Shinra Inc. And Depression…

By: Jason Tandro

Author's Note: This is continued from Episode 5, Shinra Inc. And Pointless Achievements, wherein Rufus ecstatically found out that he had breached 100k friends on MyFace. However as his online friends skyrocketed, Reeve chewed him out about the fact that Rufus has only been using these mediocre accomplishments as justification for his existence. That in reality, he wasn't happy. And while Rufus put on a brave face at the time…

Rufus lay in his bed. His tiny room seemed somehow bigger in the darkness. His alarm had gone off moments ago, but in a lethargic swipe he had knocked it off his bedside table causing the cord to become unplugged. It didn't matter. For the first time in living memory, he was taking a personal day.

Well, actually he took several personal days, but this time he wasn't using it to go to some exotic location.

He listened to the sound of the early morning. The faint chirping of birds from the deck garden patio, the sound of raindrops pattering against the side of his window, the unmistakable grinding of the coffee machine from the café that was above him. So many mornings he tried not to think about the fact that if there was even a tiny leak scalding water would drop down onto his face.

Now he didn't care. He would trade all his wealth just to feel something.

He turned on his stereo and listened to the CD that Scarlet had made for him a few months back; the soft new age music reverberating through his small room which had more than once been mistaken for a closet.

[Author's Note: See Shinra Inc. And Stress Management]

On the top floor of this building, Reeve was now walking towards his office, as he always did. By now the secretary would be telling him that Rufus wasn't in yet, and that she didn't know what time he'd be in.

It didn't matter anyways. Reeve always complained that Rufus got in the way of his work. Maybe today they'd get to do some actual work.

"Hey where's Rufus?" Reeve asked.

"He's not in yet," the secretary shrugged. "I'm not sure when he's getting in. He's never late… on the days that he shows up for work."

"Well whatever. I've got a busy day ahead and it might be nice not to have him bugging me," Reeve nodded.

"Yeah, maybe we can do some work around here for a change," the secretary smiled.

The Conference Room had all the usual suspects; except Rufus. Reeve, as ranking number 2, presided over the meeting.

"Okay, well Rufus didn't decide to come to work today so we can all start preparing for the Black Friday rush," Reeve began.

"I'm worried about him," Elena sighed. "You were a little harsh, Reeve."

"He'll be fine. He's probably out right now on some cruiser to Costa Del Sol for some R&R," Reeve said dismissively.

Back in his room Rufus groaned as the first rays of sunlight broke through the cracks in his blinds.

"Has my room always been painted blue?" He moaned.

"You were really harsh, Reeve," Hojo concurred. "Mind you I agree completely with your sentiment, but Rufus is ill-adapted for criticism."

"Ill-adapted for criticism? It's because he's never been criticized. Maybe he should learn to deal with it," Reeve cursed.

"Right, but why'd you have to go spoil his fun?" Scarlet asked.

"What are you getting at?" Reeve asked.

"He was happy about something he accomplished and you had to turn it into something really personal," Tseng said.

"Yeah, I think you blew it out of proportion," Elena added.

Reeve groaned. "You people act like he's even upset by it. He flaunts it in our face. He's better than us, richer than us, more powerful than us, he doesn't care that I barked at him."

"Rationalizing," Rude chuckled.

"Man you're starting to sound like Rufus," Reno quipped.

Reeve pounded his fist on the table on front of him. "Enough! We waste too much time in this office discussing personal matters. We have a massive rush in front of us that we have to deal with."

"Right, so why waste time in this Conference Room?" Heidegger asked. "I'm not in marketing, I'll be downstairs doing my job."

"You don't need me either," Hojo replied following Heidegger out the door.

"Or any of my Turks," Tseng added walking out alongside his employees.

Reeve, Scarlet and Palmer sat around the table.

"I don't need weapons development or aeronautical staff either," Reeve conceeded nodding to the two.

Palmer skipped out of the room without a care in the world. Scarlet patted Reeve's shoulder.

"What's this really about Reeve?" Scarlet asked.

"I don't know," Reeve sighed.

The two looked over plans for Black Friday for a half hour. As Scarlet was preparing to leave, Rufus walked into the Conference Room.

"What's up?" Scarlet asked.

"I may not be the smartest guy," Rufus began. "I'm kinda boneheaded. I get that. I also don't have much luck with the ladies and truthfully I don't have that many good friends."

Reeve seemed shocked and opened his mouth as if to speak, but Rufus continued.

"So when you say I'm not really happy, you think you're speaking from a position of authority. But you know what, Reeve. I am happy. I'm happy that I own my own company. I'm happy that there are people like you who work for me and take pride in what they do. I'm happy that my friends have the guts to stand up to me and voice there opinions. And I do consider you a friend Reeve. And you Scarlet," Rufus said nodding towards her.

"Sir, I-" But again Reeve was cut off.

"Let's not get into it, Reeve. It's not even worth it," and Rufus held out his hand to shake Reeve's.

Scarlet looked about ready to cry and Reeve clasped Rufus's hand.

"So we're cool?" Reeve asked.

"Yeah. I took care of things," Rufus smiled.

"What things?" Reeve asked, edging back.

"You now have to park in Sector 4, I've cut your pay by 15% and effective immediately I will be holding auditions for my new assistant. You're officially demoted to the responsibilities of an administrative assistant. But don't worry that won't be your title. I think Gopher Boy sounds much better," Rufus grinned.

"But sir!" Reeve shouted.

"Oh and I've switched your health insurance to an HMO plan," Rufus chuckled, walking out the door but not before flipping Reeve the bird.

"What the hell just happened?" Reeve asked.

"You pissed off your boss," Scarlet shrugged, walking out after Rufus.

(Will Reeve be able to cope with his new responsibilities? Will Rufus's anger ever subside? And will the author realize that people read these stories for cheap laughs and not serious moral lessons? Find out next time on Shinra Inc. And!)