Shinra Inc. and Stress Management

By: Jason Tandro

Rufus groaned as Reeve dumped another stack of papers on his desk. The pile had begun as a simple payroll form, and ballooned into tax papers, quarterly accounting, and even complaints from Loss Prevention about Reno and Rude's habit of stealing Sweepers and making them race in the slums.

"What is this one?" Rufus whined.

"This week's batch of lawsuits," Reeve smiled grimly.

"Why do I have to deal with those? Those go to legal," Rufus explained.

"The lawsuits are against legal, you need to supervise these. And this one is a deposition," Reeve handed a smaller folder to Rufus directly. "Timmy the Janitor's loved ones are suing us."

[Author's Note: See Shinra Inc. and Security]

"I can't deal with this crap, Reeve," Rufus whined.

"That's your job, Mr. President," Reeve nodded as he walked away.

Rufus's pen scratched across the paper bit by bit. Everytime he thought he was making headway on the pile, it grew larger. First Scarlet brought new Weapon proposals for the third quarter, then Heidegger came along with his usual request to increase the military budget. Palmer came shortly after with a request to revise the space program, which Rufus simply filed under "Shredder".

But as the hours ticked off, the pile slowly got lower and lower. And finally the original payroll document was all the remained. Rufus put his John Hancock on the document around 4:56 PM and he breathed a sigh of relief.

"Well that was a very productive day," Rufus smiled to himself.

Suddenly Reeve returned, his arms bulging with documents.

"Oh what the hell are those?!" Rufus shouted, looking at his watch.

"Security and Accounting Reports," Reeve grunted, staggering under the weight of the documents.

Rufus snapped. "No! Damn it I was almost out of here!"

"But sir, these only need your signature. It should only take another half hour or so," Reeve explained.

"I don't care! I'm sick of this job, I'm sick of this desk, I hate my life, I hate you, I want out!" Rufus threw a temper tantrum and kicked his chair.

Reeve sighed. "Is everything all right, sir?"

"No!" Rufus cursed. "Between this job and my own personal problems I'm drowning in stress!"

"Sir, I live in a third floor apartment above a porn shop which I rent with my meager salary. I survive off of bare essential meals from the coffee shop and often have to do three times as much work as you. You, on the other hand can have your choice of elegant suites around the world, make more money than some of our departments and sleep around with a torrent of beautiful women," Reeve ranted. "How stressful can your life be?"

"You don't know what it's like to be me," Rufus pouted.

"Thank God for small favors," Reeve muttered to himself.

"Ooh. Stress?" Elena asked, walking in.

"Oh, hey Elena," Rufus nodded. "Yeah. I'm stressed out big time."

"You know, you should do what I do. Go into a quiet room, find your happy place and listen to new age music," Elena explained.

Rufus stared for a moment. "Wait, is that euphemism for masturbating?"

Elena shuddered in disgust and walked away.

"No, it's not a euphemism for anything, although thank you for that Mr. President," Tseng sighed as he walked in from behind Reeve. "Meditation, listening to new age music, saunas, these are all great methods of stress relief."

"New Age, huh?" Rufus asked. "Well I've never been above trying out new things."

---

Rufus lay in his bed in his small bedroom. Soft ambient music played on his speaker and Scarlet cooed to him.

"You're in a meadow, surrounded by flowers," Scarlet began.

"Okay, I'm stressed out, but I'm still a man. Could we find a less gay happy place?" Rufus asked.

"Come on, get in touch with nature!" Scarlet hissed. "Okay, how about this? You're sitting on top of a mountain, just above a waterfall. You feel the soft mountain breeze against your face, and can look down on the forests and the plains. You smell the rock and the water and the mountain lilies-"

"Okay why must there be flowers in my happy place?" Rufus asked.

"What is with you?" Scarlet snapped. "Is this an inadequacy thing? Are you paranoid or something?"

"Just nix the flowers and keep going," Rufus snapped.

Scarlet scoffed, but continued. "An eagle soars over head, and slowly the sun begins to set. You hear the majestic bird cry out over the valley-"

"Say are there gonna be any naked women in this happy place? Because if not I think we should change the name to my bored-out-of-my-skull place," Rufus barked.

"Man you are impossible!" Scarlet snapped. "Okay, let's try a massage."

"A massage? Hell yeah. From you or Elena… or how about both?" Rufus asked.

"We're going to bring in a professional. You just lay face down and relax," Scarlet instructed.

Rufus rolled over and removed his shirt. Suddenly he felt two soft hands rubbing his back. As the music played he felt the tension in his shoulders and back just melt away.

"Oh my god," Rufus cooed. "That's incredible. Who are you?"

"It's me, Rufus," came Palmer's heavy voice.

"Eww! Eww! Get the hell off me!" Rufus shouted as he rolled out of bed and grabbed his shirt.

Scarlet burst in.

"What? What's going on?" She cried.

"Why did you let this… thing touch me?" Rufus demanded.

"He's a professional masseur! He trained himself in his spare time," Scarlet explained.

"Your stress was melting away. I could tell," Palmer nodded.

"Well now I'm bloody well stressed!" Rufus cursed. "That's it. All of you out! This was a terrible idea!"

Scarlet and Palmer left, slamming the door as they did so. Rufus lay down, and listened to the soft ambient music.

"This music is gonna drive me nuts," he sighed. But somehow he couldn't bring himself to the turn off the CD.

---

"Damn, what a freak-show," Rufus groaned.

"How are you this morning?" Reeve asked.

"Not as bad as I could be," Rufus nodded. "I wish Palmer hadn't given me a massage last night, but I have to admit, that music did help. Best nights sleep I ever had."

"You see, you should just ease up about this sort of stuff. You'll get into it," Reeve explained.

Reeve patted Rufus's shoulder and he slid away. "Don't think about it, man. Just get back to work."