[five gold rings]
Find Your Heart
by Tenshi no Korin
When Elena LeBeau had first shown up for Turk Training Seminar #46: Concealed Weapons and Formal Clothing, she had given the instructors a bit of trouble. They had assumed, wrongly, that formal wear meant tuxedoes only. So it was with a grim bit of satisfaction that she realized that none of her fellow tux-wearing trainees nor her instructors had made the cut, and she was subtly packing a snub-nosed quicksilver delicate special in the cleavage of her skintight red ball gown.
Not that she seemed to have reason for either the ball gown or the pistol, apparently. She hugged herself, heels ringing as she paced on the metal platform of the carousel. She didn't want to doubt Tseng's judgment, really she didn't. He had said there was a potential threat this evening, amid the holiday reopening ceremonies of Gold Saucer, and that he would like her to take a position here, in the powered-down merry go round. Which nixed out the need for the surgical tape it took to keep her holster in place, Elena thought, because she had dressed for the party, not for guard duty. She sighed. Oh well, at least Reno had the decency to hit her on the ass before he and Rude took off for wherever Tseng had assigned them. Three hours of pantyhose and eyeshadow wasn't a complete loss.
Still, Elena thought, it wasn't much of a way to spend Christmas. She clambered onto a prancing horse, his carved wooden mane woven with holly and berries. The carousel was an antique; Dio had found it rusting someplace and refurbished it. Elena knew about that, and the clockworks that ran it, and the single goldleaf-covered chocobo amid the dragons and unicorns and horses and other mythical steeds one could ride on. She'd read the dedication plaque twelve times. She sighed and leaned her forehead against her mount's brass pole. There were fanciful paintings on the ceiling, but she couldn't see them in the dark.
Dead silent, down here. She couldn't even hear the dedication party. She checked her watch, wondering how long it would be until the lights came up, wondering if there was pink champagne upstairs, if Reeve was giving his speech yet. Wondering if it would be completely and utterly unprofessional of her to sit right here and cry.
She didn't have time to find out, as stealthy footsteps came up the ramp behind her. So Tseng had been right, after all. Elena slithered off her horse, rubber soles of her outrageously expensive dance shoes silent on the steel platform. Her fingers dipped down the front of her dress and she winced a little as the gun came free of the tape, metal warm in her hand. She crossed though the forest of frozen animals, ducking under a red dragon's sinuous neck and leaning her back against a pale blue chocobo wing, leveling her pistol at the furtive figure in the dark. Almost in range, c'mon, just a little closer, who would be willingly sneaking around down here anyway?
"Eeep! Don't shoot! Don't shoot!"
Elena lowered her gun, letting out her breath all at once. "Cait! What the hell are you doing down here?"
The animatronic cat poked his nose around the central pillar, ears cautiously flat to his head. "Don't shoot?" he asked again, nervously.
"I'm not going to shoot you, Cait. What are you doing back there?"
The large pink moogle Cait rode on shuffled out, and the smiling harlequin cat adjusted his crown. "Gold Saucer employees, little lady. Just checking everything out before the big power-up." He and his moogle performed an intricate little double bow. "How come you aren't upstairs with all the bigwigs?"
"Turk business," Elena muttered, trying to rig her gun back into her bra. "Thought you were a spy."
"Not at the moment," the cat replied, smiling benignly. "Just checking all the circuitry."
Elena hopped back up on her chosen steed, watching as the robotic cat ordered his stuffed mount around the carousel, investigating plugs and humming to himself.
"So Reeve isn't keeping tabs on you, these days?" Elena had to admit to a certain curiosity about her boyfriend's alter ego. For one thing, she had never quite gotten out of Reeve just how Cait's A.I. worked.
"No need to, ma'am." Cait fiddled with a few switches on the main pillar, and nodded satisfaction. "I come in for my tune ups, just like I'm supposed to. He said I could stay here, keep an eye on things. Always did like this place." He nodded, managing to look proud even with his fixed smiling eyes. Maybe it was the jaunty tilt of his crown.
"Your tune ups?" Elena smiled. She'd never gotten to talk to Cait before, and it was infinitely better than moping down here by herself. "Isn't that a little odd for you?"
Cait arched one furry eyebrow, somehow managing to look like Reeve. "Do you feel odd around your parents, Miss Elena?"
Elena shook her head. "Guess I never thought of it that way."
"Not much difference between being born and being made, Miss Elena. Not much difference at all." He rummaged for a moment in his moogle's zipper, and pulled out a clipboard. "Right, that's the diagnostic, the circuit check, the light rig, the hydraulics, good, I'm all done down here." He stuffed the clipboard back into the moogle, and saluted Elena with a white-gloved paw. "Better be getting on, Ma'am. Good luck with your Official Turk Business."
"Bye, Cait." Elena was sorry to see him go. "Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas Miss-- Oh!" Cait did a little jump, cape flapping. "Hey, tell ya what." The moogle sauntered in closer, squatting down beside Elena's horse's gilded hooves. "It being Christmas and all, how ‘bout you let me tell your fortune?"
"My fortune?" Elena asked, amused. "I haven't got my purse on me."
"Oh, no no, no charge, Ma'am. You're Reeve-san's lady, after all, now let me see." Cait lowered his ears, chin in hand. "S'been a while, gotta think for a sec, okay. Goes like this," He tugged on his moogle's ears, and the mobile stuffed creature preformed a little sideways shuffle, and dispensed a slip of paper out of the top of his head.
"There you go, Miss Elena," Cait said, presenting it to her with a flourish. "One fortune for the Turk-lady."
"Maybe it says I'll get off shift early," Elena said, smiling as she turned over the fortune and held it to the dim light to read. "I can't think of anything better it... could... say..."
Her fortune, in fancy red script across the paper, was: Will you marry me?
From somewhere above there was a roar of applause and distant fireworks, and the dark carousel rumbled into sparkling lights and music. The mirrors tossed out twirling reflections and the steeds began their slow rolling gallop, the ride spinning like a clockwork Christmas ornament. Gold Saucer had reopened, lighting up the night sky for miles around.
Elena was suddenly glad for the carousel pole she was gripping, else she might have fallen right off her gently rocking horse and onto the floor. "Cait," she said, not taking her eyes from the trembling paper in her fingers, "I think you gave me the wrong fortune."
"I hope he didn't," came a voice, from the pale green chocobo to her left, "Or I'll have to scrap his new program." Reeve smiled, reaching across the rising and falling space between them to offer Elena a small silver wrapped box. "Merry Christmas."
"You think she'll say yes?" Reno passed the flask across to the pilot's seat of the ShinRa helicopter parked on Dio's private pad.
Rude tipped the flask back, and leaned back in his seat, fireworks reflecting in his sunglasses. "I don't think she'll say no."
"Damn well better not." Reno loosened his tie, undoing the top three buttons of his tux. "The trouble we went through to set this up." He glanced sideways at Rude, who was watching the lights from the chocobo arena, three levels below them.
"Great spot for the fireworks, Reno." Rude had long since abandoned his tux jacket and tie, folded neatly across the back seat.
"Ain't it, though?" Reno was not looking at the show as he slowly screwed the lid back onto the flask. "'Course, that's not why I picked it."
"Really?" Rude asked, bemusedly. "So why did you pick it, Reno?"
Reno shrugged, and with remarkable dexterity crossed out of his seat and into Rude's, settling comfortably across his lap. "Privacy," he grinned, and pulled the lever to recline the chair all the way back.
The chopper's windows, already tinted for security, were damn near impenetrable when fogged.
"Do you think Elena has had time to answer yet?"
Tseng checked his watch. "I would say they're already back at the party, if they have plans on returning." He tugged his sleeve back down. "I'm sure she wants to scold me properly for leading her astray."
Rufus laughed softly, in the back of his throat.
"You've been very quiet, tonight."
Rufus did not turn away from the gondola window, bursts of red and green fire lighting across his face, splashing his white tuxedo with holiday color. "I've been thinking."
Tseng looked up as a sparkling golden dragon shivered across the sky, artificial thunder booming across the Corel mountains. "This project has been a marvelous success. It's given us the push we need to become a functioning company again."
Rufus shook his head, half-smiling. "Not about that, really." He put his fingertips to the glass, as if trying to touch the shimmering heavens. "About... my mother, actually."
Tseng tilted his head. "Your mother?"
Rufus' smile blossomed the rest of the way, but he seemed unaware of it. "She loved fireworks. We never had them in Midgar, because of the pollution levels, but she would talk about them. And about parties without my father." His blue eyes followed a silver and green comet, streaking towards the sky. "She was here for the first opening of the Saucer, you know. She cut the ribbon."
Tseng nodded. "I remember. Your father was unable to make it."
Rufus was silent for a long span of heartbeats, the gondola rising over the sparkling spires of the roller coaster. "Tseng."
The president of ShinRa Inc. lifted his face to the impressive volley of fireworks across the sky. "Why did you never tell me that Raife was my mother's lover?"
Tseng blinked. "It was not my information to disclose, Rufus." He made an apologetic noise in his throat. "I wasn't even aware that you knew."
"You knew him, didn't you? Raife?"
It was Tseng's turn to look out the window. "We were close, yes. In security together. He and Rude were the first two Turks I chose, when I took over the management."
"Will you," Rufus closed his eyes, leaning his forehead to the glass. "Will you tell me about him? Did he--" his voice was more fragile still than the embers dying in the sky. "Did he make her happy?"
Tseng was a man not given to flights of fancy. He knew, for a fact, that the gondolas in the chain before them were all empty, everyone else still at the party or cheering the first race. So it must have been a trick of their own car's reflection, or the afterimage of the fireworks, to make him look past Rufus into the car beyond and see a shadow of blond hair, face lifted to the lights, the sparkle of diamonds at her throat. He did not have to look further for a painfully familiar profile, a dark blue suit, an unkempt ponytail. It was gone in the space of a second, the rattling gondola obviously empty as it mounted the last curve, fireworks lighting only on worn wooden seats.
"I think he did, Rufus."
Rufus turned away from the window and sank back into his seat as their car clattered back into the station, the smitten attendant eager to open the gate for them and let them back onto solid ground. "That's all I need to know."
it's in every one of us
to be wise
find your heart
open up both your eyes
we can all know everything
without ever knowing why
it's in every one of us
by and by
twelve days of christmas
b i s h o n e n i n k