Challenge Pairing: Scarlet/ShinRa

Fic Title: Not Tonight

Scarlet hated ShinRa.

Not just the company; the man, as well. She hated the way he looked at her, the way his hand lingered on her hip when she walked past him, the way she knew he thought about her at night.

And yet she couldn't say anything, because she knew that there was no such thing as being fired from ShinRa if you were on the board. There was only a short trip down a few floors to visit Hojo—and if you went on that kind of visit, he'd keep you forever.

Besides, she was the lynchpin, the keystone that bore the weight of responsibility for the other Turks, for Em, for the memory of Vincent Valentine. If something happened to her, if she was removed, if Hojo got hold of her, the others would crumble, too. She was damned if she'd let that madman anywhere near her people.

So her dresses and suits got more and more risque, more sheer, less and less appropriate for 'work', though her title as Director of Weapons Development should have demanded something more austere. A uniform, perhaps, even the Turk suit would be preferable. But no. She had to totter around on spike heels, in evening gowns and fishnets because the President had no taste whatsoever.

She dreaded the evening ahead. Normally, weeknights required that she stay late to finish the job she should have been doing all day, but had been unable to do because the President had wanted to show her off at some meeting with some minor company he planned to steal and burn anyway. Her weekends were always booked—often with representatives of said companies who had sold out their friends and coworkers for a taste of ShinRa. Her orders were always the same: get whatever information she could by using any means necessary, then make a decision to either kill the traitor or offer him a job with the company.

Scarlet always chose the former.

Tonight, however, she wouldn't have that luxury. Her assignment tonight was the President himself. He had been handsome, back in his younger days. Now, though, he was merely fat and controlling, demanding and manipulative.

She should have known he'd call her eventually. After all, he'd been teasing himself with her clothes for ages. She knew he thought of her at night, knew he fondled himself and grunted her name when he thought no one was walking outside his office. He disgusted her. It killed her that such a creature had such control over her life and the lives of her friends, her lover, her family. If it had not been that, if it had only been her life at stake, she might have fought him a long time ago.

The elevator doors let her out into the 62nd floor hallway. It was late, and the guards had already been dismissed. At least no one would be around to witness her ultimate shame, though the President would likely boast about it afterward. She made herself walk down the red-carpeted hallway and to the office door.

It was open.

Now that she thought of it, the entire floor was far too quiet. There had been a break-in downstairs, some rebel group trying to steal company secrets, but she had left SOLDIER to handle them. It had been no concern of hers, so she thought.

She drew the derringer she always kept on her and sneaked to the door, peeking inside. The President's chair was turned to face away from her, too hard for her to see. The office itself was mostly dark, the only light coming from the city below.

"Sir?" she whispered, and received no answer. She tried again, creeping in step by slow step. "Mr. President?"

"Help...me...Scarlet?" The man's voice, the one she had feared and hated for so long, pleaded with her. "He's going to kill me..."

Scarlet straightened, not amused. "Mr. President, get a hold of yourself. Who's going to kill you?"

He crawled out from under his desk and looked around fearfully. Scarlet had never seen him like this. "S-S-Sephiroth..."

She rolled her eyes. "Sephiroth is dead, Sir, has been for five years. Now honestly." Her temper had grown short. This was what she'd been afraid of? A sad, frightened fat man who hid from ghosts? "Get up, Sir. You have a company to run."

He stood, clutching her proffered hand and shaking uncontrollably. "I swear, he's here—he's listening to us...OH HOLY!" He pointed behind her, though the way he collapsed into his chair, a long, thin sword protruding from his belly was enough to convince her that they were not alone.

With a gasp, she spun around, whipping the derringer about to head-height. It stopped between the attacker's impassive, glowing green eyes.

"Stop right there, I'll shoot!" she cried, staring at an impossible vision.

One silver brow raised, and a corner of his mouth turned up. "Tsk, tsk, Scarlet. You act like you didn't want him dead yourself."

"S-Sephiroth?" She blinked a few times, then lowered the gun. The President's blood seeped into the carpet while she came to terms with what she'd just seen. "But you're—why did you—"

"You'd better go," he murmured. "I killed him as a warning for someone else to find."

With no further explanation, he turned and vanished. Scarlet stared at the place he'd been until she felt something warm and sticky on her shoe. She looked down to see a darker spot of red on her red shoe, soaking up from the steadily-growing pool.

Her eyes followed the stream to the chair, to where the center of her hate and fear lay pinned. Then, in a fit of inspiration, she spoke words she'd always wanted to say.

"Not tonight, sir, I think I have a headache."

She whistled as she strode happily from the room.

~fin~