Chapter one: reviewed and rewritten. Read on to see never before seen scenes and exclusive footage only available in this, one time copy.

Blurb: AU-ish. Pre-game. After his mother's murder young Rufus finds himself unwillingly assigned a "bodyguard" to watch over his every movement, but can he get along with the cocky red-head of the Turks? And what's the mystery behind his mother's death, not to mention Reno's odd dreams?

Chapter one

The boy stood alone on the balcony, the light wind teasing the soft mass of his blonde hair and fluttering his fringe into his eyes.

Irritatedly he ran his fingers through the offending hair in an attempt to push it back into place, succeeding only in making it look more chaotic then it already was.

He swore under his breath then gave up on his hair to absently re-clasp his hands around a glass of warming wine.

Behind him the merry sounds of the ball he'd been forced to attend filtered through to him but he paid it little mind; he'd grown bored of the high pitched voices coloured by over drinking, the hot flushed faces and sweaty clothing caused by to many people packed into one room, and most of all he'd gotten sick of having to act the charming idiot to his fathers slimy sycophants.

With a sigh the boy looked at the Mako corrupted sky above him and closed his eyes, letting the cool night breeze wash over him. As he stood silently he could feel the last traces of the sticky sweat, gained while traversing the room behind him, trickling down his back and drying.

He'd have to go back soon, or someone would come looking for him.

As if the boy's thought had summoned it, the sound of a boot scuffing the ground, followed by a discreet cough, alerted him that he had company.

"Sir...?" The voice sounded bored; as if the owner could think of a hundred other things he'd rather be doing then going to fetch some snot-nosed kid.

The boy didn't bother to acknowledge the voice; instead he continued looking up at the poisoned sky high above him and the city.

"Sir." The voice was more forceful this time; hinting that the owner wouldn't be very happy to have to say it a third time and that the boy had better not make him.

With a slight smile tugging at the corner of the boy's normally expressionless lips he decided not to taunt whomever it was his father had sent to fetch him.

"What." he stated, his voice cold and emotionless, something he'd learnt to do since birth.

"Sir. Your father has requested your presence at the main table." The man's tone had dropped back to a bored drawl.

"Requested?" The boy raised an eyebrow and turned to face the man and felt his eyes widen slightly before he forced his features back into their normal blank expression. The man before him looked only a few years older then the boy himself. His longish red hair was tied back in a ponytail, the short fringe left to frame a surprisingly handsome face. His dark blue suit was tidy, freshly pressed, but somehow the man stood in a way that made him seem rumpled and unkempt.

The boy's eyes narrowed imperceptibly as he realized just whom his father had sent to fetch him. Not one of his toadies as the boy had imagined, but one of his Turks. What is the old pervert up too?

"Since when has my father ever requested anything?"

The man's face remained expressionless, his gaze focusing at some point behind the boy's right shoulder.

The blonde boy's eyes narrowed further then he stood up straight, squaring his shoulders. Enough of freedom...

The blonde stepped towards the entrance to the ballroom, his soft white boots making little or no noise on the balcony's surface, walking past the Turk as if he wasn't there.

His foot had barely stepped across the threshold however when a weight suddenly hit him from behind. The boy tumbled to the ground, the weight atop him, landing heavily. For a moment he lay dazed then he felt anger rise within him, How dare he, what did this Turk think he was doing!?

He struggled to raise himself off the ground and get the Turk off of him but the man kept the boy pinned to the ground with his greater strength. Growling the boy turned his head in an attempt to look back at the man pinning him to the cold floor and his eye caught a flack of silver.

Glancing involuntarily towards the flash, the boy's mouth opened in a silent 'O' at what he saw. Instantly he stopped struggling with the man on top of him and stared.

People in the ballroom were beginning to scream now as what had happened sunk in and many were making a dash for the broad steel doors that was the only exit and entrance to the room other then the windows.

The boy snapped his mouth shut suddenly as he felt the weight on top of him move slightly, then hot breath on his ear.

"Stay low," the Turk whispered, "and go back out onto the balcony. Try and stay out of sight if you can."

The boy nodded slightly then the weight was off him and the Turk had disappeared into the crowd of screaming highborn. The boy scrambled to his knees, wincing at the thought of what it was going to do to the white pants he wore, then made his way back to the balcony.

As he reached the threshold he staggered to his feet and found himself nose-to-nose with the doorframe, and set right before his eyes were bullet holes.

...A sniper? The boy's eyes widened in sudden understanding and he silently thanked the Turk who had so rudely shoved him to the ground.

The blonde pulled his fascinated eyes away from the holes in the doorframe and dived onto the balcony and stood against the wall, his eyes closed.

I hope that Turk knows what he's doing, if anything goes wrong I have nowhere to go.

The boy opened his eyes then peered around the doorframe at the room within. At first he could see nothing around the mob of screaming women and running men, then what he saw froze him in his place, afraid to breathe.

Mother?! In the center of the mess was a man dressed in clothes that covered him from head to foot. In one hand he held a sawn off shotgun, in the other he held the boy's mother.

In plain sight the boy could see Tseng, head of the Turks, gun in hand and pointed at the man. On the opposite side of the loose circle that surrounded the Gunman was a bald man, in shades, also a Turk. Quickly the boy glanced around for his father, the man was nowhere to be seen.

From where the boy stood he could catch nothing but brief glimpses of what was going on. As the gunman moved his head from side to side, trying to see everything around him, the boy could see his mouth moving under the thick balaclava that was over his head.

Vaguely the boy realized that the visitors to the ball were locked into the ballroom, the heavy steel doors having been locked inside and out.

The situation around the boy's mother seemed to be deteriorating. The gunman's shouts were becoming louder, so that the boy could almost hear them, and he'd put the shotgun to the terrified woman's head.

Tseng seemed to be saying something placating to the gunman but he shook his head wildly and replied something that made Tseng and the other Turk go deathly pale. The boy strained to see around a knot of people then jumped in shock at the sudden loud bang as the gunman's shot gun went off, seeming too echo in the suddenly quiet ballroom, then the moment of silence was ripped apart as quieter bangs sounded from the handguns of the Turks.

The boy watched in shocked horror as his view of what was going on suddenly became unobstructed a he saw the lifeless body of his mother fall to the ground in a crumpled heap, and then the body of her murderer fell next to it.

He didn't know he'd leapt from his place on the balcony, his mouth forming a silent cry of incredulous disbelief, until he'd tripped on the doorframe and crashed hard to the floor. A look of disbelieving horror was on the boy's face as he crawled up onto his scraped hands and knees and stared at the limp, headless body that had once been his mother and the spray of blood over the wall closest to it.

The boy frantically staggered to his feet, his only thought to reach where his mother's body lay, and was suddenly stopped as he was grabbed around the waist from behind. The boy struggled like a wild beast, all nails and teeth, till he suddenly felt the cool steel of the business end of a revolver being put to his head. The still rational part of his brain suddenly took over and he went very still, his eyes staring sightlessly at the carnage filled room before him.

I'm going to die.  His breath caught in his throat and for a moment he thought he was going to choke then and there. Suddenly the low gloating laugh that had been echoing in the boy's ear cut off to be replaced by a strangled curse.

"Oh shit!"

The boy heard a loud sound near his ear. Oh Ancients! He's shot me! The blonde held rigidly still, waiting for death's icy grip to envelope him. The man who'd grabbed him suddenly slipped to the floor and a rough hand grabbed his shoulder.

"You all right, kid?"

The boy looked down at the man at his feet and noted the pool of thick blood, bright red against pale marble, spreading across the floor and staining his white boots.

Tearing his gaze up from the body at his feet the blonde looked at the red haired Turk whom had saved his life for the second time that evening.

"Kid?" The man looked concerned. Peering at the boy he pulled up his gun hand and pushed his fringe out of his face, leaving a streak of the dead man's blood in its wake.

The boy stared obsessively at the streak of blood. He was beginning to feel flushed.

"I aaahhh...." The boy began to sway slightly; then everything that had just happened suddenly hit him. The boy made a strangled sound in the back of his throat, then his eyes rolled back into his head.

The red haired Turk cursed and lurched forward, grabbing a hold of the boy before he hit the ground.

"Damn..." he murmured as he looked down at the unconscious young man in his arms. "Bit much for you, eh kid?" he shook his head in sympathy, "...Let's get you home."

-=-=-

Reno lay the unconscious boy gently on his bed and looked down at him. The young mans face was serene in sleep; the strands of his golden hair fanning out across the pillow making him seem like a golden auraed Angel. Reno frowned, the vivid stains of red over the boy's white outfit made the image into something almost grotesque, a parody of innocence.

As Reno watched a shadow passed over Rufus' sleeping features and he reached out in his sleep for something and the Turk frowned again. Better get those bloody clothes off him before he wakes up. He'll freak if he sees them.

Quickly, businesslike, Reno stripped Rufus of his clothes and swore quietly under his breath as he surveyed the amount of blood that was soaked into the pile.

Looking back to the naked boy, Reno let his eye's wander down the seemingly perfect rows of lithe muscles and smooth skin then grinned wolfishly to himself. The kid would have kittens if he knew I was staring at him like this.

With a slight shake of his head Reno pulled the blankets up over the sleeping boy then turned and grabbed the pile of clothing with a slight grimace, then left the apartment, pausing only to throw the clothes into the trash as he made his way to the ShinRa tower.

When the Turk finally reached the silent building he quickly made his way to the elevator and shoved his key-card negligently into the card slot and waited as he was taken quickly upwards to the floor the Turks, officially known as the ShinRa Manufacturing Department of Administrative Research, conducted the more official side of their business from.

"You're late." Was the greeting Reno got as the doors to the lift opened to reveal Reno's normal partner in crime, Rude.

Reno shrugged and, hands in pockets, sauntered out of the lift and down the hall to Tseng's open office door, "Kid was heavy…"

"…Which in turn made your car break down, which caused you to have to walk back to the tower. Am I correct?" Tseng continued for him, from where he sat at his desk as Reno and Rude entered the spacious office, his tone amused.

Reno dropped heavily into one of the padded chairs across the desk from his boss and propped his feet up on the desk earning a scowl from Tseng, which he ignored, "Close enough to make explanation unnecessary."

"And the break down had nothing to do with the fact that your car is about 3 times as old as you are and would break down even if you looked at it oddly?" Tseng asked, one eyebrow raised.

"Straight on the button." Reno propped his head on his hand and gazed across the desk at Tseng suddenly serious, "What happened?"

Tseng's expression went immediately blank, his eyes glittering coldly, "We were set up."

Reno's feet came down off the desk as he sat up straight, "We what?"

"We were set up." Tseng repeated in a mild tone, "By none other then our beloved president no-less."

Reno's expression was imitating that of a suffocating fish, "You're kidding."

Tseng shook his head grimly; "The people who crashed the ball tonight were hired to assassinate Vice-President ShinRa, and they made a mistake."

"Being…?"

"He told us who sent him." Rude grunted making Reno start with surprise, he'd been so intent on Tseng he'd forgotten the bigger Turk was there.

"He? He who?"

Tseng frowned in irritation, "The guy we blew the brains out of."

"…Oh." Reno tilted his head in thought, "Are you sure he informed you right? It could be a trick."

Tseng picked up a thin brown folder from where it had been sitting in front of him and shifted it across the desk, flipping it open to the correct page as he did so, "The president never was to good at hiding his dealings when the Turks aren't there to cover it up for him…"

Reno glanced down at the papers, his eyes caught immediately by the obvious 'extra' expenses that were badly covered up and the notations of people doing odd jobs outside their normal duties. All marks of a man who normally only has to click his fingers to have things done, but has never done them himself.

Reno snorted then leaned back in his chair again, "So how do we come into this?"

Tseng leaned forward slightly, his fingers steepled in front of his eyes, "He set us up. We're the ones that take his fall and protect him from anyone finding out it was him who ordered this 'tragedy'."

Reno narrowed his eyes, "So this is all our fault, because we didn't do our jobs and protect the presidential family? Must be a thorn in his side that I managed to protect the kid then." His eyes widened again, "Unless, of course, that was what he was counting on. I'd wondered why he'd sent me to go fetch."

Tseng shrugged elegantly and leant back in his chair, one fine boned hand drumming out a slow tattoo on the desktop as he thought, "I think in that case I want to be more safe then sorry. He needs a guard, if you saved him and you weren't supposed too he could be in trouble."

"So what? We see if any of SOLDIER is useful for something other then sitting around admiring their muscles?"

Tseng tilted his head back then looked Reno straight in the eye, "No. I want to keep this as close within the ranks of the Turks as we can. Congratulations Reno, you have a new assignment."

Reno's feet slid off the desk for the second time in the past ten minutes and hit the floor with an audible thump, "You're kidding?!"

Tseng arched one slim eyebrow, "I don't like having my organisation being set up to take anyone's falls; especially not our darling Presidents'. We will get to the bottom of this and to do that I need us all co-operating. Also, I have a feeling you can handle Rufus better then Rude ever could. And I'll be to busy."

Reno shot Rude a sidelong look and gave in; he knew exactly what would happen if Rude went to bodyguard the notorious spoilt ShinRa brat. Either Rufus would be dead or Rude would…

"Oh alright. But I'm doing this under protest and I better be getting paid extra."

  Tseng smiled slightly in satisfaction, "Protest noted, and I'll pay you extra if you promise to buy a new car."

Reno rolled his eyes and slumped back in his seat again, "You know. I'm beginning to get the impression you don't like my car. She's a classic, you're just jealous of her. Right Rude?"

Tseng raised an eyebrow at the redhead and fought down an uncharacteristic smile, "Yes Reno. That's exactly it. Do you want the extra pay or not?"

Reno glared then shrugged, "Fine fine. New car it is."

Tseng nodded then looked significantly at the door, "This job starts as of now. Rude, give him a lift."

Reno groaned then levered himself out of his seat and sauntered to the door, pausing when Tseng called out an after-thought.

"And Reno. Try not to aggravate him to much, he can fire you, you know."

Reno grinned wolfishly over his shoulder, "I'd like to see him try." Then he disappeared down the hall, Rude trailing along behind.

-=-=-=-

Rufus woke up slowly, the warm sun in his eyes making it impossible to sleep longer.

Why'd I leave the curtains open...? He wondered groggily and pulled the blanket up over his head.

What had happened last night? He tried to remember, that stupid ball of fathers. Now I remember. He must have gotten so rotten-faced drunk that he just didn't remember what had happened. He vaguely recalled confusing snippets of memory, a scream, the sight of a group of highborns running across the ballroom. Must have been one hell of a party...

He was just dozing off to sleep again when there was a crash from the kitchen and a muted curse. Rufus was instantly sitting upright, his hand groping into the draw of his bedside table for the gun he kept handy.

As soon as his hand clasped the handle of the weapon he eased himself out of bed and suddenly realized something. He was naked.

Huh?

Shaking his head in confusion Rufus finally shrugged and grabbed the pristine white robe off the end of his bed and settled it around his shoulders, tying it quickly and tightly around his middle. As soon as he had the cover on he walked quietly over to the bedroom door, nudged it open slightly and peered out into the apartment beyond.

Nothing.

Gun leading the way Rufus edged out of the room and paced across the living area, his steps silent on the plush white carpet. Slowly he made his way to the kitchen. As he got there he noticed the aroma of cooking food. He was beginning to get mightily confused.

He took a step around the counter and stepped into the kitchen proper to stare in confused amazement. Someone had broken into his apartment and was cooking?

Suddenly an arm appeared from behind him and plucked the gun out of his unresisting grip. Startled he stepped backwards against the kitchen counter, his hands resting on it's edge. It was the red haired Turk from the ball.

Rufus blinked and found hazy images flitting though his head. There was something horribly important he had to remember about last night, he realized confusedly. And this Turk, who was giving him a cool, calculating look and laying his weapon on the kitchen table, had something to do with it.

"A good habit to get into after last night." The redhead commented with a nod, "I don't quite think you needed to bring it to breakfast though. Put it away and go get dressed."

Rufus stared at the man his mouth falling open slightly, last night? What had happened last night? And why was he daring to give Rufus orders. And in a tone that expected them to be obeyed!

Anger lifted it's head within the young Shinra and he lifted his own head and squared his shoulders, "How dare you speak to me in that tone of voice! Who are you and what are you doing in my apartment?!" he demanded fiercely.

Taken aback by the younger boy's reaction the redhead took a step backwards and stared at the young man who, last night, had been a frightened, confused, little boy. He looks amazing when he's angry, he found himself thinking inappropriately. Damnit Reno, get your brain out of your pants and think. After what this kid saw last night he should be a gibbering wreck. Something's wrong here...

The moment didn't last for long. Reno's eyes narrowed, "I'm your protection kid, in case of a repeat of last night. I've been temporarily assigned to guard your back.  Better get used to it. Now."

Rufus blinked at Reno a few times the tension draining out of his body as more confusing images bombarded him, "L… last night? W... what happened last night?"

Reno stared down into Rufus' anxious blue eyes and clicked, Ancients... He doesn't remember.

Watching the boy closely Reno spoke slowly, "There was a terrorist attack at the ball last night. You were almost killed, your father went missing for a considerable amount of hours and your mother...." He trailed off at the suddenly desperate look in Rufus' eyes. He was remembering.

And Rufus did remember, the fear, the shouting. The gunman had been holding onto her, the shotgun to her head... then he had pulled the trigger. Brains and blood had gone everywhere. Over the wall, the floors, and the people nearby... NO! NO, it isn't, can't be true!

"NO! LIAR!" Rufus threw himself at the redhead before him and tried to pummel him with his fists only to find himself held tightly against the others chest. He screamed and bit at his captor, trying to claw himself away from this man, the one who was telling him such horrible lies.

"No! No!" He whimpered, the strength suddenly going out of his body, and he slumped against the Turk who held him. Silently he found himself sobbing into the man's rumpled shirt and felt a gentle hand caressing his hair.

He ignored the comforting touch. No! It can't be true... can't be... mother!

Suddenly everything went black and he slumped into Reno's arms.

He'd fainted again.

-=-=-

Reno sighed and held the younger man up then, realizing his breakfast was burning, lay him quickly on the floor and dashed to the stove cursing. He grabbed the pan off of the stove then cursed again as he burnt his hand.

"Damnit! ...Shi't! …Damnit! Hot!" Quickly he dived for the sink and ran his hand under cold water. Brilliant, just what he needed to start off the morning.

Reno glared over at the unconscious form of Rufus lying on the floor. Trust him to have another fainting fit.

Reno pulled his burnt hand out from under the cold water and glared at it. It was turning red, but there wasn't much swelling. Not to bad then, just have to bandage it.

Frowning he turned the cold water off with his undamaged right hand then began to rummage around the kitchen, looking for a first aid kit.

As Reno searched Rufus came around slowly. Muzzily he shook his head a little and stared at the legs of one of his kitchen chairs.

Huh?! Quickly he looked around him, What am I doing on my kitchen floor?!

As the boy stared around dazedly he finally noticed Reno pulling a bandage out of the cupboard and beginning to wrap it around his hand.

Argh! He suddenly remembered why he was on the kitchen floor.

Stifling a moan he sat up slowly and pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them; seeing, once again, the entire scene from the night before play out again in his minds eye. Mother...

A flicker of movement caught his attention and Rufus, from his position on the floor, watched the red haired Turk walk over to something on the counter and begin to look it over.

I shouldn't let him see me like this... Get up. With the stern thought to himself, and also the thought of this Turk reporting his weakness back to his father, Rufus climbed to his feet; then picked up his gun off the counter.

"Awake again." the Turk said his back to Rufus, "You alright?"

Rufus stared at the Turks back, his eyes boring into the back of the man's head. I don't have to answer to you. Rufus turned on his heel and marched back into his bedroom.

Once there he shut the door firmly and threw his gun onto the bed. As he leant against the door he battled to keep his expression calm. Mother... Once again the scene played out in his mind; The gunman turning to look Tseng in the eye, then Tseng going so deathly pale. Then the gunman had pulled the trigger of his shotgun.

Rufus slumped against his bedroom door and slid down to the floor, screwing his eyes shut and burying his face in his hands, attempting to block out the image of his beloved mother's lifeless body slumping to the floor, her blood and brains coating the floor and wall behind where she'd stood.

Someone should have saved her! That's what the Turks are for! They were there, why didn't they save her!? Rufus' head was dully aching where he had one hand tightly clenched in his hair. Tseng was right there! The leader of the Turks, and one of his sidekicks, and what about the red haired one, why didn't he do anything?! 

Because he was saving you, a small voice in the back of his head said, but Rufus, lost in grief refused to listen. He left me! I was on the balcony; he could have snuck up behind the gunman or something. Oh Mother....

Suddenly he noticed the tears that were making silver tracks down his cheeks and wetting the collar of his robe. Get a hold of yourself Rufus! Stand up and get dressed. That Turk is here to spy on you, he won't hesitate to report this weakness back to father.

With a last sniff the boy climbed up the side of the door and walked unsteadily into the bathroom and ran water into the sink to wash his face with. Rufus avoided looking in the mirror before him and splashed the chilly water on his face, he knew he'd look horrible and he couldn't seem to face himself. In the back of his mind was a niggling doubt, why didn't I do something?

As soon as his face was washed Rufus pulled his robe off and marched back into his room and rummaged in his closet for a clean set of clothes. As he opened the door to the closet he viewed it dully. All of it was bright coloured, the clothes of a mildly happier youth.

With a grim frown Rufus pushed it all out of the way and reached to the back of the closet where he keep a second set of the white outfit he'd been wearing the night before. He didn't know what had happened to the outfit, and he shuddered as he remembered the sight of blood splashed across it, but he could have others made. He was in mourning now, and white was the colour of mourning. Quickly he pulled on a set of boxers then pulled the white pants and black skive on; he decided to leave the long white vest and white coat hanging up for now, and straightened it all before the mirror, still avoiding looking himself in the eye. He was afraid if he did he'd break down again.  

Rufus ran a comb though his unruly locks of rich blonde hair quickly then walked out the door to his bedroom, gathering about him the aura of cold arrogance that he'd used before when dealing with his fathers 'people'.

-=-=-

Reno turned and watched the retreating back of the young Shinra with narrowed eyes, definitely a chip on his shoulder, arrogant little sod.

Reno turned back to the pan before him and stared at the slightly overcooked bacon. Not to bad, certainly edible. Quickly he set to dishing it up with the other bits of breakfast he'd made and had just finished putting Rufus' plate on the table when the boy emerged from his bedroom. Well then. All cleaned up and not a hair out of place.

The boy looked at Reno uncertainly for a moment then the cool arrogant mask he was famed for fell over his features. Reno gestured at the food on the table.

"Breakfast."

Rufus glanced from the plate then back at Reno, his face blank, "It's burnt."

Reno's eyes narrowed slightly, so that's the way he wants to play it then. "Yes sir. I had my hands full while I was making it."

Rufus glared at Reno then flicked his fringe back out of his eyes with the back of his hand and sneered, "I'm not hungry."

Barely glancing at the red haired Turk Rufus brushed passed him into the kitchen and poured himself a glass of orange juice then breezed out again and walked through to the lounge and settled himself in a chair and put his feet up on the coffee table.

Definitely an arrogant little sod, Reno realized he was slightly amused. Well. I guess this just means more for me.

Reno settled himself at the table and eagerly dug into the hearty breakfast and watched his young charge under his lashes. The boy was sipping on his orange juice with an arrogantly bored air to him. Uncharacteristically Reno felt a small amount of pity for the boy. He'd seen the way the boy had reacted to the death of his mother. Bare moments before he'd been out cold refusing to accept it. Now, because he refuses to show weakness to an enemy, he's locked it all away.

As Reno finished the last of the bacon Rufus stood and put his empty glass on the kitchen counter.

"Where is my Father?"

The question took Reno by surprise, "Where he'd normally be I'd assume." Reno said, lifting his plates and putting them on the kitchen bench, "In his office."

Rufus' expression grew clouded for a moment then cleared back into its normal blankness, "Of course…" He murmured, almost to himself.

"See those dishes are done." He stated flatly after a moment of silence, "You may be a slob but I am not." Without another word Rufus walked from the room again, this time into a smallish room with huge, floor to ceiling windows. The 'sunroom' Reno guessed.

The red headed Turk stared after the blonde for a moment then stared at the pile of dirty dishes. Wash the dishes? What do I look like, a washerwoman?  But then, he wasn't a nursemaid either and here he was doing just that to this arrogant little mommas boy.

Glaring at the dirty dishes again Reno grunted, May as well get it over and done with. Remind me to eat at home from now on.

-=-=-

Rufus unlatched the lock on one of the huge windows and pushed it open, stepping out onto a small balcony. He left the window swinging open and rested his hands on the balcony rail, leaning out over the edge to stare downwards at the plate that covered sector 4.

'Ugly-as-sin' were the only words Rufus could think of to describe the sight before him. His eyes followed the length of the plate till they reached the huge Mako reactor that sat at the end of it, like a huge overturned bucket. Beyond it Rufus could make out little more then the edges of the city and faintly, though the tainted mako-hazed air, some of the mountains that were in the distance. He hated Midgar. Maybe I should go to Junon.

The thought cheered him for a moment then he stared down at his hands, which were clutching tightly at the stone of the balcony wall. What was the point? He'd never get to stay there. His father would track him down and pull him back.

He didn't know how long he stood there staring at his hands, the light breeze that managed to get through the thick Mako pollution stirring his hair. His mind was in turmoil; he could hardly accept what had happened the night before. How had it happened? The Shinra balls were normally the most highly protected functions in Midgar. Soldiers most Elite had been there along with the Turks, how had the terrorists gotten in?

Rufus' thoughts spun around and around in tight circles. Behind him he faintly heard the sounds of his 'bodyguard' moving around, but he ignored them. He'd far sooner forget about his father's little spy.

The sounds behind Rufus began to grow louder after a moment and he thought he heard the sound of voices. Was the Turk talking to himself? Rufus turned, irritated, to deliver a scolding remark to the tall redhead and was surprised to see the man standing a few feet away from him.

"Sir. You father is here to see you." The man's voice was noncommittal.

Rufus' eyes grew slightly wide and he stared past the Turk at the man pouring himself a glass of drink from the cabinet that stood on one side of Rufus' living room.

Rufus' gaze went to the blank face of the red haired Turk then he turned his own, now blank gaze, back to the man who was supposedly his father. Pushing his hair out of his face, Rufus stepped passed the tall Turk and back into the apartment, making his way into the living room.

"Sir?" He said once he'd arrived in the room; the word was more a sneer then a title.

The president ignored his son for a moment to focus on the cool amber liquid that swirled around the bottom of his glass then, blinking as sunlight shone directly into his eyes, looked at the boy.

He cleared his throat awkwardly and rattled the liquid around in the glass some more.

Rufus decided not to humour the man. Let him stew. He deliberately stood at near 'attention', staring off at a point over the old mans left shoulder, his face an impassive mask.

-=-=-

"The… incident last night was unfortunate." The man began, taking a sip of his drink. From where Reno stood, just out of sight, he saw Rufus' eyebrow twitch but other then that the boy showed no other reaction to the man's words.

"Very unfortunate… Your mother's funeral will be held in two days time. You'll be picked up." The boy's father looked up at his son with narrowed eyes then smiled slightly at the lack of reaction his words brought.

"And once that tediousness is done with, you will be taking her place as vice president of the company. I trust you'll do a better job then she did."

The man dropped the glass he'd been drinking from onto the sideboard then turned and walked for the door, muttering one last comment to himself, one obviously not supposed to be heard by the others in the room, "But of course you'll do a better job then she did; that's why I got rid of her."

Reno looked sharply at Rufus and was startled to see no reaction in the boy. He'd remained perfectly still, his face completely blank.

It wasn't until the door had slammed shut and the president's heavy footsteps had faded that Rufus sprung into action.

Much to Reno's startlement the boy spun on his heel and grabbed the Reno by his coat and, slamming him back against the wall, thrust his hand under the Turks coat and pulled the sleek handgun from it's hiding place, then, in the same motion, spun back around and began to shoot the drinks cabinet.

Reno stared in shock as the quiet pings of the silenced weapon sounded and across the room bottles exploded into showers glass and alcohol. After the third shot Reno suddenly gathered his meandering wits and leapt forward, wrapping the boy in his strong arms and forcing him to lower the weapon. Rufus struggled against him for a moment then went still. Reno held him cautiously for a moment then loosened his grip on the still youth.

Immediately he regretted his choice as the boy dropped the gun then rammed his elbow backwards into Reno's stomach, doubling him over in pain.

Rufus stepped away from the man, his fists gripped so tightly at his sides that the knuckles were white. "Don't you ever touch me again!" he hissed from behind gritted teeth, then turned on his heel and disappeared into his bedroom.

  Reno wheezed for a moment, trying to catch his breath, then, clutching his aching stomach with his right hand, scooped up the gun with his left and examined the mess that had been the sideboard.

"Well," He gasped, a faint grin hovering on his lips, "at least I know he's a good shot."

-------

Vanyel. Please R&R!!

-------