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~~~~~Second Chances~~~~~~

I was looking at my stories, and I realised that I didn't have a fic about Rufus! Me, Casey Crystal, not having a fic about Rufus Shinra! So I wrote this to solve my problem. Hope ya like it!

DISCLAIMER: They're not mine. And I'd like to make a warning, this fic doesn't SHOW anything, but there's a few references/mentions to a certain baby-making process. Just though I'd warn ya.

* * * * *

Unbearable pain, aided by a fiery light.

That's what he last remembered. These memories are forever seared into his subconscious mind. And he'll never forget them. Rufus Shinra winced at these memories. He could almost *feel* the pain. He opened his eyes, but saw nothing. All around his was dark. Almost greenish, but a black color. He held his head in pain and groaned.

"So there is life after death." he murmured. "It's everything I've expected."

<<Oh, is it?>> hummed a melodic voice. Rufus looked up, alarmed. But he couldn't find a thing. The voice chukled. <<Now, there's no need for fear.>>

"Who says I'm afraid?"

<<Everything, everyone.>>

"Who are you, anyway?"

<<My dear, but I thought you'd know. I am the lifestream. I keep this planet alive, as well as I can. It's not easy competing with your machines, deary.>> the voice sang in his ears. <<Do you know I've kept you this way for a reason? Most people return to the lifestream, but I've chosen to keep your soul seraparate.>>

Rufus groaned. "I suppose I must guess why I've been singled out?" He sighed, then held his head again. Why was he in so much pain? He's dead. Why is there pain after death?

<<Ahh, the pain. It's been decided that to fully teach you the error of your ways, you will feel the pain of the planet until it is completely healed.>>

"How can this 'show me the error of my ways'? I'm DEAD. I can't learn from my mistakes and then fix them! Have you thought about that?"

The voice chuckled. <<Of course I have, child. That's why I'm sending you back to stop all this before it all happened.>>


<<You will return to the past with the memory and knowledge of what the future could be if you don't do anything.>>

Rufus flipped the hair out of his eyes. "You realise, it'd be a lot easier to just make sure my father wasn't born."

<<Who said the easiest way is the right way? Besides, this is not how the world's fate is to be. You are meant to surpass your father, and take the future in your own hands.>>

"And if I refuse?" asked Rufus, then he cried out as his pain increased.

<<Does that answer your question? If you do not cooperate, then you will spend *all* of eternity like this.>>

Rufus fell to his knees, clutching his head. "I'll do it!" he cried, "Just stop the pain!"

<<Very well.>> hummed the lifestream, and the pain ceased. <<Now, go back in time and save the world.>>

Save the world, thought Rufus. Am I in a video game or something?
* * * * *
"RUFUS!" boomed a voice.

"I'm coming!" muttered Rufus as he grabbed his trenchcoat then paused. He looked in the mirror. He looked as he always did. But something was different...


Rufus touched his cheek.

"...NO GOOD, ROTTEN...."

He was alive! Rufus nearly slapped himself. Of course, save the planet! He hurried to put his coat on, his mind racing. How was he going to even attempt to save the world?

"...LAZY, SPOILED...."

And who was calling him?

"I'm coming!" he shouted and walked out his bedroom door. His father's face was slightly colored from screaming, but he seemed to manage to calm down.

"It's about time. Come on." said his father as he grabbed Rufus by the collar and used it to help push Rufus along hallway, which he released his grip and put his hand of Rufus' shoulder as they entered the ballroom, where at least a thousand people greeted them.

President Shinra waved pleasantly, then whispered in Rufus' ear. "Now don't spoil anything! I need these peoples' support and money to rebuild those reactors AVALANCHE destroyed."

Rufus nodded, understanding what time period he was in. If he were correct, then he could easily put his plan into acction. "Wait." he whispered back. "Where is Mr. Hojo? Is he at the party?"

His father gave him a strange look. "He's in the lab. Now don't do anytihng to ruin my plans. Understood?" Rufus nodded, then his father abandonned him, obviously to go flirt with some ladies. He used this oportunity to dissapear from the ballroom and run down the halls.

He leaned on the doorway, gasping for air. ""

The scientist looked up from his reports. "Yes, my lad, what is it?"

Rufus slowly walked in the room. "I understand you've got a young woman in your control, and I correct?" Hojo appeared alarmed by this.

"Why yes, I have caught the last of the cetras. I am extremely proud of this one. Were you asking to look at her?" Rufus nodded, then followed Hojo to a cell. Soon a young woman, around his age, came into view. She backed from the bars as Hojo walked up to her. "Ancient 01, you're a lucky one today. The president's own son has come to see you." The woman looked at the scientist then Rufus with uncertainty.

Rufus nodded. "Thank you, Mr. Hojo." he cleared his throat. "May I speak to the woman in private?" Hojo gave him a questioning look, but nodded and walked off. Rufus returned his gaze to the beautiful woman. "Your name is Aeris, am I correct?"

She smiled and nodded, obviously glad to hear her real name.

"Well, it seems such a shame to let a woman so beautiful be trapped in this cell." he looked at her surroundings. How could anyone live like that? He snapped his fingers. "Mr. Hojo?"

"Yes, Rufus?" Hojo walked over. Rufus nodded to Aeris.

"Unlock the cell. I'd like her to be my date at the ball which my father is currently hosting."

"But Rufus, this is my most prescious specimen. I cannot allow it any advantage to escape."

"You may refer to her as an equal, Mr. Hojo, not as a guinie pig. I shall ask one more time before I use stronger methods of freeing her. Can you unlock this door?"

Hojo seemed to argue with himself for a few seconds, then funbled with his keys untill he found the right one. "You realise, Rufus," he said as he stuck the key in the lock. "That it-she-that she is your responsibility. Return her to me unharmed." He swung the door open, and Rufus held his
arm out to her. Cautiously, she took it, but seemed to avoid eye contact.

"Why, Mr. Hojo, I'm shocked. How dare you imply that I could even think of hurting someone so lovely. But, don't be surprised if I don't return her."

Hojo glared at Rufus, but the look didn't last long. Rufus was one of the few people in this company that he could rely on. Ever since he was a young lad Rufus always seemed intrested in coming to the lab and listening to Hojo explain about his experiments. At first Hojo thought Rufus only came to see him to avoid his father, but eventually he began to realise Rufus was genuinly intrested. He sighed and waved his hand dissmissively. "Just don't hurt her. And I'd like to hear how she does in crowds."

Rufus laughed and led Aeris into the hallway. Aeris looked at him questioningly. "What are you doing?" she asked.

Rufus smirked and looked down at her. "Right now I'm taking you to see a maid about dressing you up in a dress for the ball." Aeris gave him an even more questioning look which caused him to chuckle.
* * * * *
President Shinra turned around when he heard the crowd whispered. There walked in Rufus, with a beautiful young woman attached to his arm. She was dressed in a light blue long dress that sparkled with each movement. Rufus looked around for a minute, and a smile came to his face when he spotted his father. They came over instantly.

"Ahhh," greeted the President. "And who might this lovely lass be?"

"Father, this is Aeris. Aeris, this is President Shinra." introduced Rufus, with a growing smirk on his face. His own father went after any woman possible, and he never did like it when Rufus found someone who seemed above his status. They shook hands.

"Now if you'll excuse us," said Rufus, "I've got some mingling to do." Rufus led Aeris to the other side of the ballroom when she leaned up to whisper in his ear.

"What is going on?" she asked. "I know your reputation for chasing after women and breaking their hearts, but you don't seem to be after that right now."

He smiled and looked at her. "You don't trust me?"


He sighed. "I knew you'd be difficult. Truth is, I'm trying to protect you."

"Protect me? Who's after me?"

"Nobody, yet. And I'm planning to keep it that way."

She looked into his eyes. "You're not telling me everything."

He chuckled. "Of course I'm not. Especially not with everything going on here. You have no idea what goes on at Shinra."

"I do know what goes on in the lab."

"You're not going back there."

"But that Hojo said-"

"I don't care what Hojo said. I'm not letting you go back in that lab."

Realization dawned in her eyes. "Is there a reason why you're keeping me from the lab?"

A SOLDIER ran into the room, panic clear in his eyes. "President Shinra, AVALANCHE has just broken into the laboratory!" the President left his drink and looked at his guests.

"No need to panic. It's just a minor security problem." and with that he left the room with the SOLDIER. Aeris gave Rufus a shocked look.

"You knew AVALANCHE was going to break into the lab!"

He shrugged. "I know. And I can't let you meet them." he said. "Don't worry. You'll see your friends. I've arranged for them to get away safely."

She searched his face for any sign of lying, but his eyes told her he was telling the truth. "You really are trying to protect me. How do you know what's going to happen?"

"Let's just say I've seen the future. I just ask for your trust."

She looked up into his pleading eyes. This was not the Rufus that she's heard about all her life. She nodded. "I trust you."
* * * * *
Cloud groaned and held his head. Slowly, he opened his eyes. He was just outside the Shinra building. He stood up and looked around. Where was he? Wait, the last thing he remembered was looking up in time to see a new thrown over him, Tifa and Barret and then being knocked out.

Ok, he got that part right, but where were Tifa and Barret?

A groan to the left answered half his question. He spun around just in time to see Barret crawling out of a bush. The man stood up and held his head. "Well that put a ***ing cramp in our plans. What are we going to do now?"

"Well, thanks for worrying over me." said Tifa, stumbling slightly around a corner. Cloud walked over and gave her his arm to lean on. She looked up at him. "Thanks."

"Now what about the Flower Girl?" grumbled Barret, eyeing the Shinra Building. "They still got her." Cloud looked up at the building looming over them.

"I don't know. They didn't kill us, as Shinra does do with intruders. Somehow they knew we'd come in through the back."

"I knew we should'a gone bust in da front door."

Cloud ignored the comment. "Anyways, do you think we ought to try it again?"

Barret made a fist and slammed it in his other fist. "I'm ready."

Suddenly, unbearable pain found it's way to Cloud's mind. Pulling from Tifa's grip, he fell to the ground, clutching his head. "Cloud!" said Tifa, dropping beside him to see what's wrong. "What's happening?"

<<Don't help......>>

The pain ceased pleasantly, and Cloud stood up, holding his head, though he felt no pain. "Spike?" Barret asked, looking down on his little buddy. "What jus' happen there?"

"I don't know." said Cloud. "But I think I have an idea."

"Are you alright?" Tifa held his arm, looking at him pleadingly.

"Yeah, I'm fine. There ain't anything that can hurt me. Anyway, I think I heard somethin' like 'Don't help' in that headache."

"Aw c'mon, quit the foolin'." said Barret.

"No, seriously, something told me not to help get Aeris."

"You sayin' we just leave her there in their clutches?"

"I know it sounds crazy, but I have a feeling she's alright, that she's safer in there than out here."

"Cloud," said Barret, his voice serious, "This woman saved my daughter from the plate. I can't not get her out of there. I owe her."

"Trust me. The more I think of it, the more it makes sense."

Tifa looked at him. "Cloud, you sure? We won't go in without ya."

Cloud nodded. "Trust me. It'll be alright..."

"....It'll be alright." said Rufus, reassuring Aeris. He'd spent the rest of the party talking to his date, and the more they spoke together, the more he knew what he doing was right. He loved it even more as out of the corner of his eye, he noticed his father sneaking him looks. President Shinra was always suspicous of his only son, but he could never push Rufus to spill anything.

The party had ended nearly an hour ago, and Rufus had already announced that his guest would be staying with him. Their attention was suddenly distracted when yet another SOLDIER ran into the room.

Haven't these people ever heard of intercoms? thought Rufus as his father sighed heavily and turned to the boy.

"President Shinra, Jenova has gone missing!" he gasped. The President sighed. He got up to leave the room, then turned when Rufus called to him.

"What do you want, boy? I haven't got much paitence for vermin like you."

Rufus grinned. "My, aren't we on friendly speaking terms today! Just wanted to tell you to say hi to Sephiroth for me, that's all." His father gave him a questioning look, then followed the SOLDIER out the door, mumbling something best not repeated near young children.

"Is it always like that between you two?" Aeris asked.

"Actually he's a lot more friendly than usual. We never were close." Rufus nearly looked away. He hadn't felt any pain when his father was killed, in fact, he was relieved. It felt as though he were free, and in a way he was. When he was much smaller, his father would beat him. And using heal materias to hide the bruises, no one in Shinra would ever know. He used to be his
father's punching bag. He'd lost count when his father would stumble into Rufus's room drunk, beat his anger out of the boy, and scream things like "I hate you." to his son.

Though he was a small child when this always happened, Rufus never cried. In fact, the beatings only increased his motivation to succeed his father. He never loved the old man. To Rufus, it was like he was just an important employee, with special rights. He knew what was going to happen. The great President Shinra, the man who used money to get his way, is going to run into Sephiroth. And what made it even better, was that Rufus wasn't going to stop the death. Though he would've liked to personally put an end to the man who ruined his life, he had other obligations, whom was sitting next to him.

"What's going to happen now?" she asked suddenly.

"You don't want to know."

"Yes I do. I'm not a child. You don't need to keep things from me."

Rufus slighed and flicked a stray hair from his face. "You'll learn some enough. Come." he said as he stood up, taking her hand along and pulling her onto the empty dance floor. He pulled on her more, and brought her closer to him. He gazed into her lovely green eyes. "Wanna dance?"

Her eyes light up momentarilly. "Do I have a choice?"

"Mmmmmmmm, no, not really. I, Rufus Shinra, command you to dance with me." She giggled and he snapped his fingers for someone to turn the music on. The melody played softly, and they slowly began to dance. Aeris giggled as she watched her feet akwardly try to move as gracefully as his. She looked up at him.

"I can't dance. How'd you learn?"

"I was taught a long time ago by my army of teachers. Former, that is."

"Where are they now?"

"I had them all shot." All was silent except for the music.

"Rufus?" she murmmerd.


"I know your reputation. I've heard of all the evil things you''ve done. I'm not going to ask why you've done them, but why are you doing this, for me?"

"Maybe I've had a change of heart."

She looked into his eyes. "I know that's not it. How do you expect me to trust you if you're keeping all these things from me?"

They stopped dancing, and he looked down to the floor. "I don't know, honestly. I feel as though I'm keeping things from myself as well." he looked up. "But I know what I'm doing. You must trust me. And I will tell you everything. EVERYthing. All in good time, alright?" She nodded.

"If this is a trick, then I'll swear I'll-" He silenced her by covering her mouth with his index finger.

"Shh." he said. "Let's dance." They began to dance again, and Aeris began to giggle once more as he tried to teach her how to spin.
* * * * *

The news of his father's death didn't come quite as a shock to Rufus as one might've thought. He politely accepted the news, and calmly went back to instructing the room full of people how he wanted Midgar to be rebuilt. The messanger just stood blankly staring at the blonde man. If it were his father who was stabbed to death by Sephiroth himself, he wouldn't be reacting half like that. But then again, this was President Shinra they were talking about. This man was heartless and cruel to anyone and everyone except for his next female victim.

The blonde man turned back to the messenger. "That'll be all, thank you. What floor do you work on?"

"Uhh, floor 53, sir."

"Floor 53? Can you tell whoever your boss is to use the intercom next time or it'll be his head?" the messenger left, and Rufus mumbled something about making undeserving kids to run ten plus floors.

The meeting ended, and Rufus made sure to shake hands with everyone from the meeting. Afterwards, only Scarlet and the Turks remained. Turning to them, Rufus grinned. "Well that went well."

"Sir," said Reno "I'm sorry about your father, I hope-"

"Suck up to Tseng, red. I don't need anymore of you yes men."

"Yes sir." Reno looked to the floor. Elana looked at him, her eyes obviously showing she was having trouble stifling a giggle.

Tseng cleared his throat. "Sir, you asked us to stay late for a reason?"

Rufus flipped his eyes from his hair. "Yes. I have a new mission for you."

"Cut the crap, Rufus. What are you up to?"

Rufus's glare moved to the woman sitting just to his left. "Shut up Scarlet. You're not going to have such a strong vote anymore since you can't sleep your way into being on the top. My father was a weak man, and you obviously took advantage of that. I'm not as weak as him, so you will listen to me." She sat up straighter, blushing slightly. "Sephiroth's got that Jenova creature. I will be heading to Junon and taking the boat to Costo De Sal. I want all of you to accompany me."

"Sir," said Tseng "As the new President Shinra, you'll have to wait until after the march they're holding in your honor."

"Cancel the march. I don't want one. And I will not be referred to as 'President Shinra' as it was my father's name. You may call me 'President Rufus'."

Reno clapped once, bringing attention to himself. "Wonderful, but I have a question. Who's that sexy brunette that you've been keeping to yourself?"

"Yeah," said Scarlet, scarcasm rich in her voice "Looks wonderful. What did you do? Dig around in the slums?"

"No, I'm sure she came from a place more elegant than your birthplace. And I'm surprized you don't recognise her, Reno. That's the woman you were chasing after."

"The ancient?" Tseng asked.

"That's the one. Lovely little sprite, don't you think?"

"Hojo's new pet project?" laughed Scarlet. "This is just too perfect! Wait till the media gets a hold of this!"

"Yes," said Rufus, nodding. "Wouldn't it look just great. But I don't think it'd get much attention with the article I might just submit about your little 'meeting' with Mr. Hojo, wouldn't you say?"

Scarlet blushed, and stuck up a certain finger when Reno and Elana started giggling, but they stopped when Tseng silenced them with a gesture. Scarlet turned to Rufus. "You wouldn't dare."

"Oh I just might. Especially since I've got pictures!"


"Ahh, youth. The time when I snuck into every imaginable spot, taking pictures to use for later blackmail. Though I've been scarred for life with the image, I can put it to good use, and no Reno, I won't give you copies."

Reno lowered his hand.

Rufus flipped the hair from his eyes again. "Now, I suggest the meeting shall end here, before I bring up any other need-to-know information. Be ready to leave by tomorrow night. Meeting over." Rufus left the room, leaving the others in shock.
* * * * *
Cloud, Tifa and Barret sat around Elmyra's table, attempting to discuss what had been happening the night before.

"So she's alright?" Elmyra asked. Cloud nodded.

"Yeah, I have this weird feeling that she's extremely safe."

"Ms. Gainsborough," said Barret, leaning close and throwing a nod in Cloud's direction "Don't tell me you believe this half-wit."

"I'm sorry," said Elmyra "But I have the same feeling. Raising that child has made me more tollerable of wild claims. But I believe it's more than that. I can't explain it, but-" She was interrupted by the rining phone. Smiling with an apology, she picked up the receiver. "Hello?....Aeris?....Thank goodness you're alright!.....You sure, ok, just a minute." she looked at Cloud. "She wants to talk to you."

Cloud grabbed the receiver. "Aeris?"

"Yeah, Cloud, it's me." said the reply. "Look, I'm sorry if I gave you guys a fright, but it's alright."

"Are you sure? Aeris, you're in the Shinra building. I can't stress how *not* safe that is!"

"I know, but," she paused suddenly and Cloud heard a faint conversation in the background, then Aeris returned. "Sorry about that. I just wanted to call and say I'm ok and for mom to not worry. And Cloud?"


"Thanks, for attempting to rescue me. It was so sweet of you three to put your lives at risk for me."

"Oh, it was nothin'."

"Don't be so modest! Anyway, I've got to go in a minute. I thought you'd want to hear something I've learned. Sephiroth was in the building last night."


"He's taken Jenova, and he's killed the President. We must stop him-"

"But how?"

"Tomorrow night, take the boat from Junion Harbor to Costa De Sol. I've got to go. Goodbye, Cloud." And she hung up, leaving Cloud with the dial tone. He stared stupidly at the receiver before Tifa spoke up.

"What'd she say?"

"That we're in a lot of trouble."

I am truely proud of the way this fic is turning out! Seriously! I'm a terrible fic writer, but this seems waaaay too cool! Hehehe I'm so proud! Umm......... of course I've left a lot out of the fic, like when Nanaki joined the team, I may find a way to improve, but I'll be leaving a LOT out as it's centered around Rufus.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed it so far! I'm hoping the next chapter will be the last. Thanks ever so much for reading my fic! And I'd like to thank Lila and my cousin Kari for being so supportive, though Kari won't let me have any pop, the source of my fic-writing super powers. But I've had three cans of pop today so obviously, she's not there to stop me! *evil laugh*

And while I have the chance, lemme suggest you read the fics of my fav FFVII writers at Princess Kari, Lila, Kally, and Lone Dragon



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