By: Albedosreqium / Soyna
Setting: When Advent and Dirge is all said and done.
Rating, Genre and Warnings: T. Angst again. Two dark MEN getting together.
Characters: Tseng, Vincent and a hint of another.
Disclaimer: All related Final Fantasy names and characters are copyrighted by the almighty Square Enix©. I do not profit from this endeavour.
Summary and Additional Information:
20,000 kiriban was caught by vvkiti and she wanted a gift fic for shadowhalowedangel with Vincent and Tseng. I added Reeve as well, because I keep adding him when Tesng and Vincent are involved. So here it is.
Tseng and Vincent have a long conversation in regards to how many times they have died.
The room was full of people from all walks of life. The hall at Costa del Sol was filled with everyone celebrating the WRO First Annual Awards Recognition Dinner. It had been Reeve's idea to help the company promote itself and the people that had been making a difference in Gaia.
Reeve wanted to tell the world about Rufus' contributions and honour him for all his help and assistance. It was not as much a secret as it used to be that Rufus was alive, but he still did not want it known that he was the one supplying the WRO with their finances.
Tseng knew that Rufus didn't want to taint all that Reeve had done. Tseng also knew that Rufus didn't want to worry about increased assassination or kidnapping attempts which had been the argument he had used. There had been too many of them in the past and there was even more of a chance with the hatred that the world held for the past Shin-Ra.
Reeve had reluctantly agreed with them and let Rufus sit in the shadows. He insisted that he come, though. He made some rather posh arrangements for a private room where they could watch the preceding and still be part of it.
It had developed into an interesting evening, and from their private room they had started to critique all the clothing that everyone had chosen to wear.
"Tifa really pushed her boobs up in that outfit." The comment from Elena had started the ramble on clothing choices that were being worn by the various people that were invited.
"Her boobs were always perky," Reno had responded and got hit by Rufus for the comment, but it didn't deter him from continuing. "Better than Scarlet's ever looked though, and she rocks that red better than anyone else in the room, yo."
"Cloud looks good in that suit. Tifa must have picked it out."
"That guy really shouldn't wear orange."
"Barrett looks like he wants to rip off his shirt. It's so tight."
"I think that girl has been on the Costa beach for too long. Her skin looks like leather."
"Marlene and Denzel look adorable."
"Cid could have at least ensured that there weren't stains on his pants before he came."
Reno was leaning heavily against Rufus' wheelchair as they watched the monitor with a half-filled glass of champagne in his hand. Three empty bottles were already on the table from the evening.
"What the hell is with Reeve anyway, yo?" Reno slurred. "I didn't think he was into cross dressing."
"It's a kilt, Reno," Tseng said. "Not a dress."
Reeve was wearing a traditional kilt that was predominantly green with purple lines and fell just above his knees. He was wearing heavy white socks that had garter flashes at the top in the same dark green that was in his kilt. He wore a black jacket over a simple white shirt and dark tie, and that looked as if he was wearing a normal suit if the kilt was not in the line of sight.
He even wore a sporran that had the WRO symbol emblazoned on it to top off the outfit.
"He's from Icicle originally," Elena said. "I think he was five when he moved to Midgar."
"So guys wear dresses in that cold? Pretty stupid," Reno said as he tried to stand up and ended up swaying on his feet as he went to the table.
"He always wears a dress," Rufus said and waved his glass at Reno. "This one is just shorter than normal."
Reno quickly returned with the bottle and refilled Rufus' glass.
Tseng didn't stop them from drinking like he normally would. They deserved a night where they could relax they all did. They couldn't join the party as much as he could see that they were itching to, so he could allow them to indulge for once. It looked as though they were going to take advantage of his leniency.
He also had the advantage that Rude could act as a bouncer when the two got too drunk. The silent man was standing by the door watching them behind his dark glasses. Tseng knew he wanted to drink but Cissnei was out on the floor working and made him promise not to start until she was off guard duty.
"Vincent looks hot," Reno slurred. "Don't ya agree, Bossman?"
Rufus shook his head and pushed Reno off his arm. "You're drunk."
Reno tilted to the side and leered at him. "Yeppers." Reno turned to look at him. "Yo, Tseng, don't ya agree that the Vampy there looks hot in non-vampy clothes?"
Tseng didn't bother to answer Reno who was promptly commanded by Rufus to get another bottle, and the question was soon forgotten by the two lushes. Tseng did turn to the monitor again and did note that Vincent looked quite different out of his normal leather gear as he stood beside Reeve.
The first thing he noticed about Vincent was that he was missing his telltale red scarf that usually he wore wound about his brow. He wore his dark hair loose and framing his face. He looked bare, but comfortable, without it.
The outfit was, he must admit, quite stunning on him. The shirt that he was wearing was what he recognized as a dress military cut from Wutai. It was a deep red colour that matched his eyes, and had shiny brass buttons that ran up the right side. The collar was high and it covered his neck and touched his ears. The shirt had a long back that reached the back of his knees. The back of the shirt was laced with golden strings.
Vincent was a slim man and the snug clothing showed that he was quite muscular and athletic. The pants were a form fitting black slack that resembled the Turk uniform, but it looked a little more snug than a standard pair. Vincent was not wearing his normal brass boots that accompanied his outfit, but a pair of black leather boots that went up to his knees adorned with brass buckles.
His only normal piece of attire was the gauntlet that he wore on his hand. He moved with a grace through the whole evening, never far from Reeve's side and never taking a sip from the alcoholic beverage that was in his normal hand.
He looked over at Reno who was holding a newly opened bottle of champagne and swaying on his feet. Rufus was out of his wheelchair, leaning heavily on Reno and trying to grab the bottle. "Rufus' is tryin' ta steal my booze, yo."
"I paid for it," Rufus said as they both crashed into the table before they went sliding to the floor. Reno was laughing as he brought the President down on top of him with his hands quite deliberately on Rufus' ass.
"I'm going out to talk to Reeve," Tseng said as he turned to leave. Rude looked almost panicked as he looked at him and the men rolling on the floor. "If they get too active, you may throw an ice bucket on them."
Rude didn't like dealing with them when they were like this, but no one did. It was his turn anyway.
Tseng exited the room and immediately went looking for Vincent and Reeve. He coolly assessed the crowd. He could see Cissnei in a corner talking with another gentleman and saw a few of his other Turks that he had placed in the room. Everything was still calm, despite the flow of alcohol that was pretty steady in the room. He followed the sound of Reeve's distinct laugh that carried across even the most crowded room.
Reeve was obviously a little tipsy as his voice even carried a heavier hint of the accent that he worked so hard to keep out of his own voice, even if he could never remove it from Cait's.
He approached a small crowd where Reeve was. He was surrounded by socialites with a full glass of what looked like rye in his hand and he was laughing with another financier of which Tseng was aware; one of the few that also donated money to the WRO that didn't have investments in the darker aspects of Shin-Ra at one point.
Tseng stayed back and grabbed his own glass of champagne as he watched the Director.
"Have you been to the Saucer lately?" the financier asked innocently. Tseng involuntarily tensed at the question.
Reeve laughed and shook his head. "I'm 'fraid not." Reeve took a sip from his glass before he continued. "Been busy and hardly had any time for a break."
"Got some new racing birds that you have to see," the man added and slapped Reeve on the back.
Tseng frowned disapprovingly. Reeve had been good with his gambling issues in the last couple of years and he was not aware of him visiting the Gold Saucer. He had pulled him out of there enough times in the past.
"How many of those birds do ye have thare?"
Tseng wanted to interfere in this conversation but he had no reason. It bothered him that this man was encouraging Reeve to gamble. It was Vincent that stepped beside Reeve and with a cool voice added, "Do you house the birds in Costa?"
The man's brow furrowed. "No, it's much too hot for the birds there. They don't like it."
"I'm afraid that the next vacation that the Director will be taking will be here, and he will not be able to assess your bird progress on his next outing." Vincent's red eyes were brilliant and intense as he looked at the man. The financier even took a step back.
Vincent was intimidating no matter which attire he was wearing.
Reeve put his hand on Vincent's arm and shook his head. "I will take ye up on yer offer when my calendar opens," Reeve said to appease the situation. He finished off his drink and Reeve seemed to notice him. "Now, let's gae have some mair fun."
He gave him a large smile on his face and raised his glass to him. Tseng nodded as another member of the crowd started to ask Reeve about his new alternate development plans. Reeve started to talk about the windmills that he was working on in great detail.
Tseng was not going to be able to talk to him as he planned at this rate, and with his accent slipping through like that he was going to be incoherent in no time.
Tseng was patient. He contemplated going back to the room but remembered the scene that he had left behind. He decided that standing back and listening to Reeve talk about his energy plans was better than witnessing Rufus and Reno get drunk and make-out.
He turned to go stand in the shadows when he noted that Vincent moved to stand beside him.
"You needn't worry. He has been staying away from the casino or any race track," Vincent said simply as though he were reading Tseng's mind. It was something that he was almost sure that the man could do. "He hasn't gambled since the last time we dragged him out of the Saucer."
"He gets drawn in easily," Tseng said, "and chocobo racing is his weakness."
"It is why I interfered," Vincent said and looked directly at him. Vincent was never one to beat around the bush. "What do you wish to talk to him about?"
Tseng looked over to Reeve as he gave out a great bark of a laugh. "It's a skoosh case!" The people around him started to laugh and the conversation went back to the windmills. Cid and Reeve were suddenly there talking about the same thing in details which only engineers could appreciate.
He looked to Vincent and shook his head. "It can wait until tomorrow." A new drink was placed in Reeve's hand by Cid. "Or the next day at this rate."
"He is indulging a little too much," Vincent said with a frown, looking at his own glass.
"He has been through a lot of stress and he deserves to cut loose a little," Tseng said and watched the mixed drink go down Reeve's throat, "even if he will be in pain tomorrow."
They watched as Reeve and Cid drank more and their accents thicken. Shera seemed to be a little embarrassed as Reeve wrapped his arms around her waist and told her, "We are just having a wee bit o' fun, lassie. Why don't ye enjoy a sip with us?"
Vincent made a noise that resembled a laugh. He turned to see Vincent raise a hand to his mouth and try to hide a smirk behind it.
"Well, his accent is amusing when he drinks," Vincent said and turned towards him. "It sounds better coming out of him than the robotic cat."
"I agree," Tseng said and finally took a drink out of his glass. It was a little warm now. "Do you think it is safe to leave them to their own devices?"
Reeve, Cid and Shera had found their way to a table and were chatting loudly with a new set of drinks. "They are no longer talking about gambling or chocobos, so it should be safe."
"Is it being safe to leave him with Cid?" Tseng asked. Cid and Reeve's thick accents were quickly degrading into drunken nonsense.
"I believe that he is being monitored well enough," Vincent said and placed his untouched glass to the side. Tseng noted that his eyes went to Cissnei who was moving discreetly in the crowd. Vincent waved his hand to an emptier part of the room. "It's quieter over there."
Tseng followed Vincent and noticed that everyone moved out of his way as he walked, and everyone gave him a weary eye. Vincent was an intimidating man and the strange new outfit did not change his aura.
He took the time to ask about the change of attire. "Did Reeve pick out your new outfit for you?"
Vincent played with the cuff of his shirt with his brass fingers. "He said it suited me. I do not know if it's appropriate or not."
They approached a small nook and Vincent leaned against a wall in a position so that he could still observe the men that they had left. Tseng couldn't help but look at Vincent with admiration at the pose. "It does suit you."
Vincent raised an eyebrow and the corner of his lips flitted upwards. "He looked at me the same way as you are."
Tseng cleared his throat and wished he had the glass that was discarded. "Do you have a gun hidden in there?" he asked as he saw that there was nothing left to the imagination with the outfit, despite the large amount that was covered. There did not seem to be anywhere that such a weapon could be hidden.
"Cerberus was a little large for such a gathering but I'm not without weapons," Vincent said and held up his gauntlet. "This hand is often a deterrent enough."
Tseng nodded. He remembered how well that metal attachment could be used as a weapon. Those were memories that he didn't like to remember. That was the time that he could not defend himself or Elena.
"I never did thank you."
Vincent tilted his head and gave him a curious look. "For what?"
Tseng kept his eyes on the crowd and made sure he was not looking at the gunman at his side. "The crater."
Tseng didn't think he could say anything beyond that.
"There's no need for thanks."
Tseng couldn't look at the gunman. "I have faced a lot of death in my life and I do believe that my nine lives are up. I thought they were gone before I even faced those young remnants in that cavern, but it appeared that I did indeed have one more left in me."
"We have chosen paths that make Death pace at our heels," Vincent said, "and often catch up to us. We must amuse him if he keeps leaving us to this plain of existence."
They stood in silence for awhile, allowing the sounds of the party to wash over them. Laughter and happy shouts were filling the air. Tseng again was wishing that he had that drink that he discarded earlier.
Vincent was the one that broke the silence between them. "When was the first time you died?"
It was an unexpected question and he looked up at Vincent. There was no malice in his voice as he asked.
"You stated that you thought that you had already used your nine lives when you encountered the remnants. When were the other times that you died?"
Tseng controlled his heartbeat. "I will need a drink to talk of such things."
Without another thought Vincent pushed away from the wall and easily slipped back into the crowd, and within moments he returned with two glasses and a bottle from the bar. He sent it on the nearby table and Tseng moved to stand beside it and looked at the bottle that Vincent had returned with. Tseng knew the drink well. He had shared it many a night with Reeve as they talked.
Vincent silently poured the drink and Tseng gratefully took the cup. He sniffed the potent drink before he took a small sip. Vincent stood beside him, patiently waiting for him to speak and taking only one small sip of his.
Tseng did not have enough courage to speak until he was halfway through the glass and he could feel it burning his cheeks.
"The first time death visited me, I was five," he said and kept his eyes on the nearby window. "I fell in a well. My brother fished me out and breathed life into me. I don't remember anything but being very cold and dark, and then I closed my eyes. I woke up in a hospital room, quite alone and hooked up to a lot of machines." He paused and looked over at the other man. "I wasn't supposed to wake up."
"Your family wrote you off?"
"I was in a coma for a month. They thought I was dead and had already prepared for my funeral." Tseng couldn't help but let a wry smile cross his lips as he played with the collar of his jacket. "They even bought me a little formal navy blue suit that they made me wear every Sunday until I out grew it."
Vincent took another sip. "My first death was falling out of a tree as a child."
Tseng raised an eyebrow at the news. He never expected Vincent to wish to speak of such things, but he was always full of surprises.
"They said that my heart stopped and they beat my chest to get it going again. I don't remember falling, but I do remember waking up with my mother crying and my father consoling her. I had to be told what happened."
Vincent glanced in his glass with a forlorn look. "I wish I didn't remember all the times I died."
Tseng felt the same way. It would be easier if he didn't remember the pain that came with dying.
"The second time was before I joined Shin-Ra," Tseng said as he rubbed his cheek with his glass. It only contained a few slivers of ice now as he didn't remember drinking it that quickly. His cheeks were warm and the ice felt good. "It was when my family was killed. We were considered traitors because my brother was going to marry a Midgarian woman. I remember that I liked her and " He paused a bit and looked away from Vincent as he spoke. "Well, I'll admit, I had a bit of a crush on her, but our neighbours did not see her as a good woman."
He paused at the painful memory of hearing everyone die. "I was fourteen. They slaughtered my household. I was slashed across the stomach and had to hold my intestines in. I remember a man in a black uniform pulling me out of the pile of bodies and yelling, 'got one'." Tseng brought the glass to his mouth and the ice bumped his lips. "I woke up in a hospital and I was asked if I wanted a job."
Tseng felt the glass being pulled from his hand and it was placed on the table. Vincent reached for the bottle and filled up his glass and pushed it back towards him.
"I was ten; not long after the tree incident," Vincent said and gave a dry chuckle. "I was showing off for a girl on my bike." Vincent took a sip and brushed the black hair out of his eyes. "A car came around the corner and I was run over." Vincent patted his right leg. "Just about lost it."
"For a girl?"
"I've had a bad trend with how I react to the affections of women," Vincent said. "She didn't like me but was being nice to me to get close to one of my other friends."
Tseng couldn't hold back a chuckle. "I can't say that my third time wasn't any different. I was trying to impress the charge at the time. She was a pretty thing with huge breasts and an attitude problem to match. I stepped in front of the bullet and it went through my vest. She didn't even have the courtesy to find out if I was all right after." Tseng realized that he had finished his drink again.
Vincent was filling up his glass.
"It's better than discovering you're allergic to avocados after you try sushi for the first time," Vincent said as he took a sip from his cup. "It was embarrassing to go into anaphylactic shock over eating a Costa Spring roll."
Tseng didn't hold back a full laugh. "That is an interesting allergy."
"Veld had to inject me with ephedrine and drug me up with antihistamines to keep me going before they could get me to proper medical care," Vincent said and took a deep sip of the amber liquid. "I think I stopped breathing for five minutes."
"That would have been horrible," Tseng said. "I have always wondered why Veld made us go through those weird tests. I guess it was because of you."
"It was not a proud action to be responsible for the change in the medical protocols for the Turks and SOLDIERs because of that," Vincent said and topped off his glass.
They were going through the bottle rather quickly.
"Getting caught in an explosion was a much more admirable way to die," Vincent added, "but rather painful to recover from."
"I can agree to that one," Tseng said, remembering how painful it was to wake up to Rude holding him down and Two Guns pulling shrapnel out of his back as he watched his own blood pool on the tile floor beneath him. He didn't remember the injury itself, but the month it took to recover was quite painful and memorable.
"Have you ever been hit over the head with a baseball bat?" Vincent asked.
Tseng raised an eyebrow as he held out his glass for a refill. He was feeling the full effects of the alcohol and was feeling a little wobbly on his feet. He leaned against the table to keep his footing. "Nope. Never had that pleasure," Tseng said.
Vincent leaned against the table to keep his balance as well, and his crooked smile grew. "It appeared that the woman I had taken home that evening had a jealous ex-boyfriend and decided that I needed my head caved in." Vincent pulled back some of his hair away from the right side of his face. "You can still see the scar along my hair line."
Tseng moved closer and had to lean against the table and he squinted to focus on where Vincent indicated the scar was. He could see that there was faint white line that was going into his dark hair. "Never had that pleasure, thankfully." He leaned back a bit, feeling a little dizzy from the effects of the alcohol. "Did have a Honey Bee girl get a little too attached to me though and stick a knife in my femoral artery. I nearly bled out in that whore house."
Vincent's eyebrows shot up at that. "How did that happen?"
"She had a knife and I was sleeping," Tseng shrugged and took another drink. He noted the bottle was half empty. Had they been talking that long already? "Since I wasn't going to rescue her from the Inn she thought she'd prove herself by taking out a Turk."
"Did she join the ranks?" Vincent asked as he twirled the ice in his cup.
Tseng shook his head. "She got weepy right after and she called for help. I think they would have hired her if she had finished me."
Vincent's amused look reappeared. "Typical of the Turks," Vincent said and filled up his glass. "The President spent a lot of time at the Inn, even as a young man."
Tseng nodded to that. They had to spend a lot of resources to keep the Inn safe for when the President would visit it, often taking a few executives with him. He knew Reeve was often dragged along to visits there but never asked him what he did there with the President. His eyes went to Reeve who now had an embarrassed-looking Shera sitting on his lap and was still talking with Cid.
"It was at least an easy place to find him and guard. The Inn that was there before was more of a bitch to deal with watching all the exits," Vincent said he examined his glass, "The one that collapsed while I was inside it."
"Did you have anything to do with it?" Tseng asked and eyed him curiously. It was not beneath Shin-Ra to have decoy 'attacks' set up to help with public favour. Especially if it were a building they wanted to see 'renewed'.
"No," Vincent said. "It was some sort of terrorist group before AVALANCHE. I was not impressed that I was not told that the security force was aware of the possibility.
"I was in the basement when it happened," Vincent whispered. He seemed to have developed a shake in his fingers as he spoke. He brought his drink to his lips and took a deep sip. When he brought it back to the table he spoke in a tone that was huskier than normal. "It was like being in a coffin, and I think I am one that would know such a feeling."
Vincent's eyes were glazed over slightly as he seemed to be reliving the trauma of being buried alive.
"They knew it was going to collapse?"
Vincent nodded. "They did."
"Co-workers can be dangerous."
Vincent's smirk returned. "I'm assuming it is Reno that you are talking about."
"Reno and Scarlet," Tseng said and grabbed the bottle out of Vincent's hand.
Vincent waited for an answer and Tseng indulged him with one. "Reno decided to flip a chopper and I fell out of it with a faulty parachute. The other time was when one of Scarlet's robotic inventions decided that I was its target for the demonstration. Both were very harrowing ordeals."
"Oh yes, co-workers," Vincent said. "There is a reason to check a person's credentials, packs and skill level before going into the field. I did not like how the Death spell felt when it took me down."
Tseng blinked and stared at Vincent. "They let it count down to zero?"
"They did not have the required potions or materia left to heal me, so I was required to die before I could be resurrected. Not pleasant at all," Vincent said. "It's gruelling knowing that there is a time limit of survival."
Tseng nodded and cradled his glass in both his hands as he surveyed the crowd again. Everyone was having so much fun; getting drunk, laughing and forgetting about the past, while they were reliving the most painful moments of their lives.
Tseng lowered his voice and turned to the ex-Turk. It was a question that he had wondered for a long time but didn't dare ask. Alcohol made inappropriate questions seem appropriate. "Did you think that Hojo would really shoot you?"
Vincent closed his eyes. "I welcomed it," he whispered so that Tseng could barely hear him. "I didn't think that I would survive a direct shot to the heart. I didn't think that Lucrecia would resurrect me by inserting the demons that my father found. I would have much preferred to remain dead after Hojo killed me."
Tseng poured Vincent some more of the rye in his cup and offered it back to him.
"I can't even imagine," Tseng said.
He understood heartache of seeing someone he loved with another man and not being able to do anything about it. He did not have a bullet put through his heart for it, but he could understand why Vincent would have allowed it.
Vincent downed the glass of rye in a quick gulp.
"The coffin was a welcome retreat where I was allowed to not think of the pain that would come from being forced to interact with others." Vincent put the glass back down on the table, his eyes on his brass hand.
"Are there times that you wish to return to it?"
Vincent looked at him. "There are days where the thought of my grave beckons me, but other things keep me from returning. The world is not the same as it was when I finally died."
Tseng nodded in agreement. There had been a lot of changes in the last couple of years in how the world behaved and how people thought about things. Reeve was a large part of funnelling the thoughts to a more productive manner instead of the destructive one that Shin-Ra had set about the world at the time.
Reeve, the man had been trying to make things better right from the beginning. Reeve, who was looking quite drunk and happy for a change. The man was lighthearted and softer than the others around him, but it also made him a very effective leader. It never once meant that he couldn't do his job. He did his job very efficiently, even with his strange sense of humour.
His counterpart, Cait, had made its appearance and was now demonstrating its juggling skills with some women's shoes none of which matched much to the delight of everyone around it.
"You have not mentioned the temple," Vincent said.
He didn't look back at the ex-Turk. He released his glass and put a hand to where the wound that he had been certain was going to be his last. He still woke up with nightmares from time to time, feeling that blade go through him.
He looked back at Reeve. That was the last face that he had seen before he passed out when he was certain death was going to take him across the river Styx that time. His voice was angry and was telling him not to fall asleep. It was a very vivid image of seeing blood splattered across Reeve's face which was contorted in a mixture of worry and pain.
"That one should have ended me," Tseng said. "Did you know that Reeve was the one that saved me? He delivered your team another Cait after he stabilized me. If it wasn't for him, I would have died in that temple and been consumed by the black materia."
Vincent's gauntleted hand wrapped around the bottle and his brass fingers tapped it, making small clicking sounds. "He mentioned that once," Vincent said, "before I went to the crater. He knew you were sent there and was worried."
He turned on Vincent a little too quickly. He was not as graceful as he should have been and had to stabilize himself by pushing against the ex-Turk, his hands ending up against his silk-covered chest.
"He sent you?" Tseng was startled by the news.
"He couldn't go, so I went in his stead," Vincent said, reaching down and putting his un-gauntleted hand on his.
"Did he know that the Remnants were there?" Tseng whispered and stared at Vincent's red eyes. "Did he know?"
Vincent shook his head. "He knew that there was something there but he wasn't sure what. He did not know about the Remnants but he had suspicions that the retrieval of Jenova would not be as easy as Rufus suspected." Vincent moved his hand but still held it.
Tseng was still trying to understand what was being said and was regretting having as much alcohol as he had. He closed his eyes and waited for the world to stop spinning.
"He sent you?" Tseng repeated and forced himself to look up at Vincent.
"He wanted to ensure that you came back," Vincent said and squeezed his hand before releasing it. "I don't think you should wait until tomorrow to talk to him."
Tseng swallowed heavily and looked back over to where Reeve was. He had Cait in his arms and was walking to the stage alongside of one of the other members of the WRO board.
He went to the podium and tapped a nearby water glass with a pen that must have been sitting on the podium. Cait sat on the podium and swung its little feet as it examined the room that quieted down to listen to Reeve speak for the final time of the evening.
It was a prepared speech that he had helped write. His accent disappeared in the prepared words of how proud he was of everyone for the accomplishments that the WRO had achieved. It was a short speech.
"Now, everyone," Reeve said with a loud clap of his hands. "Enjoy the rest of yer nicht!"
The room burst into applause but he didn't have the strength to do so. Vincent placed his hand on shoulder. Reeve's eyes were drawn to him, he was certain of it. Reeve smiled brightly and started to walk towards them.
"I see you two gentlemen are even enjoyin' yerself for the evening, and ah my favourite drink. Care if I join you two?" Reeve said and pulled a chair out for himself.
"I will need to get another glass," Vincent said and left before either of them could get a word in to stop him.
Tseng felt his face flush he was certain it was because of the rye at Reeve taking a seat and encouraging him to sit as well. Tseng followed.
"Did ye want to speak to me earlier?" Reeve asked.
Tseng nodded. "It was not important." He finished off what was in his cup. "Let's enjoy this night."
"You two seem as if yer were havin' a heavy conversation," Reeve said as he twirled the bottle in his hand and noted that there was only a third left in the bottle. "Rather intense for a night that is supposed to be relaxin'."
"We were talking about the times we died," Vincent's voice washed over them. The ex-Turk flowed into a seat and placed a glass in front of Reeve. "It is not a conversation that is for the lighthearted or sober."
Reeve looked horrified. "Why would you start an ugly conversation such as that?"
Vincent filled a glass and pushed it in front of Reeve. "We can go back to discussing the fact that you are wearing a dress."
Reeve laughed. "We already had this conversation, Vincent." Reeve smoothed out his kilt and adjusted his sporran in his seat. "Tseng. Ye really should expand your wardrobe as well. It only took me six months to convince Vincent that the clothes would suit him and I must say that I picked well. I'm sure it will take less time to get yah out of that stuffy suit and into somethin' that isn't so stiff." He took a sip out of his glass.
"It is easier to get me out of my suit than get me to wear something else." Tseng realized what he said once it was out of his mouth. It was not what he intended at all.
Vincent gave a bark of a laugh and Reeve nearly choked on his drink and covered his mouth. Tseng was horrified at the fact that he had spoken like that. He knew it was the rye and the revelation of what Reeve had done for him twice now.
Vincent thumped the back of Reeve to help him breathe.
Tseng felt the strong urge to flee but remained sitting as Reeve recovered.
"That was unexpected," Reeve said and wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his jacket.
"Rye is perfect for loosening the tongue," Vincent added and held up the bottle. "More, Tseng?"
"I think I have had more than enough of that if my tongue is so slippery," Tseng said and realized that sounded just as bad.
Reeve chuckled and Vincent looked amused.
"I think that I like this version of Tseng," Reeve said with a smile, "And your slippery tongue is more amusing than your sharp one."
Tseng couldn't help but return the smile. "And your tongue has become quite thick. You are sounding more and more like Cait as the evening progresses."
Reeve shook his head. "I have indulged in a little mair that I should 'ave," Reeve said as he swirled his drink. "It has been quite awhile since I have 'llowed such a thing since I haven't been to the Saucer."
"There are much better things to do to relax than gamble, Reeve," Vincent said and poured more of the rye into a cup. Tseng glared at Vincent. He was pretty sure that Vincent was trying to get them drunk or drunker. He was certainly feeling the booze. "Have another drink, Tseng."
Tseng was about to protest when he saw Rude across the room. He was no longer standing guard and was holding an ice bucket upside down under one of his arms. Cissnei was on his arm and they seemed to be having a conversation.
Rufus and Reno would be occupying themselves for the rest of the evening from the look of it. Rude already had his arm around Cissnei and he was already looking at the bar.
"I really should not. I have drinken enough for the evening." Tseng blinked at the two men. Vincent's mouth was twisted in a crooked smile and Reeve was grinning like the Cheshire cat.
"I still think we need to get Tseng into some jeans and a t-shirt," Vincent said.
"It'll be a trick to get 'im into a shirt without a tie." Reeve added.
"It's a shame that his throat is always hidden behind that snug shirt," Vincent said and Tseng was beginning to doubt that alcohol affected Vincent at all as he didn't seem to be slurring his words or swaying with the room, but his words were a lot looser than he remembered from the normally stoic man.
"Ya know, I saw that once," Reeve said. "But he was wearin' a damn hospital gown and that was even sexy on 'im."
"The type of gown that has the open back? I'm sure that it was," Vincent said and topped off all their glasses.
Reeve had the decency to blush at the statement as Tseng couldn't find the words to respond; it sobered him a little. Reeve had been by his side as much as he could during his stay at the hospital when Sephiroth killed him.
He had nearly exhausted himself with taking care of him and ensuring that Cait was functioning well in the battle that was to stop Meteor.
He had been there the whole time. He never thanked the man for the attention and for saving his life. Talking about all the death he had not realized that he had died so many times and how many times he owed his life to the two men that were getting him drunk.
"Tseng?" Reeve said, now looking concerned. "Are ya doin' all right?"
"It's the oddest time to think of one's mortality," Tseng said and slumped slightly, allowing his shoulders to sag. "I do think I shall have another." He grabbed his glass but didn't bring it to his lips.
"We all survived a lot," Reeve said and reached across the table and put his hand on his. "And we can survive more. It has made us stronger."
"There are days when I wish I could have succumbed," Tseng whispered and looked to Vincent. There were few people that could understand these feelings.
"Don't talk garbage like that," Reeve said and squeezed his hand. "What would the world be like without you?"
Tseng laughed at that. "Probably better off with all that I have done."
Reeve chuckled. "And not have anyone to keep Rufus in check? He listens to you and values your opinion. If the only voice he listened to was Reno, the world would be a different place."
Tseng blinked for a few moments as he couldn't tell if Reeve was being serious or not. "That is a terrifying prospect," Tseng muttered.
"So enough of that morbid speak and let's talk a bit mair about what kind of clothes that you would look good in," Reeve said and pushed the glass towards him.
"I'm comfortable in my suit."
"I was comfortable with my leathers but Reeve has some very persuasive arguments to get me into this outfit," Vincent said.
"And it looks much more relaxin' and not nearly as terrifying," Reeve said. "You both are scary men, which is all the more reason that we should be getting you out of that suit. It is so Turkish."
"I like my suit," Tseng defended. "And it's not scary."
"The suit earns respect," Vincent said, "and fear."
Reeve shook his head. "That is not what this night was about."
Tseng turned to Reeve. "Is that why you are wearing a dress? Your other coat was not nearly that intimidating."
"It's a kilt," Reeve said with a frown. "It's my family's colours!"
"You should have shaved your legs," Vincent said. "Or got longer socks."
"It's not a skirt and I'm not about to shave my legs!" Reeve said as he tugged on the hem of his kilt. "And I'm nee nearly that hairy that it is required."
Vincent leaned back in his chair and his eyes darted towards Reeve's legs and Tseng found himself mimicking the movement to see the hairy legs of the head of the WRO. He could only see around his knees.
"You two are drunk!" Reeve declared and chuckled.
"Just a wee bit," Tseng said, trying to emulate Reeve's accent but failing.
"Laddie," Vincent added with a wry smirk.
They all burst out in laughter. Reeve's hand squeezed at his and his dark brown eyes shone as he looked at him. "You two are horrible," Reeve said, rolling the r's more than he normally would.
"It's who I am," Tseng said.
"It is more interesting being a horrible person," Vincent said and finished off his drink. "It looks like people are retiring to their rooms."
Tseng looked at the crowd and noted that it was thinned out. People milled around tables, a few people were waltzing on the dance floor to the music.
"Is it that late already?" Reeve said as he looked at his wristwatch. "My, how the time flew."
"I should retire as well," Vincent said. "I feel naked without Cerberus."
Tseng noted that Reeve's eyes did roam over Vincent as he had done earlier. "I got us rooms reserved so that ye all don't have to travel on such a nicht."
"You always think of everything," Vincent said, "But it is not required."
Reeve stood, a little wobbly and grabbed Vincent's shoulder. "I think we should take care of Tseng and see if what he said earlier was true."
"What I said earlier?" Tseng said.
Vincent tilted his head to the side in question.
"About gettin' him out of his suit, thar," Reeve said.
Tseng raised his eyebrows at that. "Pardon me!"
Vincent's smile was quite disturbing, and Tseng suddenly felt as though he were surrounded. Vincent was helping him out of his chair and Reeve was at his other side as well.
"Why don't we go up the stair and talk a little mair about that?"
Tseng allowed himself to be led by the two men, only stopping to grab the bottle of rye. He decided that he might as well go for a complete hangover and enjoy the night. Everyone else was and he was allowed it once and a while as well.
"I'm the only normal one of the three of us, and I don't think there is anything else to talk about," Tseng pronounced as he was led to the elevator.
Reeve chuckled and Tseng was startled at feeling the metal gauntlet on his back under his coat. "I do believe then we should even the field then."
"I believe that is a wonderful idea," Reeve said as he pressed the button for the elevator.
Tseng thought to ask for a moment to which room they were going, but it looked like the decision was being made for him.
People nodded at them as they walked by them, going to enjoy the rest of the evening, not even giving a second glance. Reeve gave nods and smiles and Vincent's eyes were fixed on him. They were an odd trio that were brought together over odd and unusual circumstances.
He was proud to have survived through all the horrors that life had brought them. He went down a dark path was and happy to where it had led him, despite the pain that he had to go through to get there.
The elevator dinged and he was escorted by the other dark-haired men inside. He allowed himself to wrap his arm around Reeve and ask something that he was always curious about kilts.
"So, are you traditional or do you wear shorts under that kilt?"