Five o’Clock Skyline

Rude/Tseng. PG. ~650 words. For Spring Kink.
Rude notices things because that’s what he’s paid for.

Rude tries to not take things for granted. He’s seen it one too many times before, a suit getting too comfortable with a cushy deal, a SOLDIER too caught up in his own invincibility to notice the bullet headed straight for his brain. Putting on the black suit means Rude’s life-expectancy is only slightly lower than anybody else’s in this city, as long as he doesn’t wake up stupid one morning.

He stretches his legs out and tucks one arm under the other. The cesspool across the street has been fairly quiet for the last few of hours; one antsy pizza delivery guy, a whore and her john, two mako-poppers. Reno’s holed up in a room near the lobby with a couple of grunts to check out the comers-and-goers. Intel says their mark isn’t smart enough for a disguise, but Rude’s like Tseng in that he doesn’t like to take chances.

Rude’s gaze shifts three feet to the left. Tie loosened and jacket hung from the bedpost, Tseng looks almost as skinny as Reno. His eyes are closed, face slack with sleep. Looking at him, someone would be hard-pressed to believe whispering his name is enough to snap him fully awake in one second flat. Rude scratches at the evening stubble on his chin.

Tseng has a habit of flying solo. When they’re not working a job together, he and Reno usually have at least a grunt, most oftentimes a SOLDIER or two, for backup. Rude doesn’t think it’s cockiness, or some Wutian lone-warrior thing like Reno jokes about–Tseng has the face of one, and that tattoo curled sinuous as a snake at the nape of his neck isn’t any symbol from this side of the ocean, but Tseng’s on ShinRa’s payroll. Any ties he might’ve had with his homeland were cut long ago.

Tseng’s dark eyes glint in the headlights of a passing car.

“No sign yet,” Rude says.

Bedsprings creak in protest as Tseng sits up. He rests his back to the naked, pockmarked plaster, leg drawn up and elbow on his knee. His voice is rougher than Rude expects when he asks, “Have you eaten?”

Rude grunts softly, eyes back on the window and a thumb jerked at the cartons spread across the rickety table.

The bed squeaks again. Tseng’s footsteps are breath-soft on the industrial carpet. “Vegetarian,” he says, sifting through the cold carryout. “Your preference?”

Rude makes a low affirmative sound deep in his throat. He murmurs quietly to Reno’s team there’s an incoming, but Rude knows it’s not their guy. Reno treats him to a few curses muttered straight in his ear before going silent.

Tseng pushes away from the edge of the table and comes to stand a few feet from the window, opposite Rude, the deep shadows nearly swallowing him whole. The light from the fizzing streetlamp outside falls just a few inches away from his bare toes.

Rude notices things because that’s what he’s paid for. Murder and mayhem’s only about one-quarter the job. His life doesn’t depend on knowing that Tseng is as efficient with chopsticks as he is a gun, or that his feet are slender and smooth as his hands.

Sleeping under the watch of someone else implies a sense of trust. They’ve all shift-slept before, been holed up in dark rooms with one another where there’s no breathing room and even less privacy. Somehow, half-dressed with his toes peeking out from the cuffs of his slacks, Tseng seems more vulnerable right now than when he was asleep.

Tseng’s job description is the same as his, so Tseng notices him noticing. “Care to go for a walk?” he asks.

“Got movement,” Rude says, realising a second too late Tseng already knew. He shakes his head and rises, pulling on his gloves as he heads for the door. Glancing back to see Tseng sink to the floor and check the sight on a sniper rife, Rude doesn’t need to wish him luck.


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