Rufus was left alone, standing on the doorstep of what had once been a lucrative business empire, now crumbling in dust and flames. His father, and his father before him, had strived to build it up. What had once been so mighty, so powerful, was disintegrating before his very eyes.

He felt the blood from his face run down his neck. Very uncomfortable, but he didn't want to touch it. He didn't want to spread it about. After all, it wasn't that bad… was it? He watched all the people from nearby buildings, some on fire, some crumbled to the ground or still doing so, rushing about in fear. He noticed how eerily quiet it was; there was far less commotion than he expected there to be… well, most people had made good their escape.

He saw a gang of kids smashing a shop window, looting it. If he was still in charge, which clearly he wasn't anymore, he would summon a troop of Shinra soldiers to spill the brat's guts all over the floor. He even considered going over there himself to cull them all with his six-shooter. But no, now he was just another bloodied face in the crowd.

The wind blew sharply, making his deep facial injuries sting. "Ouch!" he said out loud.

The glow of the fire from the former Shinra building drew his attention back to his smouldering dominion. He glanced up at it, and sighed.

"Oh, well," he thought to himself out loud. "At least I've still got the broadcasting satellite, not to mention the film studios and the news company…"

A man with silver hair, covered in a black cloak approached Rufus from the darkness. "I'm afraid not," he murmured mysteriously.

Rufus felt a shaky stiffness in his limbs. Fear. He'd never felt fear in his life before.

"Se-Sephiroth!" Rufus shouted.

The man sighed grumpily. "I'm not… Sephiroth," the mysterious voice said. "I'm Rupert… his evil twin."

Rufus frowned, suddenly too confused to be scared. "I don't get it," he said, folding his arms.

"I'm afraid your dad sold all that extra stuff to me!" Rupert boomed. "You see… he wasn't making as much profit off Mako as he made out to be…"

Rufus shook his head. "You're lying!" he said, not so calmly.

"Oh, yeah?" Rupert argued. "He needed the cash to complete the construction of this city! And look at it now! Shameful, isn't it? Ha, ha, ha!" He'd certainly got the evil laugh from his brother.

"I don't care!" Rufus yelled. "Just get Sephiroth to call off this Meteor thing!"

"Hmm…" Rupert mused. "I'll see what I can do. After all… I am one of the most powerful men in the world! Ha, ha, ha, haugh… oh… my throat…" He stumbled away, clutching his neck.

Rufus shrugged, thinking how strange that was.

"Ah, well," he said aloud to himself again. "'Least I've still got that villa in the sun!" He clicked his fingers and skipped a little.

But, to his dismay, a spiky head of blond hair bobbed into sight. No! It couldn't be!

"Sorry, Rufus," Cloud said. "I gazumped you! That villa's mine, now."

"Gggh!" Rufus tried to control his frustration

"I got the money from a mastered All materia," he explained to the red-faced Rufus. "It's amazing what some suckers are willing to pay for a bit of rock."

Rufus was shaking again, this time in rage.

"Oh, and I'm so glad you made it out of your office alive," Cloud said, tapping Rufus' shoulder. "And you're welcome to stay in my villa any old time you like." He cleared his throat. "With Tifa's permission, of course."

"Sh-sh… SHUT UP!" Rufus exploded to Cloud, who backed away.

"Well… take care of yourself," Cloud said, bounding off.

Rufus found the nearest lamp-post and began to beat his head against it.

-----

A red sports car pulled up in front of the doomed Shinra building. Out stepped a worried looking Scarlet, dark circles under her bloodshot eyes, make up streaming down her pretty face. When she'd heard about the explosion there, the first thing she had done was pack her bags. She wanted out of this city, Meteor or no Meteor.

Most of all she was worried about her darling Rufus, the man who this morning had tenderly kissed her lips, who had playfully love-bitten her neck, and who had sworn to her he would never, ever leave her side.

On hearing the devastating news of the explosion, she had immediately tried to get Rufus on his mobile. When there was no answer, she feared the worst. Before she could even leave the city, she'd have to find beautiful Rufus. If it was as she feared, and Rufus was dead, then she too would die.

As she wiped her eyes, she saw a familiar figure batter his bloodied head against a street light.

Was it him? she wondered, not believing it herself. She had heard the rumours. Nobody in the world had ever seen Rufus Shinra draw blood, or shed tears. Still, after everything that had happened it just might be…

"Rufus," she called sceptically.

He looked up, rubbing his head. "WHAT?!" he cried. "What is it NOW?"

Scarlet gasped, tears in her eyes. "Oh… RUFUS!" she exclaimed passionately. "I thought I'd never see you again." She wrapped her arms tightly around Rufus' strong torso. "You had me so worried."

Rufus returned her tight embrace. Who cared about some stupid city, or a broadcasting company that wasn't even his? Scarlet's warmth next to him gave him comfort, hope that all was not lost… just yet.

Scarlet noticed her lover's blood drip onto her bare shoulders, but she didn't bother to wipe it away. "You… poor thing," she sniffed, grabbing a pair of tweezers from her glove compartment and deftly pulling out the glass lodged there. She handed him a clean lace handkerchief, the very same one Heidegger had given her as an anniversary present earlier that year.

"Let's get out of here," Rufus whispered, clutching the cloth to his deepest cut. He knew a little inn in Kalm where they could go, after a visit to the Emergency Room, and make the most of their last days on Earth together.

Scarlet smiled at Rufus as he jumped into the car next to her. "Ready to go, Rufie?" she asked.

Rufus nodded, touching her hand as she switched gears.

"I love you, Scarlet," he whispered as the pair drove away.