fandom: final fantasy vii
summary: rufus shinra finds himself stuck in an elevator with general sephiroth, and learns a few things about war.
AN: written for the "Final Fantasy Kiss Meme" thing on DW. In which "kiss" means "angst", apparently, if you're me :|
One minute it's just an elevator, all harsh lighting and irritating, banal music and the next it's a fucking horrorshow, a symphony of shrieking metal and flickering lights, cables groaning and heaving until the car comes to a shuddering, sudden halt.
Rufus Shinra may be the scion of a wealthy family, Vice President and heir apparent to the world's most powerful organization -- but he is not immune to the effects of gravity, and the abrupt jolt of the elevator stopping mid-fall is enough to throw him, with unerring accuracy, right into the only other occupant of the car. Who, because Rufus lives a life of privilege undercut by fucking pointless humiliations, is none other than General Sephiroth himself.
Sephiroth, who despite being a man of no notable parentage who was born and raised by a freak scientist in a lab, is still a more respected and feared man than Rufus Shinra could ever hope to be. Even as lacking as he is of social skills and, Rufus thinks as he attempts to disentangle himself with some modicum of grace, a competent personal stylist to advise him in matters of personal grooming.
How the fuck does he see with all this hair, much less win battles and earn all those goddamn medals?
At this point in his young life, Rufus Shinra is a dangerous combination of petulant privilege, seething unhappiness and volatile abandonment issues, with a healthy dose of adolescent insecurity and a desperation to please thrown in to make things interesting. He has spoken no more than two or three times with General Sephiroth, and all of those were at formal occasions where he was more interested in scoring drugs or a quick fuck than making small talk with people more interesting than himself. Sephiroth looked no more pleased at being involved in said occasions than Rufus himself, though Rufus would never consider that they had anything in common. He was convinced that no one in the world could possibly understand what it was like to hate everything about their life, to resent so strongly being born into a situation where they would never, ever be good enough.
If everyone was afraid of you, what did you have to fear?
The elevator choosing that moment to throw itself down the Shinra building was, to young Rufus, obviously an attempt on his life orchestrated by his father. Clearly, the President thought so little of Rufus that he was content to have his son's life end in an accident that could be blamed on mechanical failure.
"I'm going to have someone fired for this," Rufus snaps, because he's embarrassed and angry, half-convinced that the only reason he wasn't lying mangled and broken at the bottom of the elevator shaft was that, somehow, his father knew the General was in there with him and wasn't willing to risk the life of his favorite war toy just to get rid of his unwanted, worthless progeny. He tries to right himself and look like a Vice President instead of a scowling teenager, but at barely twenty years of age and possessed of a damnable prettiness that makes him look even younger than he is, Rufus looks no more presidential than the strange, silver-haired man standing silently next to him.
Sephiroth's continued silence grates further on Rufus' already shredded nerves, and he raises his voice and says, in a voice that could be called waspish at best, "I suppose you don't have any idea why this happened."
There's no reason under heaven why General Sephiroth should know that. The man is a General, not a mechanic, and if he'd said something to that effect it would have succeeded in dimming Rufus' ire enough to send him back into a sulk. But Sephiroth, for whatever reason, doesn't say anything, doesn't even deign to look at him, and that makes all of Rufus' scattered nerves sharpen like live wires, dangerous and unsteady, moving of their own volition to singe anyone who happens by.
"I'm sorry, did you not hear me?" Rufus snaps, drawing himself up and putting as much disdain as he can into his voice, seeking, perhaps unconsciously, to mimic his father's tone when he was disappointed in someone, usually Rufus. "I'm aware you spent your formative years as a lab rat for Hojo, but he did manage to teach you the common tongue, didn't he? If not, my father is clearly overpaying him."
If Sephiroth hears him, he gives no indication. The man is standing stock-still, staring straight ahead, and Rufus is so annoyed that he has to resist the urge to stamp his foot in response to Sephiroth continuing to act as if Rufus doesn’t exist. Rufus Shinra is desperate for some power to wield and someone to wield it over, in a misguided attempt to make himself feel better about being ignored and denigrated by the only man whose approval he's ever wanted.
"I suggest you stop ignoring me," Rufus tries, but the situation remains the same -- he's angry, Sephiroth is silent, and that damnable music is as loud as ever, driving Rufus crazy. Rufus narrows his eyes as the lights flicker, and he throws one or two more threats at the General to no avail.
Finally, without recourse and simmering with rage, Rufus loses control of his temper, reaches out and grabs a handful of Sephiroth's long hair and pulls, hard, in a move similar to one a toddler might employ when trying to steal a toy that isn't his.
The lights flicker again, bright enough that Rufus can see when Sephiroth turns his head, slowly, eyes alight with that alien brightness of the Mako glow. Rufus has a moment to realize he's still got his fingers twined in the soft, white strands of Sephiroth's hair before he finds himself thrown against the far wall of the elevator, one of Sephiroth's gloved hands around his throat and the other pinning his hand -- bereft now of hair and clutching rather desperately at the air -- next to Rufus' head.
Sephiroth's eyes are arsenic fire, pupils slitted like a serpent, and he's looking at Rufus like he's nothing, not a fellow predator, certainly no kind of threat, not even a mouse fit to be consumed for a meal. His voice is cold, empty, curiously like something as mechanized and automated as the elevator in which they’re currently stranded. "Don't touch me."
Rufus should be terrified -- the man pinning him to the wall has lost all traces of humanity, of which he didn't have a great deal to begin with, and promises a far more painful and agonizing death than plummeting sixty-something floors in a metal cage. Rufus finds a decorated war hero gone insane a far more suitable end, given his station, which is exactly the wrong thing to think.
He smiles, pleased at the attention, and the traces of lingering fear are doing things to him that are not entirely unpleasant. "Don't ignore me, then," Rufus informs him, and his voice is scratchy and sounds ridiculous, but he's having his windpipe crushed, anyone would sound as stupid, even his father. He shifts against the wall, not fighting, finding a curious thrill in pulling against Sephiroth's hold and not being able to get free. "I'm not touching you. You're touching me."
Why not continue the childish tantrum tactics, which have worked so well at improving his mood thus far? Rufus struggles again, or wiggles in a way that suggests maybe he's struggling, or that he knows he should be struggling even if he isn’t, really. He's dizzy, light-headed from lack of air and fear and something that is sending blood straight to his cock. He wonders if his father is watching this, on some camera in his office. If his father will have Sephiroth executed, or if he'll order the General to pretend this never happened and Rufus expired out of sheer terror when the elevator dropped, so as to not deprive his army of its figurehead.
That makes him angry, predictably. He doesn't want that. He waits until Sephiroth releases his throat, just enough to breathe, and mutters some form of an apology he doesn't mean until the other man nods curtly and steps back, hands flexing at his sides. Rufus leans against the wall, catching his breath or trying to, feeling bruises on his throat and wanting nothing more than to have those hands on him again, choking, pinning him. Excitement is like a drug in his blood, better than Dust, better than liquor or letting men who hate his father fuck him in the coat room during parties.
"And here I thought you were supposed to be human," Rufus says, touching the tip of his tongue to his mouth. He has never learned how to use a gun or a knife, never wielded a sword, never tried to hurt someone with anything capable of drawing blood. But his father has taught him how to make weapons out of words, and Rufus is an unwilling apprentice to his father's mastery, and he's never been as keen to hone his skills as he is at this moment. His mind is racing, all the facts he knows about Sephiroth lining up like soldiers in formation ready to do battle -- the man's required visits to Hojo and what must certainly go on there, the crushing loneliness of a life without friends or family, being treated like an animal good for nothing except bloodshed.
But something happens that makes him stop, kills the words before they draw breath, sends the troops home before the first shot of battle is fired. Rufus has seen what he looks like after his father has finished with him, when he feels stripped to the bone, laid bare, and has not a single mark to show for it. He's seen himself with eyes like empty glass trapped under ice, and they might not burn with the same inhuman fire as Sephiroth's but it doesn't matter. It's the same look as he sees in Sephiroth’s eyes across the small expanse of space, the same tiredness that leaves you without anywhere to go but deep inside, somewhere safe where you can hide from the pain.
Rufus didn't put that look in Sephiroth's eyes, anymore than Sephiroth put it that same look in his, but Rufus loses any and all interest in lashing out like his father and, in fact, feels an unpleasant twist of guilt in his stomach at the thought of doing so. Rufus lowers his gaze, feeling young and stupid, struggling with feeling ashamed for what might be the first time in his life. He doesn't know what to say, but he has to say something; silence feels wrong, like failure, the kind of failure that matters. If he's going to be the President of Shinra some day, he can't be weak. His father is weak, Rufus realizes. He lifts his head, doesn't hide the slight tremor in his voice. He won't apologize again -- he's still Rufus Shinra, and Sephiroth is still just a soldier, there is a hierarchy not of Rufus' making that must be acknowledged -- but he does speak, saying, "Does he always hurt you?"
Sephiroth laughs. It sounds like the gears did earlier, when they screamed and twisted as the cables snapped, as they tried to stop the car's inevitable fall into darkness. "Of course he does," he says, obviously understanding that Rufus is asking about Hojo. Sephiroth is looking at him with eyes that are still too bright, but at least this time there's someone there behind them. "I never expect anything else."
Rufus nods. He understands that. He moves forward, driven by some impulse that goes beyond thrill-seeking, beyond attention-seeking, into places inside of him that are wounded that he barely knows exist. He reaches up and smooths Sephiroth's hair back, gently running a hand down the soft strands so it returns to its usual, sleek form. "But it still hurts."
"Yes," Sephiroth says, fingers on Rufus' wrist, though they're gentle now, not pulling or crushing. "It still hurts."
Rufus nods, then leans in and kisses him, softly, the caress as light and brief as Sephiroth's touch on his wrist a moment earlier. Rufus knows this won't go anywhere, it won't lead to anything forbidden or dangerous or thrilling, but that's all right. Sephiroth doesn't kiss him back, but that's all right, too. He just blinks those strange eyes at him and then moves away, his hair falling and half-covering his face. Rufus goes back to his side of the elevator and waits, quietly, for their inevitable rescue.
The elevator finally lurches back to life a few minutes later, and when the doors open, there are Shinra executives falling all over themselves to apologize -- mainly to Rufus, which is a sign his father hadn't engineered any attempted assassination attempt. Or would be a sign, if Rufus really thought that his father had done such a thing. Mercurial as ever, Rufus mutters and pushes past the swarming, fawning executives, watching as Sephiroth moves down the hallway, alone and unfettered, his long black coat swirling around his boots as he walks, his silver hair rippling around him like a battle flag caught in the wind.
The next day, Rufus Shinra finds a white suit in his closet and puts it on with a black shirt, noticing how the color combination makes his eyes look colder, makes his features somehow sharper. He throws everything else in his closet away, and sends explicit instructions to his tailor. And then, he calls Tseng and arranges to meet the man at the shooting range, tells him in no uncertain terms not to bother with a pistol that's easy to conceal or anything subtle. He wants a weapon he can see. He wants a weapon that everyone can see. He wants a weapon that will leave a mark.