5. Acceptance

It hit her then how fleeting life was. Nothing was ever set in stone. No change was permanent. Decisions needed to be made. One couldn't just mull it around in their minds, thinking of the consequences, playing out the scenarios. Everything they did, every engagement, every plan was just a prayer to good ol' Father Time. All anyone could ever do in life was to hope that they had enough time left to let their agenda come to pass.

This epiphany hit him as he stared at, but not really saw, the ceiling of his room in the Intensive Care Unit of Midgar Royal Hope Teaching Hospital.

Amongst the year old magazines, stiff and uncomfortable chairs, and vending machines, he knew his Turks sat nervously. The television entertained itself absently in the corner, and no one paid it any mind. The air smelled like latex, urine and 409 cleaner; a cold, dry combination.

Mako blue eyes gazed at all the eyes locked onto the ground, to the anxious pacers bracing for those two words that could bring their world crashing down; "I'm sorry," to the constant and quiet stream of doctors and nurses as they made their rounds. Nurses bustled past; pushing trolleys or tending to patients, looking forcibly optimistic. Doctors strolled, a grim of please expression on their warn faces, depending on which type or news they were harboring. Although, everyone was looking a little more relaxed, more bright, and, dare he say it, everything had a new glow.

The rain had washed away the stigma, the death, the sadness. Millions of people were spared. Kadaj and his gang had returned to the planet, and Avalanche were once again given the title of heroes.

Everyone was alright now. Everyone was healed, getting a second chance. Their prayers had been answered.

Everyone's but his.

The Stigma was gone, but the damage remained. It was too late for him. His lungs, his heart, everything was beyond repair.

His eyes left the gray-white ceiling, moving to the glass wall of his room, where he could see Tseng watching him, eyes unreadable. Elena appeared soon, too, handing the older man a cup of steaming coffee. They both looked warn, tired, older.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Went his EKG, bleeping out the rhythmic and weary beating of his dying heart. Every dip of the LCD took him a little further away.

Why him? Maybe it was karma. Did life work like that? Was life just a series of karma points, where one decision or action brought on a good or bad reaction? Did people get what they deserved? On that note, what would be waiting for him, them? Heaven? Hell? Purgatory? Nothing? He himself believed in neither Heaven or Hell. The idea of a utopia in another plain of existence was just preposterous. Hell...well, metaphorical Hell, yes. An actual pit of torture in the center of the Earth, not so much.

There was nothing waiting for him. How could there be? Rufus, for a moment, thought that maybe Nothing was a Hell. But no. He would only cease to exist.

His affairs were in order; his Will was written, leaving his broken company to Reeve to do with as he pleased. His property and wealth, or what was left of it, was split up between the Turks, and a large portion of his savings was donated to various charities and to the WRO. There was nothing left for him to do. No final acts. Everything was in place, everything was set.

He had passed his torch on, his own flickering flame hoping to explode into an inferno in the hands of a new soul. He had started things, rebuilt the base of the company, funded the WRO, aided Strife and Avalanche against Sephiroth. His job was done, and now it was time to step back, let the next generation take the reins, and let go. But would his Turks? Would they accept his decision? They would have to. He would miss them, as they would him, but it was time.

It was time he let go.

Death was looming over him, calling his soul from the shadows. He had come to terms with his fate a long, long time ago. He was dying, slipping away, and he was okay with that.

Rufus ShinRa accepted the warm, dark comfort of sleep as he fell gracefully into Fate's arms and Death's care.

The door opened, and Tseng shot the figure a glance. His heart sank. Elena looked pale and heartbroken, and Reno placed a hand on her shoulder. Rude merely watched tiredly as the woman in the white lab coat glanced over the occupants of the waiting room. They all exchanged glances, and the other visitor's relaxed slightly, realizing it wasn't their doctor.

He stood up, and she limped slightly to meet him half way.

Kutika Senze was an acquaintance, a loyal follower of ShinRa till the very end, and Rufus' doctor. Her short brown hair was pulled back in a black clip, with her bangs brushed to the side. Her brown eyes were calm; an odd mix of warm compassion casual regret and sadness, all swirled in with a detached professionalism.

She looked down for a moment, avoiding his eyes. She only stared at him. Finally, she looked up and her piercing brown eyes met his own.

'I'm sorry.'

And it came to me then that every plan
Is a tiny prayer to father time
As I stared at my shoes in the ICU
That reeked of piss and 409
And I rationed my breaths as I said to myself
That I've already taken too much today
As each descending peak on the LCD
Took you a little farther away from me
Away from me

Amongst the vending machines and year-old magazines
In a place where we only say goodbye
It stung like a violent wind that our memories depend
On a faulty camera in our minds
And I knew that you were a truth I would rather lose
Than to have never lain beside at all
And I looked around at all the eyes on the ground
As the TV entertained itself

'Cause there's no comfort in the waiting room
Just nervous pacers bracing for bad news
And then the nurse comes 'round and everyone lift their heads
But I'm thinking of what Sarah said
That love is watching someone die

So who's gonna watch you die? So who's gonna watch you die?

A/n;; There really is no excuse for my absence. Like. Seriously. How long has it been? A month? Like, I had half of this chapter done...but then I though it was missing something, and I couldn't figure out what is was. So it sat on my desktop forever until I realized "Holy crap! Today's Christmas Eve!!" So, feeing terrible about abandoning you people, I scrambled to finish, and I think I turned out nicely. -pokes my cameo-

But, it's over. Finally. Finally, it can be put to rest. Who knows? I might write a followup oneshot...

Haha, under 500 words my ass. I guess my excuse is a combination of school, and Darkwing Duck. I became re-obsessed, and sorta lost my 'in-character' abilities for the FFVII world. I couldn't get the feel of it...which is the main reasons why many of my fics are often put on hold.

Thanks for the reviews and the support! Really, it means a lot to me.

So, have a Happy Chrisrmas and a Super-Special-Aweseome New Year, my darlinks!