"I've heard that no one's ever seen him bleed or cry." -Aeris Gainsborough, Final Fantasy VII


The raindrops fell, each one bringing itself to perfect clarity before his eyes just as it splattered over the glass like blood from a wound. He watched them without expression, thin fingers lifting a crystal shot glass to his lips. The alcohol burned its way down the back of his throat.

No one, he mused, pitied the rain. But then, why should they? From the moment of its conception, it was fated to fall from heaven and smash into the earth. Why waste time grieving over what was meant to be? He half-smiled then. Why indeed?

The glass was empty now. He slammed it carelessly onto the surface of the desk that was currently supporting him in his apathetic slouch. Fumbling after the decanter behind him, his mind wandered off into more ponderous reflections.

This day marked the end of an era. Such a pretentious statement. But still fitting I suppose.

Just as he would have wished.

It could not be called entirely unexpected. At least, not to the man standing there in the overcast gloom of the office. A person could not live in such a way and expect existence to continue reeling merrily along.

He had been blind to fate, unable to realize that one day, it must end. He hadn't tried to do 'damage control.' Instead, he thrust things where he didn't have to look at them, had pretended they no longer concerned him. They were petty affairs beneath his notice, something for the court jesters who flocked about him to deal with.

And just this night, one of those 'petty affairs' had impaled him with six feet of cold steel. And not one shred of power or money or pomposity meant a damn then.

Idly, just to see if he could conjure some meager shred of remorse through visual stimulation, he summoned an image of his father to mind.

The first element to present itself to his mind's eye was nearly an icon unto itself; the decadent red velvet of the suit, laying frowsily over bloated flesh, peppered with ash from the omnipresent cigar. Said cigar was clenched firmly in tobacco yellowed teeth, teeth the same ghastly color as bleached hair waxed tightly against the bony skull it covered. And eyes that somehow managed to both sink sullenly beneath the browline and appear bulbous at the same time, watched him without blinking through a haze of smoke.

He pondered the mental facsimile for long moments, waiting with alcohol-induced patience. No. Nothing. He felt none of the impulses of remorse.

And certainly no urgings of tears.

White-clad shoulders twitched in a half-shrug, as he took yet another swallow. His arm dropped back to his side, to once more dangle the small glass over the swirling black marble of the floor.

Instead, it hit the side of the massive granite desk.

The thin lip caved inwards under the unwitting crush of his fingers, coating his hand with a wash of blood and liquor. The thick base plummeted downward and shattered. He stared for long moments in shock and fascination at the red-tinged shards of crystal littering the floor, like stars on a moonless night.

. . .and then he threw back his head, red-gold strands of hair whipping about his face. . .and began to laugh. "Is your ghost here, Father? Have you already come to set me straight? But honestly, this is a marvelous idea. Simply marvelous. Here I was, nearly on the verge of regretting that I don't care one way or the other that you're dead. Regretting that I couldn't manage to squeeze so much as one tear out for you. I should have known that you would interrupt even an express trip to hell to tell me what I was doing wrong."

Gesturing violently to the air in front of him, he flung one arm wide in indication of the shards of glass spread about his feet.

"Glass tears, Father. What do you think? Of course, you can have the first ones, though I'm afraid these are all we have available at the moment. The prototype, you see. I hope they'll do for you. Now, now, bear with me here. The fragility of the product is to our benefit...it'll keep the customers coming back for more when they break. And hey, you could even have them damn well mass produced. You could pump the little bastards out on an assembly line and sell them for three times what they're worth to some fool who doesn't even have enough money to pay the water bill. It didn't get much better than that! And just think of the marketable assets! These little gems don't redden your eyes or make your skin come out in unsightly blotches. That alone ought to make them a big hit with the ladies. Why smudge your mascara when all you have to do is shell out a few gil instead! I guarantee you'll love the results. Just wait until I set the engineers to work on this one. I can do that now, you know. Because this is all mine. All of it."

He stepped back and made a placating motion with one hand. "But I owe it all to you of course. Don't think I've forgotten. You taught me everything I know. I mean, do we really believe people when we see them crying? It's probably just an act. Doesn't cost them anything but a few moments of indignity. But for these tears, they'd have to pay. That gives them value. Right? Right? That's what you always told me."

But when glass tears break, that's it, isn't it? The mere memory of them means nothing without the substance itself. It's the fleetingness of real ones, that makes them dear.

Laughing softly, unsteadily, to himself, he pressed his wounded hand to the cold smoothness of the massive window. Blood trickled over his fingers and ached against the glass, as if it hungered to touch the chaste clarity of the rain.

Cheers, old man. Blood's thicker than water anyway. Isn't that how it goes? Only the best for you.

In the depths of the room behind him, an opening door whispered over the floor and a timid voice drifted around its edge.

"Sir? The chopper is here."

Rufus Shinra turned to leave. Behind him, one droplet of blood slowly made a thin line upon the glass.

But the rain could not reach it.


Written October 2000.

Final Fantasy VII © Square-Enix.