He didn't always get things right. But damn, if he was gonna go down without a fight. That had always been the philosophy of the rebel, the terrorist, the freedom fighter named Barret Wallace. And now, thanks to that philosophy, he had achieved...Not a lot, actually.
His muscular arms were bursting out of his badly made suit. It was poor quality, cheap. He'd grown up poor, worked for a living. Almost died for a living. Money had meant so much that he'd gotten pretty careful about spending it. First, it had been to get a house, back when he was in Corel. Then, it was to save for his marriage. After all that, every gil he had went towards Marlene's eventual education.
It didn't matter that he was rich. Some things you picked up and you just couldn't get rid of. Like the gun in his arm. He was a civilian now, just like everyone else. But he could never get his arm back. He didn't want it, either. That gun on his arm had taken so many lives- but it had saved so many more when it helped defeat Sephiroth. It was a symbol of his past, of a life spent working hard for other people who sat on their asses all day and never had to fear for their lives. It burnt.
He'd helped save the planet, but he hadn't gotten what he wanted out of it. His dream of vengeance against the Shinra for robbing him of all he cherished save his one greatest treasure had fallen by the wayside as the quest unfolded. After that, his only dream had been to create a world in which he and Marlene could live together peacefully.
So much for that idea. Never let it be said that being an oil baron was easy work! Paperwork and employees and meetings and pretty much everything else that Barret wasn't good at had poured into his life all at once. And stolen his dream, his dream of being with Marlene. And now, here he was, in his office, his cheap suit as restrictive as chains. Looking down on the world from up high in the office building, hurting the ones he loved. Just like the Shinra.
He wasn't a good father. When Aerith's mother had told him that, it hit harder than bullets. The worst thing was that he knew it. And, despite himself, he was still a bad father. And sometimes, he felt like no amount of effort could change that.
His cup of coffee lay neglected on the table. And a thick wad of paperwork was beckoning him. He had a mind to hire a secretary, but that would siphon more hard-earned money away from Marlene, and Cloud's orphans. The former mercenary hadn't wanted to accept the help, but if Barret had a good point, it was stubbornness. Tifa had helped persuade 'Ol' Spikey' too. She could see that really, they were doing a favour to Barret by accepting the money. He owed them for making his dream come a little bit more true, and he couldn't pay them back any other way.
Another reason he couldn't get a secretary was because of his reputation. He was an ex-terrorist with a volatile temper and a gun grafted onto his arm, for chrissakes. The only ones who wanted to get near him were desperate for cash, and as a rule, those were exactly the kind of people he didn't trust. He was going to ask Reeve to do it, but then Reeve had become boss of the WRO. And that meant demands on his time.
So, there was nothing for it. He'd sit there for another four hours, in a stupid cramped little office in a stupid cramped little suit, trying to read words he couldn't understand whilst scarring his daughter for life. Just like he did every evening.
That was before the phone rang.
"Barret. How are you?" It was Tifa's voice, crackling down the line.
"Ah'm fine. Jus' finishing off my accounts." he replied.
"Didn't you do that four days ago?" she asked.
"Yeah. And I'll still be doing the goddamn things next week. Can't make heads or tails of 'em." he said, filtering out the worst of his language. He'd been getting as bad as Cid lately- which was discouraging, because Cid was actually getting better. Shera was having an excellent effect on the old pilot, but she'd never be able to stop it completely.
"Oh. I see. Well, Marlene wants to talk to you." Tifa said, her voice full of that strange, knowing tone. She'd make a great mother someday.
"Daddy? Is that you?" It was his daughter, miles away from him, and yet there in his ear. To quote Yuffie, "Gawd bless cellphones!"
It was a great comfort to know that no matter how far away they were, his daughter loved him. His daughter loved everyone. She had a sweet nature, and that wasn't just fatherly bias talking. She was one of a kind. She was the only soul on the entire planet who made him cry, and she did, regularly. Pretty much every time she hung up, he'd think how she deserved so much better.
"Oh, Barret." It was Tifa again, taking the phone whilst Marlene went to play with Denzel. "I've got some news."
"News, eh? Another monster attacking Edge?" he joked, half wishing it were true. It was an excuse to get back to Marlene.
"No. I've been calling around, and, well, I found someone to do your accounts for you. Or, at least to help."
"What? You got me a secretary?" He almost dropped the phone in disbelief as he said it.
"Yeah. And he's the best in the business. Can't handle a pen to save his life, though, so you might have to adapt." she said, something of a laugh in her voice.
"Can't handle a pen...? Who is this joker?"
"Oh, Barret. Red's not going to be happy you called him that!" Tifa laughed, dropping her bombshell. "And after I persuaded him that working in an office would be a new experience!"
She laughed over the phone. And then she got worried, because he wasn't responding. In fact, he wasn't even listening. The phone lay forgotten in his good hand. Tears sparkled in his eyes. His friends, who he owed so much to, had helped him out again. He could be with Marlene again. He could be a good father, the one he'd never gotten to be because he was out saving the world. Things wouldn't come easy, but that was okay.
He didn't always get things right. But damn, he was gonna try hard.
Well, that's it. My first and probably only Barret centric oneshot. Barret's persona is so unlike mine that I felt it would be pretty much impossible to replicate, so that's why I chose to do it in third person.
Writing Barret, you kind of realise that behind the black stereotypes, awful dialogue and inescapable fact that Barret Wallace = Mr. T, there is actual a character and a backstory there that's worth noticing. I may not have gotten in quite in the way I wanted it, but it's still there. Barret oneshots are kinda rare, so here's hoping this is a worthy addition to the group.
This oneshot was written in accordance with my fourteen prompts project. Basically, I took the fourteen most commonly searched words on the Cambridge dictionary website at the time, and used them for prompts. This one was Endeavour. Hope you enjoyed it. The next one will be number three, Liase.
Oh, and I don't own any character or place contained in this work.
Peace out, I guess.