It was well-known, both within the company and outside, that Shinra's new President, the previous president's golden child and former Vice-President, was an avid playboy. His conquests before becoming President had been legendary. There were few beautiful women among the media elite – actresses, models, singers – that could not claim to have graced the Vice-President's bed. Of those who had not fallen prey to the Vice-President's advances, fewer still that wouldn't lie and say they had.

All of that stopped when Rufus became President. It was as if the new role added restrictions that only he could see. There was something about being President that restrained Rufus in a way the Vice-Presidency had not. The company rumor mill was baffled by the almost overnight change. A few weeks without another legendary fling would have been excusable – there was a lot of work that needed taken care of with the changeover. But the especially attentive would have noticed that this strange pattern had begun weeks earlier as Rufus' one night stands had slowly decreased in frequency.

Rufus made no secret that there was someone, perhaps several someones, that he was sleeping with. He never said anything about the new woman in his life, but he didn't have to for his staff to know there was something going on that they couldn't see. It was obvious in the way he would arrive for meetings on time and seemingly perfectly composed except for the slight wrinkling of his collar, or in the ways he would disappear for hours at a time at random intervals during the day and yet never seemed to leave the Shinra Corporate Headquarters. Even more obvious were the times one of the secretaries or aides would catch a glimpse of a kiss mark barely hidden by the collar of Rufus' shirt – worn open almost as if to flaunt the tiny bruise.

Evidence of Rufus' mysterious lover abounded and yet no one knew this woman's name, or even what she looked like. She was never seen. None of the media starlets made any mention of having been with the President. Either she worked inside the company, or she was somehow being smuggled into the headquarters in the deepest of secrecy.

The Turks knew, of course, but there was little going on in Shinra that the Turks weren't at least vaguely aware of. They were with Rufus always, his personal bodyguards as well as an elite killing squad that answered directly to his command. They knew, and they weren't telling.


The ceramic cup clinked lightly against the glass top of Rufus' desk. The blond executive glanced up from the paperwork in his hands. His office was dark, lit only by the small desk lamp beside him and the moonlight. Still, he didn't need light to know who would be bringing him coffee this late at night.

Rufus turned back to his papers, shifting them into his right hand while the other reached out for the cup, placed easily within reach. His feet were propped up on the corner of his desk, a bad habit his father would have berated him for but one he no longer worried about after the former President's death. He sipped the coffee slowly, due more to his preoccupation with the words in front of him than out of concern for the dark liquid's temperature. The coffee was perfect, as he expected it to be. Two creams, one sugar, slightly above room temperature.

He set the top page aside, placing it face down in the slowly growing pile on his desk. The cup was exchanged for a pen. Black ink spread across the margin of the new page before it was added to the pile with a small post-it note sticking out from the top corner.

Tseng's presence was a palatable force behind his back. Any other man would have been considered a distraction.

"Sit down," Rufus said quietly as he read over Hojo's latest budget request. Black marks danced across the paper.
"I'd prefer to stand, sir," came the carefully measured reply, just the right amount of polite respect and determination.

"It wasn't a request."

There was a brief moment of silence and then Tseng stepped around Rufus' desk to sit on one of the couches in front of the large windows that made up the far wall.

Rufus finished reading Hojo's report before he glanced over the papers at the shadowed figure across the room.

"If you'd like me to finish for the day, all you have to do is say so."

There was no hesitation in the reply. "I can wait outside if I'm distracting you from your work."

"There is no need." Rufus turned back to his paperwork, barely concealing a smile.

He ran his thumb along the side of the stack, judging the amount left to read. At least thirty pages if he was being optimistic. There seemed to be nothing but paperwork since he'd taken over. The stack on his desk was more than enough to hand over to his secretary; the rest could wait. Setting the remaining papers aside, Rufus slowly lifted his feet from the corner of his desk and stretched.

A pair of hands landed on his shoulders and started kneading out the knots in his muscles. Rufus closed his eyes, the only outward sign of his enjoyment as Tseng slowly rubbed away the day's tension. He stayed perfectly still until Tseng's hands finally moved away, gone as abruptly as they'd appeared.

Rufus stood, stretching his arms out once more for good measure before walking away from the desk. Tseng pushed in his chair and turned off the desk light. The room seemed to plunge into darkness for a brief moment. Tseng was beside him before his eyes had adjusted to the moonlight. Rufus paused to stare at the city laid out below him. Midgar glowed in the darkness, alive even this late into the night.

Tseng's hand brushed his lower back, a reminder of the very lateness he'd just been contemplating.

With a brief nod, Rufus turned away from the windows. Tseng followed a bare step behind.

His office door opened before he'd reached it, a familiar redhead and bald man on either side of the door. They took their places behind Tseng as Rufus swept past. These were his trusted guards, more loyal to him than the company. If Tseng hovered a fraction closer than was strictly necessary, he didn't complain. None outside the Turks who saw would understand. His secrecy was perfect, hiding his largest weakness in plain sight.

The best kept secrets were the ones no one expected.