I own nothing, all characters, locations, and whatnot are property of square enix. I wrote this to amuse myself.


A single red light blinked dutifully on the only phone in the room, an indication there was a message ready and waiting. It had been blinking for six and a half hours, an all time record for this particular light. Its longest stint as a strobe having been all of forty five minutes when the president was busy watching his son take his first steps nearly twenty five years ago. Had the light on the phone been given the capacity it would have found this a situation calling for immediate alarm. As it was, it continued to flash steadily.

Also in the now dark room, save for the driven phone, was what remained of one very expensive mako lamp, a massive black oak desk (complete with secret drawers and the planets most comfortable leather chair) a large white bear pelt adorning the perfect wooden floor and now splattered red, a glass coffee table comprised of four dragons wrapping around each other in some sort of fight for supremacy all the while managing to hold a three inch thick chunk of glass upon their backs. It had been Rufus's favorite table, it was given to his father by the Emperor of Wutai fourteen years ago when he began laying the foundations for Junon and Midgar, setting up the plates and working on a safer, more economical way, to harness mako energy. The mere fact that Emperor Godo and his wife, Empress Kasumi, had given a gift to the then top ranking CEO of Shin-Ra electric, was beyond most of the populace's grasp. Wutai was the warrior nation, forever bound eons in the past. They fought with swords, rode chocobo into battle, and rarely had much to do with Materia, they had enough natural grace as fighters they had no need of it. They kept one stone, Leviathan, given to the Wusheng for safe keeping.

Had there not been some dire reason for the phone light to blink so, for the stained bear pelt, and the massive sword sticking out of the back of a man hunched over in the aforementioned comfortable chair…the broken table, broken by the weight of a body being thrown carelessly into it, would have been a grave insult to the Emperor and his wife.

-xXx-

Elsewhere a young man sits in a dimly lit room, surrounded by the best armed guards in the history of Gaia, not clearly understanding the chaos that had so suddenly befallen him. There was so much he needed to ask, so many things he felt he was just not understanding. Why were they so worried about him? Why didn't they bring his father to the safe house, did they not know he was working late? As he looked around at the pale faces of the men surrounding him he felt a knot winding around his heart as bile rose up and a bitter taste in his mouth sent chills down his arms and legs.

"He's dead…" It was a statement of great worth and terrible acknowledgement. They looked at him in apology, as though they had each been put up to the task of telling him and had failed. They were marked by shame, shame for failing both him and his father. Fear that they would fail again, and, as he stared up at Tseng, fear that he now blamed them.

He did not, though that was really a minor part in the grand scheme of what was to come. They would give their lives for him if he wished them to or not, they would not give him the option to send them off. They may keep a distance, they would not abandon him now, no…not now. Rufus watched Tseng's defense's crumble as he stared up at him. His eyes suddenly seemed to glitter with barely contained fury as his face contorted into a snarl.

"I will find the man responsible and I will avenge your father." He said in his ever quiet way of speaking, though there were definite undertones of a wish for pain and ultimately suffering.

Rufus took a look at those surrounding him. Scarlet, her eyes red and puffy, smiled reassuringly at him as she pat his knee. "You know we stand behind you, Rufus…" She glanced back at Heidegger, who met her eyes with a solemn nod, placed one meaty hand on her lithe shoulder in a reassuring gesture of his own.

"To the end, little Shin-Ra." Rufus couldn't help the slight grin that tugged at the corner of his lips, finding some sort of relief in the nickname. It had been Heidegger's favorite for him since he was an infant.

Scarlet shot a glare at Tseng. "Hold on, did you say you have not found the one responsible for the Presidents murder?" All eyes were on the leader of the Turks.

"Sephiroth is in custody, as he is the presumed suspect." Tseng did not bother to look up at anyone of the questioning glances.

"He was the one found in President Shin-Ra's study, and as you recall that was Masamune…" Reno remarked with an arrogant scoff, slouched sideways in a chair beside his partner Rude.

"You aren't telling me something." Rufus felt that familiar frustration rising up in him, that irritating feeling that he was just missing something, something clearly right before his eyes…it just made absolutely no sense yet.

"He's bright, for a Shin-Ra brat." Elena whispered to Reno who clucked his tongue at her, giving her a raised eyebrow in answer.

"Forgive our secrets, Mr. President. It is for your safety, sir." Tseng eyed the boy, his blue eyes brimming with questions. He admired his courage, though he feared he was nothing if not hardheaded. "What are your orders, sir?"

Rufus shook his head, trying to collect his thoughts. He suddenly remembered being twelve years old and his father explaining all the protocol to him as they ate lunch in his office...

'If ever it should happen that I am relived of my position early, you must do three things. Always, and I do mean always, obey the Turks. These are the best trained soldiers in the history of the world, son…there'll not be another to protect you so well. Second, you must get Scarlet and Heidegger to you as soon as you can for you shall need weapons and a means to use them. And last, but certainly the most important step you must follow…'

"Call Reeve…He'll know what to do next." Tseng nodded, a hint of amusement in his black eyes.

"Of course. Reno, take Elena and Rude and get to Reeve's office and alert him of the situation. Do not fail. We stand alone until we are able to contact him, understood?"

"Sir!" They announced in unison, standing and quickly taking their leave.

"Would you like some tea, Ru-er, sir?" Scarlet flushed at her lack of formality.

"Rufus is fine, Scarlet. You've known me since I was in diapers…" Rufus felt something other than joy at the thought. Suddenly all he felt was the pounding of some unnamable emotion and a recurring thought ringing clear in his mind.

'He's dead, my father is dead.'

He caught Scarlet giving him a worried look, realizing he had yet to answer. "I think I need…I just-I…"

She nodded and rose without a word, returning a moment later with a steaming cup of tea, steeping the bag as she made her way back to his side. "Here you are, kiddo. This is what your…" She stopped suddenly.

"Thank you, for everything." He took in the familiar scent. Sephiroth, though it went above and beyond his requirements as the right hand to the President, often brought this particular tea back from Wutai. A tea famous for it's calming effect. He still found it hard to wrap his mind around the whole situation.

'He's dead, he's dead, he's dead…'

Scarlet smiled to Tseng as the young Turk rose from his seat across from where Rufus now slept. "Is it wrong that I forced him to sleep?" She felt a lump rise in her throat as she watched him, breathing steadily.

"No." Tseng stated in a matter of fact tone. "He will not have much time for it later…best to get it while he can." Tseng worried about the future for the first time in the last ten years. "I must contact Verdot, he needs to know what has happened."

"Hmm…should we be bringing so many in so soon? It may be best to keep this amongst our core for now. I know you, almost as well as I know that child in the hold below…this is not as straightforward as it seems." Heidegger nodded as he spoke. "To see him as he stood before his fallen leader would have broken any lesser man." Heidegger let out a sigh and hummed deep in his throat.

"While I do not doubt you, or your knowledge of Sephiroth. He was in the room and that was his sword in our Presidents back." Tseng turned for the door. "I shall contact you when I know more." He glanced at Scarlet before closing the door.

"I will stay with him for now." She was already laying a warm blanket over him, seeing in her eyes the boy she used to tuck in at night, take on trips to the Kalm harvest festival, to the Wutai aquarium, and to Costa Del Sol for summer vacations. The boy she, and many others in the building, had raised in lieu of his mother. She felt the tears slipping loose of her grasp as she desperately fought the urge to curl up next to him and weep.

"Sometimes, my dear, tears are the appropriate response." Heidegger gave her shoulder another gentle squeeze as she sat across from Rufus, intent on watching him sleep.

"It isn't my turn yet." Was her only reply. Heidegger nodded in understanding, leaving her to her silent vigil.

There was much work to be done and he had so little time to prepare for the media feeding frenzy that would undoubtedly ensue only a few hours from now. Their President, dead. His protégé now held in the catacomb that was the underbelly, and most secure holding facility, of the Midgar plates. They had no shame and would not hesitate to ask even the most blatantly painful of questions. It wasn't so much a matter of prevention as it was insulation now. How best to prepare the young boy for the onslaught of tomorrow. Sleep, he knew, would be the first thing. Reno and his Turks getting Reeve would be the other. Reeve would know better how to prepare Rufus for what would happen tomorrow. Tomorrow would be a true test of endurance, faith, and willpower for Rufus as he took up the proverbial torch. In less than twenty four hours, the universe according to Heidegger, evaporated and in its place was something so unfamiliar he was very nearly terrified. He had not felt fear like this since he had first begun working for the company over twenty five years ago and they nearly went to war with the inhabitants of Cosmo Canyon and Nibelheim all in the same week as they broke ground on the reactors in both towns.

"Well, a fine mess you got us into, boss." Heidegger stared up to the ceiling, and with a shake of his head he flicked the lights off and made his way to the couch in his office to get what little sleep he could, feeling that somehow this would be the last time he had the opportunity.

-xXx-

A/N: So? It's an AU, not usually something I stick with, and as such is not just a rewrite of all the games in one story. Please R&R, any helpful criticism is always useful, whether you like this or not ;)