Tseng: Tseng made a choked sound into his glass, it was a noise he generally made when trying not to laugh. "You being sarcastic? Never."
He sipped at his drink, waiting for the inevitable explosion from his friend. Rufus did not disappoint. Rather than interrupt and add fuel to the fire, Tseng settled in to listen, sucking placidly on the lime wedge in his drink before finishing it off. He knew their little war was far from over. That was the way things went, with him and Rufus. Once begun, it was impossible to keep the stakes from escalating, and generally the retaliations didn't stop until something, or someone had crossed the line.
The next couple of weeks were going to be very interesting, Tseng thought to himself. He couldn't help but wonder when the strike would come. It was the worst part of the whole thing, really. The waiting. Even if the best defense was a good offense, it was a little tricky to plan against the unknown. And Rufus was...uncomfortably clever. Almost too much for his own good. It had certainly made his father uncomfortable.
Tseng sighed, and tilted his glass back to catch some ice chips. He chewed noisily, waiting for Rufus to wind down.
"Don't worry, I think your little tirade has distracted them from whatever drinking problems you may or may not have cultivated." He smiled as the customers around them hurriedly averted their gazes and started up new conversations. Tseng looked at Rufus's new drink, then, not to be outdone, turned to the bartender.
"Black Russian, and keep them coming."
Rufus: Rufus took his new drink in hand, calmly looking down at the reddish mix of juice, rum, and vodka. Among other things. The taste turned out to be less than stellar, needing a bit less grenadine, but he wasn't entirely in the mood to complain. It had the proper amount of most everything else, and that was what mattered at the moment. Rum and vodka and pineapple. A match made in some lesser heaven but a heaven nonetheless. He took another good sized sip before sitting it on the bar and taking a moment to internally cringe at the sound of Tseng busily crunching ice.
"They say doing that is a sure sign of sexual frustration..." he mused halfway to himself before leveling a piercing glare his way. "I say it's annoying. Stop it."
So maybe he wasn't in the mood to complain about the drink, but anything else was fair game. Thankfully Tseng appeared to be done with his vodka tonic, opting for something entirely new that made Rufus halfway resentful of the drink he had settled on himself. "I am not cultivating a drinking problem." He growled, staring longingly at the new drink that was coming toward... Tseng. Coffee liqueur.
He had to forcibly look away, not wanting to appear envious in the slightest, downing another long gulp of the Hurricane and finding it even less appealing than before. There wasn't enough pineapple. And the amount of grenadine was dragging down the taste. The drinks at Costa were better. And Lockheart could make a much better martini and... He took another heavy swig of the drink until it was three quarters gone. Hurricane glasses were quite large. He should have been pacing himself. And so he swept the glass back and forth a bit, staring at the patterns of condensation on the bar's surface before glancing once more at Tseng's newest drink.
"How is that, anyway?"
Tseng: Tseng stirred his empty tonic glass distractedly, waiting for his next drink. Whatever the next person had chosen for the jukebox, it wasn't any better. At some point that would have to be rectified. He was contemplating starting in on the ice again, then...
He laughed, startled, before he could recover and turn it into a cough. The President's bad mood certainly was out in full force tonight. "Do they?"
Tseng turned to him with one eyebrow raised with deliberate smugness. "I wouldn't know anything about that."
All right, so that was a lie, but it wasn't nearly late in the evening enough to start commiserating. There was almost a schedule to these things, and it was one that most often included a systematic peeling back of layers upon layers of sarcasm. If they ever got that far.
Tseng received his new drink gladly, immediately taking a sip and then sighing with contentment. There were people who tried different things everywhere they went. He was of the opinion that perhaps these people just hadn't found their grail, the one cocktail they could drink on end and never be sick of. Whoever had come up with the idea of combining alcohol and coffee deserved some sort of commendation. Perhaps a medal. He watched Rufus making faces in his peripheral vision, and sneaking a look at the drink in his hand. Waiting for the inevitable question, he was not disappointed.
"This?" Tseng took a long swallow of his drink, eyeing Rufus over the rim of the glass. He was careful not to smile, as though the way the President had been staring at his drink like it was water in the desert had completely escaped him.
"It's all right," he said, smiling more in the corners of his eyes than his mouth. He was lying, of course. Tseng had never quite figured out what it was about this little bar, but they made perfect Black Russians.
Rufus: Well, he hadn't thought that one through. And the smug look on Tseng's face only served him to think... pot? Kettle? Hah. Turning a little away, he sipped his Hurricane, trying not to feel altogether owned by his, most likely still grinning friend. Perhaps he was drinking too fast. Letting things go before carefully planning what he was going to say. Mumbling, "Asshole..." under his breath as he took a longer sip from the cup...
Bah. Sobriety was for other people.
And he was running out of booze. And had yet to have anything really good. And that Black Russian looked inviting, even though he would have much preferred a White Russian, despite how much Tseng would most likely raise his voice in a fit of mocking. But... he liked White Russians. And it would be nice to have something remotely good for a change.
He glared at Tseng upon hearing the verdict. All right? Hah. Tseng was a remarkable good liar but... Rufus had known him too long and this was so obviously a lie mixed with amusement at his expense. He watched him take another sip. That Black Russian had to be smooth. Coffee related alcoholic beverages were to Tseng what tropical ones tended to be for Rufus. And Tseng was clearly not making faces like Rufus was while finishing off that Hurricane. Almost as if forced. Perhaps in an attempt just to pack away the liquor.
He thunked the glass on the counter, feeling distinctly less sober than he had when he ordered the drink. Now what? The bartender appeared to be assisting someone else on the other end of the bar and... soon enough Rufus found himself snaking his arm slowly toward the Black Russian. As if he was being at all covert about it. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But then again, a lot of things seemed like good ideas to Rufus when he was drunk. Burning things on the roof. Making a drunken fool out of himself at parties.
Attempting to threaten a Turk for his alcohol...
Tseng: There was a dull clunk against the counter, and Tseng glanced over at Rufus, now the proud owner of an empty glass. Except he didn't look proud so much as...disappointed and vaguely pissed off. As per usual.
The bartender was still across the room, and Tseng debated calling him over, or checking to see whether there was someone else working...
He had a feeling that just hopping over the counter and starting to make their own drinks might be frowned upon. They were not in Seventh Heaven, after all.
Tseng watched out of the corner of his eye, as Rufus's hand snaked towards his drink. The President was clearly drunker than he'd anticipated, as it was only ever in these moments that Rufus thought himself quick enough to outmanuever his Turks. And, well, that was not to say it wasn't possible, just that - this was Tseng. He hadn't risen to the top due to his good looks (despite cracks made to the contrary.)
"I suppose you'll be wanting one with cream in it," Tseng said, tone of voice indicating exactly how he felt about the addition of dairy product to a perfectly good beverage.
"You're going to lose that hand," he added, almost as an afterthought.
Rufus: Stopping his hand in mid advance, Rufus leveled a glare at Tseng, albeit a half drunken one. Slightly less intimidating and to Tseng? Probably not all that intimidating at all. Like he would be able to go up against someone whose profession involved being able to read the smallest movements. Not to mention that Tseng was obviously more sober than Rufus. And that Rufus had pretty much made his interest in that little glass a bit too noticeable.
But the bartender had mysteriously vanished. Probably going back in the storeroom. And Rufus wanted it now.
"I... can manage. It doesn't have to be a White Russian. It just has to be mine," he halfway growled, staring at the drink and not at Tseng. Rufus was his boss. As such that should have meant something. Sure there were all those times Tseng had protected him or taken jobs that put his life on the line. This shouldn't have been too much to ask. Just a simple... request. Or so Rufus managed to rationalize in his murky-thought laden head.
It was a pity they knew each other too well for Tseng to take most of the unimportant things seriously. Like silly orders. That had to do with alcohol.
Not that Rufus took the threat against his hand seriously. Not in the slightest. That drink would be his, if Rufus' creeping hand had anything to say about it.
Tseng: Tseng rolled his eyes, albeit to no one as Rufus's attentions were still concentrated mainly on the drink on the counter.
"Well this one is mine. You can't have it." He was not going to hand it over. Even though the bartender would likely be back soon, and all too happy to take his order. It was the principle of the thing. While the job description may have stipulated laying down his life for Rufus Shinra, it had said nothing about handing over alcohol unwarranted. Rufus was just going to have to wait.
Patience. Wonderful. Tseng was very fond of his friend, but he didn't exactly harbour any delusions about the President's relative strengths and weaknesses. Rufus hated waiting. He would probably take a half-finished Black Russian now, rather than a new one at some undetermined time in the future.
Where was that damn bartender? Tseng was starting to rethink his policy on Not Climbing Behind The Bar. It was either that or finish the whole drink in one go, and as ambitious as Tseng was... that was a little much. Even for him.
"You probably wouldn't even like it that much," Tseng said, realising in that moment that he was probably going to have to give in. Either that or slap Rufus's hand away, and he had a feeling that that route would end in violence, and an undignified heap on the ground. He was definitely too sober for that, yet.
Damn, damn, damn.
Of course he couldn't just give the drink to Rufus. That would be too easy. Tseng sighed, and let go of the glass on the counter, sliding his hand away to let fate - or more accurately, Rufus - do the rest.
Rufus: Rufus' smirk only grew with Tseng's very vocal denial of the drink yet again. To tell Rufus he couldn't have something was almost an open invitation for him to want it more. Perhaps it was spite. Or maybe it was all a game to him. Especially while drunk. He stared at the way Tseng was clutching that drink and somehow it seemed... even more enticing. Forbidden fruit in alcohol form. If nothing else, Rufus Shinra had to have that Black Russian.
"Oh, Tseng." He composed himself just enough to look incredibly sober. "Haven't you noticed yet that I get what I want?" But once again, it seemed more like Rufus was talking to that half-filled glass as opposed to the Turk.
He shrugged off Tseng's attempt at getting him to give up on this quest for the drink. "Not for you to decide. Give it." Sure he was probably right but that didn't seem to sink into Rufus' brain. Also he had heard something in Tseng's voice that made him think that it was working. He was going to cave. Soon. Soon.
How he managed to not hoot like some drunken idiot when the glass was relinquished and sat unattended would be beyond him in the morning. Or afternoon. Or whenever he would be fully awake. And so he grabbed it and... downed most of it. Making a somewhat disgusted face at Tseng before folding his arms on the bar and turning his gaze toward the glass -- now less than a quarter left. It was almost as if it had offended the president somehow. Lied to him after calling and calling and masquerading as something good and delicious. Now he had a strange aftertaste in his mouth and he felt a little more fuzzy. This sucked.
"Eh," was all he said as he pushed the remains back at the Turk, flagging down the bartender again and ordering a White Russian. The only kind that was remotely civilized. There must have been something wrong with Tseng to order that. Definitely.
Tseng: It was only slightly disappointing when Rufus chose not to celebrate his victory with some loud and potentially blackmailable display. Perhaps the both of them were still entirely too sober. It was a distinct possibility. One that would obviously have to be rectified at soonest opportunity. If the bartender ever came back.
Watching the events unfolding at his side, Tseng couldn't help but feel oddly like the third party present in a deeply dramatic confrontation between Rufus and his drink. It had a rather anti-climactic finish, at any rate, with the reappearance of their wandering drink-purveyor. He shuddered at the idea of adding cream to a perfectly good drink.
Tseng shot Rufus an exasperated look. He was going to kill him, one of these days. He would have too much to drink, or a scuffle would escalate and just - bam. He was going to kill him. The drink wasn't even finished. ...Somehow, after taking a moment to collect himself, Tseng was not at all surprised.
"You're like a child, I hope you know that." He signaled the bartender as he went by, definitely ready for the 'keep them coming' part of his previous drink order. Tseng knocked back the meagre remains of his original drink. If he was to keep from murdering his boss, he was going to have to start finding things a whole lot funnier much faster. Then again, Rufus was probably doing it on purpose.
Tseng fixed him with a look. "You're not dragging me into your weird little dementia of bad mood mind games," he said, as drink number two...or was it three, now, found its way to the counter-space in front of him. As if he had any choice in the matter. Tseng knew quite well, as Rufus probably did, that there was little if any way to keep from becoming completely embroiled in winning their petty rivalries. It was practically the basis of their friendship, after all.
Rufus: "If I'm like a child, then I suppose you're like some crotchety old man." He grinned, perhaps a bit too widely for what usually graced his face. Not that Tseng was... well, that much older. Just that when Rufus was twenty-one, Tseng had been thirty. And it had been rather funny then. That and the hair jokes had been getting rather stale. And he hadn't eaten much that day so alcohol might have been affecting his ability to come up with proper comebacks.
No. More likely it was just amusing. Tseng was old.
And incredibly annoyed over the issue of that drink. Which was somehow slightly more amusing.
The bartender returned again, shortly thereafter with his drink, which Rufus grabbed without hesitation. That was more like it. Smooth. And the right color to boot. Another sip and he turned to Tseng absently listening to him go on about mind games and answering the mini-rant with a smile that usually confused strangers into being unsure what he must have been thinking. Was it genuine or was he considering how many bullet holes it would take to shut them up? Sometimes it was both.
He shook his head condescendingly before flicking back a few wayward locks of blond hair and contorting his face into that of a cocky grin. "You just don't wanna get dragged into this game because you know you'll lose."
Sometimes Rufus liked dancing with the devil. It could be relatively easy entertainment at times and he knew that if Tseng ever snapped and attempted to shoot a few round at him, at least he'd be getting good exercise.
Tseng: "I am not old," Tseng retorted, unable to stop himself. He frowned, and took a sip of his new drink. Thought better, and took a long swallow. Somehow in the time since he'd joined the Turks, his tolerance for alcohol had increased exponentially, but they had been going through rather a lot rather quickly. He had the unpleasant feeling it was going to hit him all at once.
At least he didn't have to guard the drink anymore. Tseng smiled cruelly.
"I'm very much looking forward to the complete mental breakdown you'll have upon turning thirty."
It was a low blow, but then Tseng never really bothered with common politeness when dealing with Rufus. They'd known each other too long, and what was the point of being privy to a person's deep and secret neuroses if you didn't get to use them as a weapon every now and then. This Black Russian was disappearing much faster than the first. Unwanted "help" nonwithstanding.
He raised his eyebrows at the cocky statement. Considered not rising to the bait. Took a sip of his drink. Sighed a little, and accepted the inevitable. A Rufus oozing with confidence had never been something he was any good at resisting.
"I never lose," Tseng said, turning to Rufus and leaning one arm against the counter. "I let you win. There's a difference."
Rufus: Rufus grinned from behind his raised glass at the quickness of the response. It was always the same but usually came after more careful deliberation. He wasn't drunk yet, sure, but it was getting to him which in turn amused Rufus. Coupled with the sweet, sweet White Russian things were starting to look up.
Still, despite that, he couldn't help his eyes from raising a little in a slightly disturbed manner at the thought of him turning... thirty. It had been bad enough turning twenty-six. He managed to at least outwardly shrug it off, however; draining the drink even more before casually grinning at the man. "I am sure that I'll somehow manage to get by... knowing that when I am thirty you will be thirty nine. And that's almost forty."
Which was true. Somewhat. It would at least lessen the blow a bit knowing that he was still quite a bit younger than Tseng. Which was about as comforting as hilarious, when digging deeper into how much Rufus hated getting older. Twenty-three through twenty-five had been golden years. When one got beyond all the near death experiences. Now he could have sworn he was achier than usual. But at least when he was nine, Tseng had been eighteen. And that was just too hilarious for words.
He blinked at Tseng's blatant lie before mirroring the Turk, leaning an elbow against the bar and feigning a thoughtful look. "Oh really? You do all that for me, Tseng?" And then back was the smirk. "You hate losing. And losing to me? I would assume that's downright painful. I'm just... hmmm... better. Yes. I think better is the word I'm lookin' for."
Tseng: Tseng rolled his eyes again, feeling somewhat as though they were going to end up stuck in that position, before the night was over. It didn't exactly bother him, getting older, but over the years consistent cracks on the subject had worn a little thin. Especially coming from Rufus. Tseng drained his glass.
"It must grate on you," he said, thunking the glass down on the counter without turning away from Rufus. "Getting older but not wiser. It's a shame, really."
Tseng drummed his fingers against his leg, waiting for the next drink to find its way to him. While it was true that he couldn't stand to lose, there was the occasional moment when he found it easier to let Rufus think he'd won. Revenge, as the old proverb went, was a dish best prepared in total secrecy, and then dropped from the rooftops onto your enemies in the dead of night.
Then again, Wutai had had some truly strange proverbs.
Preferring not to dwell on unpleasant memories, Tseng lifted his new glass from the bartender's hand without looking over, and before it could be put down on the counter. Things were starting to feel a little blurry around the edges in his head, now. He leaned forward just a bit and prodded Rufus in the shoulder, a surefire sign that the alcohol had indeed found its way to his bloodstream. Tseng generally made a point of avoiding physical contact, unless it was forced, or violent. Or both.
"Better?" He smirked triumphantly. "Better at what, exactly? I taught you everything you know."
Rufus: Rufus smiled smugly at Tseng's jab, shaking his head and finishing off the White Russian. Which was thankfully replaced with another soon enough. Perhaps someone had actually started to pay attention. Perhaps realized who their humble establishment was serving and... could they have been any more idiotic? Slow on the uptake?
"Grate on me? Pfft. I am composed of wisdom. One may even say that there is no way I am able to become any more... wise... like."
He made a face at his drink, knowing that it was starting to get to him. How many had it been so far? He wasn't entirely sure anymore but it tasted good and despite the occasional moments of slowness in his thought processes, he was feeling somewhat warm. Pleasant? Well, internally at least. Although that may also have had to do with his attempts to piss of Tseng. And the fact that he had almost forgotten why he was so mopey to begin with.
He tossed back another swig before giving Tseng a lopsided curious look. The Turk must have been getting drunk. He seemed a little bit not himself at that moment. Then again, everything was a little hazy. He took another sip of his drink, finding that it was disappearing a lot faster than he thought it should... but oh well.
"When you first met me, I was but a learner... but... now..." He paused thoughtfully. "Well. You get the picture. I can beat you at chess. And risk. Monopoly. I have a bigger fanclub." He leaned in and poked Tseng back, perhaps a bit harder than he meant to... It was a little difficult to regain his balance after that. He raised an eyebrow and smirked. "I get more mail too. How d'you like that?
It might not have all been entirely relevant, but to a drunk Rufus Shinra it sure seemed like proof that he was better. At least in a general sense.
Tseng: Tseng tilted his head, regarding his friend with ill-concealed amusement. "News flash," he said, raising his drink in a mock toast to Rufus before taking a sip. "Being a smug bastard and being wise are not the same things."
Well, there it was. Tseng felt he had crossed that undefinable line between sober and...not. Quite. Not that he wasn't habitually sarcastic with the President when there wasn't anyone around to set the example for, but he normally refrained from name calling. Usually. He frowned at his drink, before taking another liberal sip. It seemed as though he'd had more than a few of these, but the more he thought about it, the less he found he could define the exact number.
It had been more than three, at any rate. Possibly more than four. He was definitely, probably, going to have to stop. Soon. Someone, after all, was going to have to make sure they made it out of the bar on their own two feet, and that sort of thing wasn't Rufus's responsibility. Then again, perhaps it was slightly tiresome of him to be worrying about the details in every little excursion they went on. Tseng often wondered what would happen if he just scattered organisation to the wind.
Then a little voice popped in, proclaiming that they would end up dead or starving or lost in that godsforsaken desert surrounding the Gold Saucer. It wasn't that Tseng was a paranoid person, he just liked to be prepared in the case of an emergency. Or really, in case any little thing happened to go wrong.
"You only have bigger fanclub because none of them know what you're really like," he said, narrowly resisting the urge to nudge his newly balanced friend and send him teetering on the stool once more. "And all that mail is bills, I don't know who you think you're fooling, here."
Rufus: "Better a smug bastard than having a stick shoved up my ass." Rufus sipped his drink in a most dignified manner before bursting into laughter. Stick shoved up his ass. Whoever thought that saying up was clearly on something. But Tseng often seemed a little disgruntled. And he did have phenomenally great posture. So the metaphor still stood. Stood to be laughed at, but at least Rufus wasn't giddy. Because that would be most embarrassing indeed.
Tseng appeared to be making faces at his drink which only led Rufus to believe that he too was sinking into the world of inebriation. Which only led him to wonder which of them would get more trashed. As a general rule, Tseng was usually far more sober than Rufus but... at the same time... which of them had had more to drink at that point? Rufus wasn't sure. And while he wasn't altogether one hundred percent comfortable relying on anyone, it was usually good to know that Tseng would probably know which direction would take them back to Edge. Because... Rufus generally didn't. And probably wouldn't by the end of the night. And waking up in a ditch didn't sound like a good way to spend the morning.
Rufus snickered a little at Tseng's reasoning... which degenerated into a slightly dangerous chuckle as he thunked the near empty glass on the bar and flicked back his hair a bit more forcibly than before. "You're just jealous. And I've got money..." He tapped on the bar with one finger as if counting. "And the company. And the looks." Two more fingers. "They'd still like me. Refute that!" He punctuated the final statement by finishing off the drink and looking at Tseng even more drunkenly.
"Have you... been lookin' in my mail? I'd say that's a bit uncall... un... wrong."
Tseng: Tseng smothered a laugh at Rufus's sudden outburst. Instead of irritation, there was only a lazy sort of calmness, good-humoured and warm. He traced a finger lazily around the rim of his glass, waiting for Rufus to compose himself. It was probably the fault of the alcohol, rather than any change in Tseng himself, but for the moment, he was feeling almost...cheery.
"You're not that funny, you know." He paused thoughtfully, before finishing off his drink and banging the glass down. "And I do not have a stick up my..." Something sounding suspiciously like a snicker escaped Tseng's throat. Oh no. No, that would never do. He was not laughing, because it was not funny. All right, so an irresistible urge to laugh at nothing in particular was not exactly a cogent argument for sobriety. So long as he did not have to carry anyone...
He eyed Rufus speculatively.
The President was definitely inebriated now, either that or in an incredibly good mood all of a sudden. As optimistic as Tseng was, he had a feeling it was the former. Past precedent, after all, had borne very little show of good humour from Rufus. On purpose, anyways. When sober. It had sort of been the covert point of this night anyways, to cheer Rufus up. The key was to do it without him ever noticing.
Mission accomplished, Tseng thought to himself, and reached for his next drink looking rather pleased. In a gesture of immense goodwill, helped along by only having heard half of what he'd said, Tseng ignored his friend's ranting about money and power, then bumped his knee to get his attention. It seemed like the proper thing to do.
"You're going to get whiplash flipping your hair around like that," he said. "Either that or you'll fall off that stool, and you're not taking me with you."
Rufus: "Pffft. Sure, Tseng." Rufus rolled his eyes. Not that funny? Rufus was the funniest person he knew. Especially there, in that bar with the quickly piling empty glasses. Tseng was just generally extra good at not laughing. Or so Rufus had figured. It would compromise his fierce, horrific image and that couldn't happen to the head of the Turks. He pointed a finger in accusation. "If I'm not funny, then why're you laughing? I know you're about to laugh. You can admit that I'm hilarious. I won't tell anyone."
He cleared his throat, realized that he had been leaning forward a little and perhaps looked incredibly drunk at that point, and straightened up his posture on the seat again. So drunk. So very drunk. And for him to actually admit that he was drunk, even inwardly ... generally meant that he was really drunk. It was almost amusing. And maybe that was why he felt... okay.
Also, Tseng had funny hair. For some odd reason it was even more noticeable when he was drunk. All long and girlish and flowy and that would probably also be a reason why Rufus was better than him. The hair. Hah.
He started to voice this idea when a new glass mysteriously appeared for him, but was cut off when he felt Tseng nudge him with his knee. Well, that was unorthodox. He leaned forward and bumped him right back, more forcibly, only to find himself needing to grab the bar to steady himself. Oh, yes. Rufus was feeling particularly mature at that point.
"Haven't gotten whiplash yet... Doesn't your hair ever get stuck in things? That'd be terrible." He smirked wickedly and sipped his drink. "And I'm perfectly fine up here."
Rufus looked down at his hand and realized it was still clutching the bar. Well... that probably looked bad. He let go as nonchalantly as possible. He was perfectly find. Perfectly. He rolled his eyes again. "Don't worry. I won't drag you down with me. Even though it's your job n'all."