AN: A Christmas fic for all those who always support me, hoping that it makes you smile a little.
Warnings: Violence, emotions
Summary: Rufus no longer cares for Christmas, and has given up on those in the slums. Tseng sets out to change his mind
24th of December. The sun had set, but the lights of Midgar still shone. Rufus ShinRa, seventeen years old and heir to the most important business empire in the world, stood at the window, gazing out at his world. He knew that he was wanted in his father's office later, to discuss the latest land acquisition in Wutai. The rest of the world might have wanted to take tomorrow off, but for those at the top life never stopped.
As he gazed, his eyes focussed on where the lights dropped away, the slums. The scum of Gaia, seeking shelter from the cold in the shade of his own company. It made him feel almost sick. He and his father had worked hard for their place, had earned everything they had. These beggars had never worked in their lives. Sometimes he felt sorry for them, but he wished he didn't. He wanted his heart to be as cold as the air that whistled through the buildings underneath the plate.
There was a knock on the door and he turned towards it.
"Come in. Turn the light on." He said simply, curious as to who would be visiting so late at night. His curiosity was answered as Reeve walked in, his long blue coat billowing behind him.
"Rufus. I was worried you'd have already gone home."
"I am home Reeve." He corrected him. Reeve had the courtesy to look a little ashamed at his comment.
"Of course you are." He answered. "Well, the thing is, I've misbudgeted, and I wondered whether you would consider-"
"How much Reeve?" Rufus asked, fed up of his stalling for time.
"1000 Gil. It means I can keep the soup kitchen open throughout winter. It's been so cold..."
"That you spent the money on radiators?"
"That I spent it on blankets and coats for those in need. The annual slums budget is half what is spent on SOLDIER in a week."
"SOLDIER are working." Rufus answered.
Reeve sat down on the desk, and Rufus stood before him.
"What happened to you Rufus? You used to care."
"You know my money is focussed on...my Father's company." Rufus answered, knowing the other would understand he was referring to AVALANCHE. "I have nothing to spare."
"Then from the company. Just a little more. It'll save a lot of lives... Rufus. Please. It's Christmas."
"Don't talk to me about Christmas."
"You used to love Christmas." Reeve answered.
"Used to being the key word." Rufus crossed his arms.
"You'd be so excited. You would run into your mother's bedroom, and bounce on the bed and demand presents." There was a fondness in Reeve's voice that Rufus wished he couldn't here, but he moved to sit down, closing his eyes.
Rufus remembered those Christmases, of course he did. His mother had been there, radiant in a long pale blue dress, her blonde hair down at her shoulders instead of up for a formal occasion. He'd run in to her, and she'd sweep him into her arms, and he'd be hit by a strong scent of roses. She'd spin him around in the air, and they'd laugh together, and then she'd fetch his presents from the wardrobe. He'd take them from her, each one in turn, and tear them open.
There would be books, and a microscope, and a globe. Toy bikes, toy swords, everything that a child his age would want, along with a small PHS, custom made, so that he could practice being a business man like his father. Those Christmases had been the best days of his life, and he'd had fun. Nothing was spared to give the young boy everything he could possibly want.
He'd been eight when it had changed. He was sat at the foot of his mother's bed, running the toy bike across the sheets and making it do tricks. A robot kitten, a gift from Reeve, had been cuddled up beside him. His mother had looked down at him, pulled him close and kissed his forehead, before tickling him. He'd giggled and flailed, and she'd been laughing too. And then the door had opened.
A single shot had been fired, and his mother fell back against the bed. She probably hadn't even known what happened, Rufus told himself, but that thought couldn't comfort the him in his memory, as he watched the red stain her immaculate hair and spread out over the bed. Someone in a dark blue suit had approached, and he was lifted before he had even had a chance to cry, finding himself facing a Turk.
"You're coming with us Rufus."
After that day, he didn't like Christmas any more. He missed his mother too much. The Turks raised him according to his father's wishes, and he had learnt strength. He forgot childish desires for presents, and didn't want anything special to happen on Christmas. To tell the truth, he just wanted to forget the entire day.
Reeve's voice called him back from his memories.
"Your mother would have wanted to help them."
"It doesn't matter what my mother would have wanted Tuesti. My mother is dead. I have to go and see my father."
Reeve opened his mouth to continue pleading for his cause, but Rufus walked out past him, heading up to his Father's office.
President ShinRa nodded to see him, standing in front of the fire, his imposing form casting a shadow over the room. He held a glass of brandy out towards Rufus. Rufus walked over, and took the glass from him. He turned beside his father, gazing across the room to watch the city below.
In a pool of lamplight in front of the building, he could make out two figures. By the uniform, it was two of the First Class SOLDIERs. They exchanged packages, presents for each other, and then embraced, leaning in to kiss each other. The President chuckled, continuing to drink his brandy.
"What do you think boy? Are SOLDIER getting soft?"
Seeking his father's approval, Rufus considered before answering.
"I don't think they're soft. I just think that there is no point to love."
His father guffawed, clapping his hand on Rufus's shoulder.
"That's my boy. No need to waste your time with silly ideas like love."
He spoke to Rufus for a while, and then told him to head to bed. Rufus nodded, leaving the brandy glass on the mantelpiece and walking to his bedroom.
He lay down on his bed, on top of the sheets, and tried not to think about his mother, or those soldiers in the lamplight. He didn't need love, or Christmas, or presents. He was alright as he was. He let himself drift into sleep.
There was a knock on the door, but he didn't hear it. He woke though when Tseng placed a hand on his shoulder, sitting up nervously.
"What's going on?"
Tseng smiled down at him softly, stroking his hair and holding a hand out to him.
"We're the only family you've got, and no one should spend today alone."
"Where are we going?" Rufus asked, not wanting to argue with the other, but not particularly wanting to go with him either.
"Turk's Christmas party."
Rufus whined, trying to curl back up, but Tseng dragged him from bed, turning away while Rufus pulled on some better clothes. He followed the Turk down to the Turk offices, which were bedecked with brightly coloured decorations and tinsel. He flinched slightly, not wanting to be there.
Reno swayed over him, trying to grab him. He yelped, pushing the other way, and making his way into the corner. He curled up on a seat there, accepting drinks when they were offered to him, watching as the others partied, dancing and drinking and eating together. He still felt disdain for them, no desire to join in. Rude sat with him for a few minutes, but then he left, and Rufus was again alone, trying to pretend that he didn't mind.
He realised, with the closest thing to concern he could bother to muster, that Tseng was no longer in the room, that he had wandered away somewhere. Tseng was the only person he truly trusted on Christmas, and the fact he had been deserted by even him horrified Rufus. He closed his eyes, and focussed on trying not to be at this party, hoping one of the Turks would think that he had fallen asleep and carry him into bed.
"Rufus?" Tseng asked, and Rufus's eyes snapped open, surprised to see that Tseng was immediately in front of him.
"Tseng, you have got to stop creeping up on me like that." He insisted.
"Wait until you find out why I've crept up on you."
"It had better be something good." Rufus muttered petulantly.
"Oh, it is." Tseng answered, holding out a basket with a red bow on. Rufus took it, fighting the urge to roll his eyes. He pulled back the blanket, and beamed, seeing a small black puppy nestled there. He reached to pet it, and a tentacle wrapped around his wrist. He laughed, petting the creature, his eyes lighting up. This...this was a gift he could enjoy. He cuddled the creature to him.
"Hello..." He looked up at Tseng. "Is this ...is he really mine?"
"She is. What do you want to call her?"
"Dark Nation." Rufus answered instantly, a line from a poem he had heard Tseng whisper running through his head. 'And the dark Nation shall rise, and the light and power shall fall away." He pictured it as the end of his father, the transference of power to him. It was the perfect name for the creature.
Tseng seemed to appreciate the reference, nodding in approval.
"Well, hello Dark Nation."
Reno staggered over to them, grabbing Tseng's wrist.
"Come on, ya'all gotta 'ave ta go wi' me."
"Where are we going?" Tseng asked, looking at him doubtfully. "You're drunk."
"I know 'm drunk. We're gonna go ta the righ' place fer Christmas."
"Where, pray tell, is that?"
"Yer'll see. Rufus, come too!"
Rufus hesitated, but then picked up the basket with the puppy in.
"Alright." He swallowed, but he wanted to go. Thinking about it, he wondered if he had helped himself to too much of the Turk's drinks. He felt Tseng stand beside him, supporting him slightly, and he walked with him towards the slums.
Reno led them into Aerith's church.
"Come 'ere. I's fun."
Rufus stared at the inside of the building, where children were sleeping in the relative shelter of the roofless building. At least now they were out of the wind.
"Reeve has one of his soup kitchens here, doesn't he?" He asked Reno.
"Yeh. I think the kids like it ya'know."
"It's just soup."
"They ain't got nothing. Soup's somethin'."
Rufus hesitated, waiting for the children to wake up. As he waited, he ended up sleeping against Tseng's side. He was woken by the sound of laughter.
The children were waking each other, giggling, and Aerith had brought out some of her best flowers, decorating the building. Rufus watched them, seeing how happy they were, and felt a bubble of envy growing in his chest. Then he remembered how happy he had been as a child. These kids reminded him of how he had once been. These kids were just like he had been, before his Christmases had been spoilt forever. He didn't want their Christmases to be spoilt like his had been.
"Merry Christmas Rufus."
"Merry Christmas Tseng." He returned a little uncertainly. He looked up at Tseng with big wide eyes.
"The children...if I give money to Reeve's soup kitchen, it goes towards feeding real people, doesn't it?"
"Yes. Real people. Like these children."
"I think I should give more money to Reeve."
"I think, Rufus, that that would be a really good idea."
Tseng reached out, slipping his hand around Rufus's. Rufus swallowed, closing his eyes, his free hand petting Dark Nation. Slowly, he gripped Tseng's hand in return, squeezing it gently. It wouldn't be easy, but between them it would be possible to build a better world. He would be able to help make sure no one else's Christmas was destroyed like his had been.