Fic: Planning the Perfect Party
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII Title: Planning the Perfect Party Rating: G Summary: Planning any party is annoying, but when ShinRa Personnel decide everyone has to attend this year's corporate celebration, the job rises to a new level of complicated. Disclaimer: I don't own anyone except the original characters - and negotiating for their services with ShinRa personnel is one hell of a job at the best of times. Warnings: committees, meetings, party planning, office politics, bureaucracy
Nesa looked at the email from ShinRa personnel with barely disguised disgust. The Year-End festival and annual ShinRa Corporation Midgar Region office party. Nuts. Oh well, better find out what she was in for.
They'd been tricky this time - just opening the email was used as confirmation of attendance (and she noted attendance was compulsory). Oh, and they wanted a committee rep from each section "in the interests of company solidarity". She wasn't surprised to hear the door to Lazard's office bang open.
"Miss Conway," he said, smiling at her in the special way he had whenever he needed extra filing done after hours (with no paid overtime).
"You'd like me to be the SOLDIER representative on the Year-End Festival committee?" she said, guessing where the discussion was going and deciding to take a few shortcuts.
"If you would," Lazard agreed, seeming relieved.
"Certainly, sir," she said. "With any luck, we may be able to avoid a fiasco like last year's effort."
Lazard winced. The previous year's festival party had been notable due to the organising committee not having consulted any groups outside the upper management of the more business-oriented sections of the company, leading to a rather formal dinner-dance arrangement. The SOLDIERs had been represented by a grand total of four people - Lazard himself, Angeal Hewley (who could be counted on to be civilised most of the time), Genesis (one of the few First Class SOLDIERs who wasn't out on a mission at the time) and General Sephiroth. Things had got out of hand when one of the Turks (who was along as bodyguard for the ShinRa heir that night) decided to start a drinking contest with Angeal and Genesis. Angeal was safe enough when he got drunk - he was one of the rare ones who'd go straight to the "hail fellow, well met!" stage, and stay there. Genesis, however, was a more typical SOLDIER in many regards, and the alcohol on top of the mako treatments brought out the worst of the paranoia and bad temper which Nesa was coming to recognise to be the distinguishing mark of the corps.
The resultant brawl had left most of the ShinRa troopers who had attended the festivities as bodyguards of one sort or another out of commission for at least a week, along with approximately half of the Turks who'd shown up. Genesis and the General had come out of it unscratched, while Angeal had been giggling the whole way through, and didn't live it down in barracks for at least a month. The hall where the festival party had been held had been trashed. If anyone had wanted to think up a public relations nightmare, they would have been hard pressed to do better. Nesa hadn't attended the event, but she'd heard all about it in the canteen over the next three weeks.
"Do that, Miss Conway," Lazard said, shuddering, "and you will certainly have earned any bonus you receive."
The committee meetings were long, drawn out, and argumentative. Just as expected. The chair was President ShinRa's private secretary, a desiccated woman who had been in charge of the committee (and indeed most of the company) for the previous ten years. The other committee members tended to be the same as in previous years - indeed, beside the Turk representative, Jenna, Nesa was the only new face around the table. She and Jenna soon wound up involved with the only other people below the age of forty on the committee (Stev, from Information Technology, and Reeve from Urban Development) in a loose alliance against some of the more hidebound committee members, who couldn't see the problems inherent in Personnel's insistence everyone who worked for the company attend the festivities this year.
Despite the rivalry (both friendly and unfriendly) between their two divisions, Jenna and Nesa found they got along just fine. Of course, it helped they both had at least one common topic of conversation.
"I'd support the notion of an open bar, if it wasn't for Reno and Adrian," Jenna said over a cup of coffee before one of the meetings. "Those two plus an open bar... if they didn't bankrupt the company by sinking enough alcohol to drown a chocobo each, they'd bankrupt it through the damages from the inevitable arguments."
"I know what you mean," Nesa said. "The majority of the two-cees and three-cees tend to waver between depressed, moody, paranoid and psychotically aggressive at the drop of a hat even without alcohol. And then we have Zack."
"You have my sympathies," Jenna said, grinning. Zack Fair's pranks, larks and occasional disasters were notorious throughout the Turks as well as SOLDIER. Indeed, the running Turk office pool was usually about the length of time between upheavals, with side bets on which of the three (Zack, Adrian, Reno) would wind up causing a ruckus first. Of course, Adrian was just as bad as Zack - maybe it was something about Gongaga boys? - while Reno was an unnatural disaster waiting to happen all on his own. "Maybe we could get a compromise going? So many free drinks, then you pay for the rest."
"Sounds good," Nesa said. "How about three free, then pay for everything else?" At least with only three free drinks, the majority of the two-cees and three-cees wouldn't wind up heading straight for "gloomy aggressive bastard" at quite the same speed as with an open bar.
At least three of the committee members hadn't bothered to take into account the size of the contingents who usually missed, or rather avoided, the annual party (SOLDIER, the Turks, the troopers, and Information Technology) and were insisting on hiring the usual hall and setting up the standard dinner-dance.
"You'll have standing room only," Stev pointed out.
"We've had plenty of room before," sniffed Cheryl (accounting). "Why shouldn't there be enough room now?"
"How many people work for ShinRa?" Nesa asked. "Personnel is insisting everyone turn up. They've threatened docking wages if people can't show a good reason."
"So there's going to be something like six thousand people from Midgar tower alone, plus two thousand troopers, two or three dozen Turks, and a couple hundred SOLDIERs, plus anyone visiting from Junon, WuTai, Nibelheim or anywhere else. Is the hall big enough?"
That got a stunned look out of Cheryl. "You're kidding," she said.
"Check your records," Nesa shot back. "You're in accounting, you can get the exact numbers better than any of us."
The hall was ruled out. This left the question of what to do wide open. Research proposed a movie night, which was shot down by Processing and the troopers, who were insistent they wouldn't want to see any "girly films". IT's semi-serious suggestion of a bar crawl was shot down in flames by both Nesa and Jenna, who pointed out quite reasonably if any of ShinRa's staff wanted to do such a thing, they were quite capable of it off their own bats, and pointed to Zack, Reno and Adrian as proof. Medical wanted a relaxation weekend retreat, but the economics of the situation were problematic. Nobody could get a word out of Personnel or PR about why there was such an insistence on everyone attending, which didn't help either. All the PR rep would say was "the President wants to give a speech" (which wasn't news to anyone - the man was a pompous windbag, in Nesa's opinion, and prone to giving speeches whenever the occasion warranted, and even when it didn't).
In the end, the solution came out of a lunchtime discussion between Nesa, Stev, Jenna, Reeve and Lusi (President ShinRa's secretary). The older woman had been talking to them about how much she'd enjoyed the festivals when she was younger.
"It was so much simpler then," she said. "I grew up outside Corel, and there was a fair every year around the time of the Year End festival, so we all went to that. It's a pity there isn't something like that here."
"Why isn't there?" Jenna asked. "It sounds like fun."
"Yeah," Stev agreed. "It'd certainly be a lot easier than trying to figure out how to do meals for everyone so we won't upset the vegetarians, or the diabetics, or the ones who can't handle gluten, or the people restricting carbohydrates, never mind the SOLDIERs who need it all perfect." He grinned across at Nesa. One of her repeated points regarding catering for such an event was all SOLDIERs, with their mako enhancement, could smell and taste all the food in the whole canteen on a bad day. Giving them 'rubber chicken' or a similar such catering disaster would probably cause a riot. When one of the more prissy types from Business Development (or something similar) had sniffed and suggested surely the presence of General Sephiroth would restrain them from such behaviour, Nesa had snapped back on the contrary, he was more likely to lead it. It hadn't escaped her notice the General wasn't eating in the company canteen very often since the catering contractors had been changed in the last three months. Not that she could blame him - if she had a choice, neither would she.
"I'm with Jenna," Nesa said. "Reeve, why don't you see if your section can get in touch with some fairground people, and have a fair here in Midgar? If we make it a family occasion, that'll cut down on the brawls, and act as a bit of a restraint on the unrestrainable. It'd be fun."
Reeve looked at the two young women, frowning a little. "Do you think your problem children would behave at a fair?" Nesa and Jenna between them had been shooting down every single option for a decorous festival event by pointing to the three firebrands in the midst of the Turks and SOLDIER, bringing up (only slightly exaggerated) incidences of what happened when even one of the three got bored, waving the damage bill from the previous year under the noses of Accounting, Facilites and PR, and pointing out the results of such a festivity would make that particular disaster look like nothing by comparison.
Nesa grinned back. "I think Zack would, especially if there are children around. He's just a big kid himself," she said. "The other two-cees and three-cees are the ones I'd worry about, but they could do with a bit of fun, as well. I think they'd be willing to get into the fun of a fairground, and leave the miseries behind. The only problem I can see might be noise levels and sensory overload, but enough of them go out into Midgar itself that they've worked out how to cope with it."
"Hmmm," Jenna mused. "If we assign Reno and Adrian a couple of keepers each, we should be able to at least keep them slowed down enough to avoid major property damage. Keep the bar tab down to manageable levels, and we should be laughing. We'd have to find them keepers anyway, but at least this way there'd be things like rides, dodgem cars, and carnival games to keep them occupied."
"So, who suggests it to the committee?" Stev asked.
"I shall," Lusi said. "It's been years since I last visited the fair."
After all the hard work and wrangling which had gone into the matter, the tabling of the notion of having a fair went through almost as an anticlimax. Lusi had done her job well, showing the sort of skill at diplomacy and politicking one would expect from the private secretary of the head of the company. The suggestion actually came not from Lusi, but rather from the head of Public Relations, who presented it as a way of making a PR coup with the people of Midgar at the same time. Effectively, the fairground would be open to the general public for a week after Year-End, as a gesture from the Company to the people of Midgar.
Nobody ever acknowledged where the idea had come from, which to Nesa's mind was just fine. After all, if PR, Accounting, Personnel, Corporate Development, and Corporate Support all wanted to claim credit for the idea, all the better. At least there'd be a good distance for the blame to be spread if the whole thing went pear-shaped. Lusi had done them all proud by mentioning things to their respective supervisors, so she, Jenna, Reeve and Stev were all due for bonuses at the end of the year, and that was the important thing, after all.
Mind you, the notion of making a few quiet "suggestions" to Zack, Reno and Adrian was starting to get tempting.
Inspired by: "When the Party's Over", by sildil and marchwarden23. Further inspired by: "A SOLDIER's Guide to Proper Conduct: Chapter One - Formal Events" by the same authors. Also inspired by: the wonderful experience of helping to plan the office Christmas party for my former place of employment. Fortunately, the trick to entertaining a group of computer techs is very simple: "free drinks". Angeal's behaviour when drunk is inspired by my younger brother, who does go straight from sober to "hail fellow, well met" and stays there for hours at a stretch. The notion that Jenova/mako treatments cause paranoid and depressive tendencies is a bit of fanon I've created myself - what the hey, it explains the number of moody bastards we see as a result (Sephiroth, Cloud, Vincent, Genesis etc). Reeve Tuesti shows up as the rep from Urban Development because he's still young enough and low enough on the corporate ladder at that point to be lumbered with a lot of the more boring responsibilities - like being drafted to the social club committee.
~ As always, all feedback is greatly appreciated. Is it believable, does it work, what works best, what doesn't work? Anything you can tell me is great.