Rufus Shinra stood at the windowed back wall of his office on the top floor of the new ShinRa headquarters, staring out over the rapidly growing city of Edge that sprawled out before him, hands clasped behind his back as he waited for Reno. He knew that having a surveillance camera installed in the suite he had moved Cera to would prove to be an asset, although he had hoped he would have caught her displaying some sort of remarkable abilities rather than witnessing the blossoming relationship she had with one of his trusted Turks. He had learned at a young age, however, that when things don’t go your own way, you make them, and so had decided that perhaps he could use their mutual attraction to his benefit.
“President Rufus, Reno is here to see you,” came a slightly high-pitched voice over the intercom on his desk. The blonde man turned around from the view and pressed a button, bending slightly over his desk to speak into the receiver.
“Show him in, Clara,” he ordered his secretary, then walked over to the wet bar and poured himself a scotch. The office door opened and closed a moment later without a sound.
“What, Reno? No attempts to pick up my latest secretary for a quick shag?” the young president asked as he poured a second drink for his companion.
“I didn’t think you would appreciate me scaring her away so soon after you hired her, yo,” the redhead drawled as he flopped down into one of the chairs reserved for guests, propping his feet up on his employer’s large, expensive desk.
“It never stopped you before,” Rufus pointed out as he passed the second drink to the redhead and shoved his feet off his furniture. Reno merely shrugged and stared at the amber-colored liquid in his glass. “You must be losing your touch.”
“What was it you wanted to speak to me about?” the Turk asked, setting the alcohol down on the desk before him and leaning back in the chair. He knew better than to drink when he was on the clock, and wasn’t about to give Rufus another excuse to punish him.
“Your relationship with Cera,” the president began, moving to sit once more in his own chair on the opposite side of the desk. “It seems to be progressing rather nicely.”
“I guess,” Reno muttered, forcing himself to conceal the disgust he felt with the confirmation that his employer had been spying on them the entire time, after all.
“You do realize that it cannot go anywhere… Don’t you, Reno?” Rufus asked, and Reno knew it was a rhetorical question. Of course it couldn’t go anywhere. Not with him watching their every move.
“I know, sir,” he responded simply, holding the younger man’s gaze steadily. He refused to show him any sign of regret for having admitted that he wasn’t going to get what he wanted, even though he wasn’t quite sure exactly what that was when it came to her.
“There is something I think you should know concerning her,” Rufus stated, opening one of the drawers in his desk and removing a plain manila folder, which he then placed before himself. Reno raised an eyebrow, sitting up straighter in his chair as his employer opened the folder and flipped past the first few loose pages before removing a small, rectangular piece of paper and sliding it across to the other man.
Reno hesitated a moment before picking up the paper and examining it. He looked from the document to the man in the pristine white suit seated across from him, then back to the page, shaking his head slightly in confusion.
“Sir, this is your birth certificate,” he stated, placing the paper back on the desk.
“I am aware of that, Reno,” Rufus replied, pointing to the document once more. “Look at it again, and make sure you take particular notice of the date and time.”
Reno sighed in exasperation, rolling his eyes slightly as he picked Rufus Shinra’s birth certificate up once more and gave it a more thorough reading. He had no idea what he was getting to, but he knew better than to question the motives of someone with that much power.
“December 18th, 1975,” he read aloud so Rufus wouldn’t question if he actually had read it. “Three thirty-two a.m.”
“Thank you,” Rufus said, holding an open hand across the top of the desk. Reno placed the document in his palm and he placed it back into the folder, pulling out another page of similar size and shape.
“Now look at this one,” he instructed as he passed it over. Reno snatched the page from his hand, not caring any more if Rufus became angry with him. He was sick of these little games, and wished that for once his employer could just tell him something without making a huge spectacle of it. He skimmed over the information quickly, seeking out the time and date of birth in the same location it had been on the previous document.
“December 18th, 1975, three thirty-eight a.m.”
He looked up at Rufus, who simply nodded back at the paper he was holding. “Read the name.”
“Give me a fucking break,” Reno muttered under his breath as he looked at the paper and read the name aloud.
“Baby Girl Shinra.”
He blinked a few times, then his eyes squinted and he looked from the page up to Rufus once more. He knew what this meant, but he still didn’t quite believe it.
“You’re a twin?” he asked.
“So it would seem,” Rufus answered coolly. “Unfortunately, this is a detail I was not aware of until recently.”
He pulled yet another, slightly larger document from the folder and passed it to Reno. Without a word, he took it and began looking it over carefully.
“A.. death certificate?” he wondered to himself as he looked it over. “Baby Girl Shinra � date of death, December 18th, 1975, three forty-two a.m. So… She died?”
“That is what my father would have me believe,” Rufus replied bitterly. “You see, he had his heir when I was born. What use would a second child ever be to him � particularly a female child?”
Reno shook his head slightly. “Sorry, man… I don’t get what you’re trying to get at here with all this.”
Rufus sighed in annoyance and flipped to the back of the folder on his desk, removing a small stack of envelopes held together by a rubber band and tossing them in Reno’s direction.
“I found those letters hidden away in a secret compartment of this desk. They are to my father, from a Doctor Ellia Krause, and they contain references to his daughter and some sort of experiments that were being done on her.”
Reno looked at the pile of letters he held in his hands and his eyes went wide as the pieces of the puzzle finally started to come together. He still had a hard time believing it, though. How could someone as sweet and innocent as her be related to a cold, calculating bastard like him?
“You’re shitting me, right?” he asked before he could stop himself.
Rufus shook his head, his face remaining completely composed.
“No, Reno. This is no joke. Cera is my sister.”
Cera sat at the small table in her room, using the cards Reno had left behind to play a game of solitaire. She found it amusing, the things she remembered when so little of her remained. She could remember how to play a card game, but she couldn’t recall who taught her how to play. That slight flash of a memory she had had earlier in the day where she remembered introducing herself to that man gave her hope, however. It was starting to come back to her, little by little, and she had faith that soon she would be well enough to go home… wherever home was.
She knew she would regret leaving, though, if for no other reason than it would mean leaving Reno behind. She knew she shouldn’t be letting herself become attached to him. For all she knew, she had a husband and three children waiting for her somewhere. She couldn’t help it, though. Something in the way he looked at her with that roguish smile, with his red hair falling into his clear blue eyes, made her heart pound so hard she thought it might burst out of her chest.
A part of her wanted to simply believe that it was nothing more than an innocent crush, a case of lust brought on by being cooped up for who knows how long in that place where they found her. The thought of even being there gave her an uneasy chill. Rufus had explained to her that it was a research facility, and that human experimentation was not uncommon among the things that went on there. He asked her, time and again, if she remembered anything about what they might have been doing to her there, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t remember.
She flipped over the next three cards and found the ace of diamonds looking up at her. She ran her fingertips over the red diamond, staring at it intently as a similar symbol flickered in her mind’s eye. The ShinRa logo… she had seen it before coming to this place. She recalled seeing it branded on some sort of equipment and printed on papers that she had read while there. It didn’t make any sense, though. If she was being held in a facility owned and operated by ShinRa, shouldn’t the president of the corporation know exactly what had happened to her and why she was there? It was apparent that he didn’t know. Why else would he keep sending people to talk to her? The lack of memory was frightening on its own, but Rufus having no knowledge of the things being done by people under his employ was even more disturbing.
The first person had sent to speak with her when she was still in her old room. He was an older man, probably somewhere in his early-to-mid-thirties, with dark hair pulled back into a sleek ponytail that just barely reached below his shoulder blades. He had seemed rather strict, a by-the-book type who only ever considered one answer to be the right one. He never lost his patience with her, however, no matter how many times he asked her questions she simply could not answer for him.
A few days after she had been moved into her new suite, Rufus sent a different person to interrogate her. This time, he had selected a young blonde woman. Perhaps he felt that she was having trouble opening up because she was uncomfortable talking to a man. The truth of the matter was, she couldn’t open up to anyone. The woman had been nice enough, though. She had introduced herself as Elena, and informed Cera that the other man, Tseng, was her and Reno’s boss.
Reno… Her mind went back to the redhead once more and she sighed to herself. Out of all the people who had visited her since she arrived here, he was the only one she truly felt comfortable around. Perhaps it was because he was there without an agenda. He only came by to spend time with her, not to try to pry into her past. Yet, a part of her knew there was more to it than just that. There was more to it than mere physical attraction, too. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but something about him simply drew her to him.
That was what scared her most of all. The bond between them had been growing steadily stronger at an alarming rate. They had only known each other for a few short weeks, and she already felt comfortable enough with him that it was as if they had known each other most of their lives. She found herself talking to him easily, and wanting to share every little thing she remembered with him before telling anyone else. He was so laid back and open, and there were no false pretenses from him. She trusted him, above anyone else she had met since coming here, and just being around him made her feel somehow a bit safer.
For a moment, she considered that maybe she was starting to develop more than just friendly feelings toward him, but quickly pushed the notion aside. Despite spending time with him on a daily basis, she really didn’t know much about him at all. His past was as much of a mystery to her as her own. He could be married, for all she knew. There had been no ring on his hand, however… but that didn’t mean anything. He flirted with her occasionally, but men with wives flirted just the same as bachelors at times.
Cera gathered up the cards he had left behind and placed the deck aside before leaning forward to rest her arms on the table. She laid her head against her forearms and closed her eyes, and the first thing that popped into her mind was his face. With a heavy sigh, she sat back up and leaned her head back, her eyes still closed as she let out a quiet, humorless laugh. There was no point in trying to convince herself that there wasn’t any way anything could happen between them, because a part of her had already started to fall in love with the boisterous redhead known as Reno Auchenleck.