Challenge Pairing: Reeve and Sephiroth (non-romantic)

Title: Business as Usual

Emmerson Reeve swore at the pain in his leg. Of all the times to fail him, it had to be NOW. He lurched to his feet, ignoring the mud that seeped in through the knees of his pants. He was getting far too slow for jobs like this. Sometimes, he wondered if President ShinRa kept him on active duty in hopes that he'd get himself killed one of these days.

The possibility seemed ever more likely. Thank the gods Reeve had competent Turks under his command.

Tseng and Scarlet moved in unison, he saw their shadowy blue suits blending nicely with the underbrush as they flanked their opponent. "Do it," he muttered into the PHS, and stood. He drew the target's attention as well as a spray of bullets that shredded the leaves around him. He knew it was a stupid move, but at this point, he barely even cared.

The gunfire ceased abruptly, the man giving only a startled 'urk' before he dropped to the ground. Tseng's garrotte had more than done the trick. The Wutaian waved once to his commander, then he and Scarlet disappeared back into the brush.

Reeve panted and braced his arms on his knees, bending forward. Every time, every job, he got closer and closer to death. It was a miracle he'd made it this time; the branches around him were torn to pieces.

Slow clapping made him turn around, Death Penalty already drawn. "Goddammit, Sephiroth, if you're here to screw with my men again—"

"Easy, Turk," the boy said, holding up his hands. "I come in peace."

"Right." Reeve winced as he tried his leg. "What do you want?"

"What makes you think I want anything?" Sephiroth tossed his hair over his shoulder. He was inordinately proud of it, wouldn't let Hojo near it with anything like scissors. Confidence like his in a man would be considered pride; in a kid of fifteen, it might have been called cocky. Reeve knew that he could back up any promise, however. Besides, Sephiroth was Hojo's and the President's pet project. It wasn't wise to cross him.

Reeve snorted. "You aren't known for being social, Lieutenant. Now, what do you want from me or my men?"

With an exaggerated sigh, Sephiroth leaned against a tree and folded his arms. He, unlike Reeve, looked like he'd just come from a formal function in his impeccable black uniform. Not a speck of dirt, dust, or leaf mold anywhere. "Actually, I had a suggestion. An idea."

"I'm listening."

"As you know," the boy got to the point, "I'm going to be promoted soon. They're sending me to the Wutai Front, where I'll be taking command of the army."

"I know," Reeve muttered. "So?"

"I would LIKE," Sephiroth stressed the word, "To know someone on the Board. Someone who can keep an eye on things for me."

Reeve raised a dark brow. "Keep an eye on things for you, as in...?"

The boy frowned. "As in, I want to know what's going on in ShinRa while I'm gone. I don't plan on being their pet forever. If I win this war, the men are going to remember that I led them, that I was the one who stood on the front lines with them and got bloody alongside them. Don't you think that will help my position a little when I decide to come home and...assume command of the company, as well?"

"Assume command?" Reeve barked a laugh. "Sephiroth, do you hear yourself? It's a company, not a nation. You can't just—"

"It's a company with an army! A company that makes WAR on people who don't buy what they're selling. I've been doing my homework, Reeve. I could take over this place in a heartbeat. All I need is the political clout to back it up."

"You're crazy, kid."

"I'm just thinking ahead. And don't call me kid." Sephiroth looked sullen.

Reeve coughed, then they were both silent for a while. Aside from the buzzing flies around the body a few dozen yards away, the sound of the birds and the wind in the upper branches of the trees were the only sounds. Reeve thought about what Sephiroth was asking him. It was a foolhardy plan, immature and cocky. But then, Sephiroth WAS a lieutenant at fifteen, and he'd be General of the entire ShinRa army before he reached sixteen.

Besides, he'd need someone with business knowledge to run the company if he ever DID take over. "What's your idea?"

Sephiroth grinned. He certainly didn't seem young at the moment. "Well, first of all, there's a position on the Board that's about to open up." The grin turned sinister. "Would you rather be Head of Urban Development or Director of Weapons Development?"

Reeve stared at him for another minute. He would do it, he knew, the boy would actually go and murder the board members. And he'd do it on his own, without asking someone else to dirty their hands.

Like the Turks always did.

"Come away from here," he said at last, "The flies are beginning to get to me."

"I thought you'd see things my way," replied Sephiroth.

What the hell. At least he wouldn't have to get muddy after this.