Whenever Tseng leaves after he finished cleaning Rufus and changing his bandages, Rufus always whispered, "sorry." Even if he knows that Tseng wouldn't hear it. To Rufus, he felt immensely guilty that someone like Tseng who could be doing anything with his life is...
...forced to spend his time and energy looking after Rufus.

One day Rufus whispered, "sorry" but Tseng was still within earshot.

Tseng turned around so quickly that the bowl on his hand filled to the brim with black, oozy water almost tipped over...
...Fortunately, it just sloshed around to the side and whatever drops that did escape were absorbed by the bandages soiled by Rufus' rotting flesh. Tseng, he paid no mind to that. He stared intensely at Rufus, "Whatever for, sir?"

"For keeping you here," Rufus...
...said as he gestured to their room that was slowly feeling more like a mausoleum with the scent of death always lingered in the air, even after Tseng scrubbed entire room clean.

"I don't understand."

Rufus' eyebrows narrowed. Tseng is not dense. He had to know what...
...Rufus was telling him. Maybe Rufus just managed to trick him so well that Tseng doesn't know that he just devoted his entire life to a lost cause.

Manipulation and lying that was after all Rufus' speciality...
..."What I'm trying to say is that I'm sorry you had to stay on my behalf. I doubt this is the life you wanted for yourself."

"All due respect, Sir no one gets to decide what I do with my life. Not even the President of Shinra."

Rufus' dropped his gaze and bite his cheek...
...there was a tinge of anger in Tseng's voice. If Tseng's fury was raw enough that it bled into his tone then Rufus knew he made him incredibly mad.

A pair of black shoes appeared in front of him as Rufus' eyes remained downcast. Tseng slowly with the side of his index...
...finger lifted up Rufus chin so they were looking at each other. "When I escaped the hospital and chose to come back to Shinra. Whose decision was that?"

"Yours," Rufus whispered. He internally cringed. Sending Tseng out to that mission which nearly...
... lead him to his death would always be one of Rufus' biggest regrets.

"After meteor fall and you asked all of us what we want to do with our lives we all decided to stay. Who made that decision?"

"You and well all of you did..."
"...Then when you asked me whether I want to retire, who chose to stay by your side?"


"-Rufus, who made the decision to stay with you?"

"You did but-"

"-That right. I did! I decided to stay. Not you, me. It was my decision," Tseng said kneeling in front of Rufus...
... and kissing on the lips. "You pledged to heal the world. If that's your path you have chosen to follow then the promise I made to myself was to heal you..."
....That was news to Rufus. It should be but it was. "Tseng-"

"-Don't cheapen my decision with your sorrys. We'll find a cure soon and then...
...you'll get better. The sooner you do that, the sooner I can walk by your side and help you heal our broken world."

"I..." It was a lot to digest. There were so many things Rufus wanted to say to Tseng but it was that rare occasion where he was a loss for words...
...So he settled on merely saying, "Thank you."

Tseng nodded and gave Rufus' cheek a chaste peck. "Good. Since you are feeling chatty today I think it's fair for me to assume you are good enough to grace us with your presence at the dinner table?"
"Yes, I'll be there," Rufus said

"Alright let me throw this out," Tseng said grabbing the bowl of water he left on the floor. "Then we'll get you ready for dinner."



"I did mean what I said."

Tseng frowned, "For being sorry?"
"Yes...no the Thank you. I wouldn't have survived this long without you or any of the others."

"As long as your heartbeats then Shinra will always be alive and by extension the Turks. So we can say the same to you, Mr President. We survived this long because of you..."
..."I see," Tseng words were heavy but they gave Rufus renewed hope. In all his self-pitying he forgot what was most important. That there were people relying on him not to give up. He couldn't disappoint them and waste their efforts. Strangely the moment Rufus achieved...
...his revelation his body was given a renewed strength. He felt more alive than he felt in the past 2 weeks. Perhaps Kilmister was right after all. It was hope that was key to surviving the stigma. As long the Turks & Tseng were by Rufus' side he knew he will never lose hope...
...and it was his duty as their President to give them hope too. "Tseng, throw that out quickly. I like to get dressed so I can go outside before dinner."

"Sir, is that wise?"

"I think some fresh air will do me good and I want to see what the Turks are working on...
...Tseng looked liked he wanted to protest but maybe he too noticed the renewed energy in Rufus' voice. His face certainly wasn't as pale as it was before.

"Very well, Sir. Just give me a moment and we'll get you ready and we can go outside together."

"Yes, together."
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