Deadly Handsome Man: 23. amber and jade

Rufus, Tseng. R. For Thirty Evil Deeds.
Some people just shouldn’t be allowed to play with materia.

Rufus raises a hand, palm out. Tseng catches the ripple of energy only because he’s looking for it. Beads of sweat form on Liang’s brow before he sits, movements broken and jerky like a marionette.

“I’ve provided you with ample opportunity to explain yourself,” Rufus says, the lie rolling smoothly off his tongue. “I’m sure you can understand my disappointment.”

Liang’s eyes are wild. His mouth works frantically, but there’s no sound aside from the hiss of his staccato breaths. Rufus smiles.

“I assume you’re familiar with materia and its use,” he says, crossing his legs at the knee. Sunlight breaks through the clouds, turns his clothes a blinding white. “I’ll admit I favour this one.”

Tseng clasps his hands behind his back. He’s accustomed to unconventional tactics in dealing with rats, though since Manipulate was created for exactly this, he’s not certain ‘unconventional’ is the right term.



“Kindly allow Mr. Liang to borrow your gun.”

Tseng nods, popping the cartridge to empty it of all but one bullet. It’s an unnecessary risk, though he doesn’t doubt Rufus’s proficiency with the materia. He simply recognises individuals as unpredictable.

“Take it,” Rufus says. Liang’s hand shakes but he does as he’s told. His eyes are wide and pleading when they meet Tseng’s. “You owe me an apology. I’ll have it now.”

The shot is silenced, the spatter of blood and brains a sharp, sudden red amidst unbroken white. Tseng retrieves his gun from the fallen body’s hand, shaking a handkerchief out of his pocket to wipe it clean from habit.

“I hadn’t expected you to kill him,” Tseng says. He replaces the bullets and removes the silencer, tucking it inside his jacket. “The threat seemed sufficient to frighten him.”

Rufus lifts the materia into the sunlight, watching its sparkle as Tseng calls for two cleanup teams, one for Liang and one for Liang’s desk. “It can force a man to kill himself, Tseng. Impressive for a bauble.”

“Yes, sir,” Tseng agrees.


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