Doves Cry : Condolences

by Tenshi

How could you just leave me standing
Alone in a world so cold?
Maybe I'm just too demanding
Maybe I'm just like my father - too bold
Maybe you 're just like my mother
She's never satisfied
Why do we scream at each other?
This is what it sounds like when doves cry

Sunset spilled over Midgar like a birth with too much blood, painting the silver -grey Shinra building into a sharkish dorsal fin, looming over the city and trailing impending frenzy below it. Rufus glared at it all, his head throbbing from the cloying scent of funerary roses that must have permeated his clothing. Unshed tears made a dull painful pressure behind his eyes, but he refused to let them go. He'd wept solidly for two days but during the cold, austere service for his mother he'd not shed one tear, while his father sobbed and blubbered with all the grace of a vaudeville clown. Rufus narrowed his eyes. The old fool wasn't deceiving anyone. The whispers behind Rufus's own back had varied, most of them commenting on how brave he was being, poor thing, to have lost his mother so young. Rufus snorted. So young. He rather preferred the snide ones who were put off by his coldness, his not weeping for his mother. At least they were honest.

Rufus smiled painfully, swallowing a mouthful of scotch without tasting it. He didn't feel young. He felt as though he'd aged ten years in the past thirty-six hours. Rufus tossed his hair. Considering that would bring him to the ripe old age of twenty-six, perhaps it wasn't the best assessment of his weariness.

The door chimed.

"Come in," Rufus said to his window, not bothering to turn. He knew by the reek of gil that it was his father.

"Hello son." President Shinra walked over to stand beside his only acknowledged child, who was struggling not to toss the liquor in his stomach just from his father's condescendingly affectionate tone.

"Hello Old Man." There was no malice or affection in the nickname; it was simply what Rufus called him.

The silence in the room thickened until it threatened to congeal, choking both of them.

"Well," his father said at last, with the air of one who has just finished an unsavory task, "I'm glad we had this little chat. If there is anything-"

"Thank you," Rufus emptied his glass. "You really needn't. I'm sure there is much you to do that's been neglected for the past few days."

False sympathy was not an expression his father wore well. "I'm sorry you had to be the one to find her, Son."

Rufus's grip tightened on the empty glass, eyes going hard. He'd tried for the past two days to shake the image, but it had burned into his retinas and there was no losing it.

Eleanor Shinra, his mother, the most beautiful, gracious, kind woman in the world, dangling stiff from the chandelier in her room. The pale blue eyes Rufus had inherited were glazed and bulging, graceful neck bent awkwardly and savaged by the poorly tied noose she'd knotted with one of her old dancer's costumes. The floor was littered with more bottles than usual, all empty.

It had taken her upwards of ten minutes to die, the coroner had said.

They'd restored her beauty for the funeral, gold hair flowing like marble; flawless face made up subtly. She didn't look like a mother of thirty-two, with years doubled by grief and alcohol. Looking at her still features, Rufus could well imagine what she was like when she'd first met his father. An exotic dancer, to use the polite term, but Rufus could not remember his father calling her anything but guttertrash. It pleased him to no end to keep her informed that he'd lifted her out of the muck, and he could put her right back the moment it pleased him. But it was good PR to have a wife, and she had given him a suitable heir, even if he was tired of her before the vows were even spoken. Life as the wife of the most powerful man in the world had strangled Eleanor far more slowly than the inept sequined rope looped over her light fixture.

Rufus eyed his father coolly. "I'm sorry too."

President Shinra's expression shifted to his best campaign visage, the one of decayed noblesse oblige. He put one thick hand on his son's shoulder. "How old are you, Rufus?"

Rufus slid disdainfully out of his father's touch. "Sixteen."

"Sixteen already?" His father chuckled. "Well well. About time to be getting away from your mother's skirts anyway, eh? Get yourself a girl of your own? I know one who'd be perfect for you. What's her name, now.. Candi? Sandi?"

"Father," Rufus used the term frostily. "I appreciate your trying to set me up with a mistress, but I have no use for one of your whores."

President Shinra's eyes narrowed. "Oh, I think you might," he sneered, accusatorily. "Now that your beautiful mother dear is gone."

Rufus looked directly at his father for the first time, his face so frozen in calm fury that for a moment President Shinra thought his son was going to strangle him with his bare hands. "You're sick," Rufus snarled. "And I think you should have some respect for the dead, old man, since you're nearer them."

President Shinra raised an eyebrow. "Is that a threat, son? You'll find, I think, that your life will be longer if you're a good boy and do as you're told." He spun on his heel and strode from the room, pausing in the doorway. "I'm having one of the Turks assigned as your bodyguard. It's not good for you to be alone all the time."

"Oh goody," Rufus said, to his reflection, "A spy."

President Shinra's eyes lit with admiration. "You're sharp, son. Sometimes I think you might be mine after all. But now we'll never really know, will we?"

"Don't get me wrong, old man." Rufus only half-turned, "For all your pretty acting the part of bereaved husband, you might as well have put a gun to her head and blown her away yourself."

His father smiled pleasantly. "Of course, my dear boy. But she saved me the trouble, didn't she?" The door slipped shut behind him. Two seconds later Rufus's glass exploded against it, shattering like frozen tears.


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