Bullet Catchers

By Jazzbo22

An assassination attempt leaves Rufus questioning his vulnerability. The Turks struggle to keep the President out of harm's way, but is it enough?

TsengxRufus, RudexReno, yaoi, angst

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Chapter One

"God damnit!" Rufus slammed his fist against his marble desk, immediately regretting the action. A shooting pain stabbed up his arm, gathering in his elbow. Gingerly, he massaged the sore joint, glaring at the abundance of paperwork laid out before him.

It was the same old, same old of everyday. More paperwork, no time for anything but. He would sit down with a cup of coffee and a bottle of aspirin, and proceed to work through the pile. When that was done, his secretary would just magically know, bringing in another pile.

No, no, no. Rufus was becoming mighty sick of this routine, having executed it for the past five years. Sure, back then he was still Vice President of Shinra Inc, but that didn't dissipate the workload.

Exhaling loudly, the young President took a seat in his rather posh leather chair, overlooking the whole mess of what once was his desk.

"Jesus, if they wanted to kill me, this is the way to go about it." He muttered under his breath, instinctively flipping a strand of fine golden hair off his forehead.

Diligently, and not to mention reluctantly, Rufus set to work, signing the appropriate papers, trashing others (the "PEACE" group of Midgar, composed of Mideel hippies, was not his concern). It was the same monotonous routine, and he despised it, right to the very core of his being.

"Oh, somebody just kill me now." He muttered to no one in particular, throwing his signed paperwork into a bin on his desk labeled 'finished'. That way when his secretary came in later she could just grab it and put it in the mail, the easy work. Have it all marked and sent out, and still be home to cook dinner and get it on the table for her family by 6pm. What a life. He pulled the next pile into the middle of his desk, sorting through the papers to find the sheets he actually had to read, as opposed to just sign. Through his years of working he had learned that anything submitted by Heidegger or Scarlet demanded an immediate read-through – they could not be trusted to use Shinra's money wisely. Papers and reports from Tseng or Reeve though – he didn't bother reading before signing his name at the bottom. They were competent people, he didn't need to waste his time reading through a report he already knew was checked thoroughly before being submitted.

"Rufus, meeting in ten." The intercom crackled, his secretary's lovely voice among the static. With an irritated sigh, he scribbled a quick 'don't touch this' post-it note and stuck it to the looming stack of papers. It was a reminder to his secretary, lest she be retarded and decide to mail this stack to keep her fingers off. His last secretary had a habit of taking every paper off his desk and sending them off, not bothering to check if all pages had been signed. He didn't want to go through the time correcting that big fuck-up again. No sirree, not him.

Grabbing his white blazer, he sorted last minute through the papers before heading to Conference Room 4b. He hated meetings almost as much as he hated paperwork, but some things had to be done in order to run the company effectively.

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Trying not to appear completely disinterested, Rufus sat at the head on the elongated table, studying every occupant with a cold eye. Palmer, Scarlet, Reeve, and Heidegger sat to the left of him, while Tseng, Rude, Reno and Elena on the right.

"Ahh-hmmm!" Palmer cleared his throat, the scratchy sound drawing all eyes on him. The pudgy man immediately began fidgeting under the intense watch.

"So, this meeting has been called to address some of the concerns of President Shinra's upcoming public speech."

Shit, shit, shit. He had forgotten about that. Everything was so much easier when they would just set up a news camera in his office and he could address the public from behind his desk. Not this time though. In order to restore faith to the people and gain important support for the Shinra Co., he had to do this publicly. Apparently his father was not a huge fan of public speaking so he had done it only a handful of times in his career. Rufus wanted to show his supporters that he was a different kind of leader, and that meant doing more of what his father refused to.

Palmer was still speaking, and Rufus had to force himself to actually pay attention to what the pudgy man was talking about. God, were those food stains on his tie…?

"Due to a number of obvious reasons, the filtering of attendees and the security has to be at an all time high. When the President is right out in public in front of hundreds of people, it is worrisome." Palmer finished, wiping his sweaty palms on his thighs. Reeve nodded approvingly. Heidegger stood, taking the burden from Palmer. Seemed like addressing a small conference like this was almost too much for the little guy. Rufus had to suppress a smirk. Everyday he was given little reminders like this as to why he was the perfect man to run this company. Everyone else was inadequate.

"Of course, there's nothing to worry about really. Time and time before there has been no worry about the President's safety during a speech, but it's always good to stay on the safe side." Heidegger seemed like he was trying to assure Rufus and the rest of the table. His facts weren't quite right though, especially since Rufus had been keeping up with the newspapers. In fact, one of the reports he had just signed was to recognize a newly appointed Ambassador of Junon. The last one faced an unfortunate demise.

"That's not true." Rufus finally decided to speak, his voice cutting through whatever Heidegger had been babbling on about before. Time to restore order here, show the authority.

"If I may ask sir, what is untrue?" Rufus reclined in his chair, casually placing his arms on the armrests. Heidegger looked at him almost like a beaten dog. His expression was truly pathetic.

"Wasn't that Ambassador from Junon murdered during a public outage?" Heidegger coughed, flustered. Seemed like someone didn't do a complete fact-check before coming to this conference today. Rufus could bet that Heidegger had been paying some low-level grunt to handle the paperwork. Heidegger was only interested in receiving money to start another weapons project. Anything else apparently didn't concern him, even when it was something so important as the President's safety.

"Well, yes, I suppose. Mr. President, your safety is always the first priority. We have taken it into account already, which is why all the Turks are present at this meeting. Later on in the week, everyone involved with the Supreme Conference Centre during your speech will receive a handout of the complete procedure. To do a quick run down, Rude will first filter the politicians at the door with the assistance of a metal detector and a handful of SOLDIERS, checking for weapons, patting down reporters. After that has been done, he will move to the main room, where you are. His posts will be laid out in the mission plan. Tseng will always be right near you, off to the side of the podium. He will have a complete view of the room. Elena will be in the rafters, while Reno will be on a rotational cycle on the ground floor." Tseng interrupted after Heidegger had finished.

"You will submit to me a full list of who will be attending, so we can run background checks." It wasn't a question. Rufus had to grin at the ballsy-ness of his personal protector. Even though Heidegger was Tseng's superior, it seemed the Wutaian could get away with just about anything, including handing out orders to your own boss. If it was, say Reno, Heidegger would have told him where to shove it and probably would have given him a week's worth of reports to get through. Tseng on the otherhand – you didn't want to mess with him. If he gave you an order, you nod and get the appropriate files on his desk -immediately.

Rufus pushed off with the heels of his feet, standing gracefully. All heads turned to him, seeing the obvious dismissal in his eyes.

"If that is everything, I'm going to head back to my office now. Mission objectives should be handed out asap. All corners covered. We don't want this to turn into a problem and embarrass the company. Tseng, I expect to be briefed by you early next week." His head Turk nodded, standing as well.

With a straight back and elegance only he knew of, Rufus glided out of the conference room, back to his office. Back to a paper loaded hell that awaited him.

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"You know, I have never seen something so fucked up as this." Reno remarked, trying not to spill the jelly from his donut on the handout. Rude shrugged, keeping his cup of coffee far away from Reno. Last time they sat like this, Reno had had some outburst of incredulousness and knocked his steaming hot mug onto his crotch. That had been uncomfortable, to say the least. He had walked funny for a week.

They had been seated in the Shinra cafeteria for over an hour now, discussing the upcoming 'mission' and looking over the handout that they had received just that morning. Tseng had told Heidegger to jump basically, and the large man did. They had their mission outlines in record time (record time for Heidegger anyways) and were now going over the details with a fine-toothed comb.

"If this is the way Heidegger wants to execute this, then we can't argue." Elena perked up, taking a seat at the table beside Rude.

"Fuck that. It's so vague, he might as well of written it when he was on the crapper. He probably did anyways. We're going to have to rewrite the entire fucking thing, our style." Reno spat, a purple glob of grape jelly now adorning the paper.

"Reno, just remember this plan is based around the old formats of similar missions. I mean, we've supervised speeches before, why is this one any different?" Elena smiled prettily at the redhead, who was stuffing his face with a vengeance. Hey, he wasn't the one who packed a goddamn lunch. Did Elena really have a purple plastic lunchbox? Christ!

"First of all, this isn't just an ordinary talk n' bail, you know, 'wham bam thank ya ma'am' kind of speech. President Shinra is discussing key issues in the business world that everyone in their right mind who is interested in that work field would attend. Like, everyone. Heidegger may have said hundreds of people, but I'm thinking more like thousands."

"Oh, well, that's just more people right?" Reno stared at the blonde woman, seriously considering that she may actually just have air floating around in her head. She didn't think this was a huge security issue…?

"Do you know how hard it is to keep track of that many people? Every Turk will be there, as well as SOLDIERS, but can we guarantee that every person attending has been accounted for? I don't think so. It's risky enough as it is, President Shinra appearing publicly at a time when the world is going haywire is not a good thing." Elena sighed.

"I guess I see your point." Reno smirked indignantly.

"That's because I'm great."

"Don't go patting yourself on the back yet." A smooth voice cut through the air. Tseng stood behind the redhead, looking thoughtful and sharp at the same time. Only Tseng could do that. Most people would just come off looking confused or angry, but not their Tseng.

"Everything that you had mentioned is true Reno. I was just talking to Heidegger about the plan myself. He is convinced that everything has been considered. What my biggest concern is the size of the room in relation to the number of people. Will we have a complete view of the layout and also keep an eye on the crowd?" Everyone was silent, considering this. Rude took a sip of the dark, hot liquid steaming out of his mug. He cleared his throat to speak.

"You'll supervised there recently boss. I'm afraid I do not have a clear recollection of the dimensions of the room." Tseng threw a notepad on the table, already having anticipated Rude's statement.

"Those are a collection of all the notes I have made in my time working within that room. It's got the square feet of the conference room, all exits, usual security setup, placement of security cameras. If you have questions, come see me. I expect you to have my notes committed to memory by the end of the day. We can't afford for anything to go wrong.

"We'll just have to work with what we have. I've managed to 'persuade' Heidegger into inserting a couple more SOLDIERs into the layout, so each exit is covered. I imagine everything will be fine, since you yourself Rude will be overseeing the admission to the building. Just make sure that you are prepared for the worst." Tseng turned to leave, just as Reno swallowed the last of his donut and spoke.

"Like grenades and machine gun ammo? Don't forget the turrets." Tseng glared at Reno's dry humor.

"I'll see you in two days, 11:30pm sharp. We have to be at the Supreme Conference Centre at noon." Turning on his heel, Tseng left the group of three.

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"And so you see, democracy relies upon good business interactions and a strong body working under them…" Rufus couldn't believe the monotone voice leaving his lips. He was rehearsing his speech in the helicopter, bored to the point where he was actually considering rewriting the whole thing. But, that would piss off his speech writers, right? Can't do that.

The idea couldn't present itself anyways, the Supreme Conference Center coming into view. Already the SOLDIERs and Turks (minus Tseng- he was piloting the helicopter) were in the building, slowly working through the large crowd of politicians.

Even from an aerial view, it was blatantly obvious that there was a large crowd gathered today. The young President's eyes narrowed to the point where he could just barely make out Rude's navy blazer at the doors. The bald Turk cut a large figure dressed in dark, but even among the sea of pale clothes he was hard to pick out.

"Mr. President, any more practicing and you will be over-rehearsed." The blonde haired man sighed.

"I suppose you're right." The helicopter landed gently on the roof of the Center, it's propellers eventually slowing to a stop. With Tseng's close eye trained on him, Rufus exited the aircraft, a flock of SOLDIERs accumulated on the roof to insure the President's safety.

Tseng was immediately by the younger man's side, the duo entering the building and swiftly making their way to the main hall, where Rufus was due for his speech. Taking a deep breath, Rufus peered around the doorway, taking in the size of the audience. It was enormous compared to last year's. Great.

Brushing his hair out of his face, deciding to just get it over with, Rufus stepped into the large room, up to the podium, the microphone waiting for him. Tseng trailed close behind, making absolutely no noise, the whisper of his clothes acceptable.

The audience stood and applauded the President as he stood at the podium, the flash of cameras going off in three second intervals. Rufus put on a straight face and endured it, nodding approvingly to the crowd as the applause died off.

"Like on every continent in this world, a prominent business relies on entrepreneurial spirit…" Almost like being on autopilot, Rufus recited the speech. If he were to stop and actually think for just a second, he would throw off his rhythm. He was comfortable though, completely at ease in front of the large body of people and the persistent flashes from the cameras. If anything were to happen to him, he wouldn't see it before it was too late. His eyes were already blinded from all the flashing lights.

Any screwups would be fatal.

Elena patrolled the rafters, occasionally glancing down towards the President, silently admiring how he could stand up in front of thousands (Reno was right about that) of people and cameras without batting an eyelash.

A sound in a grate caught her attention. It was just a small scratchy sound, but it was enough to have her hand trained on the butt of her gun. She knew she might act like an airhead sometimes (well, almost always) but she was trained to fight, favoured for her steady hand and thoughtfulness.

The noise stopped for a few minutes, randomly starting up again. By now, Elena had sent a SOLDIER to go check on the ventilation drafts, seeing if anything, like a rat, had managed to get through one of the grates.

Staring at the grate, she was not all expecting it to open. Before she even had a chance to shout out, a strong arm wrapped around her throat, cutting off her air supply, causing her to drop her gun. Gasping roughly, she felt something jab into her neck before everything went black.

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Tseng was studying the audience, looking for anything abnormal. He was thankful for bringing his raybands today – usually Rude was the only one to wear them indoors, but with all the cameras he would have been blind otherwise.

Glancing up at the rafters, he could see minimal movement. It was too high up to make out faces, just figures. Squinting, he managed to see blonde hair before it disappeared from view as something- or someone, large and dressed in black had stepped in the way.

Immediately warning bells went off in his head. Lifting his hand, he cupped his palm over his earpiece.

"We've got a situation in Rafter A, report immediately. I repeat, something suspicious in Rafter A. Elena?"

"Got it boss. On my way to check." Reno had answered. The line was quiet from Elena. That was enough to send his mind into overdrive.

"Are there SOLDIERs up there? I need a report now, damnit." The line was still silent from up above. Tseng was staring at the rafters, the hair on the back of his neck standing on end. Something wasn't right…

The glint off of what looked like a sniper rifle was all he needed to leap into action.

"Gun." He reported calmly over his line. All was like slow motion- he had leapt up onto the podium, grabbing the President and covering his body with his own. The shot was faintly heard (no doubt the work of a silencer) The bullet hitting him squarely in the shoulder, sending blood splattering onto Rufus' cheek and across the bridge of his nose.

What seemed like hours was more accurately 1.38 seconds, before the place exploded with life. The pain in his shoulder was excruciating, but nothing compared to the relief he felt that it wasn't Rufus' face instead. With a speed that no one (except the Turks) had seen, he pulled Rufus off the stage and out the back door and up the stairs to the roof of the building, leaving the other Turks and SOLDIERs to capture and investigate where they went wrong.

With blood now steadily leaking out of his shoulder, Tseng started up the helicopter engine, the machine lifting gracefully off the building. Fuck, it hurt more than he remembered. The last time he had been shot was years ago, back before he was a pro.

He spared Rufus a quick glance before lifting the chopper in the air, recognizing the look in the young man's eyes. Rufus had known right at the impact of the bullet that if Tseng had not been there for him, he would've been dead on that podium. The President's head was level with Tseng's shoulder.

Holy shit, this wasn't supposed to happen. What had gone wrong? Tseng headed for HQ, intent on figuring out how this goatfuck unfolded.

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Thank you for reading! More to come soon. Please leave a comment if you feel like that, I get motivated hearing what all of you have to say

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