AN: For a friend's birthday, sorry it's late
Rufus sat at his desk, tapping his pen against the table as he waited. For once, he had beaten the never ending pile of paperwork, and could momentarily relax before he had to begin work again. He reached out, picking up the file closest to him. He glanced at the heading.
"Food provision for under tens in Edge district 7." That was one of the projects that Tifa Lockheart was running.
He still found it a little difficult to accept that he was now working with AVALANCHE, since for so long they had been trying to destroy his company. As a child, he had used their help, but time had moved on, and they had outlived their usefulness. Now, in his mind, they had a purpose again.
It was AVALANCHE who were viewed as the world's heroes, AVALANCHE that children wanted to be like. Rufus had noticed how fickle people were. A few years ago it had been SOLDIER that had been every boy's dream, but now it was these ex-rebels. Though working together had been hard for both sides to adapt too, each could see that it was their best chance of surviving and thriving in the new world which was beginning to form.
Most of AVALANCHE had accepted ShinRa, and accepted glorified roles within its ranks. Cid was training the pilots a few days a week, Yuffie was working with the Turks, Tifa was helping Reeve with aid provision to the slums and Barrett was leading the expedition to find a new power source. Nanaki had proved an invaluable aid to the guards. Even little Marlene Wallace was helping with the education of slum children. Only two members of AVALANCHE had avoided the reformed ShinRa. One was Cloud Strife, who chose to work on his delivery service. Rufus could understand that. Cloud had lost too much at ShinRa's hand to want to risk losing it all again. The other though, Vincent Valentine, was an enigma. More than that, Rufus knew he was one of the best Turks in history, and they would benefit greatly if they could persuade him to return to working for them.
That was why Rufus was waiting. Soon Vincent would arrive, and Rufus could begin attempting to persuade him to resume his work for the company. He would begin though, by apologising for the wrong that had been done to him. He smiled slightly. He would be grateful to have Vincent's assistance, and it would provide the final death blow to those who still held out against ShinRa. His telephone rang.
"President Rufus, your guest is here to see you now."
"Send him in." Rufus answered, a smile on his face at the use of his name. President Rufus, not President ShinRa. He was not his father, he was his own individual, and the others understood that. He looked up as the door opened, standing as Vincent entered. He smiled at him, noticing that the other fearlessly met his gaze.
"Hello Mr Valentine."
"President." Vincent answered, still gazing directly at him.
Rufus looked away, pointing at the chair on the other side of his desk.
"Here, take a seat." Vincent walked over and perched on it, his feet drawn up underneath him. He didn't sit. His entire body was tense, and Rufus thought that he looked as though he was preparing to flee.
"You must be wondering why I called you here today." The other responded with a small incline of the head, and Rufus continued. "I wanted a chance to apologise for what happened to you in the thirty years you were held a prisoner by the company."
Vincent frowned, staring at him in shock, trying to decide if this was just some sick joke. He couldn't believe anyone would think they could just call him in, say sorry, and then have everything all better.
"President Rufus... nothing... nothing could ever give me back what I lost in that time, save me from the monster that I became. I deserved what happened to me, but I have been destroyed by it, and will never again be capable of an even close to normal life." He couldn't think of what else he could say. He felt sick by the memories of pain that filled his mind.
Rufus flinched. He had feared he would be met with a reply like that, and was slightly uncertain about what to do now.
"I wasn't the one to cause the damage Vincent. I am truly sorry it happened. I want to do what I can to undo the hurt, I have given a select group of scientists your files. I trust them to keep them confidential, and to do all they can to fix you. I want to make things better, and I am trying. But I will need your cooperation with this. No labs, any experiments can take place where you feel comfortable, and there will be no pain. We just want to fix you."
Vincent bit his lip, staring at him. One word escaped his mouth.
Rufus smiled weakly as he prepared to give his explanation.
"I could do with your assistance with training the Turks. But the research will go on regardless of if you help, we will do all we can for you. Vincent, you weren't the only one who suffered at the hands of my father and his friends. I know what they could be like. My life was shattered as well. The world was shattered. But now I'm trying to help fix the world, and you can be part of that."
Vincent nodded, managing a weak smile. He rested his gauntleted hand on the table, letting the other decide whether or not he wanted to take it, whether or not he would accept the offer of help.
"That won't be enough. It'll save the others, but it won't save you. I... I will help you rebuild your life, and I'll train the Turks, but won't rejoin their ranks. Maybe this will help me find the redemption I have been seeking."
Rufus rested one elegant hand on top of Vincent's gauntlet, squeezing it gently.
"I'd like that. I'd like that a lot."