Shinra Inc. And Trust

By: Jason Tandro

Reeve was sitting in his office when he heard the first pelt of rain. He looked at the window behind him and saw the drops falling in exponentially increasing amounts until a massive rainstorm had enveloped the city.

He had hoped the forecast was wrong. He didn't much like the rain, but that was probably due to the fact that he had no car and had to walk to his home. And here it was 4:30 in the afternoon, and it was unlikely the rain would let up before he got off.

His intercom buzzed. "Mr. Tuesti. The president wants a word with you."

Reeve sighed, and walked out of his office. As he made his way towards the stairwell leading to the President's office he saw Tseng and Scarlet chatting animatedly. Tseng nodded respectfully at Reeve, who returned the sign of respect as he made his way up the stairs.

"You needed to see me, sir?" Reeve asked.

"Yeah. I need some advice," Rufus began, leaning back in his chair.

"Go on."

"Well," Rufus shifted his gaze out to the window behind him. "I want to know what you think. I don't want you to just tell me what I want to hear, I want an honest answer from you."

Reeve stood a bit more rigidly, not sure what to make of this statement. "Uh, yes sir."

"Do you think I should take my vacation in the spring or summer?" Rufus asked, turning back to face Reeve.

Reeve slapped his head. "This is what you called to ask me about?"

"Yeah, I needed somebody I could trust," Rufus nodded. "My two weeks of enjoyment depend upon a straight answer. "

"We already had a vacation, like two weeks ago."

Rufus rolled his eyes and smirked. "Oh Reeve, you're so naïve sometimes. I called that a business conference and didn't waste the vacation time."

Reeve smiled, despite himself. "Oh so we still have some vacation time?"

"Well," Rufus rubbed his neck. "I do. You see I wasn't really thinking about you guys at the time."

Reeve shook his head, but made no other outward expression of indignation. His insides were boiling though. "Look, if you need my opinion it should be about things that actually matter to the company."

Rufus changed tack at the speed of light. "You know why I made you my number 2, Reeve?"

If Reeve was taken aback by the change, he did a wonderful job masking it. "I assume to cause me some new level of unbearable pain."

"I chose you because you're efficient, you get the job done, and you're trustworthy."

Reeve was surprised now. This may have been the first time Rufus had ever sincerely complimented him.

"Uh, thank you, sir."

"Everyone else in the directorial staff, they want something. Heidegger wants my power, Scarlet wants my money, Palmer wants my approval, and I think Hojo wants my organs. He gave me a three minute lecture on the dangers of fatty foods after he saw me eat a snacky cake. Said I should take better care of my body because somebody might need it someday," Rufus shuddered at these last words. "But I digress. The point is I trust you, because you want nothing from me. You're satisfied with your lot in life, no matter what I throw at you."

"I can honestly say, sir, that the less I have to do with you, the better."

"And that's what I like about you," Rufus nodded, as though this settled the matter.

Reeve could have just walked out and it would have ended there. But, in his usual fashion, he tried to improve things at the company.

"But, you know sir, you should try to trust your co-workers more," Reeve said.

"Eh?"

"Well I mean, my god. Let's say something happened to both of us, right? You'd want somebody who could lead in our stead. Somebody who you had faith in, right?"

Rufus pondered this for a moment, his head resting on his hand.

"So what you're saying is," Rufus paused for dramatic effect. "You think somebody is planning to kill both of us?!"

"No, I-"

"I knew it. One of those underling bastards is trying to get the top spot!" Rufus shouted. "Get everybody in the Conference Room!"

---

Rufus sat in the far chair, a bit tenser than he normally would have. On each side of him was a Soldier 2nd Class bodyguard. Heidegger, Scarlet, Hojo and Palmer sat in the room, along with Reeve and Tseng who sat in the back, disdain barely concealed on their face.

"Okay, then. Does anybody know why we're having this meeting?" Rufus asked.

Hojo groaned and raised his hand. "Does this have anything to do with the escaped lab rats? I tracked down all but Charlie, and let's face it his strain of the virus only had a 24% mortality rate anyways."

Rufus tented his fingers. "No, but thank you for once again proving yourself to be a walking stereotype."

Hojo grunted. "A scientist gets bored."

"No," Rufus continued. "I'm actually here because Reeve and I-"

"You. Just you," Reeve interrupted.

"Fine. I have uncovered a sinister plot to assassinate not only myself, but Reeve as well!" Rufus announced.

There was a clamor of outrage that swept around the table. Even the lethargic Palmer slammed his fist on the desk in outrage.

"Who's responsible?!" Tseng demanded. "The Turks will hunt them down."

Rufus shook his head. "Don't play dumb with me. One of the people in this room has been plotting against me this whole time. And I'm going to reveal to you all who it is!"

The table glanced at each other, uncertain whether or not the president was actually making sense. There was a mutual understanding, though, that at one time, they've all wished to cause him unbearable bodily harm. But to go so far as to actually kill him? Who?

"First, I ruled out Hojo," Rufus said. He glided over to Hojo's chair. "Hojo is a man of science. A little stark raving mad, it's true, but he is, nonetheless a smart individual. Somebody who carefully thinks and plans out his actions before he does them.

Hojo knows that he is far from the top of the chain of command and that any successor beyond me would take funds from the R&D department and put them into military expenditures… or space programs," Rufus eyed Palmer darkly.

He walked over to Scarlet.

"I ruled out Scarlet next, because she's the head of weapons manufacturing. She knows that all weapons have a statistical chance of malfunctioning. She could not take me in a fist fight, and wouldn't trust her own weapons to get the job done," Rufus nodded.

Reeve slapped his head. This may have been the least realistic argument that that he'd ever heard. But apparently, Rufus was just getting started.

"Next off the list was Heidegger. He's too fat to assassinate both myself and Reeve, and as he's third in line with a virtually unlimited budget, he has no real motivation," Rufus explained.

"And then there's Palmer," Rufus nodded.

"You think Palmer planned this?" Reeve asked.

"No," Rufus said, matter-of-factly. "Palmer doesn't have the time or energy to plan treasonous insurrections. However," he turned and glared at Reeve. "You do."

"Wait a minute, me?" Reeve asked.

"You were clever," Rufus smiled. "Playing both the victim and helpful aide needed. But your plan was to strike when I'd let my guard down. When I told you all of the plan, only you remained quiet. This is because this plan wasn't a shock to you, because you already knew about the plan!"

"Yes," Reeve nodded. "Because you told me before this meeting. Because I was there."

Rufus scoffed. "Don't get all technical with me."

"Sir, you should really let it go. Nobody here wants to hurt you," Reeve sighed.

Tseng nodded. "We're your support. We're here to help you. We don't want you dead."

"We've all got your back," Scarlet smiled. "Sure we have our differences, but who doesn't?"

Rufus looked down the table. His eyes began to water slightly and he rubbed them with his arm. "I'm so sorry guys."

"You need to learn to trust us," Palmer said, standing up. "Here, let's do a simple trust exercise."

Palmer stood behind Rufus.

"Whoa, what the hell are you doing back there?" Rufus demanded.

"Relax! Just fall backwards and I'll catch you. It builds trust," Palmer explained.

Rufus sighed. "Whatever."

Rufus closed his eyes, and tipped backwards. Palmer did a sort of awkward sidestep and Rufus slammed onto the ground.

"OWWW!" Rufus shouted. "What the hell was that! You were supposed to catch me!"

"I'm sorry. I didn't have the time or energy to catch you!" Palmer hissed. He kissed his palm, slapped his ass and then ran out of the room, giggling to himself.

"You know, I'm starting to wonder why I bother having these meetings," Rufus groaned. "They always cause me so much pain."