Oct. 25th, 2015 04:56 pm
nrgburst: (Victory!)
[personal profile] nrgburst
Title: Discretion (Dilemma)
Fandom: Compilation of FFVII
Characters: Reeve Tuesti/Rufus Shinra
Rating/Warnings: T (may increase), none
Word Count: just under 4000
Summary:A man who wishes to repay a debt to the Planet. A man who has been instrumental in both saving and rebuilding it. And a solution to the energy problem in a world without Mako.
Because the need to create may be divine, but the need to love is only human.

A/N: Long time no see, FFVII fandom. :) I’ve tried to remain true to canon, and since this is set after DoC, there are references to the entire compilation. Some references to Full Circle as well, (especially Level Up and Preludes to War, which can easily be read as standalone oneshots) because that is just how my headcanon rolls.

It was telling, perhaps, that the project was fraught with controversy to start.

Bringing solar power to small households had created a little public trust for Shinra company again, and they placed a bid to build hydroelectric generators for WRO Headquarters in the aftermath of the Deepground War. After all, the building was located next to a river- why not utilize an easily accessible resource and reduce the demand on Edge’s energy grid at the same time?

But it was hardly a proposal that was welcomed with open arms. People still remembered the totalitarian control Shinra had once held in exchange for cheap, bountiful –and ultimately unsustainable— energy, how lost and destitute they had all become when that house of cards had collapsed.

How the Planet itself had seemed to punish them for being so shortsighted.

And yet practicality had to win over petty feelings, no matter how justified those feelings may be.

Reeve might be an administrator now, but the engineer in him also felt that familiar excitement over a brilliant idea on the cusp of becoming reality. The prototype, test results and simulations were compelling evidence that these new generators could produce energy far more cleanly than the current oil and coal burning solutions without altering the landscape around Edge or affecting the ecosystem. And while the turbines and generators would be made from alloys perfected in the Mako era, they were based on far older tech: some towns still had water mills that had been used to grind grain. So he championed the idea on the board and Barret and Yuffie eventually came around.

Reeve had to admire Rufus’ foresight as well: he sent Tseng to represent the company in the final negotiations to avoid the resentment his presence may have evoked. After all, it would have been a shame for emotion to hinder much needed progress.

The first stage of construction was getting their resources in place, and while materials would be locally sourced, Shinra personnel and equipment were transported from Shinra headquarters in Rocket Town on The Shera. Reeve and Cait Sith both beamed as Shinra workers disembarked from the aircraft behind Rufus, looking around and talking amongst themselves with palpable excitement.

“Welcome, welcome! President Shinra, I trust the journey was uneventful?”

Rufus inclined his head elegantly as his employees gathered behind him. “We appreciate the transport, Commissioner. A fine vessel, and much more efficient than ferries and other land transport.” He turned to do a quick head count and gestured for silence once he confirmed they had all gathered.

Reeve’s brows raised at their immediate compliance. Shinra Company might no longer be all-powerful, but old habits obviously died hard.

He’d been surprised when he’d first seen the names on the transport and accommodations list: many of his former colleagues had gone back to work with Shinra. And he addressed them warmly, smiling and nodding at the familiar faces. “I will pass your compliments on to Mr. Highwind. We very much appreciate you coming all this way, and hope you will all enjoy your time here in Edge. For those of you who don’t know me: I’m Reeve Tuesti, Commissioner of the WRO, and I’m sure you are all familiar with Cait Sith. We will be coordinating the WRO side of this project, and any problems and requests you may have can be directed towards us,” he said, gesturing towards his animatronic counterpart.

Rufus studied Cait with evident interest before he bowed. “Thank you. We are pleased to have the chance to put our skills and expertise to work. And we will endeavor to make construction as safe and efficient as possible.”

“Wonderful. If you would all follow me…"

It was a short walk to the WRO residences where they would be staying for the duration of construction.

“The canteen is open 24/7, and of course, you are always welcome to head into Edge to eat or shop. Shuttle buses are free and depart every half hour from the main gate and Edge Square from 7am until 11pm. Taxis are also readily available.”

Reeve turned to Rufus once everyone had dispersed to settle into their homes for the next few months.

Understanding the question in his eyes, Rufus spoke first. “I have already procured my own accommodation within the city. Speaking of which: I should make some attempt to furnish the place before the shops close.”

Reeve nodded and gestured. “Of course. I’ll see you Monday morning at the generator site?”

Rufus grinned with unrestrained excitement at the words before hastily adjusting his expression into something more composed. “I look forward to it. Please do not hesitate to contact me if problems with my staff arise,” he added.

To Reeve’s dismay, he was forced to summon Rufus and the local members of the WRO board that same evening.

A few locals had taken unkindly to the discovery of Shinra workers checking out the bar scene in Edge. Cloud and Tifa had intervened at 7th Heaven before insults escalated into more than shoving, but there was a full on brawl at Johnny’s before authorities arrived.

The Turks provided a shield of sorts as Rufus brushed past the pointed questions from the press hovering outside the hospital where the injured were being treated. Assess the damage, make a statement; ensure it never happens again: he was as familiar with the drill as Reeve.

Firsthand reports confirmed their suspicions: Shinra employees might not have been the instigators, but they’d given as good as they’d got, and there were mild concussions, broken bones and wounds requiring stitches on both sides.

Rufus’ expression remained implacably calm throughout. “Shinra Company will assume responsibility for the medical bills of all injured parties. I am well aware of public sentiment. I was foolish not to take measures to ensure the safety of my staff.” His eyebrows knit slightly and he looked down. “I am simply grateful that nobody was seriously injured. I apologize for being complacent in their protection.”

Reeve frowned and shook his head. “This situation is hardly your fault. I believe we should focus attention on this being a regrettable, but isolated incident.”

Yuffie spoke up, waving her phone. “Shelke’s dug up criminal histories for a couple of the perps that’ll prop that. One in particular seems to have a habit of throwing punches when liquored up.”

Rufus looked over with surprise. “Shelke the Transparent? The Tsviet?”

Former Tsviet. She’s adept with computers, as I’m sure you’re aware, and quietly helps us out when necessary. We actually had far fewer troubles when she was living in Edge than expected,” Reeve said, puzzled. “No doubt that contributed to our own complacence.”

“Well, she was living in 7th Heaven, duh! Who was gonna say boo to Cloud or Tifa?” Yuffie said, rolling her eyes. ”Besides, everybody knew that she could protect herself. A bunch of nerds are way easier targets for knuckleheads with something to prove. We’re going to have to increase WRO patrols on weekends until the generators are done. Before people see benefits, Shinra folk are not going to win any popularity contests”

Reeve sighed. “Agreed. I want guards on the job site and around headquarters as well.”

“Damn punks makin’ everyone work harder. Don’t they know we just want to keep the lights on?” Barret growled.

Reeve blinked and did his best to repress a wry smile. He ended up having to cover with a cough when he met Rufus’ eye and saw the same amusement mirrored there.

It wasn’t so long ago that he’d been summoned to a late night meeting over bombed Mako reactors. How things changed—and yet didn’t.

“I’ll get on top of the rosters in the morning,” Yuffie said, yawning. “What are we telling that circus out there again?”

It was a couple hours before everything was tied up, and Reeve was grateful to accept a ride back home after from Rufus, who’d insisted on staying until the end. “A leader’s responsibility,” he’d said dismissively, and they’d shared a grim smile.

How things changed indeed.

Rufus stirred beside him before he spoke. “I appreciate your assistance with the civilians."

Reeve blinked. “It was your generosity. I was merely the messenger.”

Rufus studied him, brows furrowed for a moment before looking away. “Is it generosity when one has so much? And is there a difference between a bribe and a gift when the one offering is a Shinra? If you had not been there to moderate, I doubt they would have accepted.”

Reeve gave him a questioning look. “Are you always so resistant to compliments?”

Rufus lifted a brow wryly. “Only when they come from honest men.”

Reeve chuckled cynically. “Well, if we’re being honest: I am simply experienced at spending your money.”

He had him there and Rufus finally laughed. “Indeed, you do an excellent job of it, Commissioner.”

The overt resentment over their presence put a damper on spirits—Shinra personnel ventured to Edge only in groups that weekend, and returned before evening, despite the extra patrols in place. But their determined professionalism remained constant when they met Monday morning, already organized into teams and ready to work.

Preliminary surveying of the ideal generator sites had been done via satellite in combination with historical data, but they needed to double check their assessments before construction began in earnest. While some teams assessed the ground and river bottom to prepare the foundation, the others would confirm flow rates.

The flow sensors required manual placing, but after a series of ineffective attempts with the robotic arm, Rufus sighed with impatience. “Surely a diver could accomplish this task.”

The project leader frowned. “The arm was designed for Mako- water makes the switches slippery. Monroe is going to give it another—“

“I am a proficient swimmer,” Rufus said, removing his jacket. “And all that is required is for the sensor to be activated at the depth indicated.”

“Well, yes, but- Sir, we don’t have any diving equipment. We’ve never placed sensors with people before!”

Rufus shrugged before he removed his socks and shoes. “Then this can be a first. I’m positive river water is hardly as toxic as Mako. And I won’t need diving equipment to get down a few feet.”

Reno and Rude looked at each other in alarm. “Sir?”

He smiled at their consternation. “I’ll be back shortly. Please prepare towels- I expect I will be quite wet."

And he vaulted over the rail.

The boat rocked dangerously when they all scrambled to the side. “President!”

Tseng was supervising the shore crew with Reeve when Reno and Rude radioed. “Boss! The President jumped in the river to take down the probe thing himself!”

Both of them immediately turned to river in shock. But Rufus was treading easily while removing the sensor from the robotic arm. Tseng gave a long-suffering sigh and headed towards the nearest boat. “Of course he did. Can either of you swim?”

“Uh…does doggy paddle count?”

Rufus took a deep breath and dove.

Tseng lifted his eyes before answering. “I an coming as quickly as possible. Do not jump in- you’ll be more hindrance than help.”

“The President told us to get towels,” Rude added.

“Then do so. I’ll see you shortly”

Reeve kept pace with Tseng. “I’ve summoned Cait Sith- he’s an excellent swimmer.”

Tseng gave him a grateful look. “That will be very helpful, thank you.” He looked less pleased when he switched channels on the radio. “Elena- I’m afraid the President will need a fresh suit.”

Rufus’ lips were edged in blue and he gritted his teeth determinedly to keep them from clattering after he got back. But his eyes still sparkled with the thrill; the sheer fun of the experience as he rubbed at his arms, huddled under the rough towel and sipping the hot, sweetened coffee that Tseng had insisted he drink.

Rufus Shinra loved thumbing his nose at risk, taking dramatic action.

The way his shirt and pants still clung left little to the imagination and Reeve had to remind himself not to stare. Rufus had been merely eye candy back when he was Shinra’s entitled vice-president, and his classical good looks had only improved with age, if anything. It was a relief when Rude proffered his jacket and that incredibly distracting view was better obscured.

“The data?” Rufus asked impatiently.

“Coming in just fine, sir!” One of the techs reported happily, holding up the readout on the tablet.

Rufus grinned and slicked back his hair. “Perfect. Allow me to warm up a little and then I can place the next. The water is rather brisk.”

The Turks exchanged pained looks and Reeve spoke up quickly. “Cait can place sensors in the meantime. He’s an excellent swimmer and impervious to cold. And he’s almost here,” he said, indicating the small figure in the river.

Rufus inhaled, watching Cait swim with rapt attention. “Always so helpful, Commissioner. Thank you. I’ve never seen your… companion in action.”

Reeve thought back hastily-- Rufus had been under house arrest in Junon for most of his tenure as an executive. “Building animatronics used to be just a hobby. Now he’s better known than I am. And truly indispensable- I could not be Commissioner without him.”

“I can imagine. Are we taking him away from important work?”

Reeve shook his head, smiling. “Mostly paperwork. Which means I will simply have more reading later.”

Rufus smiled, intrigued. “I see. Do we show you or Cait how to activate the device?”

“Cait will be easier, since the task is his. His programming allows him to learn tasks so that he does not require my conscious control.”

“Fascinating. I would be very interested to hear more about how that works some time. But we will need to get Cait aboard first. We have another twenty sensors to deploy and we’ve already wasted enough time. The sensors are designed to…”

Rufus talked about the project with a fervor that appeared to warm him from within, seemingly forgetting his sodden state. It was stirring-- enthralling, even.

Reeve had heard stories about the charisma of the old President Shinra before he’d gone to seed, how he’d managed to turn an idea and a small electric company into the most powerful corporation in the world. And he understood with devastating clarity why so many of his colleagues had chosen to work for his son despite the disgraced state of the company. Risk social stigma to help him remake Shinra according to a very different kind of vision.

Fascinating, indeed.

The generator turbines were being constructed in Shinra headquarters while the team at WRO headquarters built the structures that would house them. Reeve had been down this road before, and he didn’t envy Rufus the trips back and forth to supervise both ends of the operation. They met often to discuss progress and coordinate staff and goals.

And meetings just started going longer as their rapport grew. Reeve enjoyed Rufus’ sardonic wit and passionate opinions as much as the thought provoking discussions they had, and they often lost track of time. More than once, they talked long past dark, forgetting to eat until the Turks quietly provided supper from the canteen.

Rufus’ lip would curl at the food. Reeve would tease him for being too used to luxury and he would sigh and concede before eating anyway.

Reeve started sending Cait to get takeout from 7th Heaven instead on meeting days, to spare Rufus a little. Tifa was no gourmet chef, but her food more than passed muster for even those with discerning palates. And the appreciation in Rufus’ eyes was worth the trouble.

Yuffie joked that it looked like he wanted to work for Shinra again with all the time he spent at the generators, and Reeve laughed it off. “I was trained in Engineering, not administration. I naturally prefer construction to politics.”

But it wasn’t until one night when they were reminiscing about Midgar that he understood just how much of that pull was because of Rufus—and just how far past the line he was.

Tifa had made Bone Village Bolognese and a bit of sauce had dribbled onto Rufus’ chin. And Reeve had smiled and reached out with his napkin to wipe it off, unthinking. He’d been mid-action when awareness dawned.

And he’d hastily pretended that he’d intended to simply offer the napkin. Mercifully, Rufus had seemed not to notice.

But Reeve had realized with icy certainty that this was no longer simply a friendly working relationship on his part. And therefore he would have to rein himself in.

He sent Cait to coordinate instead for the next couple of days, throwing himself into the work he’d let slide. And he was carefully professional from that point onwards, booking meetings early so that he always had a commitment keeping him from lingering inappropriately.

It worked, in a way. Their relationship remained friendly, and work continued uninterrupted. If there was disappointment in Rufus’ eyes when Reeve explained that he had a board meeting or inspection, Reeve firmly ignored the ache when Rufus smiled pleasantly and walked him to the door without protest.

This was all they could be; wanting more was futile.

It was the best decision, Reeve told himself as he booked tickets to Costa Del Sol. As if being as logical and systematic as possible to try to root out his inappropriate emotions would work.

It was only natural that he had developed an attraction to someone he worked with- after all, that was where he spent almost all his time. Shared experiences, compatibility and physical attractiveness would foster those emotions. And most people had sexual needs; felt romantic attraction and spent their leisure time meeting those needs. He had only himself to blame for his lack of a personal life—much easier to resist attraction when partnered.

Yet he remained torn between regret and relief that Shinra’s presence –and therefore Rufus’—would be withdrawn from Edge once the generators were activated. He still looked forward to the minutes spent in his company with painful intensity. And he hated how much he continued to want, despite all he’d done to nip the feeling in the bud.

But he was long overdue a vacation, and Cloud and Tifa rarely used the Villa. Cait and the Board could handle things without him for a week, and Mukki ran a fun scene. Burying his feelings with some much needed sex would be the most pleasant way to get over a man he could never have. Maybe he would even find somebody he could build a lasting relationship with.

But he couldn’t help thinking that he would sorely miss Rufus Shinra anyway.

Reeve was sure his feelings were carefully masked when he strode toward the generators. His smile was congenially warm and he made a conscious effort to keep his eyes on the generators and readings on his tablet instead of Rufus.

“I see everything is ready?”

Rufus dipped his head and gestured elegantly for Reeve to join him. “We have only but to turn the keys.” Despite the usual impeccable condition of his hair and clothing, there was an air of nervous restlessness about him. This was his pet project, brought all the way from theory to application at last: the first large-scale generators Shinra had constructed since he had become president.

His legacy.

“A copy of the manual, including emergency shutdown procedures, has been digitized for easy reference. Of course, we are just a phone call away if problems arise, and will immediately provide assistance or maintenance.”

Reeve nodded, skimming through the fine print before offering him a reassuring smile. “The typical Shinra warranty. But I am confident we have anticipated every problem.”

Rufus tilted his head modestly. “We have done our best. However, humans have never designed a truly foolproof system, and Shinra will always stand by its products. Now, if you could assist me in doing the honors- as you know, both keys will have to be turned simultaneously.”

It was slightly anti-climactic, but as they went from one generator to the next and the turbines gained momentum, electricity output rose as predicted.

Reeve glanced at Rufus as they watched the lights brighten at Headquarters, smiling to see the exultation on the younger man’s face. He knew that feeling of seeing a vision become reality, one that was supposed to bring power and comfort to many.

It was gratifying to share in this quiet moment of accomplishment for a dramatically different Shinra Company.

After checking the display on the tablet Tseng offered, Rufus relinquished his key to Reeve with a bow. “I am pleased to say that as expected, the generators are producing enough power for the needs of WRO Headquarters, with a surplus that is currently being directed back into Edge’s power grid.”

Reeve smiled and bowed in turn. “We thank you. It’s a marvelous feat of engineering, and I’ve very much enjoyed working on it with your team. I’m ecstatic that the WRO and Edge will reap the benefits for years to come.”

Rufus straightened, but there was a new kind of nervous energy in his posture. He lifted the fingers of his right hand slightly, and the ever-present Turks silently backed away to a discreet distance.

Rufus looked away, seeming to struggle for a moment before impatiently plunging onwards. “…I hear you will be taking some time off now that construction is complete.”

Reeve blinked and flushed as the reasons for the holiday rushed to mind, although he endeavored to keep his tone casual. “Uh- yes. I had a great number of personal days accrued.”

Rufus nodded, hesitating again before speaking. “Now that our official business has concluded, I was hoping you would have fewer compunctions… That is, I wonder… if I might persuade you to join me for dinner at my home tonight?”

Reeve looked up, astonished, and Rufus met his eye, smiling knowingly despite the slight color in his cheeks.

Balanced on that knife-edge between agony and hope, Reeve struggled for some modicum of self-control. “A celebratory dinner?” he managed.

Rufus tilted his head to the side and stepped deliberately closer before meeting his eye.

“For, perhaps, more than one thing… realized.”

The surge of unrestrained exultation left him breathless for a long moment as he searched Rufus’ eyes. His skin felt flushed with awareness of his proximity, the fact that Rufus was breathing as hard as he was.

“It wasn’t just me?” he murmured.

Rufus smirked and shook his head almost imperceptibly, his gaze lingering on Reeve’s lips before he met his eyes again.

Reeve swallowed thickly. His better judgment twinged despite the heady rush of emotion drowning it out, and he clenched his fists and edged backward. This could be a potential disaster for WRO finances if this ends badly. And scandal if we are discovered.

No stranger to reading physical cues and negotiation, Rufus brushed his hair back and smoothly moved to preemptively defeat any objections.

“I think we have both demonstrated our commitment to keeping our personal and professional needs separate. You’re already packed. And I can provide transport to... your original destination at any time. But I have chosen to take a few days holiday as well. The grounds at my home in Rocket Town are extensive and my staff are well versed in discretion. And I believe… we may keep each other pleasantly occupied enough.”

It was far too easy to accept his reasoning, with Rufus standing so tantalizingly close and that ardent promise gleaming in his eyes. Which Reeve realized was probably part of his strategy.

Misgivings be damned. We’re both consenting adults.

“I suppose I was never able to outmaneuver you on Shinra’s board, either,” he admitted, smiling ruefully.

He’d missed Rufus’ laugh. And the sheer delight there sealed the deal.

A/N: Given their personalities, background and positions, I’ve always wondered why more of the fandom doesn’t ship this? It makes so much sense to me, despite the obvious difficulties.
Run-of-the-river hydroelectric generators are currently supposed to be the most environmentally friendly way to produce electricity, ranking above all other alternative forms (wind, nuclear, solar) in terms of greenhouse emissions and other adverse environmental effects. Yes, WRO HQ is really next to a river in DoC.
Feedback is very welcome!


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