Hi there! I don't know when did I created this story, but I think it's a nice one.

The story tells about a friendship between Aeris and Rufus; it all starts when the 11 year-old Aeris is kidnapped for first time by the Turks. Then she's taken to Shin-Ra's building where they locked her in a room with a certain punished boy called Rufus.

I hope you like it, I know it's long for an one-shot, I could have done a whole longer story by chapters instead of this way, but anyways, that was the original idea and I want to respect it, but if someone asks me to do it as I mentioned before, I would be glad to, but I'll see how it goes and for the moment I want to finish my 60 planned stories (Tee-hee xD).

Just one more thing, I want to clear up that I'm not in favor of a romantic relationship between Rufus and Aeris, it's just friendship, ok?

Disclaimer: I do NOT OWN Final Fantasy VII.

Are We Still Friends?

…It was a cold night in the city of Midgar, a colder one for a special girl and her dear mother…

"Mommy! Mommy!" a little girl cried, "Mommy, help!" she cried with all her will from the arms of a young turk called Tseng.

"Aeris! Aeris! Let her go!" her mother shouted from their house.

They were just a having dinner when those Turks arrived and took Aeris away; a pair of turks hold her mother, and other three, including Tseng, took the girl.

Aeris stopped crying, seeing the house disappearing, afar from her reach; she could only hear the cries of the woman who had taken care of her.

The Turks took her into a helicopter and left for Shin-Ra's building.

When they arrived, Aeris didn't resist anymore, because she knew there was nowhere else to escape, that place was THEIR place, so it was no use.

Tseng took her by the arm through the corridors, accompanied by two other turks behind them. "Where are we going?" she managed to ask, even though she was scare, she still had the remarkable curiosity of a kid.

"We'll go visit Dr. Hojo for him to see you" he simply explained with nothing else to say. Aeris knew the young turk from his several visits; Tseng and other turks continually visited her to ask her some questions like 'Who's your mother?', 'How old are you?', 'Do you hear strange things?', etc. She would always try to avoid direct answers, but they would always insist on them.

All the way to Shin-Ra's Laboratory was in silence, until they arrived; when they entered, there was a lot of noise from the bunch of workers, scientists and their own works. They all were working on different things, but the main one was a giant sort of capsule.

With the little girl's presence, the room was filled with gossips and stares. Tseng made their way though the people, only to find a black-haired man wearing scientist outfit with glasses.

He turned around to face them, "Here she is! My precious experiment!" the weird man exclaimed excited, with open arms ready to take her, but when he was about to carry her, Tseng pushed her back, behind him.

"Remember Hojo, this experiment was instructed to be supervised by the President" he reminded him with a very serious tone. With those words, Hojo erased his wicked smile from his face.

"Oh... you always ruin my fun" Hojo complained looking down at Aeris and then glanced at Tseng, "And how much will 'it' take him to come?" he politely asked, containing his excitement

The young one stared for a moment, trying to tell him he shouldn't be asking those things, "We don't know how much exactly" he finally answered before leaving with the girl.

They returned to the corridor, where the other turks awaited, "Lock her in the same room as the other kid" Tseng instructed them, letting them in charge, he left.

"Come, kid" the guy in black suit softly instructed before taking her by the hand; he seemed to be a kinder turk than Tseng and everybody else. They walked again through some other corridors, but there wasn't much of a silence, that turk was friendly too, so he talked to his partner all the way; sometimes he would ask her opinion about their topic and Aeris would shyly answer them.

Finally they arrived to the mentioned room. The turk hold out a key card, pushed it in the card-hole and the door automatically opened, revealing a dark room full of boxes and old files, still there was a little bit of light from the emergency lamps, but it was too weak. Aeris thought there was no one there until she saw the silhouette of small boy as herself, curled up in the corner of some boxes; the blond boy lifted up his face to see them with his big blue eyes, but as soon as he noticed them he returned to his original position.

The turk gently pushed her in, "Please, stay in here" he kindly commanded her as he closed the door.

Aeris didn't know what do then; she stared at the boy there, somehow waiting for him to say something, however it wasn't like that. So she sat down in another corner in silence, thinking what she could say or do, although she was still worried about her mother. But when her mother came into her mind, she immediately stood up and thought she could find a way to escape through the roof. Consequently, she started climbing the boxes; the little boy noticed this action, therefore, that wasn't the only thing he noticed, she just did the wrong move. The boxes started shaking just before Aeris was about to reach her goal.

The pile of boxes started collapsing, letting the poor girl fall "AAAaahh!" she screamed, scared she would hit the ground and get unconscious , or worst...death. But then again, when she fell, she felt the arms of somebody catching, not strong enough to hold because they ended up both in the floor.

Aeris raised her head from the floor just to find the blond-haired boy unconscious by her side. "He caught me... I didn't think he would" she thought in silence meanwhile she stood up to help him. It was kind of useless, the boy was unconscious, he couldn't raise up.

So the brunette knelt and placed the boy's head on her lap; "He looks calmer than before..." Aeris thought, gently brushing his hair with her little fingers. They rested calmly like that for hours.

Everything was in silence, until the blond woke up with a groan, Aeris helped him sit straight; he rubbed his head, shutting his eyes, feeling the pain from the fall. Then the boy glanced at Aeris, but when they crossed their eyes, he shyly looked away. "Are you okay?" he asked.

The girl silently giggled at his reaction, "I'm fine, thanks to you" she replied with a smile. The boy glanced once again at her, figuring why did she smile, being in a place like that, but then looked away.

That moment was a perfect time to ask too many thing, according to the brunette. "What's you name?" she asked first, still happy about talking to someone. The blond turned a little bit his gaze at her, but looking at the ground instead. "I'm Rufus" he answered, meanwhile he sat by her side, resting his back against the pile of boxes, "...and you?" Rufus managed to ask her.

"My name is Aeris" she replied with her kind smile, "Nice to meet you" she added, extending her hand at him; Rufus hesitated at her gesture, but he finally give in and shook their hands; with that, he got rid from his shyness towards her, he could look straight at her, shutting her eyes, smiling at him; that was a nice feeling.

They stayed in silence for a couple of minutes, but Aeris' curiosity wasn't. "So what are you doing here? Did they capture you?" she asked again. "Well, not exactly" Rufus replied, "What do you mean?" the brunette asked back in concern. "I'm kind of the..." he paused before confessing, "the President Shinra's son".

Aeris tried not to gasp, but even if she was small child, she could recognize who he was talking about. The man who ruins the lives of Midgar, at least that's what people uses to say about him. And also, that was the man who was making impossible her mom's live and hers. She was sure his son was different, she didn't know why, but she felt so.

But then, she realized the question wasn't yet answered at all, "So why did they lock you up?" Aeris asked the right question. Rufus took a deep breath, it seemed he disliked the reason, "Because of my father" he said, "My father was beating my mom, because she didn't want to let him do something bad" Rufus explained; tears fell from his cheeks, "I tried to stop him, but..." the blond one started sobbing and couldn't continue. Aeris just took his head to her chest and started patting it.

"Sshh... You don't have to tell me more" the green-eyed gently whispered to his ear. She comforted him, until they heard someone knocking the door.


They quickly stoop up, waiting for the person out there. The door opened; "Hi there kiddos" the kind turk from earlier entered to the room with a pair of trays of food, closing the door behind him. "I thought you would be hungry, so I brought you something", he handed a tray to each one.

Rufus looked clueless with his actions, "Thank you, but do you mind answering me something?" he asked in a total different tone from the one before, he talked very polite and mature; of course he looked like the President Shinra's son, the superior attitude-like, but kind and polite at the same time at the 'employee'.

"Of course, sir, anything" the turk cheerfully replied. "Why are you so kind with us?" the boy asked, losing all his superiority, leaving uncovered his childish side, the one who was sad and afraid for what happened in those moments.

The turk, understanding his place, smirked at the boy, "You are no prisoners, you're kids who doesn't have any fault of nothing and if it was me the one in charge, I would let you free, but I hope you can understand I have a kid like you guys, that depends of me and my work" he explained with his always gentle smile, but somehow with inner guilt.

The guy, trying to forget about that guilt, clapped his hands, "Well, I guess my work is done here, it's already time for me to leave", he turned around to leave, but when he was about to open the door, "You know there are some air ducts' entrances in the bathrooms, sometimes they're very useful" he commented and quickly left.

The kids just looked to each other, smiling at the same thought, "That man... is a kind man. We may be able to escape thanks to him". Meanwhile finishing their trays, Rufus and Aeris discussed in whispers how to get both of them to the bathroom together. But when they were at it, some persons walked by the door, patrolling, so they shut up for moment and the adult's conversations couldn't be avoid...

"Hey, shouldn't the cetra be in the laboratory?" a guy with a strange accent asked to his partner, "Well you know the experiment was supposed to be supervised by the president, but the thing is that right now he is so busy with the media and funeral arrangements, so the experiment with the girl will be postponed for tomorrow" his partner answered in quite calm tone.

"And what about his son?" the strange-accented again asked, "Mmm... that's something we can't know, maybe tomorrow" the man replied, his voice was weaker than before, it seemed they had left.

Aeris quickly glanced at his partner; Rufus was just staring at the floor, already knowing what they meant of course. Not wanting to say anything, he just finished his tray and Aeris followed the action.

"So the plan is to ask the guard to let us go both to the bathroom at the same time, telling him that after eating we really want to use the bathroom; we both enter to different ones, checking it has an air duct and then we both get in to get out, right?" Rufus explained in a serious tone and then asked with a total different face, a face of sadness.

The brunette just nodded, knowing he didn't feel okay. They rested in the floor for a while in silence. And when Aeris was a bout to say something about get going, Rufus talked first. "Do you think it's gonna work?" he asked in trance, "Is it worth to risk our lives? Well I mean, at least in my case" he paused taking a deep breath, "You do have a home, and now that I think so, I'm willing to do anything to get you there, but then..." Rufus paused not knowing what he was saying and not knowing how to say the next words without thinking about his mother, "...where would I go?" the blue-eyed finally asked.

Just then, Aeris took the tray and gave a weak slap on the head with it, "Aahh!" he groaned, "What was that for?" the blond one asked in complain. "You silly, don't yo think that I'll leave you behind!" she exclaimed; they still talked in almost quiet. Aeris glared at him, "Of course, my mother and I would be happy to welcome you in our home! You do have somewhere to go and it's not this room, okay?" the brunette asked with a 'you can't say no' glare.

Rufus looked surprised but then he smiled at the thought of a happy place and nodded at her. "Well then, let's go! We have to ask the guard!" she 'ordered' while standing up and offering her hand to help him.

They both went to the door and knocked. "Yes?" a turk asked from the other side. "Mister, can we both go to the bathroom?" Aeris asked innocently, "We can't take anymore!" she added.

"Just one by one" the turk replied emotionless. "Please, sir! We don't know who is worse! Please, sir!" the brunette begged. There was silence for a moment. Then the door was opened with the turk in front of it. "Just this time, but if you do anything wrong, I swear I'll get you kill" he said.

He took them both by the arm and started making their way to the bathrooms. Secretly, they both smile to each other.

The turk took them to the restrooms, where he let them free; they automatically ran to the bathrooms and closed the door behind them. The adult in charge waited in the entrance, tired and annoyed by his job; just then a friend of his came by there, so he thankfully started having a conversation with him.

Meanwhile in the bathroom, the kids heard their conversation. That was really a big hit of luck. "Do you hear that?" Rufus asked from his place to Aeris. "Yeah, that's such helpful" she replied; "Well, we have to reach the ducts, you do have one above, right?" the blond asked, "Yes there is and you?" she returned the question, "Yeah, then let's go, we'll see each other up there".

After that said, they started climbing the toilet, making their way to ducts. Once Rufus was in, he realized his female partner was missing; she was still trying to climb. Rufus leaned out to see her, with an embarrassed face, blushing a little, "I'm sorry, but I'm not good at this" Aeris confessed. Rufus just smirked at gave her a hand to get her up.

When they were both in, they started crawling through its tunnels. Rufus took the lead, he already knew the building very well, he just had to leaned out in some parts to know where they were.

"You do know where are we going right?" Aeris asked in concern, in reality she was the lost one. "Do not worry, after all this is where I live... or used to" he added. The girl couldn't see his face, but she was sure he was having a sad one. "Anyways, we'll have to jump into a hole of this ducts to get us in the first floor" Rufus quickly announced.

"What?!" the brunette blurted, "How will we? We won't survive the fall!" she exclaimed in panic. "Stop worrying," he almost commanded her, "My room is in the top of this building, and it's not the first time a I take the ducts" he calmly explained to her, "And there was also an entrance, I used to do this many times, but of course I had calculated the fall, so I secretly placed almost twenty mattresses down there with the help of some employees" he paused and smirked, "It was really funny to see the employees' reactions when I started doing so".

"You seemed to have a lot of fun here" the girl commented, happy about him telling her there was also fun in that place.

They continued their way to that hole he mentioned, but before getting there, "Stop" Rufus ordered before leaning out through the window of a duct. He looked down and found four figures, apparently discussing.

"But it was Sephiroth's fault, not mine!" a red-haired young man exclaimed, pointing to the silver-haired one in black coat. "It's not my fault that you destroyed the training center, I just said you weren't strong enough to destroy a building; didn't mean you destroy the training center" the pointed young one explained with a cool attitude, smirking at him.

"Doesn't matter what Sephiroth said, Genesis." the older man said, "The thing is that you damaged a Shin-Ra's property and injured your partner Angeal" he scolded to the his student, "What you did deserves a severe punishment".

"But that's not fair!" Genesis shouted, glared at everyone and left the room, slamming the door behind him.

"Oh boy, what will we with do with him?" their master didn't know anymore how to handle that group. "Master Eraqus?" Angeal called, but his master raised his hand in sigh to stop there; in that moment, he was only glaring at Sephiroth.

Rufus thought it would be better to leave before something happens, the hole was just in front of them. So after helping Aeris to fall first, he let himself fall behind her. But the discussion went on...

"Sephiroth, you do know that you shouldn't have said that", now it was his turn to get scolded. "It wasn't my fault! He was the one who decided to destroy it, not me!" the silver-haired excused himself, he couldn't believe his master was scolding him, he 'didn't do anything'.

"But you know he's too sensible about your powers' difference! I have told a million of times to be careful with that issue!" Eraqus tried to make him recall that. But Sephiroth was now annoyed. He walked towards the door and glanced at his master and injured partner "You know I don't care if Gens has emotional issues, and if he hates the fact that I'm stronger..." he paused thinking something, "And I absolutely don't care if the president's kid is escaping from the building with the little prisoner" he added and then left in silence.

What Rufus didn't notice, it was there was fifth person in the room: a turk who was guarding.

The turk immediately took out his radio and called for Shin-Ra's SOLDIERS and the turks in charge of the case; one of them was of course Tseng.

Rufus and Aeris just fell in the mattresses when the building's alarm set up. The blue-eyed quickly glanced at the entrance of the place, which was a sort of garage.

"They're going to close the door!" he said, while helping each other to get down from the white tower. "Behind the entrance, there's giant wall that separates the sectors from the building" her partner explained with a hurry.

Just then, the entrance started closing from the top with a gate. Rufus took her by the hand to bust out fast. When it was about to close they slipped on the floor, under the gate. The guards were now behind them, thankfully they made it out on time, now the guards had to wait for the gate to open.

The boy helped his friend to stand on her feet and again hold her hand to guide the way. They ran under the dark plate above the city and stopped in front of the giant wall which separated them from their destiny; but they didn't find a way up.

"What we will do? There's no way out!" Aeris scared hold Rufus hand stronger than before. the SOLDIERS were out from the building and were about to catch them. Rufus couldn't let that happen, they would be in a worse situation than before if that happens. He desperately looked everywhere around... and finally spotted a large ladder which ended in top of the wall.

"There!" he pointed to ladder; Aeris' face lit up in hope and they ran towards it. The blond helped the brunette climb it and followed her behind. But now, the SOLDIERS were on almost near the ladders.

"Don't look down!" Rufus advised to Aeris and she followed it, she already knew what would be there... a bunch of SOLDIERS with guns chasing them.

They climbed and climbed to the top, and when they reached it; Rufus glanced at the SOLDIERS who had discussed something from above for some minutes, but he didn't really pay enough attention; but when he glanced, he saw they were pointing Aeris with a gun. She was already on the top; he was still leaving the ladder, but seeing the danger, he ran towards her and jumped to hold her in his arms to protect her. The sound of the gun collapsed the scenario, but the worst part was that his jump made them fall from the gigantic wall.

Aeris was in shock, her friend had been shot protecting her and now they were following "We will die..." was the only thing passing through her mind. At least Rufus never stop holding her in his arms, she felt happy they wouldn't die alone, so she also placed her arms around him... But then "Do not worry... you have OUR protection... you won't die... not here... not now" the familiar female voice she always hears called her... so then she knew they were safe. She closed her eyes and fell in some kind of sleep. But before that, "Thank you..." was the last she could whisper before falling sleep.

Peace was filled in the place and the soft of the ground was comfortable...

Aeris was awaken, she lift up and took a look around... It was a garden, a beautiful one, full of white and yellow flowers; the garden was in the middle of some kind of yard behind an abandoned house.

"Where's this place? And do these flowers grow here?" she asked out loud without thinking; "Take one... because they will no longer exist and then run away with your friend" the voice commanded her in a kind tone.

So, she was going to do as the voice told her. But then she remembered her friend was shot, she quickly took him in her arms and checked him if he was alive; she gently placed her ear on his chest to hear his heart's beat was still there and thankfully, he was alive.

In that very moment, meanwhile she was still calmly listening to his beat, Rufus opened his eyes which automatically glanced at her. "Aeris..." he weakly called her; she immediately looked up at him, smiling and almost crying... he was fine, he was alive... joy filled her eyes.

When he lift up, she embraced him, happy and relieved.

"Thank you! Thanks! You're alive!" Aeris exclaimed shutting her eyes. Rufus was a little bit perplexed, but he then smirked and embraced her too, "You don't have to worry, It was just a 'sleeping bullet'" he explained. Aeris anyways cried on his chest, she was scared from the past scenario.

But then he looked above them, and the SOLDIERS were still there, chasing them; they were in front of the wall they fell from.

"We have to leave!" he ordered and quit the embrace. They stood up and ran into the house to get out from the place, but before that, Aeris glanced back to see for the last time the garden, but then she remembered she hadn't taken the flower, so she returned for it.

"Aeris! What are you doing?! We have to leave!" Rufus shouted from the house. "I just forgot something!" she replied while taking a white flower from the garden, but in that second, a 'sleeping bullet was shot, but didn't touch her; the SOLDIERS had spotted them.

Aeris quickly turned around and found Rufus exactly behind her. He took her by the arm and took her into the house. The house was pretty empty, there were just some curtains and some old sofas in an old living room; it really was abandoned, but they surely didn't stay to stare at it.

But before exiting from the house, Rufus took a look from the door, there were SOLDIERS already looking for them in the streets. "They are everywhere" Rufus said, still looking a way to escape.

"What will we do?" Aeris asked in hope he would have a brilliant idea like before, but it wasn't the case. Rufus turned to her and rested his back on the wall, "I don't know" he confessed.

Aeris looked down in sadness, but then, she glanced at the curtains, "I think I have an idea" the brunette blurted. She quickly ran towards the curtains and tear them up. "We can use these as a disguise!" she exclaimed while handing him one. He smiled at the idea and accepted the cloth.

After dressing themselves with the curtains, they slowly opened the door; Rufus checked up first if it was safe and made her a sigh when he was sure. He took her by the hand again and both walked through the streets with a little bit of haste to avoid any suspicion.

"Where are we going?" she asked, knowing he didn't know where her house was, but also knowing it wouldn't be wise to go there for the moment. "Somewhere safe my mother used to take me" Rufus answered.

They passed through many places until they arrived into some kind of dump, she had seen it from afar but never adventure into there. There was no one there, not even SOLDIERS, or a t least that's what Aeris thought, but Rufus had already spotted a pair near there.

They made a couple of turns and then, they could both behold a beautiful, but abandoned, old church. "Here it is" Rufus announced without glancing at her, he just pulled her in.

When they entered,, they could appreciate even a greater beauty inside. They took off their curtains, "It's beautiful, Rufus!" Aeris exclaimed, amazed, not knowing exactly why at that grade of amazed, but she was...

"My mother used to take here every time my father was away from the city" Rufus confessed in an almost melancholic tone. Aeris looked down, but she knew she had to smile for him, she couldn't let him get down. "You know, it's really amazing this place, it feels peaceful and joyful" she commented while staring around; what took almost her whole attention was a hole on the ground at the end of the big room, there was soil, it seemed pretty fertile... Then she glanced at the flower she took from the yard before. ""Maybe I can plant the small seeds it has" the brunette thought, kneeling on the soil and taking the seeds; she carefully planted them and caressed them before standing up. She glanced at his partner who was watching her. They felt happy, peaceful... they smiled at each other.

"Aeris, there's something I want to tell you and you have to promise me you'll do it" Rufus blurted with a serious tone like he used with kind turk the first time he talked to him. "What is it?" the little brunette asked in concern, "But promise it first" the blond insisted.

"I... I promise" she promised, not sure she if she should promise something she doesn't know. He took a deep breath, "I need you to stay here, no matter what happens, even if I'm in danger, you'll stay here until there are no turks or SOLDIERS chasing YOU, okay?" he said meanwhile Aeris shook her head, not waiting to listen anymore."Don't do me that!" she pleaded, letting some tears fell from her cheeks, "Don't do it... You'll let them catch you, aren't you?" she asked, already knowing the answer, she just confirmed it when he looked down at the floor, avoiding her glare.

Just then, Aeris saw his intentions, he knew she had somewhere to go where he could be happy too, but he knew he didn't own... and he was willing to help her to return there, even if costs his own live... that was his wish and she promised to follow it.

"I'll do it..." she blurted... sad and cleaning her face from the fallen tears... "But you have to promise me you won't die or anything" Rufus now was looking at her, he nodded and made a small smile, "And also..." Aeris said pausing, "You have to promise we will always be friends".

"I promise", Rufus hugged her and then gave a kiss on her forehead.

After doing so, he turned around and walked away and before leaving the church, he glanced once again and for the last time at her and waved his hand in sigh of a good-bye and she waved back, giving him one last smile... and then he left.

Rufus ran outside, easily to spot, "HEeeyy! I'm right here! I can't take it anymore! I wanna go home, turks!" he screamed loudly enough to be heard by a SOLDIER nearby.

And that's what happened; Aeris hid herself behind the walls of the church, but still peeking on the scene. Rufus kept shouting, a SOLDIER and hold him his wrists. "We have the President's son!" he informed through his radio.

It didn't take long for a helicopter to arrive there; Tseng was the first one to descend from it.

"There you are, Rufus. You had us very worried about you", Rufus already knew this was all acting and pretending, they never cared about his safety from the very beginning. "Um... Would you mind telling us where Aeris went?" Tseng cautiously asked him.

He looked away from him, avoiding his eyes, "She ran off after we fell from the wall and I never saw her again..." he explained, trying to act mad at her, for them to believe he didn't know anything about her.

"Hmm... I think you're lying me 'Little Mr. Shinra'", Tseng whispered in near his ear, turned around, facing the church, "The SOLDIER told me he saw two small figures entering to this church and that after some minutes you ran out from there, screaming you wanted to go home, isn't that right, Rufus?" he asked to confirm, but Rufus was really firm on his resolution... he couldn't let them find Aeris at any cost.

In the moment Tseng said those things, Aeris knew they would search in the church; she started thinking on what she should do and then... "The hole in the floor!" she thought and ran silently towards it, jumped into it and hid herself under wooden floor.

"That's not true!" Rufus defended his word. "Then, let's take a look".

Tseng walked towards the church accompanied by two other turks and the SOLDIER holding Rufus. The black-haired turk raised his hand as sigh to wait for him in the entrance; he continue walking towards the hole in the ground. Aeris was now shaking and shutting her mouth, under the floor, there was small possibility he would jump and look under the floor.

Thankfully, he didn't. The door a the end of the place drew more his attention. "Call some SOLDIERS to search inside the church" he commanded to the others and then left... leaving a huge relieve in Aeris.

"I still have to see what will happen to Rufus" the brunette crawled under the floor to where the entrance was and hopefully there was small hole which let her see the scenario. She also heard the SOLDIERS entering to the sacred place.

"He's here" a turk notified to Tseng. "Who's here?" Rufus asked. "Your father...".

In those moments another helicopter parked just aside of the one before. From it, President Shinra descended accompanied by two bodyguards.

The SOLDIER holding Rufus pushed him in front of his father. "Rufus" he said, "Father" the son replied.

"So you helped that little cetra escape?" .

"Yeah" the blond answered, not even looking at him. "But she abandoned me long ago".

"But you did help her?" the president asked again, raising his right eyebrow.

Rufus just looked down at the floor... "Look at me!" his father ordered.

And he did as he said, he raised his face and looked him straight into the eye and in that very second his father slapped him very hard on the face to the point that his nose started bleeding.

"Now, listen to me you little bastard! You're going to leave the city, very far from to get you taught some lessons to become a great successor instead of the wimpy kid you are now. You'll learn how to be a good president and how to stop being a fool like your mother..."

Rufus couldn't stop himself from letting some tears fall from his eyes when he heard the word 'mother'...

"Tseng," the president called, "I need you to wait a little longer in the search of this girl, but if you don't find her anywhere in half hour, just leave it like that, we may have some problems with the media if we continue with it so publicly, so... you know what do after that".

"Yes, sir" the turk nodded, confirming he knew his duty.

Just then, the President Shinra left in his helicopter.

Tseng took the blue-eyed to helicopter, letting him sit of the door. After some minutes of waiting...

"Can someone give a pen and sheet? I want to write a letter to my mother before I leave" Rufus demanded.

Everybody knew about her mother's death, but they were forbidden to tell him; Rufus already knew about it, but he was minding a total different thing.

So they gave him a notebook and a pen. He started writing.

And after some moments, he teared up the page and made it paper ball, "I didn't like it, guess I'll start all over again" and he threw it to the floor.

The half hour finally passed and the turks gather around.

"We searched everywhere, even her whole house".

"Did you make sure she wasn't still at the abandoned house?" Tseng asked.

"Yes, it was destroyed by car that crashed into the place; sure it was a big impact, it even destroyed the whole backyard, but we are sure she wasn't there".

"Well, I guess we'll have to leave things like this as the president commanded" the turk in charge concluded. "Please, take the President's Shinra's son to the island" he ordered to one of his inferiors.

The turk nodded and climbed the helicopter.

"Wait!" Rufus asked to Tseng and handed him the letter he wrote, "Please, deliver it to my mother".

Tseng looked at it, hesitating, before he took it, "I will..." he promised, already knowing it was impossible, but he somehow pitied him and then left the place.

Rufus climbed the helicopter and glanced at the church, happy that he got his wish of protect Aeris, knowing he would be safe... at least for a long time.

Aeris smiled from the hole, grateful for having him as friend who did so much for her... she just wished for his good-being during his punishment.

After they left and she was sure there were no more SOLDIERS, Aeris exited from the church and started making her way home, but before that, she noticed the paper ball he left behind.

"Maybe it was meant for me" she thought, took from the floor and opened it...

Dear Aeris,

I hope you are safe now and also wish for you to get home with your mother. I really wanted to thank you for cheering me up when I needed it the most, I really appreciate it, if it wasn't for you I couldn't have faced my mother's death... You really are a true friend and I have to say that you are the best from all, because I have to confess... I never had a friend... I never assisted to a school and most of my live was in that building... I owe you a big time, somehow I felt happy being with you.

I hope we will find again, some day... And I want to re-promise you that we will always be friends, no matter what.

Thank you for everything.

Your friend...

Rufus Shinra

That day, Aeris returned safe to her mother's arms, finally home.

And as for Rufus, he was locked up in a building which was in the middle of an unknown island and started a hard training, which left him traumatized for the rest of his life and sadly forgot about his dear friend... however his heart never did so...

...11 years later...

(Aeris' POV)

Cloud, Barret, Tifa, Red XIII and I just arrived to the President Shinra's office, but when we arrived, he was death, stabbed by Sephiroth's sword.

We found a guy who seemed to have saw the whole scene, when Cloud asked him, we confirmed that Sephiroth indeed killed the president and also that he was searching for the Promised Land.

And then, when the guy escaped from us, we saw a helicopter descending.

"Rufus! &*%$! I forgot about him!" Barret blurted.

"Rufus? He's here..." was the only thought running through my mind. I had heard rumors about he's return, but also about his cruel change... but somehow I still had the hope he would remember our promise... somehow.

We ran outside to face him, I was kinda of nervous.

And then, there he was, descending from the helicopter and then talking to the guy from earlier. After telling him something he left.

"Who are you guys?" were his words that sadden me... he didn't recognize me, but I tried to dissimulate.

"I'm Cloud, a former SOLDIER".

"I'm from AVALANCHE." Barret said.

"Same here." Tifa answered.

"... a flower girl from the slums." were my only words, hoping he would remember the flowers, but that didn't work of course... for an unknown reason, I didn't want to tell him my name.

".. a research experiment." Red XIII talked last.

"What a crew" Rufus replied, almost mocking us. He sure had change. "Well, I'm Rufus. The President of Shin-Ra, Inc." he presented himself while removing his blond hair from his face. He was no more the little boy I met, he was now an adult with another way of thinking.

"You only President, 'cause yer old man died!" Barret exclaimed.

"That's right. I'll let you hear my new appointment speech" the blue-eyed replied and started talking about the way his father ran the business around here and how he would do it with fear. Each word hurt me... he wasn't the small good-hearted kid... he was really changed. I felt like I was going to cry, I couldn't bear to see my dear friend talk like that.

And when he passed near me, "Are... we still friends?" I whispered loud enough to him to hear me, and he glanced at me. He did recognized me and I also could recognize the same look he had as kid, the same glance he gave me the first time with his blue innocent eyes, there was still a small piece of him, very deep inside him; he looked away, shocked, but didn't loose his posture.

That's when I could finally smile... Inside him, there was still the small boy who saved me... and who was still my friend.

After he finished his speech, Cloud ordered the rest to take me out from the building. I didn't want to leave, but I had to accept my bodyguard's orders...

But before leaving I just smiled at him, in secret, to let him know, I was still his friend... and that's how I left.

Rufus' POV

When the flower girl left... I only felt guilty, about what I said, not knowing why, but I had to quickly erase those thoughts and feeling, but then, a thought came to my mind, not sure it was mine, but I felt so... "Thank you... for everything you did for me... we will always be friends...".

That's when I finally remembered her... but there was not turning back for what I have done for the last years... Still, I would always keep those memories... locked inside my heart... the memories of my dear friend... Aeris.

The End

I hope you like it! I know it's long and it may break some time-line rules, but whatever, it's anyways a fanfic, right? I wanted to say I dedicate this for the people that had supported me in fan fiction (even if they don't read this or they are not familiarized with this game) and all my dear ones. And I also wish you, all who read this, a nice St. Valentine's Day! xD (And if I have mistakes, please tell me!) Please review!

-Sorceress Rinoa Heartilly-

*No one can predict the future..*