Mmm, ficspam. Working on everything that I'm not meant to be working on, as usual.
 Because I have no willpower whatsoever: Rufus/Tseng porn
. Tseng's going to have one hell of a laundry bill.Promptback stuff:- schatterstern @ IJ: friendly fire:
101 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Defect From Shinra- shadowwaker: Rufus; acting evil being good:
Good is a point of view, not a way of life. Reeve looks inwards at the strange Pursuit (TM) of Rufus --> Tseng.- logistika_nyx: Yuffie versus Tseng in Wutai, TSENG WINS, because Tseng is a Hippy Tree Hugger (TM). Sort of. Kind of. Almost. Yeah.
Restoration of Wutai post everything; Mako had just been extracted after the War, fallout everywhere, the continent itself being so hard to find, and Tseng there on rufus' business; omg epic aim of better futures through better living
, ftw, bbq, chicken wings.Overdue Springkink stuff:Gundam Wing, 13x6: hair - He liked to play in that long silken tumble.
They liked to call him Treize's dog, and liked even better to call the fall of his hair a leash. Blah blah something about military regulations (and how they don't bother with 'em) and equal standing and Zechs is whipped, but in truth finding something to dedicate himself to = more important than dignity or pride, both of which are the calling cards of vanity in strong men.Baccano!, Claire/Chane: Meet the Gandors - "Bet you fifty he's gonna drag her in here kicking and screaming."
Berga does so love his younger brother. When they'd be children they fought every other day (like all healthy families do) and it was a point of pride for Claire that he hadn't lost his two front teeth the normal way (biting into an apple, brushing too hard, dentist visit), but had had them knocked clean out by Berga's fist during one particularly feisty tumble. Berga's main duty in the family was to doubt Claire, because otherwise the kid just had too much stubborn pride – I'm going to be first in class, I'm going to win tomorrow's race, I'm going to go to the circus, I'm going to marry a girl I met on the roof of a train.
Bet you fifty he's going to drag her in here kicking and screaming, to Firo, and somehow, it always felt like cheating.
Also, Iron Man fic rec of major amazingness: The Value of Secrets
by Maya Tawi. Jarvis/Tony Stark. You know you want to.
Meanwhile, a FMA/Final Fantasy VII
drabble of mine on IJ, linked to avoid 242904 Posts of Death on your flist. Zack and Hawkeye and dogs. Yes, dogs
And then the real post: Title:
When The World EndsFandom:
Claire; Rusty, Luck, Danny and Linus cameosRating:
Crossover written for the No True Pair
challenge over at IJ; prompt being: Rusty and Claire: it's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine. Genfic is the way to go, because I fail at plot and all that other cool stuff. D:Summary:
Playing poker until Armageddon.2192 words and the epic failure of plot!sense. \o/
One last laugh, he promised himself, and it wasn't the kind of promise that dying people made on their deathbeds, but it was close. Close, but never the same – most people put a sort of desperation into those last words, a sort of now-or-never-because-I've-never: not a one last time for old time's sake
but a my first time, because I've never been brave enough
. With other people it was about living a life in five minutes because they hadn't lived it in the fifty years before. On the brink, they blanched, and the sloughing of cells and fading of far futures ignited derring-do and bravado false enough to fuel and fake enough to make them forget.
Claire'd always found it easier to live life like a promise – to do what he wanted, and say what he said, no regrets – why should he ever regret? Life was a buffet spread out before him, and he'd sampled and drunk and laughed his way through all of it. It wasn't as if there wasn't anything left: there was plenty left, would always be plenty left for people like Firo and Luck and Berga and Keith, but now he'd had enough; contentment came at the age of ninety-five, in a glow of a warm San Francisco sunset and the murmur of his fourth, regular goodbye to Chane. He walked down the hills and up them again, and left the flowers that she'd liked on her grave, beautiful and impermanent. Claire wasn't sad; no need to be sad when she'd smiled at him prettily that day, and closed her eyes, going as silently as she'd entered his life.
Now there was an empty space in front of him the way there hadn't been before, and Claire – stretching wrinkled old fingers, brushing down a smooth, loose suit – did as he'd always done: celebrated. 'Luck,' he'd said into the phone the night before, his legs propped up on the empty seat opposite him on a transcontinental train headed steadily towards New York. 'I'm going to come home for a while.' Luck probably knew that there was something up – Luck would call it something wrong
, but there was nothing wrong with nature. Claire laughed at him when Luck asked what--
, and put down before his brother could finish his question.
He spent two weeks in Manhattan after an arrival at Pennsylvania Station that had included a throng of people – one of his sons, an army of his grandchildren (including, to Claire's amusement, young Luck with his distinctly discomfited boyfriend), all of his brothers, Firo, Maiza, Ennis. 'What's this?' he'd asked with feigned surprise and a real grin. Luck – his Luck, not his blood but something thicker than that – had hugged him, in front of God and everyone, because he'd always been able to tell, in some ways, and guess and check and Claire said, 'You can hug harder, you know, I'm not as fragile as I look.'
Firo demanded to know what a hundred year old man was doing riding trains on his own, and when Luck stepped back Claire told Firo, very factually, that he was five years away from that number, and hadn't Firo learnt his numbers yet?
Claire made sure not to let Luck get him alone for the better part of his fourteen days: he went out at night to Staten Island with Firo, drove around Queens with Berga, went to the Met with Keith and Keith's favourite step-son. Ate bagels bought off a pushcart, and pizza in the shadow of the Empire State Building, and sandwiches from every district and rode the new trains on the old subway system. Luck tagged along when he could, but most of the times things just "came up" – one of their men would discover some breach, or there was an accountancy error, or this or that. Claire always smiled and told Luck to dress warm while working.
'You're avoiding me,' Luck said at 2 in the morning the night before Claire was going to leave. 'And very soon, you'll disappear, won't you?'
'Brother, brother, brother,' Claire grinned, patting the bed next to him. He was sleeping on the lower of the two bunks in what had been their old room – he wasn't spry enough to get up to the top anymore. 'You haven't renovated this house in seventy years, Luck. Makes me wonder how well you'll deal with real change.'
'Claire,' Luck said, exasperated and desperate all at once.
'Think of it as an extended vacation,' Claire said, not sympathetically, but as gently as he could muster. He touched his brother's head, tousled brown hair unchanged by the years. 'Go read about your spirits of the dead and remember me.'
Luck said nothing, so Claire pointed to the bunk above his, and they spent a night talking about the past. At four, Claire said, 'I'm going to Vegas,' and Luck said, 'What?'
'Las Vegas,' Claire said, smiling in the darkness.
'What are you going to do there?'
'Play,' Claire said, and then went to sleep.
He left before Luck woke up, and did not look back. Nothing to regret, no sadness, no fear; Claire'd never seen the point, and still didn't. He took the train as far as he could into the desert, and when his taxi pulled up at his hotel he stepped out into a world of lights and darkness and agelessness; a city where no one could be old if they didn't want to be. He tipped the driver outrageously, and put on sunglasses in the dark and strolled up and down past the one armed bandits, looking for the right game and the right players and the right table.
That was going to take some time, so Claire took his time. He bought himself indefinite time in the Presidential suite at the Bellagio, ate breakfasts which rang up three digits, ate lunches and dinners in the best restaurants, and had new clothes tailored because black didn't do so well in the hot afternoons. He visited art galleries and bought pieces that he liked; bought pieces that he didn't like, as well, and put them on the street and sat at al fresco cafes watching as cars ran them over. He gambled rarely, but won hugely. He took day trips out, and smiled at 18 year old attendants until they let him ride those buggies that went over dunes.
After two months were up, he bought a house – glass windows and top of the line security, guard dogs and personnel and cameras, elevators, a vault for the cash that he'd taken out of his liquid accounts. He put up all the art pieces on the walls in front of the windows, held tours for the friends that he'd made over the last eight weeks. 'This one's an honest-to-god Monet,' he said to Mr Ocean of Bellagio Poker Table 2. 'Was the one who died of syphilis, do you think? I can't remember, in my age.'
Mr Ocean courteously gave him a brief history of Impressionist art, and promised to call again; Claire enjoyed his confidence, and also had to prevent himself from smiling and waving that the small camera bug that was now planted at the front of his door. The next day he casually added infra-red sensors and a new lock and made the garage pressure sensitive and threw a party – open doors, anyone and everyone invited. He met Rusty Ryan again at the snack table. Ryan was munching on a shrimp cocktail. 'Cool place, gramps,' he told Claire. 'You're new in Vegas?'
'Want to play my last few hands out here,' Claire nodded, offering Ryan a basket of chips. Crunch, crunch; easy smile, distinctive tattoo, fast hands, faster smile, as if Ryan was talking to a man his age instead of a senior citizen. 'Do you play poker, Mr Ryan?'
'Do I?' Rusty asked, teeth sinking into another chip. He wiped his hands on a garishly purple shirt and stuck it out at Claire. 'How high are your stakes?'
'High,' Claire said, shaking the proffered limb. 'Why don't you and your friend Mr Ocean come down for a game tonight?' He enjoyed the briefest flicker of alarm that crossed Ryan's face. He pulled the young man in, his grip clearly stronger than Ryan had expected it to be. 'Don't worry,' he said. 'I know what rule number one is.'
'You're a thief?' Ryan asked, dubiously.
Claire laughed. 'No. But I've known some, and the rules don't really change from profession to profession. Indulge me. That was what you wanted to hear, wasn't it?'
'What's the catch?' Ryan asked. 'There's always a catch.'
'Have you ever heard the song Forever Young
?' Claire asked. 'I'm sure you have, Mr Ryan. Now,' he said, releasing Rusty's hand, 'it looks like your friend there could do with a bit of help. Ask him along, too. Tell him to come without the false nose.'
'Linus,' Rusty sighed, reaching for a second cocktail. 'How's 10 pm?'
At 10 pm that night, the world began to end, but Claire had triple kings and wine, and four neat piles of chips in front of him. He hadn't played poker in years. 'Tell me, Mr Ryan, Mr Ocean, do you ever get tired of what you do?'
'The job?' Danny asked, playing with his brandy glass. 'No. There's always an angle, Mr Stanfield.'
'Angles,' Rusty corrected him, opening another floor card. 'If there's only one, it's not worth doing. King of hearts.'
'Do you ever think you'll get too old for this?' Claire asked.
'You don't get old,' Rusty said. 'You get sloppy.'
'Mr Ryan,' Claire leaned forward and said. 'Those were exactly the words I wanted to hear.'
Danny paused. Rusty paused. Linus said nothing; it was always better to say nothing. Claire leaned back again, a sparkle in his eye.
'How did you like my house?'
'It's interesting,' Danny and Rusty said. Danny yielded.
'Good work on the windows, and interesting choice of bait,' Rusty conceded. 'I really liked the food.'
'My pleasure,' Claire said, putting down a winning combination. 'Let's see how many more rounds you can go?' he proposed, sorting his chips. He flipped a fifty around his fingers, up a knuckle then down again, up again and down again.
'We'll be here all night if we have to, sir,' Rusty said, and dealt Claire another hand.
Every now and then, between one thing and the next, Claire would say something - something about Chane, or about New York, or the circus - and Rusty would nod, and Danny would nod, and Linus would say nothing; it was always better to say nothing. Claire didn't drop a single game; the cards came and the cards went, but he just sat there and won and won and won. Every once in a while, Claire played with the spare jokers out of the pack, a twist to his lips that no one there would've understood.
They were in their twenty-eighth game when Linus finally broke. 'I'm sorry guys, but what's the point
here? Mr Stanfield's an incredible and gifted old man, but he knows who we are, so shouldn't we be shaking hands and walking away?'
'You have to forgive him,' Danny said, clapping Linus on the shoulder.
'Traumatic childhood,' Rusty agreed, shuffling the deck. 'Tragic, really.'
'I'll talk with him a moment, pardon me,' Danny followed up, tugging Linus by the collar and pulling him away.
'What?' Linus said, when they were out of earshot.
'If Rueben wanted to play poker until Armageddon, would you let him?' Danny asked.
Linus stared at him. 'Of course I would, it's Reuben
,' and then Danny said, 'Well, that's why we're here. He's an old man, and we're not robbing him any more than he wants to be robbed. Now get back to there, and show some respect this time.'
Rusty was the one who asked Claire how he managed it. Cameras? Sleight of hand? Loaded deck?
'Maybe I'm Henry Sugar,' was Claire's response.
Rusty looked at him. 'Why do this?'
'I could never win against my brothers,' Claire shrugged neatly, smiling. 'Call it making up for lost time.'
Dawn was breaking when Claire placed his final bet - all in, and an envelope thrown in on top of the chips. 'Call it a bonus,' he told the others, and when he got his hand - not a single pair, nothing of the same suit, no chance of a five-card play - everything started to wind down, and Claire smiled and smiled and smiled, smiled when Rusty put down a royal flush and cleared him out.
'Time for an old man to go to bed,' he told them, rising and laughing out loud. 'You'll leave by the front door like civilised guests.'
'It's been a pleasure,' they told him, shaking his hand. Linus advised him to use a ergonomic pillow; it would help his back. They walked out of there with his will and his money; unimportant things.
Claire went to bed, and didn't wake up the morning that the world ended, a movie in his mind now run full out of film.
Spirits of the Dead, by Edgar Allan Poe:
Thy soul shall find itself alone
'Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone;
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.
Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness- for then
The spirits of the dead, who stood
In life before thee, are again
In death around thee, and their will
Shall overshadow thee; be still.