Count on Me
By: Koorino Megumi

A bit of Reeve introspect. Spoilers for Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus.

I've had the benefit of knowing two people in my life who were certain they could never forgive themselves for their pasts. It took them a long time to change those attitudes, and I can't speak for them as to whether or not they actually have forgiven themselves. But at the very least, I know they've surmounted their pasts and gone on to do truly incredible things in the present.

There's a funny thing about those people, though. They're strong people--stronger, I think, than anyone can even imagine. They aren't pushovers. They aren't weak of heart. They're heroes. They're the sort of people who would put everything on the line at a simple request and go off to save the world. And yet these incredible people become trapped in a web of "sin" that they won't even try to shake themselves out of. And how do they finally surmount this difficulty? Only through the help of others.

I've never lived like they have. I'm called a hero, but I don't have their strength. On the other hand, I also have never wallowed in sin. But I came close once. Very briefly, I fell into despair. And it's a funny thing, but when I was in my worst moment, it was one of those two sinful heroes who said a few words to me that made me stand back up.

After that, I somehow got to be that support, that inspiration, for a young girl who had never known what it was to fight for the sake of others. Between the two events, I started to realize something. I decided that I would never let despair pull me down again. I wouldn't leave it to anyone else to convince me to stand back up. Even though I don't have the strength of others and there are very limited things that I can do, I am a hero, and at the very least, I can devote my energy to helping other heroes stand.

It's a hard promise to keep.

If there's one thing I can say for certain that I am, it's lucky. After all, how would a non-combatant like me become one of the heroes of the Jenova War in the first place?

But on the Shera, I made a seemingly innocuous decision to leave the engine room for a few minutes and go see how Shelke was doing. I was hoping we weren't overwhelming her, and I also wondered if she knew more about how Vincent's mission was progressing.

If I hadn't been standing in the doorway at the moment that Nero appeared, I wouldn't have made it out alive. But as it happened, one minute I was simply leaving the room, and the next, the room was gone. The crew hardly even had a chance to scream. I ran. It was like the Headquarters all over again, and all I could think of was my shame for running. But at the same time, there were other people to consider. The engine room crew was gone, but Cid and Shelke were not. I went for Shelke. But for some reason, fate decided that decision would backfire.

It wasn't until much later that I even bothered to check on the off-chance that my puppet had survived the assault. By then, I had found Cid. And I had found that Shelke was gone.

When she arrived in the engine room, Number 6 must have been lying there as if he were dead. As if I were...

Shelke hadn't let me down. But the same wasn't true the other way around.

When I saw Shelke again, the first thing I said was, "I didn't know Number 6 hadn't been taken by Nero." But she stopped me right there, pointing out that this reactor should have been blown already. All business. For a moment, I wondered if that meant that she didn't really care or perhaps hadn't noticed the puppet on the ground. But seeing her in action, working toward our goal, perhaps still without outward emotion, but with every bit as much emotion on the inside as any of the rest of us, I realized that I was wrong. Changing the subject was her answer. She had forgiven me.

I doubt she even realizes the full meaning behind her simple words. But I do. So when it was all over, I went to her.

"Good work, Shelke."

She nodded. "Thank you, Commissioner."

Those words meant more than any other congratulations I received.

Am I still him? Commissioner Reeve Tuesti of the World Regenesis Organization? When our headquarters went down so easily, I thought those days were over. I still don't even understand how they came to exist in the first place. The traitor, the spy. One who manipulates puppets and data and nothing more. Me, a Jenova War hero? A Commissioner? Who do I think I'm kidding?

But the gil continues to come from our mysterious benefactor, and I continue to be looked up to. And what can I say?

Only one thing. Thank you, Shelke. Just as you've taught me, I won't let down anyone who's counting on me.