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Hitting On All Sixes

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The morning after the explosion was one of the most chaotic in his life, and that included the opening of the Sector Five— the first completed sector— of Midgar's plate. He had spent the entire day with one of Rufus's Turks... the blonde; Elena. She had trailed every step he made, effectively shepherding the press when he stepped out to really inspect the damage and even redirecting queries that Rufus was better equipped to handle. He'd never been more grateful for a body guard, and when the sun finally sank, leaving him back in the office, he was almost sad to see her go.

She vanished with the sunlight though, leaving him to stare at a pile of paperwork that he wasn't sure he could deal with in that moment. He sighed, sat in his chair, and sorted through it, his eyes lingering over a stack of receipts that Shelly had left for him.

Normal things, although he did stop to examine the one for flowers. His mother's birthday. He'd made certain to send her something that she could plant, something alive. It would bring a smile to her face, especially since he couldn't make time to go and see her personally. He pocketed that receipt.

He didn't spend the night in the office though, no matter how much he thought that he probably should. Instead, he made it home close to one, slept for about five hours, and then was back up, showering and pulling a fresh suit on so that he could be out the door by six-thirty.

He arrived in the office with a sigh, rubbing his forehead and wondering where the hell his night had gone exactly, and he was more than a little surprised to find his office locked and barred. He tried the handle several times, but when it refused to give, he glanced down the hallway. Shelly wasn't already waiting for him, wasn't standing there with a stack of folders for him to review and sign.

He probably stood there, staring at the door for a good five minutes, trying to decide what to do, when a familiar voice called, "Yo! President Shinra had your things moved." Reno walked down the hallway toward Reeve, and he jabbed his thumb back toward the elevator. "You're in the mayor's office now."

Reeve blinked very slowly, digested that idea, and then he nodded. "Right. Thank you." He headed toward the elevator slowly, and he scarcely noticed that Reno followed him until the redhead leaned over to push one of the numbers. They stood there in silence, or what would have been silence had Reno not been tapping out some rhythm on his leg.

"So... You and the Pres, eh?" Reno glanced over at him, and Reeve immediately felt a flush coloring his face.

He managed a sputtered, "W-what?"

Reno's grin widened. "Come on. You can tell me. I'm paid to keep secrets, y'know." He leaned over a little closer, and Reeve immediately put a hand in the middle of his chest, purposely keeping him at arm's length. "What?"

"No," was all Reeve could get out before there was a chime and the doors opened. He was glad to see that no one was standing in the hallway waiting for him, and he escaped the elevator quickly. Reno didn't follow him this time, just stayed in the elevator, hands shoved into his pockets. Reeve drew a deep breath before he opened the door to the office, and he felt his head spin for just a moment.

The view always did that to him, the open expanse of paned windows looking out over two of the sectors. He licked his lips before he moved, before he approached the massive desk that had been selected to dominate the room. He hadn't been in the mayor's office very often. Actually, he realized, a wry smile on his lips, he'd been in there exactly three times. In five years. He touched the surface of the desk curiously. His eyes closed as he stood there, bracing himself with both hands laying flat on the desk.

"It's always interesting to see what a man does first in his new office." Rufus walked in from a room behind where Reeve stood, a door that would have been in plain sight once he sat down. Reeve turned, smiled, but couldn't say that he was honestly startled. Reno had been the herald.

"It's not my office," Reeve replied smoothly, and he reached for the top of the stack of folders. He didn't sit. The plush chair behind the desk seemed out of character for him, unfitting. He could also hardly refrain from imagining Mayor Domino's face if he had ever seen Reeve sit in his chair. The thought brought a faint smile to Reeve's face. "I'm simply using it."

Rufus held up a hand, dismissing the matter. "We both know that you'll win this election, Reeve," he replied easily, and he took the chair instead. He looked supremely at ease in it, leaning back until he could prop his heels up on the corner of the desk. His suit was perfect, pressed and impeccable and white, and Reeve caught himself adjusting his own suit after just a moment. Purposely, he lowered his hands from the fabric.

The first of the folders were standard reports, final inspections that only required the Mayor's signature. Reeve wasn't really that surprised to notice that they were at least two weeks old. Things that should have been done that hadn't. He sighed, reached for a pen, and counted out the first half of the stack. He signed each of them and deposited them on the other side of the desk. He ignored how strange it looked to see his signature on two lines, dated weeks apart.

He was still leaning over the desk, picking up the next folder, when he realized that Rufus hadn't moved. The blond was sitting there, his blue eyes sharp as they watched Reeve work. Self-consciously, Reeve lowered the pen and frowned.

"What?"

"Nothing. Don't let me stop you, Mr. Mayor." Rufus shook his head, smiling blandly. "I'm just impressed at your efficiency. Midgar's in better hands with you, isn't it?"

Reeve felt the beginnings of a blush on his face, but before he could respond, there was a rap on the door. Both he and Rufus looked toward it, and he actually looked back at Rufus before he realized that it was his call. He ignored the heat rising up his neck as he called, "Yes?"

"Mr. Tuesti, there's a Detective Zack Fair here to see you."

"Send him in." Reeve cast a look at Rufus,who simply raised his eyebrows, a smile still on his face.

The detective shut the door slowly behind himself, and Reeve noticed after just a minute that his partner— Strife?— wasn't with him. He worked up a smile to offer the man, deciding that he could ignore the looks that Rufus and the detective were exchanging. There was some sort of animosity between them that Reeve did not want to poke at.

"What can I assist you with, Detective?"

Detective Fair looked at Rufus pointedly before he glanced up to Reeve. "I was hoping to speak to you alone, Mr. Tuesti," he finally said, diplomatically, and Reeve nodded slowly. That was standard police procedure, wasn't it? He was pretty sure that it was.

"Of course—"

"You're not going to try pinning the blame on him, are you, Detective?" Rufus leaned forward, folding his hands together. "I mean... you're not prejudiced against Mr. Tuesti given his heritage." The last statement was strained, as much as a question as it was anything else. An accusation.

Reeve rolled his eyes to the ceiling, remembering suddenly why he'd never pressed when he had learned that he was being passed over for mayor. The detective smiled evenly and crossed his arms. He didn't seem bothered at all by the implication, the tone Rufus had so casually accused him with.

"Not at all, Mr. Shinra. In fact, I need to speak to Mr. Tuesti about an unrelated matter." He glanced back at Reeve, who nodded slowly.

"Of course. Ah..." He looked at Rufus. "Mr. Shinra," he said slowly, "why don't you and I speak another time?"

Rufus pushed himself to his feet, walking out past Reeve with only a look and a low, "Rufus," whispered as he walked by. Reeve drew a breath, braced himself, and motioned toward one of the chairs across from the desk as soon as the door shut behind Rufus. He could feel goosebumps along his arms.

The detective didn't sit though. Instead, he chose to pace by the window, and Reeve picked up another folder to look through so that he wasn't tempted to follow the motion with his eyes. The man would make him dizzy.

"Mr. Tuesti... How—" He stopped, paced some more, and then looked back at Reeve. "How well do you know Mr. Shinra?"

Reeve fought down his knee-jerk reaction, struggled to keep from exclaiming, 'I hardly know the man at all!' It seemed like everyone today was determined to figure out whether or not Reeve was somehow intimate with the new President of Shinra Electric. "I know him professionally," he finally said.

The detective nodded slowly. "The emergency in Junon—"

Reeve held up a hand, sighing slightly. "I thought this was unrelated." When there wasn't an immediate response, just a long look, Reeve felt a shiver run down his back. It had been a ploy, a way to get Reeve to make Rufus leave. He bit his lip. "Are you investigating Rufus Shinra?" The concept was almost foreign to him, unbelievable. No one investigated Shinra Electric; not without an excess of evidence.

"Of course not," the detective replied, waving a hand. "I have to make sure of where everyone was however, and you're the most reliable witness for Mr. Shinra's whereabouts." He smiled easily enough as he leaned against the wall, crossing his arms in the motion.

"Ah... I see." Reeve really didn't though. If they had questions about Rufus, they should have been asking Rufus, not Reeve. His confusion must have still shown on his face, because the detective shook his head again.

"Just tell me the truth, Mr. Tuesti, and I'll be gone much faster. I'm sure you have a lot of work to do." He glanced toward the files, and Reeve nodded slowly. "Now... the emergency in Junon. What sort of emergency was it?"

Reeve lowered the folder in his hand, and he reached up to rub his forehead. He was beginning to develop a headache. "There was a clog in the pipes. Easy enough to fix, but the key is being able to locate it. When a clog is suspected, the reactor is normally shut down and searched in sections."

"But Mr. Shinra asked you to accompany him to search for it?"

"Not... exactly. The reactor was putting out strange numbers." Reeve hesitated, and then he confessed quietly, "The numbers looked like those the Gongaga reactor reported before it exploded. That was reason enough for Mr. Shinra to be concerned."

The detective nodded slowly, but there was something heavy in his gaze as he studied Reeve. "You quit Shinra Electric after Gongaga," he said slowly, and he pushed off of the wall. Reeve's jaw locked, but he inclined his head, confirming that. "Do you think Gongaga was your fault?"

He felt his heart stop just a second, and then Reeve looked away. "It was an accident," he murmured, sighing. "No one could have prevented it." But it had been Reeve's newest reactor streamlining that had caused it. Not that he would have admitted it to anyone. He was still under a contract with Shinra, a long legal document that prevented him from saying anything about it. Besides, Gongaga had simply been the last straw. There had been other incidents prior to Reeve's departure.

Detective Fair nodded again. "Is it common for Mr. Shinra to go on those emergency calls?" The sudden topic shift was enough to make Reeve look back up at the detective.

"What?" He frowned slightly. "I wouldn't know. I'm not employed by Shinra Electric any longer. I haven't been for close to four years now."

Another nod. "Right. My mistake." The detective gave him one of those disarming smiles, and Reeve felt himself relaxing slightly. "Do you plan on allowing Shinra Electric to assist in your campaign?"

The question was enough to make Reeve's head throb all over again. He sighed slowly, uncertain of what exactly to say. He didn't even want to run, honestly, but he hadn't had a chance to speak to Rufus about it yet. "I ... I don't know for certain that I will be running, detective," he finally said. "I enjoy assisting in the running of the city."

The detective laughed. "You haven't read the paper yet, have you? Well, you think about that. Thank you for your time, Mr. Tuesti." And with that, he disappeared out the door, and Reeve frowned as he watched him go. He stopped just at the door to exchange a few low words with Rufus, and then he was gone.

Rufus came back in the room, but Reeve ignored him in favor of digging around on his new desk until he discovered the paper. His breath caught at the sight of the headline, but he thumbed through it until he saw another article that made him feel strange.

Reeve Tuesti to run for Mayor!

He turned toward Rufus, holding the paper out, and he frowned. "What is this?"


That damned detective was making things difficult. Rufus glanced over at the paper, studying it for a moment before he said, "Well, that looks like your campaign announcement."

"A campaign that I'm not running!" Reeve sighed, reaching up to rub his forehead before he looked back over at Rufus. He looked weary, more resigned to his position than he did actually angry. Rufus's eyes narrowed, studied him a moment more, and then he shrugged.

"If you'd really rather not run, we can arrange that. I simply thought..." He let a hand rest on the stack of folders. He was aware of Reeve watching him, watching as he dragged a fingertip down the side of the stack. "... That you might be interested. You know this city, Reeve. Better than anyone else does, at least."

Reeve swallowed, but he was sold. Rufus could see it in his eyes, in the way that he looked out past Rufus toward the glittering buildings stretching out through the glass. They didn't say anything for a few minutes, while Reeve clearly grappled with the idea of accepting such a position, and finally, Reeve nodded slowly, a frown still marring his features.

"This isn't Gongaga," Rufus said softly, and he closed the distance between them, leaning against the desk just beside Reeve. He folded his arms over his chest. "Midgar is stable."

"We had a terrorist attack two days ago." Reeve sighed again, but he didn't flinch at the proximity this time, didn't quite look as though he might bolt at the first sign of anything. "Midgar is uneasy. And besides, it's not Gongaga I was thinking about."

Rufus nodded slowly. "You were thinking of Corel," he finally said.

"Only situation comparable really."

"Did you tell the detective that?" Rufus raised an eyebrow, curious now. He knew Reeve by reputation mostly, by what he'd managed to glean from Tseng. He didn't have that good of a measure of the man himself, the engineer who had almost single-handedly designed every impressive feat by Shinra Electric. "Tell him about Corel?"

"Of course not." Reeve shuddered just a little, and Rufus's eyes narrowed. "I'm under a gag order," he explained, his voice quiet. "Shinra Electric could press charges against me for talking about it. You know that."

"He asked though. About why you left." It wasn't a question; didn't have to be. They both knew exactly why Reeve Tuesti had left Shinra Electric. He had managed it the same way he'd done everything: quietly pushing the paperwork through and not breathing a word of it until everything was over and done with.

Reeve didn't answer, but then, he didn't need to. Rufus knew the detective had asked because the man had been far too interested in it even at the site of the reactor itself. Rufus leaned over and touched Reeve's arm, and this time, Reeve didn't flinch at that either. Rufus smiled slowly.

"Well, not that it actually matters. I mean, Shinra Electric has managed just fine, and Midgar has certainly benefited from our loss, hasn't it?"

The faintest hint of red touched Reeve's face, and Rufus's smile widened. He was satisfied with that; he simply liked being able to get such a reaction out of Reeve. He pushed himself off of the desk then, took one of Reeve's hands, and led him back to the chair. "Now, sit. I want to see our Mayor actually at his desk and not standing in front of it."

Reeve laughed as he sat in the chair, but Rufus didn't miss the way he momentarily tensed, as though expecting someone to argue. His hands— the same hands that had drafted the blueprints for the city they lived in— lightly caressed the leather on the arms of the chair as he relaxed. There was something akin to bliss on his face. Rufus decided, in that moment, that there was no way in hell he could let Reeve lose the election.

However, just as he leaned forward, there was a sharp knock on the door. Rufus closed his eyes, willing himself not to snap at whoever was out there, and he listened as Reeve called for them to come in. The secretary was there, a fresh stack of folders in her hands. Her glasses looked as though they were about to fall off of the end of her nose, and she deposited the folders carefully on the edge of the desk before she reached up to adjust them.

"Mr. Tuesti, your messages." She handed him a small stack of papers, glanced back at Rufus as though he might bite her, and then she quickly retreated, shutting the door behind her. Rufus decided that the next time he saw her, he might have to give her a good, sharp smile, the one that always made the sweet girls run. He rather liked seeing her jump.

Reeve thumbed through the messages, and his frown returned as he studied the last one. "I don't know any of these people," he muttered, and Rufus held out his hand. Reeve didn't even hesitate before he handed them all over.

"Reporters mostly," Rufus decided as he glanced through them. "You don't deal with a lot of reporters, do you?" He dropped all of the messages on the edge of the desk, just close enough that he would be able to sweep them into the trash the first chance he got that Reeve wouldn't notice.

"Shouldn't you be in your own office?" Reeve looked up at him suddenly, and Rufus laughed at the confusion on that face. "I mean— ... You have work to do, don't you?"

"I was more concerned with you," Rufus replied, leaning across the desk again. "You're going to have reporters pounding down your door all day today. And probably all the way up to the election itself." He propped up his head on his hand, raising an eyebrow. "You were awfully nervous the last time you were in front of a group of reporters." Reeve swallowed, and Rufus watched his throat work, marveling just a little at how open Reeve was.

But as he leaned over just a fraction more, intent thick between them, a deafening boom cracked through the air. Both of them leaped to their feet, and Rufus felt his stomach sinking at the sight Reactor 08 going up in flames, in plain view from Reeve's window. His brain wasn't really processing the black smoke billowing out of the sides of the reactor, the flashes of light that burst across what windows they could see.

He jerked himself back to reality, grabbed Reeve's arm, and they stormed out of the office toward the elevator. Tseng was already there, holding the door open. Reeve and he exchanged small, tight smiles, and Rufus's eyes narrowed slightly at the motion. But no one said anything until they'd reached the first floor, and even then, it was nothing but a terse, "I'll drive," from Tseng.

Even with Tseng's driving, it still took them almost forty minutes to navigate the chaotic streets and make it out there. Rude and Elena snapped off crisp salutes upon seeing Rufus, and Tseng nodded once to both of them. Elena hesitated, glanced up at Rude, and then announced, "We've got reports of close to fifty missing, sir."

Rufus nodded, but as his eyes slid over their little group, he frowned. "Where's Reno?"

Elena ducked her head, and from Rude's locked jaw, the news couldn't be good. Rufus's stomach sank fractionally. He might not have been the easiest person to work for, but his Turks were... well, special. Hand-picked, as the case stood, and each of them precisely chosen for their own unique skill set.

Losing any of them would be a blow.

"Is he— "

"Missing, sir. We think he was in the reactor." Elena looked back up, having schooled her expression once more, but no amount of composure could hide the red rims of her eyes. "Some of the outer guards reported seeing him enter the reactor less than twenty minutes prior to the ... explosion."

Rufus sighed, and he glanced back for Reeve, only to discover the Wutaian already knee-deep in wreckage, his hands flush against the twisted metal scraps. He didn't interrupt, just watched, and he found it more than just a little fascinating that Reeve didn't even seem to notice him or anyone else. He was in his own world, his hands deftly moving pieces of steel and motioning sharply for someone to assist with pieces that were simply beyond him. Rufus shook his head and flagged Rude down.

"Stay with Reeve. He needs you, you'd better be there." He glanced back around, looking for Tseng, and when he finally found him, he squatted down beside him. "Tseng," he spoke lowly, and Tseng's head lifted to look up at him with those dark eyes. "Tseng, I need you to shut this group down." He held that gaze long enough to assure himself that Tseng understood him.

A sharp nod, and then Tseng was dusting himself off. "I will contact the authorities for this, and—"

A screech cut Tseng off, and both of them looked sharply over at Reeve and Rude. Elena was with them, along with another two volunteers, and, miraculously, Rufus thought he spotted a familiar shock of red hair. His breathing hitched before he could smooth it back out, and he quickly followed Tseng over to them.

There was a lot of blood, but a raised hand a sharp word had a stretcher by them within moments. Reno was in one piece, somehow, and Rufus found himself breathing just a little easier when he saw the redhead attempting to sit up, attempting to fight with the medics. He saw Tseng speaking with Rude and Elena, saw Reeve beginning to direct the other volunteers, and he decided that it only left him.

He walked over to where Reno was fighting the medics, pushed the redhead back down, and muttered, "You'd better damn well listen to them."

"I ...I saw it," Reno replied sharply, gasping slightly between the words. He was holding his side, and the medics both looked up at Rufus. He put a hand on one of their shoulders, and he frowned.

"Saw what?"

"The bomb. Bomber. Whatever." Reno waved his other hand, winced, and fell back again on the stretcher. "Had a gun."

"He had a gun with him?" Rufus filed that away, although he wasn't entirely sure what good it would do them. There were a lot of guns in Midgar, and even more of them in hands that really shouldn't have had them.

"Not... with him." Reno drew a deep breath, then clapped a hand over his forearm. "Arm." And then he collapsed and the medics pushed Rufus from their way before they trotted off with him.

Rufus stood there, breeze kicking up around him, white coat swirling out behind him as he considered it. A gun arm. He smiled slowly as he thought about Tseng's orders. This would be the last time a pawn got so wildly out of control, he decided.

A new car pulled up to the reactor, and he watched, impassively as the two detectives got out, shading their eyes to look up at the screaming mass of metal. It was still burning, still dying. Rufus looked up at it for a moment as well, and he sighed.

Some losses were expected. His father, for example. Some losses were not.