mean, yeah, they might have the information, but they were trying to destroy the reactors back then! They could never be the ones trying to bring mako energy back!"
The slim red haired Turk shrugged. "You never know. Maybe Strife thinks it'll bring back his dead girlfriend. Or what about Valentine? He's damaged goods sure enough. People change, Elena. Just because they were 'good guys' then doesn't mean they always will be."
Reno fixed her with a slightly glazed stare from his grayish eyes. The drunken idiot has a point, she thought. She watched as he poured himself off the barstool and slunk across the room, ducking silently into the men's toilets.
She shifted her attention to Rude, who seemed to be contemplating something. It was often difficult to tell. "Rude…do you really think AVALANCHE could be involved? I mean, we haven't seen any signs that they are…could Reno be right?"
The bald Turk frowned. It seemed far fetched, but still…they hadn't encountered any old Shinra people yet either. "I guess it's at least worth mentioning to the boss. Strife always was a bit loopy. And who knows about the rest of them…"
Elena's thoughts clamored against each other as she ate the cherry from her drink. When had the world gone so topsy-turvy? She'd thought things would get back to normal after the near apocalypse and everything else that had happened, but things only seemed to get stranger.
I guess you never know who you can trust, she thought, Not if you can reasonably suspect the same people who saved the world of doing something that might destroy it…
But those are just wild suspicions; she rationalized as Reno knocked one of the empty whiskey glasses to the floor. From a drunk person, at that…
She'd never felt so cynical as she did right then, looking at herself and her fellow Turks in the dirty bar mirror. They were good people, weren't they? She listened absently to the punch line of Reno's dirty joke. A bit amoral and ruthless, maybe, but certainly not evil…
And yet, back then they'd actively worked against the very group that eventually saved the world from destruction.
Even good people do bad things, she thought. And just think of all the people out there who really are bad…
"Mmm, you're so bad"
"You know you love it, you pervert."
Scarlet gave a big fake smile as she rolled off of her husband. The smile was just as artificial as the orgasm he thought she'd just had. Dio stretched and gave a long sigh born of pure male satisfaction. "How could I not become a pervert with such a naughty wife?"
Scarlet rolled her eyes discreetly, blonde hair spilling across her pillow in disarray. Her skin crawled as she felt Dio's arm draping across her abdomen possessively. "I guess you just got lucky."
She turned to look at him. His normally stern and craggy face was relaxed, muscled chest peeking out above the red satin sheet that covered them both. He really was an attractive man, if you liked that sort of thing. Personally, she thought he was too muscular, his hair too dark and long, his eyes not piercing enough…
"Ugh," she groaned, putting a hand over her eyes. She did not like where that train of thought was leading…
"Something bothering you, muffin?" He gave her what he thought was a reassuring squeeze.
"Err, no. I was, uh, just thinking about that Gongaga reactor."
Dio sighed. "You shouldn't think about work all the time. Besides, the project is going well. Just relax, sweetheart."
"I know," she said. Even though she had brought the subject up to hide what she'd really been thinking about, it made sense to continue the conversation. She did have concerns that she needed addressed…
"That's not what I'm worried about."
He reached over and pushed a lock of hair behind her ear. He knew better than to ignore his wife's concerns. She was his most trusted advisor. "What's on your mind?"
Scarlet propped her head up on one arm, facing him. "Cosmo Canyon," she answered. "We don't have enough mako yet for my new weapons, and I'm afraid they might get wise to our plans…you know the place is an old AVALANCHE stronghold. The people there won't stand by and watch us activate the Gongaga reactor."
"Hmm," Dio puzzled. She might be right; the place was always full of planet zealots…
"What do you suggest?"
Suggest? Scarlet said to herself. More like dictate. As if he'd dare to disagree…
"Perhaps a surprise attack? They are well fortified, but we could surely overpower them. Our men are well trained, and the Canyon has few weapons. Best to get them out of the way…"
Dio started to smile slowly. "Well, it would be a good test for the men…and if you're really that concerned about the reactor, how can I say no?"
You can't, you chump.
Scarlet smiled with satisfaction and snuggled down into her pillow. Everything was proceeding according to her brilliant designs…
Please let us land…please, please, PLEASE…
Tifa was sitting in the high-tech Shinra helicopter with extreme trepidation as it approached Junon. Pretty embarrassing, really; she'd flown around in all sorts of aircraft, been in hundreds of situations more dangerous…
…but Tifa Lockhart was petrified of helicopters.
It wasn't so much the sensation of flying around in one. That wasn't much different from a plane or an airship. It was the landing that always tested her resolve.
Please let me not die!
Rufus Shinra observed the woman seated across from him as she tightened her already white-knuckled grip on her armrest. So there was something that frightened her. Rufus never would've expected it to be this.
Didn't she used to zoom around in Highwind's airship with her little hero friends? The Highwind, he knew, flew much faster and higher than this helicopter. From what Rufus had heard, she'd even parachuted into Midgar once. Clearly, it wasn't a simple dislike of heights. It had to be the helicopter itself. Must be some irrational girlish phobia…
He noticed the paleness of her face. She really did look scared. Rufus fixed his eyes upon her trembling full bottom lip as the helicopter began descending toward the landing pad. She seemed to be breathing in short gasps. The wind whipped noisily around them, stirred by the helicopter blades. Rufus' gaze trailed along the smooth line of her neck down to her heaving chest, inadvertently catching a glimpse of the enticingly soft curves of her breasts where they came together inside her low-cut black shirt.
Rufus raised an eyebrow. The girl's heart was fairly pounding out of her chest. If he hadn't known that it was fear making her like this, he'd have sworn she was…excited.
Fear and arousal could be similar sensations sometimes, could they not?
The young president smoothed his overcoat as his aide Garver expertly touched the helicopter down. As soon as he heard the engine cut out, Rufus unlatched the door and hopped fluidly down to the tarmac a couple feet below. The blades of the chopper were still spinning. Looking back inside, Rufus saw that the girl hadn't moved yet. He really didn't understand the fuss, but he'd been jumping on and off of helicopters since age 10.
"Come along, Miss Lockhart." He motioned impatiently to her. Rufus was tired, and the wind was screwing up his hair.
Tifa let out a huge sigh of relief as the helicopter landed safely. She hardly noticed when Rufus jumped out of the craft, so glad was she to be back on the ground in one piece. As she massaged her hand – sore from gripping her armrest – rational thought returned to her.
Rufus had been looking at her strangely a few moments ago. It was quite absurd really, and pretty difficult to believe; but Tifa had been ogled enough times in her days as a bartender to know when a man was staring at her breasts.
Oh God, she worried, biting her lip. I hope he isn't expecting me to sleep with him in return for bringing mehere!
"Come along, Miss Lockhart."
She looked out the helicopter door and saw Rufus gesturing to her. What, he expected her to jump out while the blades were still spinning? She could lose her head!
"Look, I haven't got all night!" He reached a hand out to her. She snorted. Well isn't he the gentleman…
Tifa tripped slightly as she reached out for Rufus' offered hand. Next thing she knew, she'd fallen ungracefully out the helicopter door…
…and straight into Rufus' waiting arms.
He had grabbed her without a thought; one arm around her shoulders, the other supporting her with his hand splayed at the small of her back. Her arms had slid around his neck as she'd fallen into him. Now her face was pressed into his chest as he held her firmly. She could smell his expensive cologne; cool and fresh, with something a little spicy underneath.
He was…firmer than she would have expected. She could feel lean muscles pressed against the whole length of her body. She slowly lifted her head, and found Rufus looking down at her with an unreadable expression. His red-blonde hair fluttered gently around his face, and his eyes seemed a brighter blue than usual…
Almost as soon as the strange moment began, it was over. Rufus released her gently, but unceremoniously. He turned away from her before he could see her blushing bright red with embarrassment. He strode toward the aide that had been flying the helicopter.
"Garver, would you please find Miss Lockhart some sleeping quarters? It's getting rather late."
Tifa opened her mouth to say something, maybe ask what the plan was, but no words seemed to come out. Not that it mattered – Rufus had already walked halfway across the tarmac.
Tifa's mind and body reeled as she followed Garver through the access door to Shinra's Upper Junon compound. What a day she'd had…and if you'd told her it would end with her being held by Rufus Shinra, she'd probably have laughed and told you to go to hell.
Now she had something else to think about, too.
She was thinking that she never would have believed that ice-cold President Rufus would have such a warm, inviting body…
Voila! I know it seems a little weird for Tifa to be scared of helicopter landings, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up. I just had to contrive some way to get her into Rufus' arms! I hope this chapter was enjoyable. Leave me a review (this means you, Garver! LoL)