Thin Ice

Authors Notes

1) This story contains yaoi. That's YAOI. Y.A.O.I. YAOI!!!

2) If there are inaccuracies in my turk stories, forgive me, I'm playing the game with my sister and as a result I've missed a few scenes.

3) This is dedicated to Crunchbucket, a LOVELY friend who is one year older today! (She doesn't love yaoi quite like I do, but nobody's perfect, heh-heh)

4) This isn't a PWP yaoi fiction. I like a bit of plot with my yaoi... most of the time (more evil laughter).

5) Review!

Rufus slid his arms into the sleeves of his dry-cleaned coat hesitantly, still a little nervous about attending the funeral of his favourite employee. He had ordered a proper military funeral, and for all the property owned by the employee to be taken to Shinra headquarters. Most of the property had been divided out amongst close friends, but Rufus had been permitted to take some items for himself. The rest were given to charity, as the deceased would have wanted.

Tseng. Rufus had wept bitterly for hours after hearing the news of his death. He knew that if he attended the funeral, he would probably start weeping again. But, should he choose not to attend, the others would see it as a deliberate snub. He could not bear that thought.

Rufus hated wearing black, but there was no other colour that he could wear to the funeral. If he wore his usual white, it would be thought of as mockery, but he still hated wearing the colour. It was morbid, depressing, and he was certain it made him look small and feminine.

Fastening up the buttons on his coat, Rufus picked up the bouquet of flowers he had brought to place on Tseng's gravestone and took out a single white rose. Ignoring the sharp prick of thorns against his fingers, he took a pair of scissors from his dressing table and cut off the stem, tucking the flower neatly into his coat pocket. Taking the bunch of flowers in his right hand, Rufus looked at himself in the mirror, making certain that he looked respectable for the funeral. A few final adjustments to the way his coat hung from his shoulders, and the young president made his way down to the lobby, where the escort awaited.

The funeral was kept brief and to the point, much as Tseng would have wanted, but Rufus felt his cheeks colour slightly as the service ended to a rather out-of-place tune. Even if it had been Tseng's favourite song, rock was NOT appropriate for a solemn occasion, and the young president made a mental note to talk with whoever had supplied the music.

Rufus kept to himself for much of the occasion, until they were driven to the site where he was to be buried. It had seemed... unreal, somehow, until people started throwing handfuls of soil on top of the coffin. Fighting back tears, Rufus noticed that several people were having less success at repressing their emotions, not least Elena of the turks who had been taken back to one of the cars so that her sobbing would not disturb the others. Her two fellow turks, Rude and Reno, both bowed their heads in silence, but neither of them wept. Tseng had been a friend to many people, but Elena was the only person who had fallen in love with him. Even Rufus' own minor infatuation with Tseng seemed minuscule next to the devotion Elena had given to the deceased.

Rufus waited for the majority of attendants to disperse before he paid his last respects to Tseng's grave, his only companions being the turks and a gravedigger anxious to finish filling in this new gap in the Shinra cemetery. It felt so difficult to recite the few lines he had prepared for the funeral, but he knew he had to do it. Tseng had been more of a father to him than his true parent ever had been, more of a friend, and more of a loyal worker than anyone else Rufus knew. "Tseng, you were a brother to me, a friend in my darkest hour. You were a father to me, without holding me you could make things feel better than they ever truly were. You made lies and gossip feel small and insignificant, and the truth feel so bright and beautiful it appeared to be falser than the lies you belittled. And even though we rarely touched, in my eyes, you were a lover to me."

"That was beautiful," Reno commented, a partly bitter, partly sorrowful, and partly sweet smile on his lips. Rufus turned away from the red-haired turk, wishing that no words had been spoken. It hurt, to have to take such a private matter out into public view, but it was the most appropriate manner of mourning, aside from the black ribbon around his wrist.

"Only the truth, Reno."

Rufus started walking, leaving the turks to go back separately, wanting to have a few moments alone before he returned to the Shinra building. As the cold air sent shivers up his spine, he began to wish he was in his normal, comfortable white coat. However, the black gave him an advantage; camouflage. In amidst tarmac roads, buildings that blocked out even moonlight, and badly lit streets, he only blended into the background.

The enormous buildings had never frightened Rufus, as he had been brought up in the even larger Shinra building. Hell, his mother had given birth to him on one of the highest floors. And his father had always explained the logic of civilisation expanding upwards, rather than out into the surrounding area. Security over a wide expanse was difficult; a concentrated expanse, however, was much easier to govern.

Rufus heard his slight cough echoing down an empty alleyway, and hugged himself tighter. For a short, foolish moment he had thought about how much trouble he would be in with Tseng for staying out alone, and then the truth hit him again. Indeed, with Tseng gone, Rufus was more alone than he had ever been. He hoped the dark-haired turk would watch over him for as long as possible, wherever his soul rested now.

Eventually Rufus arrived back at the Shinra building, found Reno at the door, pacing and fuming quietly until his eyes registered that the young president had walked inside. Rufus gave the red-haired turk a small smile and nod in return for his loyal waiting, before making his way back to the office and to bed. It was not very far into the night, but nonetheless, the blond felt incredibly tired.

Settling back into a fairly tight schedule, spending any spare time making certain that business deals were watertight and upping the security on the mako reactors in case of further sabotage attempts, Rufus found life starting to feel more normal. The dull ache of loneliness was exactly that; dull and forgettable, easy to brush aside as long as he didn't allow himself too much time to think about his own feelings. Nonetheless, the slight pain would not go away, and the young president began to consider how horrible it really would be to live alone all his life.

After a seventh meeting with the increasingly tiresome Mr Silversmith, Rufus took a taxi back to the Shinra building, gave the driver an appallingly large tip before stepping out of the car. The trip to Silversmith's office had been as boring as he had expected, save for just after his conversation with the other businessman. On his way out of the office, Rufus had caught Mr Silversmith's secretary having a rather 'interesting' conversation over the phone. Although the incident had been amusing to say the least, it had added a slight edge to the young president's loneliness - he would never have to risk being caught talking dirty, simply because he had no one to talk dirty to.

Rufus returned to find obnoxiously loud music blaring out of the main floor of the Shinra building. Many of the apartment lights higher up were off despite the dark night, causing the young president to realise that the party must have been organised on the inside of Shinra, and that the majority of the people at the party were probably Shinra workers. He knew for a fact that since the attacks by Sephiroth and AVALANCHE, several workers had taken to sleeping with the lights on. One little tradition that seemed to last through generation after generation; using light to combat darkness.

Politely ignoring the sounds from inside a broom closet on his way into the main hall, Rufus looked up at one of the banner's adorning the wall. 'Happy 30th Birthday Rude!' The person the party was apparently for was surrounded by a pile of empty shot glasses and there was a cheer as the person sitting next to him fell backwards out of their chair, and a slightly groggy Rude swallowed down the last shot before raising his glass in victory. Rufus sometimes wondered where all the alcohol went, as despite the dangerous levels of whisky that the bald man drank, his medical reports were always outstanding.

Several nights out with the turks had made Rufus aware that Rude was not the easiest person to get on with when he was drunk, so the young president decided he was going to have to find someone else as company. Searching the hall for a face that was both familiar and interesting, Rufus allowed his line of sight to fall upon Reno, who looked almost ethereal under the flashing lights in his shirt. The blond smiled and watched as Reno played with the girl he was dancing alongside, moving around her in circles but never allowing her to touch him. With the silver shirt he was wearing on top of black trousers, Reno resembled smoke, impossible to grasp, and fascinating to look at. The young president noticed a smirk form on the red-haired turk's face, and realised that this act was not meant for the pleasure of the girl. Reno was attempting to seduce him. And it was working.

Deciding that he would pick up on the unspoken offerings of the turk, the young president moved in for the kill, crossing the floor and taking Reno aside from the young woman he had been dancing with. "You made me want you, Reno. Now you're going to have to pay the price." The red-haired turk laughed before gripping the blond's hips and pulling him forward.

"Am I going to be punished?" Rufus slid one hand down Reno's front, teasing, then replied,

"Severely," Before pulling away, leading Reno onto the dance floor. "Now let's see what that skinny frame of yours is made of..."

Reno grinned before taking his place behind Rufus, sliding his hands down the president's sides and gripping tight on one side suddenly, making the blond turn around. Rufus narrowed his eyes at the turk, but Reno only smiled even more wickedly, moving in closer and grinding his hips against the president's thigh. "Ah-ah," Rufus reprimanded, pulling away slightly. "I've got an office upstairs for that. Besides which," He ran his hands down the turk's chest, feeling as best as he could what lay beneath the material. "It's more fun with your clothes off..." Reno's eyes widened as the young president drew back, stretching slowly to the music, shirt riding up just a fraction to reveal a perfectly toned stomach.

After the song ended, Reno pulled Rufus in closer so that their hips were touching again. "How's about we go upstairs, then?" The blond closed his eyes and pressed his lips against Reno's briefly, before pulling back.

"Fine by me."

Rufus allowed Reno to kiss him on the lips again, before he started leading the turk upstairs to his office, wondering how the red-haired man could be so dishevelled and yet so attractive at once. Such a contrast with Tseng, who had always been so perfectly-groomed and fastidious about his clothing. A dull pain arose at that name, and the young president quickly shook his head as if to clear away the memories. He could never have seduced Tseng. Not only was the turk straight, but an affair with Tseng would have been incredibly dangerous to Rufus' well-being. He would have fallen in love with the beautiful asian. Completely, fatally in love. And when Tseng's job demanded that he sacrifice himself for the young president if necessary, it would have been too great an emotional burden to carry that knowledge.

"You know, for once I'm actually glad to be invited to your office?" Rufus smiled at Reno's comment, before locking the door and turning towards him.

"You're not the romantic type, are you, Reno?" The young turk shook his head. "Good. Because I don't want any sentimental bullshit after this."

"No need to worry about it, sir." Rufus watched as Reno stripped, admiring the youth's lean physique before unbuttoning and unzipping his own trousers.

"Over by the window, Reno. I want something to look out at."

"I'm not pretty enough for ya?" The young president shook his head in reply and laughed at Reno's temporary annoyance, before pushing the young turk against the window. Rufus smiled as Reno shivered, the glass cold against his back, handed the lubricant to the turk.

"I think you know where to put this," Rufus said while running his hands down the turk's chest, as he was prepared.

When Reno put aside the jar, Rufus slid himself onto the turk, suppressing any moan with a heroic amount of effort, the only noise managing to pass his lips being a small gasp. Deciding to tease the young turk, Rufus waited a long while before shifting his hips against Reno's, thighs pinning the red-haired man down to stop him from being able to thrust upwards. "Bitch," Reno growled as Rufus made another painfully slow movement. "Whore." The blond smiled at his captive lover, listening to every insult as if it was a whispered endearment. Reno was making him feel dirty, and he loved it.

"Tell me more," Rufus whispered back. "Tell me what a bitch I am." Not wanting to play one of his president's mind games, Reno bit his lip, and Rufus made another slow movement. "Reno... you know you'll have to say something eventually," He threatened as he wrapped his legs around Reno's hips fully and leant forward, running his eyes over the young turk's body as if he was made of chocolate. "Reno," Rufus began in a sing-song voice. "Reno, I can wait for hours in this same position. I'm not moving until you say something."

"... something," The turk finally muttered, faking anger despite a distinct glint in his eye. Rufus smiled and loosened his grip on Reno's hips, sliding his legs from underneath.

"That's better."


"...much, much better," Rufus said as he made another teasing movement, only barely managing to keep himself from stuttering.

"My dirty little bitch," Reno whispered, deliberately deepening his voice.

"Your bitch," Rufus gasped before starting to shift in rhythm against Reno, breathing hoarse with pleasure. Reno reached to stroke Rufus' sweat-soaked hair away from his eyes, but the young president only tilted his head to catch Reno's fingers in his mouth, licking and sucking them until the young turk gave up holding back and climaxed inside his lover's body. Reno's orgasm was enough to drive Rufus into his own, and the turk was thankful he had pulled his fingers from the blond's mouth, else he might have lost them, judging by the force with which Rufus gritted his teeth as he climaxed.

"Woah kid, I mean sir," Reno said as Rufus re-opened his eyes. "You're really something."

"Thank you, Reno," the young president said as he stood up shakily and went to find his trousers.

"Ah. So you really did mean all the stuff about 'just sex'?"

"Of course. With this whole Sephiroth and meteor mess, I don't think romantic attachments are particularly advisable." Reno nodded and put on his usual light-hearted mask, disguising the slight rejection that he felt. "Not that I didn't enjoy tonight..." The slight strain on Reno's smile disappeared at that. "We shouldn't rule out doing this again." The red-haired turk grinned, said,

"I'll keep that in mind," before leaving the office. After collecting his clothes together, Rufus folded them neatly, and took them into his bedroom, placing them neatly on the dressing table before climbing underneath the bedsheets and falling asleep, mischievous smile on his lips.

The next morning, Rufus dressed quickly and switched on his computer, found a large number of emails that mostly regarded 'Reno Kiribani'. Smiling slightly in remembrance of the previous night, Rufus began to sort through the mails, replying to the effect that he had indeed allowed the young turk to know him intimately, but it wasn't a matter of any importance.

Rufus was in the middle of his sixth email when a buzz from the intercom reminded him that there were people outside the internet who he needed to converse with. "Yes?" He asked in a voice that was half irritated, half amused, and very confusing to the secretary on the other end of the line who began to sound a bit flustered.

"A Mr Heidegger wants to see you sir." Rufus wondered how hard the desk would feel if he banged his head against it repeatedly.

"Has he got an appointment?"

"No, sir." Rufus paused for a while then smirked, wondered whether or not to tease Heidegger, eventually deciding against that idea. Better to get things over and done with quickly.

"Send him in anyway."

Rufus stood up and looked out of his office window as he heard Heidegger enter the room, knowing that people always seemed to grow unnerved when they had to talk to his back, no matter how angry or brave they were feeling when they came in. "Rufus?"

"I think I'd prefer a formal address here, Mr Heidegger. I am supposed to be working." Rufus was glad Heidegger could not see the smile that crept across his face, and only just managed to keep a mocking tone from appearing in his voice.

"Sorry, Mr President, sir."

"That's better." Rufus shrugged off the image of the last time he had said those words. "What did you come here for?"

"Sir, is it true that you and Reno had sex?"


There was a brief, awkward silence. "Against the window of your office?"

"Yes." Heidegger sounded a bit put off by his president's one-word answers.

"Where anyone could see?"


"And that..."

"I don't see how this conversation is of any importance whatsoever, Heidegger. If your purpose here is to waste my time, then please leave." Heidegger felt a little less edgy now, wondered how he was going to express his annoyance with the gossip about Rufus that appeared to have the unsavoury factor of being true.

"Well... it's just... are you bothered? That everyone knows?"

"No. Everyone has their urges from time to time. If the people at Shinra don't understand that, it's their problem. Not mine."

"Yes sir."

Heidegger left the room, muttering something along the lines of, "I should've known Reno was a puff..." and Rufus returned to sitting in his chair, amused by the large man's homophobic tendencies. If the previous president was still alive, Rufus would have had to suffer abuse from his equally homophobic father should Heidegger choose to talk. Fortunately, the blond was now in charge, and more-or-less untouchable.

More amusing than Heidegger's homophobia though, was his intense dislike of Reno Kiribani, as a certain red-haired turk had taken a certain large man's food and laced it with laxatives several months ago. Rufus still remembered the incident... it had been one of the first to actually make him think of the turk as more than a mere pain in the backside.

Rufus considered the events of the previous night for a while, leant back in his chair to stare at the ceiling. Very nice. And Reno didn't seem too bothered by the lack of romanticism. Maybe it could be fun to make it more than a one-night stand, instead of leaving events hanging. And even more fun to see the look on the other executives faces when he seduced the red-haired turk... now that Rufus' hold on the top was secure thanks to his talent with business, it did not matter what rumours went around the corporation. Even if he did hate gossip. Switching the intercom on for a second, Rufus made a quick inquiry about Reno's whereabouts, before going on a search for the turk.

Finding Reno in one of the building's cafeterias, Rufus calmly ignored the giggles of a group of young female executives as he walked over to the red-haired turk, knowing that he was going to shock them out of their idiotic little minds. Tapping Reno on the shoulder, he smiled and waited for the turk to turn around before pulling him in for a kiss.

"Wh... what was that for?" Asked Reno once his bruised lips were free from his president's mouth. Shifting one knee up to brush over the turk's groin, Rufus tilted his head to whisper the answer in the turk's ear.

"Come to my room tonight and you'll find out. Oh, and a good appetite would be a useful thing..." Wide eyes from all over the room surveyed the young president as he left the room, inserting an almost undetectable swaying of hips into his otherwise normal walk.

Rufus sat on top of his desk, work for the day over and done with, looked at the clock above the door. Eleven o'clock in the evening, and Reno still hadn't arrived. The young president was starting to wonder if the turk was going to come at all, and feeling more than a little ridiculous for waiting around...

The blond only just managed to avoid leaping at the door when Reno finally knocked, opened it to invite him inside. "I don't like to be kept waiting, Reno." The turk shrugged before closing the door behind him.

"So? I've been avoiding snacks all day, so this had better be good." Rufus smirked before pulling Reno into the bedroom.

"I think you'll be pleased with the selection. Double, single, or whipped..?"

Clothes discarded around the bed, Rufus draped himself over the currently clean sheets, watching Reno at work. The red-haired turk held the little container at an ominous angle over his president's chest, smiling as he poured some single cream over the smooth skin, making little patterns and swirls. "Reno, it's st..." Rufus swallowed to stop himself stuttering again. "Starting to run..."

"We'll have to do something about that, won't we?" Stopping for a moment, Reno ran his tongue over the young blond's skin, catching drips from the patterns in his mouth. Rufus shivered and gasped at Reno's touch, before sitting up and taking the tub from the young turk, taking his turn at 'painting'. Reno sat back submissively as his president licked and sucked at his skin, enjoying the feeling of satin-smooth lips on his body. Rufus was managing to make him feel like a million dollars, in return for Reno making the blond feel cheap. It made for a very interesting role-play. As Rufus travelled lower with his mouth, the young turk slid his hand into the young president's hair, holding him in place. He had been teased before by Rufus, and though it had been fun, it was still the worst kind of torture imaginable.

After Reno climaxed, Rufus traced patterns over the turk's stomach with his fingertips. "Do you want to make this a regular thing?" The young president asked at long last.

"Let me think about that one," Reno asked, his tone mocking. "I'm not sure, but that might possibly be a yes?"

"Don't tease me, Reno. Yes or no?"

"But teasing's one of my greatest talents!" Rufus cast a very dark look at his lover, before the turk laughed quietly. "Of course I'd like to! You're gorgeous, and rich enough to buy me drinks whenever we go out. In my books, that's pretty much perfection."

"Good. In that case, we're not having a fling anymore. This is a fully-fledged relationship." Reno smiled and turned onto his side, burying his head in the pillows on his side of the bed. Rufus briefly considered waking the turk up to send him back to his quarters, but changed his mind at the idea of having a warm body alongside his overnight. Curling up against the turk, the young president felt a bit apprehensive at first, but soon managed to fall asleep.

Rufus awoke and looked at the bed-side clock with bleary eyes, shook his head before waking Reno who was still snoring away in contentment. The red-haired turk mumbled a few swear-words before opening his eyes wide. "Where am I?"

"You fell asleep in my room, remember?" Reno appeared to be deep in thought for a moment, then nodded to himself.

"Oh. Fuck, I'm late for work aren't I?"

"Mmhm. I don't think we should start having sex every night, unless we want to make everyone angry at the late wake-ups. Which mornings could you be late on?"

"Sundays, Wednesdays, Thursdays. No-one'd get too pissed off if I was late on them. You?"

Rufus considered this for a moment. "I don't really get 'days off' as such... but I tend to have more free time on Sundays. And sometimes Thursdays."

"It's sorted then. Every Saturday night, and the odd Wednesday. If we get more free time?" Rufus shook his head.

"I do prefer to have a schedule, so let's keep that just Saturdays and Wednesdays."

"Fine by me." Rufus smiled, confirmed,

"Good. Now get dressed, and get to work."

"Yes sir, Mr President, Sir!" Reno gave Rufus a mock salute, before getting out of the bed and searching for his shirt.

The arrangement seemed to work fairly well for the two lovers, and once this 'schedule' had been explained to other executives, it seemed other people were more willing to accept their relationship. The relationship seemed to be going strong, after early rules had been settled. No 'sentimentality', as Rufus had asked, and very few surprise visits, though Reno couldn't resist popping in to see Rufus when he shouldn't have every-so-often.

Rufus knew he was comfortable with his side of the relationship, but didn't really know how Reno felt about it, so on one of the Wednesday visits, Rufus decided to find out if Reno was satisfied. "Reno, why did you seduce me originally?"

"You're gorgeous. That good enough a reason?"

"Very flattering, but why? Why hadn't you tried before?"

"Well... you just seemed kind of inhuman before. I mean, you did let me off easily when I gave Heidegger laxatives, but I wasn't sure. Then I guess I saw how you were at the funeral, and it clicked. You loved Tseng, didn't you?" Rufus seemed to freeze up at the question.

"I... perhaps."

"I reckon you did, and you couldn't tell him, could you? 'Cause he was your bodyguard an' all." The question definitely made Rufus feel awkward.

"... Reno, I didn't... I liked Tseng. A lot. But I never loved him. He wouldn't have let me."

Reno sighed aloud. "Rufus, I'm not an idiot. I may be several sandwiches short of a picnic, but I have eyes. You loved him, you hated your dad. That equals one screwed up person in my opinion." Rufus prepared to speak, but Reno lifted his hand in a peace gesture. "MY opinion, not everyone else's. Anyway, back to the topic in hand? Once it clicked you were human, as well as gorgeous, I went about getting your attention, without much success. Then, at the party, I finally got you to notice me for something other than making trouble or getting drunk, and after that, it was all your work!" The young president tilted his head, blushed slightly at the idea that Reno had made such an effort to get his attention, before regaining his composure as quickly as possible.

"Well, now that you've given me the whole psycho-analysis, do I get my turn?"


"Why not?"

"Rufus, you know my past from the reports when I started training as a turk. You know very well what I used to be like. I'm screwed up, but I'm learning to live with it."

Rufus scratched the back of his head, looked out the window. "Reno, what was it like? Living on the streets?" The red-haired turk shook his head and a degree of sarcasm crept into his voice.

"Fantastic. You should try it sometime."

"If you were with me, I would." Reno's eyes widened.


"I trust you, Reno. You wouldn't let me get hurt." Reno blushed crimson at the words, and Rufus realised the conversation was giving away more than it should have, even if his tone of voice didn't reflect the meaning in his speech. Turning back to the turk, he continued, "But, I understand your reluctance. For me it would be a novelty, and for you it was a way of life. Speaking of which, are your own quarters adequate? Do you think you're paid..."

The turk's face suddenly darkened, and he replied in an unusually stern manner, "I don't want any rewards, 'kay sir? I may be sleeping with the boss, but NOT for a promotion. I enjoy a good time out, and I have one-night stands, but I'm not cheap." The outburst slowed down, then Reno noted that he had created a distinct amount of tension in the room, and added in a slightly less serious tone, "No-one sees this ass unless I want them to." Picking up on Reno's change in attitude, Rufus smiled and hooked his thumbs in the turk's trouser belt.

"May I see it again?" The blond batted his eyelashes playfully. "Please?" Reno grinned back at his president, replied quietly,

"Go on, seeing as you're so polite."

Reno had noticed the change in his president from being dominant to being submissive in bed, but said nothing, afraid of losing the privilege. Their nights together were pretty much scheduled as Rufus had suggested - every Saturday, and occasionally Wednesday - and were always looked forward to by Reno. Not only was the young blond good in bed, but it eased the tensions of working with so many beautiful but straight Shinra employees. Besides which, he was starting to get to know his president properly; Rufus wasn't a bad person. Indeed, he could be thoroughly decent when necessary. And Reno was starting to feel a slight twinge of something more in his stomach, a message that his heart whispered and his mind shouted down.

The next few days passed with painful slowness for the turk. It was as if nothing of any remote interest was happening, but the pink glow of meteor held testament to the fact that very bad things were afoot. Finally on Tuesday afternoon, the Shinra employees were called together for a meeting about Sephiroth. General things, like the progress of the Sister Ray program, but more interesting than lazing around in the turk's office and becoming a master of solitaire.

As everyone left the meeting, Reno was pulled aside by Rufus, to the sound of catcalls and wolf-whistles. After returning to his office for a bit of privacy, the young president asked, "Are you sure I'm doing the right thing? Attacking Sephiroth, and not attempting negotiations?"

"Rufus, I read the newspapers. Sephiroth is a PSYCHO. You sent anyone out to talk with him, they'd come back in a box that rattled."

"I don't know, he used to seem like a reasonable person..." Reno almost fell backwards off Rufus' desk.

"Have you actually SEEN Sephiroth? Face to face?" Rufus smiled, looked somewhat wistful as he got caught up in a daydream.

"Seen him? I've met him. I was about fifteen at the time... Sephiroth was about six years older than me... he'd have been twenty-one, twenty-two, something like that."

"You've got to be kidding me!" The young president shook his head to get rid of the images forming in it.

"I'm not. I got to know him better than most people. But that's not much, seeing as most people barely have a clue what he looks like and are terrified of him."

"I see. Is that 'know' in the nudge-nudge wink-wink sense, or in the... well... plain old boring 'know' sense?"

"Boring. Not that I would have turned down a chance to get to know him the other way." The wistful look spread, and Reno could tell that whatever was going through Rufus' head was definitely not printable.

"Don't think anyone would, from what I've seen of him. Was he nice?"

Rufus paused for thought, before answering, "Not 'nice'. He was... I don't know... a bit cold. Bit anxious around strangers. Edgy. That's it, edgy. But he was friendly when you got to know him well, from what I heard."

"And looks-wise?" The young president smirked, finally escaping the dreamy look.

"Now you're the one who's got to be kidding. He's more handsome than anything you'll ever see in a wet dream."


"That's a good word for it. I think my father actually hated him, at heart." Reno tilted his head, something in the back of his mind tellimg him Rufus wasn't being entirely serious.

"Why's that?"

"Homophobics don't enjoy questioning their sexuality."

Reno grinned before turning and looking at the clock above the office door. "Crap, it's getting late. I'd better go unless you wanna wake up late tomorrow."

"Sorry, Reno. I know you'd love to stay, but you know our little schedule. You'll have to save yourself for Saturday."

"Why Saturday?"

"Got a meeting tomorrow night. Now go, before I change my mind and get in trouble." The red-haired turk shrugged and lifted Rufus' hand, kissed it.

"See you later, your majesty." The young president narrowed his eyes at Reno before walking through to his bedroom, leaving the turk to see himself out.

The next morning, Rufus busied himself with a small amount of paperwork before going downstairs to get his best suit dry-cleaned for the evening. As usual, the dry-cleaners promised they'd have the suit ready within three hours, and as usual, Rufus didn't believe them. However, he had made certain to wake up early in case of the usual delays, so worrying wasn't necessary.

Five o'clock, seven hours after Rufus had handed over his suit to be dry-cleaned, it was finally ready. He was glad he had brought his laptop with him, as he had not only finished off all his overdue paperwork, but he had managed to catch a foreign friend online. Returning to his office at last, legs stiff from having sat in the same position for so long, Rufus laid the suit out on his desk, and made certain to go to the toilet to avoid having to leave in the middle of the meeting to attend nature's call.

Having won a card-house building competition with Rude, Reno realised his evening was free, went to find Rufus who was in his office as usual. Reno knocked at the door, in his usual crumpled uniform, and waited for the door to open. "Yes, Reno?" The red-haired turk scratched the back of his neck and averted his eyes from Rufus' open shirt in case he couldn't repress the urge to ravish his president earlier in the evening than was proper.

"You wanna go out tonight?" Rufus shook his head, gestured with one hand to his calendar.

"Sorry, but no. In case you don't remember, I've got a meeting tonight."

"Why?" The question reminded Rufus of a little boy deliberately trying to be annoying.

"It's this months staff meeting. We go over plans, catch up on current projects... incredibly boring, actually, but it needs to be done." Reno sighed, then looked into Rufus' eyes, expression wicked.

"Do I get to cop a feel before you go?"

The young president stepped backwards into his office, pulled Reno behind the door with him. "Hey, I was only kidding!"

"I wasn't." Rufus pressed his lips to the turk's, embracing Reno for a few minutes before releasing him again. "Wish I could spend longer with you, but..."

"It's alright. I'll see you later." Rufus smiled, ran his fingers through the spikes of hair on top of Reno's head before opening the door for him to leave.

"See you later, Reno."

As predicted, the staff meeting was dull, except for the excellent champagne that had been ordered by Rufus' secretary for the table. After making a note to thank her somehow for her good choice, the young president poured a good amount into his flute glass, helping himself as the head of yet another sector began a long, drawling speech. Rufus was tempted to stand up and just shout, "I don't care!", but sanity told him that it wouldn't be a very good idea. Finally it was time for the science department report, and the young president barely suppressed a sigh of relief. Not only was the science report almost invariably more interesting than the other reports, but it was the third from last, and meant that the night was coming to a close.

"Everyone, it seems like the Sister Ray program is well on its way. Despite a few early problems, our engineers have created a perfect design. There will be a drain on Midgar's energy, but whatever lies in the ray's path will be vaporised. Shinra will own the power of God himself!" Rufus watched Hojo's little outburst to end the report quietly, rubbing the stem of his champagne glass absent-mindedly until the scientist ended his speech.

"Have you quite finished, Professor?" There was muffled laughter as Hojo sat down in his seat, casting dark looks at his young president. "Sister Ray is, indeed, quite an accomplishment. But I would like to share with you something that the previous president told me a long time ago." Rufus put down his champagne glass and stood up, leaning forward slightly so that his voice would project over the whole length of the table. "Shinra is not a business. It never has been. Shinra is a LEGEND. And people will remember it in centuries to come, maybe even millennia. Even when the last Shinra building is demolished, its name will still be remembered." There was a temporary silence, before a round of applause struck up, and Rufus sat down with a pleased smile on his face, gestured for the meeting to continue.

Despite the young president's apparent dismissal of Professor Hojo at the company meeting, the fact was that Sister Ray was a program he was growing to admire. The further the project neared completion, the more Shinra employees felt it was going to work. Even the great Sephiroth himself could not keep a barrier up against power like this.

Several weeks and several incidents later, it appeared that Sister Ray was a guaranteed success. However, a spanner was threatening to throw itself in the works; in the form of the Weapons.

Rufus had made sure he received a new report on the Weapons at least daily, and most of the Weapons appeared to be of no threat to the Midgar population. The young president was starting to receive a slight amount of criticism at his laid-back attitude towards the Weapons, but he continued to stay calm about the situation, determined to deal with Sephiroth and Meteor before he considered neutralising the Weapons.

Rufus had been finishing off some of the last paperwork for Sister Ray, when he heard a knock at the door, and a somewhat flustered Reno Kiribani entered the office, clutching a newspaper. The young president shook his head clear of some of the memories that inspired, before taking the newspaper from Reno's hands and reading through it quickly. Another article claiming that he was showing 'no interest' in growing public fears about Diamond Weapon. "And this should concern me because..?"

"Rufus, they might be right! You really have been taking things too easily over Weapon, and to the public it looks like you don't care at all!"

"They're wrong. I do care. But so far the Weapons have not been hostile - except for that incident back with the escapees - and my priority is getting rid of Sephiroth." Reno appeared to be confused by Rufus' apparent inner peace.

"But what if the Weapons aren't being traced properly?"

"Reno, have you SEEN a Weapon? They are not the most easily disguised creatures of our time."

"I know sir, but several newspapers went on and on about how 'Ruby' Weapon has disappeared, and I'm considering believing them."

Rufus let out a quiet sigh, wishing he could just wave some sort of magic wand and then 'poof!' all the Weapons, Meteor, and Sephiroth would disappear. Actually, no. Better leave Sephiroth, it would be interesting to see the public reaction to him being captured or killed... "Believe what you want, Reno. Your beliefs won't necessarily be the correct ones. And I know for a fact that some of our best men and our best equipment is being used for tracking the Weapons."

"And what will you tell the newspapers?"

"What the newspapers think is unimportant. Most of them concentrate on Meteor anyway." Rufus smiled and turned to Reno, brushed aside a loose strand of hair from the turk's cheek, leaving his fingers resting lightly against the red-haired turk's ear. "Reno, The public may not know everything. And they may not think we know everything. But we damn near do! If someone vomits in an alleyway, or scrawls graffiti on a wall, we know about it. If a child draws pictures of its teacher with an axe through its head, we know about it." Reno smiled before taking the blond's fingers away from his ear.

"Guess I must've been famous then." Rufus smiled before moving in to kiss the red-haired turk.

After a fleeting brush of lips Rufus pulled away and stepped into his shower. Despite a valiant attempt by Reno to get inside the shower, the young president insisted he be allowed to wash on his own, and locked the glass door against any further advances. "Reno, will you switch the hi-fi on for me? I think I left it on auto-play, so don't worry about programming it." The red-haired turk obeyed, heard a Wutain-sounding voice start coming from the speakers. The first two songs were in a language he couldn't understand - probably Wutain after all, but fast-spoken Wutain, else he would have some limited knowledge of the meaning from his early attempts at learning foreign tongues in the turks. Finally the third song came on, and the chorus was in the normal Midgar dominion language.

#Sold your soul to the devil, and what did you get?

A wallet-full of money and a lifetime of regret.

There's a feeling washing over you, it's burning on your skin,

A demon lives inside of you, you're yearning to give in.#

Reno tilted his head as he listened to the song. "Rufus, do you actually enjoy this depressing stuff?"

"It's amazing, isn't it? Dark, but amazing." Rufus emerged from the shower, hair soaking wet and clinging to his face, and the turk looked away, blushing slightly. He had seen Rufus naked before - many times before - but the young president was like an angel with his glowing skin, and Reno felt strangely guilty for looking at something so beautiful. As though it was blasphemous to lay desiring eyes on something so pure in appearance. Rufus soon dispelled all notions of innocence though, dropping his towel to the floor and moving to lie on the bed, leading Reno with him by the hand.

Reno watched as Rufus slept peacefully, slight frown just touching the crease between his nose and eyebrows, eyes shut in rest. The red-haired turk gently traced each of these features beneath his fingertips, enjoying this privilege. Very few people saw Rufus in a vulnerable state. The blond looked fragile, and sometimes his mask threatened to break, but the defensive walls were still there. Reno Kiribani had the very special, very private honour of seeing his president truly naked - no clothing, and no defences. He allowed one finger to trail down the smooth cream-coloured chest to the flat stomach, tapping the navel slightly. Reno knew it was getting late and shifted to wrap his arms around Rufus' chest, allowing his body to fit alongside his president's every curve. Rufus' shape just seemed so familiar, so right next to his own. The turk felt the blond's warmth start to have a soporific effect on him, and finally fell asleep, resting against his lover.

Rufus woke up to find Reno holding him so tight he was surprised that he hadn't broken any bones or suffocated. After extracting himself carefully from the rigormortis-like grip of the turk, the young president went about getting dressed, looked at himself in the mirror. Maybe he had been wrong after all, loneliness had been bad for him. Since the trysts with Reno had begun several weeks ago, Rufus had been looking healthier, brighter, and happier than he had been in months. An extra sparkle in his eyes, and a healthy pink flush to his cheeks. As he pulled on a tight white jumper, Rufus noted that he had dark circles under his eyes, despite an otherwise healthy appearance. And he was just slightly paler than usual. Then again, this week had been full of late nights and early wake-ups, thanks to Sephiroth and the Weapons. Rufus hadn't had a really good deep sleep in a long time, despite Reno keeping him company on several occasions.

The young president turned towards the bed for a moment, looking at his lover as he slept. Reno looked so content, and Rufus wondered for a moment if his body had been responsible for that contentment. Shaking his head at the thought, Rufus returned to applying a small amount of concealer to the dark circles underneath his eyes. Despite being a product designed for women, Rufus had no qualms about using concealer. It came in very useful if he didn't want his fatigue to attract attention.

Rufus returned to the bed, pressed his lips to Reno's to encourage the turk to wake up. "Come on, sleepy-head. You don't want to be too late for work." The red-haired turk smiled for a moment before returning the kiss in full.

"Alright, if you really want rid of me." Rufus grinned and nodded, climbed back off the bed and left the bedroom, switching on his computer.

A few minutes passed before Reno returned from the bedroom, clothes creased as usual, looked at his young president typing away. "If I didn't know you did work on that, I'd swear you were addicted." Rufus smiled and pressed the minimise button on the desktop adventure game before walking up to Reno.

"You may wear your uniform in an unconventional manner, but there's no way you're going out like THAT." The young president started adjusting the way parts of the uniform lay before tucking in Reno's shirt, noticed that the turk was definitely enjoying being manhandled. "That's dressed enough for my liking. Now scoot."

Reno walked down the corridor from Rufus' office, humming to himself. He couldn't remember the lyrics, but then again, his dad only whistled it anyway. Unfortunately for the red-haired turk, he had a monotone whistle, so humming it had to be.

Wondering how long he had before Elena made him actually do any work today, Reno returned to the turks' office, found Rude lazing on the sofa, engrossed in a book. Sometimes he wondered how human his friend was. Anyone who could read deep philosophy and still go monosyllabic during conversations with anyone who wasn't a turk couldn't be normal.

Extracting the book from his friend's hand, Reno tilted his head and flicked through the pages, pretending to speed read. Handing the book back after a few seconds, Reno patted his bald friend on the head, remarked, "Fascinating story, but the ending was dull," and sat down in one of the very, very old chairs, waiting for his friend's reaction.

"Elena left her breakfast where you're sitting." Reno leapt up and grabbed his rear end protectively out of instinct, then noticed a smirk forming on the bald man's lips.

"Very funny, Rude. I'm really laughing."

"I know you are. Hey, where is Elena anyway? It's not like her to be late."

"Unlike you, Mr 'proud-to-be-tardy.' I phoned her up earlier today, she's got food poisoning. She'll be off today." Reno grinned and punched the air above his head in celebration.

"Yes! You know what that means?"

"I dread to ask."

"It means… pub crawl!" Rude's groan would have made a rock feel sympathetic for him.

"Not again! I think I've still got a headache from last time."

"Fine, fine. How about… prank calls?"

"I'm not seven-years old anymore, Reno." Reno appeared to go deep into thought. "Don't worry, I'll think of something…"

Half an hour later, he finally did. "Water bombs, air-raid style?"

"Alright. You get the equipment, I'll fill them up. I know how crap you are at tying knots."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence, pal." Rude pushed his shades down so he could look over the lenses.


Eventually everything was set up, and the kitchen sink was filled to the brim with water-balloons. Rude held the window open and watched as Reno flung the first 'wave' of balloons out, hitting Heidegger's office window. Next, a short wait for the large man to open the window and look outside. Then the next wave. Reno watched gleefully as the balloons made their impact. "Please explain to me again why you hate Heidegger so much?" Reno looked up at his friend, remarked,

"Amnesia setting in at last, oh ancient one?" Rude cast a dark look before Reno laughed and continued, "It's 'cause he was so snotty to me when I first joined Shinra. Treated me like dirt. So now I'm making sure he doesn't get dirty."

Despite a few death-threats over the phone, the day passed very quickly with the help of the water-balloons. The next day was less entertaining, and Reno almost found himself wishing that Elena was back at work. At least then he could throw things at her when he got bored. And there were only so many card games you could play before you began to seriously consider slitting your wrists with one. After tempting Rude to get off the sofa, Reno flung himself onto it and grabbed a magazine, checking if there was a section in it he hadn't yet memorised, while his friend busied himself with the pack of cards.

Later at night, having completely memorised every page of the magazine that had ever existed, Reno began to observe Rude's growing dissatisfaction with the pack of cards. As he watched Rude's tower of cards collapse with more than a touch of satisfaction from his current place of rest on the sofa, Reno started to doze off, and wondered what Rufus was doing.

Rufus rolled over in his bed, smelling the sheets and finding the occasional strand of red hair. He no longer had to worry about cleaners anymore; since he had figured out how to use the laundromat, Rufus had no longer needed their services. And he did not want the sheets clean at the moment... the faint scent of Reno's body that was still present helped to remind the young president that he was not alone. Nonetheless, Rufus still wanted to see Reno sometime soon... Wednesday was less than two days away, but they felt like an eternity. Perhaps he could call the turk up... but then again, Reno might have plans...

Deciding that he did not want to risk being a burden upon his lover, Rufus pulled one of the pillows from what was normally Reno's side of the bed and held it to his chest. Despite the previous president's best efforts to train his son out of a "fairy's habit", Rufus was still a daydreamer who loved to use his imagination. Without that imagination, Shinra would never have survived the previous president's death - how could it, when there were tiresome but strong businessmen like Silversmith to deal with?

Eventually Rufus managed to slip into a troubled sleep, his rest interrupted frequently by disturbing dreams of Meteor impacting. Midgar on fire, people burning, sewer systems acting up - then the Shinra building collapsing in on top of him and Reno, who insisted upon holding him tight, even in their last minutes.

When he woke up the next morning, drenched in sweat, Rufus covered his eyes and allowed a few tears to escape. He was tired, not in the best of health, and still slightly nervous from the nightmare. Wiping his face on one of the bedsheets, the young president tried to shake himself free from the fragmented memories he had of the dream, concentrating on the part where Reno just held him despite both their fears. He knew he was a damn convincing liar, even to himself. He had fallen for Reno. There was just no way in hell he could admit it to anyone. No matter how nice and ideal it would be to go, "Oh Reno, I love you," and live happily ever after, Rufus knew it wasn't going to happen. He had to deal with a bitch called reality. There weren't any fairytales in Midgar.

After dealing with the usual mountain of paperwork, and a few meetings, Rufus prepared for what was supposedly the main event of the day. A press conference. Normally he could just send out a few trusted spin doctors or executives to do the interviews for him, but it was expected that he would do it himself every-so-often.

After getting his hair trimmed and his nails manicured once again to make sure his appearance was exemplary, Rufus walked into the main conference hall where the press were sitting. Glad that the usual 'no flash photography' rule had been implemented, Rufus took the stand and prepared for the usual barrage of questions, repeating to himself what had fast become his mantra on these occasions. "It's just their job, don't blame them, it's just their job..."

"Mr President, is it true that you're not paying any attention to the Weapons?"

"No, that's not true. I have several trusted employees supplying me with regular reports on the progress of the Weapons."


"You know the company has strict privacy policies. Anything else?"

"Why is the public not being informed as to the Weapon's whereabouts?" Rufus was thankful he had inherited some of his mother's patience.

"It is not my job to encourage panic amongst the Midgar citizens. And if they genuinely wanted to find out the positioning of the Weapons, why don't they go out to find the Weapons of their own accord? I doubt something the same size as the building we stand in right now is going to be difficult to find, should they put their minds to it."

After the predicted questions about the Weapons, the questioning grew friendlier, and lighter in tone, lasting long into the evening. Finally, the clock struck twelve and the last camera crew left, or more truthfully were shooed out by the Shinra cleaners, who wanted to close the major part of the ground floor for the night.

One last task to complete for the night. Rufus walked into the security office, noticed sharp looks exchanged between the occupants before he walked up to the nearest employee, asked, "Any news on the movements of the Weapons?"

"Ruby and Ultima are stationary at the moment, and Emerald seems to be staying underwater."

"And Diamond?" The worker appeared to grow nervous, looked to his colleague for help.

"Sir, I think there's an incident in Sector..." Rufus ignored the attempts to put him off the subject, repeated firmly,

"And Diamond?"

"He's approaching Midgar, sir."

The young president bit his lip and rolled his eyes, laughed quietly, his tone extremely dangerous. "Typical. One emergency starts to end, and a new one begins. Can you keep a regular track of its movements on one of these monitors?" The worker typed in a few commands and one of the screens changed, showing Midgar in the centre of a map of the surrounding area, and a white dot in the distance. "I guess that dot is Weapon?"

"Yes, sir."

"Keep an eye on its movement. Meteor is the more pressing matter at the moment, so we'll deal with that first, and deal with Weapon later."

"But sir..." Rufus narrowed his eyes menacingly at the worker for a brief second as if he were about to snap, then smiled in a disarmingly friendly manner.

"NEVER contradict your superiors if you want to get anywhere in Shinra."

Rufus left the room quietly, tried to convert the anger inside him to a more productive emotion, but found only exhaustion as an alternative. Giving in to fatigue, he made his way back to his office and shut the door behind him before walking into his bedroom, tired beyond all measure. "Hey Rufus." The young blond jumped at hearing Reno's voice, turned to face the turk who had been waiting in his room.

"Reno? Why are you here?"

"Just wanted to talk, that's all. You okay?" Rufus smiled and shook his head.

"I'm tired. Sore. Haven't had a chance to rest properly in a long time." Reno could see that the day's events had made his president weary, and only just managed to resist holding him.

"Can't you get a break?"

Rufus laughed quietly at the question. "It's rather sweet you think that, Reno. But president's don't get breaks or holidays. We have to be prepared at all times for the next emergency, even when travelling." A small tear brought on by sheer fatigue trailed its way down the blond's cheek, and Reno gave in to the urge to embrace him.

"Rufus? I know it's a Tuesday, but..." Rufus locked the bedroom door behind them and started undressing.

"Yes, Reno, I want you to stay. Don't leave me tonight." Reno nodded and stripped quickly before helping Rufus with his clothes, feeling how warm the blond's skin was.

"I think you've got a fever, you're all..."

"Shh," The young president reprimanded, pressing a finger against Reno's lips before moving to lie flat on the bed, pulling the turk to rest on top of him and kissing him deeply.

When their lips parted after a long while, Rufus put his arms around the turk's back and pulled him down so that their bodies were pressed closer together, wanting Reno as near to him as possible. "Switch roles tonight, Reno. Make me feel like I own the world." Reno smiled as he ran one hand through the blond's hair.

"You forget something. You already do." Rufus smiled slightly before nuzzling Reno's neck gently with his nose.

"I don't care. Put your hands on me. Touch me." Baffled, Reno asked,

"Where?" Rufus took a hissing breath and arched his back, rubbing his hips against the turk's.


Recognising his president's need for physical affection, Reno knelt up temporarily, reaching back for the bedsheets, pulling them up so that he could make sure Rufus was warm. Moving back to lying on top of Rufus, Reno slid his arms underneath his blond lover to embrace him, explored the pale skin with light kisses. Rufus shifted underneath the touches, finding the gentleness more unnerving than any aggression Reno had ever shown, but knowing he desired it all the same. Rufus watched the turk's kisses grow more daring, and when Reno moved back up the bed, adjusting the position of the blond's legs before pushing into him, the young president felt a lump form in his throat. "Maybe you don't own the world, Rufus. But you own me." Reno did not know it, distracted by the cologne on Rufus' neck, but those words forced the first true sob out of his young president since Tseng had died.

Rufus woke up the next morning to find Reno's arms still tight around his waist, slightly restricting his breathing. Looking at the clock on the bedside, he realised that he had missed one of his appointments, and cursed himself for not waking up on hearing the alarm go off. Shaking the red-haired turk out of sleep rather roughly, Rufus planned how he was going to explain this incident. It was easy enough when he was late for work on a Sunday or Thursday, at least he was regular that way. But to be late on a Wednesday was asking for trouble. "Hey boss, you awake?"

"No, I'm talking in my sleep."

"Sarcasm doesn't suit you. Do you wanna go out tonight? There's a restaurant down in Sector Three you might like."

"Sorry Reno, but no. I'm busy. Sister Ray should be prepared by tonight, and I've heard that our predictions are correct."

"... wha? Predictions?"

"Diamond Weapon is approaching Midgar. It's slow, but I do not want something like that to threaten my city."

"Just send him a photo of what you look like on a Thursday morning. That's enough to scare anyone sane."

Rufus narrowed his eyes at the turk before smirking and saying, "If I didn't like you, that could've got you sacked."

"I know. I'm just too irresistible to be sacked, aren't I?" Rufus smiled lazily, then pressed his lips firmly against the turk's forehead before climbing out of his bed and dressing quickly. "But you'll see me on Saturday, right?"


Reno left the room shortly after his president, dressed in his turks uniform, and went to find Rude. Elena was 'busy' elsewhere with a man that Rude had introduced her to. Some distant relative of Tseng's, half second-cousin twice-removed or something similar. Camui. A nice man, if a bit dull, and Elena adored him.

On finding his friend in the dining-hall, fighting one of the many temperamental vending machines, Reno demanded that Rude come with him on a pub crawl. Apart from the ongoing mission to wipe out AVALANCHE, there had been next to no work for the turks to do. Hence the need to find entertainment elsewhere. And Rude was always entertaining once the drink had sunk in and loosened his mouth. Elena had been somewhat surprised by the number of swear-words the normally polite man knew, words which frequently led to jokes that a drunken Rude's favourite colour was blue.

The afternoon moved slowly though, and Reno was already exhausted as well as thoroughly intoxicated by eight in the evening, though he was tempted to believe this was because he had been using up his stamina recently. Rude had endured many, many drunken confessions of Reno's liaisons with the president, usually with the sort of detail that would shock even Scarlett's sensibilities. After Rude had decided that the bar-top was a somewhat uncomfortable pillow, Reno extracted his last drink from the bald man's hand, eyed with interest a black object floating in it, and in-between debating the origins of the object, began to wonder what was happening back at Shinra.

Rufus ignored the apparent anger of several Shinra executives who had been irritated earlier on by his late waking as he made his way to the security department, where a record of Diamond Weapon's movement had been kept for quite a while now. As Rufus looked at the screen, he noticed that Diamond Weapon was slowing to a halt just outside of Midgar. As if on cue, the echoes of a roar were heard inside the supposedly sound-proof building, and the movement stopped altogether. "Good god, it must be preparing to attack," Muttered one member of the surveillance team, and Rufus whipped his head up from where he had been bent over one of the consoles.

"Is Sister Ray ready?"

"I believe it is, sir."

"And where is Weapon positioned?"

"It's... sir, it's in Sephiroth's path..." Rufus smiled grimly. Two birds with one stone. Sephiroth's barrier, and Weapon, both could be destroyed with one fire of Sister Ray.

"Good. Send a message through Shinra. All system files are to be saved, backed-up, and then I want only the necessary systems to be left up and running. We want to free as much energy as possible for the attack."

"Yes, sir."

Rufus returned to his office, eyed the progress of his orders on the computer, until everything was in order. Lighting and life-support were the only systems save the Sister Ray system still running. Time to obey his own orders and shut down his own console.

Rufus realised he was actually sweating slightly with nerves, cursed himself for not being more calm about the situation. Still, he had a very bad feeling about this. "Sir, preparations for Sister Ray are complete... your orders?" Rufus turned to the intercom, and gave the message.


Rufus could feel excitement as the Shinra building trembled with the pressure of so much mako energy being drawn to one place. Hojo was right to say that this was one of Shinra's greatest moments... caught deep in thought, Rufus only managed to pick up the end of the panicked message sent to him over the intercom. Weapon was firing at Midgar? The quick movement from by the intercom to looking out at Midgar again almost gave the young president whiplash, but the urge to panic passed, and Rufus felt himself suddenly growing deadly calm amidst the rush of events.

The building began to shake hard with the firing of Sister Ray, and it took all of Rufus' balance to prevent him toppling over. The sight of the stream of energy blasting through Diamond Weapon could only be savoured for a few seconds, as Midgar began to shake under Weapon's attack. Rufus watched a few of the yellow beams hit buildings nearby, clenched his fists angrily, frustrated that he had not completely succeeded in protecting his beautiful city. As one last glowing energy beam headed straight for his office, Rufus looked at it steadily as though he was staring it down. No life flashing before the young president's eyes. No loving person standing at his side to take him to the afterlife. No spontaneous grand speeches. Nothing was certain anymore. Just Rufus Shinra and the death cry of Diamond Weapon.

Well, I might be dying; but Diamond Weapon, you went first. I am second. And, god willing, Sephiroth will be the next. Fuck you, world.

The energy blast ripped through the office, burning the young president's skin as he threw up his arms to protect his eyes, the last thing he saw being the shattering glass from the window shooting towards him.