Fic: Straightening The Record
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII Title: Straightening the Record Summary: A quiet drink, a quiet truth or two. Zack and Nesa bonding. Disclaimer: I don't own anyone except Nesa, and the negotiations with ShinRa personnel are hell.
"So, what happened to get you stuck in the archives?" Zack asked, two months after they'd first chatted. He'd offered to take Nesa out to a place he knew - a bar down in the slum districts. The big attraction was aside from the two of them, nobody else from Shinra was likely to be in earshot - most people tended to stay topside rather than risk their precious skins in the slums.
Nesa took a sip of her drink. While Zack was taking advantage of SOLDIER metabolism, and swallowing down beer as though it were water, Nesa was a bit more prudent. She was sticking to soft drinks. This one was ginger ale over ice. "It mostly has to do with my father," she said. "He used to work for ShinRa as a biologist."
Zack looked at her. "That doesn't explain why you're not in the science section."
"Yes it does," Nesa said. "Father got into an argument with Professor Hojo about some elements of one project or other. He didn't go into much detail about it, but from what I can gather, Father told Hojo he was unprofessional, unethical, and a few other such nasties. Hojo fired him, and Father didn't get another job as a biologist. Ever."
"Okay, so your old man said something stupid to Hojo," Zack said, taking a sip of his beer. "I do that all the time. Why does it mean you're not in science rather than admin?"
"I suspect Professor Hojo remembers my father. He couldn't stop me from applying to work with ShinRa - it's the biggest employer around, and everyone has to work somewhere. But he could stop me from being employed in a capacity which utilises my professional skills." She took another sip of her drink. "I checked my file. Hojo put a note on it raising questions about my suitability as a counsellor. They threw me in the archives with the rest of the unplaceables."
"Unplaceables. People who don't fit in anywhere else. There's a lot of them working in the archives. Folks who have annoyed their supervisor, or upset someone in management. I'm surprised they haven't thrown you in there as punishment detail already."
"So, what's in the archives?" Zack asked.
"Records," Nesa answered. "Loads and loads of records. Records of each and every single transaction going back to when the Shinra power company first started. Some of it is useful, but most of it is the result of years of compulsive hoarding of information."
"Hey, they've gotta have some interesting stuff in there."
"They might," she agreed. "The hard bit would be finding it. Personnel records, computer transaction logs, billing system records, finance system logs, minutes, memos, schedules, analyses, lab reports, janitorial monitoring records, you name it, it's in there. They have an entire shelf dedicated to the menus for the staff canteen for the past ten years."
Zack scoffed, "You're not serious."
"I'm not, but they are."
They sat for a while in silence. Nesa had noticed the glances Zack was darting in her direction whenever he thought she wasn't looking. He was nerving himself up for something, and she was fairly sure what it was. She decided to pre-empt things.
"No, I don't want to have sex with you, Zack," she said. The look on his face as he took this in made her wish she'd brought a camera. "It's not that you're not attractive - in fact, I'm sure you are. Just not to me."
"Why not?" Zack asked, a hurt machismo showing through his tone.
"Well, firstly, you're ten years younger than I am," Nesa said, "and secondly, you're a boy."
"You already said that bit," Zack pouted.
"No, Zack. I mean I'm not interested in boys. Or men. Or males of any variety."
A dumbfounded silence. "Oh."
"And now you know what was in the note on my file," she said. "I was a fool, of course. I never bothered to keep it secret. After all, most people don't care, and most of the time it doesn't matter. But if someone wants it to matter..."
"Hojo did, I take it?" Zack took a long drink of his beer, draining it, and gestured to the barkeep for some more.
Nesa nodded. "It was perfect for him."
Another silence. "So," Zack said, grinning at her. "Wanna watch girls with me?"
Author's Note: The "I'm not, but they are" joke is lifted pretty much intact from "Sorceress of Darshiva" by David and Leigh Eddings.
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