Sector Seven and musings on courage.
You're tired. Why don't you take a couple of days off and go somewhere?
Reeve sat on the edge of the Plate, heedless of the mud that seemed, incongruously, to be everywhere. Possibly it washed off the treads of construction vehicles...
The edge of the Plate was an unreal place to be, now. Here, there was city. High-rises, office blocks, quite a nice deli not fifty feet behind him. People walked, and talked, and even laughed...not fifty feet away. Not far at all, really.
Where he sat was the scar. The place where the living flesh of the city gave way to hard unfeeling tissue, half a building toppled into the pit, metal twisted and warped and bent and snapped like stretched taffy, frozen as metal was always frozen, dripping with rain.
There was no light. For miles ahead of him there was only a great yawping pit, the edges of which were dimly illuminated by the street lights of the next Sector plate over. Below...
Below was the corpse of a city. A nameless, forgotten city, a city stripped of its identity and its integrity like a prisoner.../beaten to death for looking at the guards in a funny way. My God. We've destroyed a city./
He didn't bother denying responsibility. He'd known what was planned. He'd let himself be packed off to Costa Del Sol for a week. There had to be some new word for that - treason and cowardice didn't seem to /fit/, somehow. And it /was/. It was both. Midgar was his to maintain, to look after, /except of course when the President 'suggests' I go on vacation so he can blow up whole chunks of it/.
Whole chunks with all the people who lived, loved and worked there still inside. The world had always been mad; now it seemed childishly sadistic. You blow up a quarter of the city's power supply, we blow up an eighth of the city. He wrapped his arms around himself, cold even in the relatively new blue trenchcoat. All those people. Working in the reactors, living in the Sector...their only crime being in the wrong place at the wrong time and neither side gives a damn. What good is ruling, or 'saving', an empty planet? Who are you people?
Below his office-loafer clad feet there was only darkness. Here and there, rising up out of it, glimpses of twisted steel and cement. When the breezes stirred there was the scent of rain-soaked drywall, rotting cloth, and corpses.
Who are you people? Who are you to do this to my city and not care? Are you human at all?
He wasn't supposed to be here. He was supposed to echo the official line, back it up with prepared statements, stay away from compromising places, words, attitudes. He wasn't supposed to be here. If word got back that he had been....well. Probably he'd get a visit from the Turks, and if he were really, really lucky he'd be assigned to Rude, who was at least straightforward and nonverbal about his The-Boss-Is-Not-Happy-With-You 'speeches'. It'd be over in a few minutes and he'd probably just need a half hour of careful breathing to unbend again.
An eighth of his city was a twisted pile of rotting rubble. Taking a measured beating...I deserve it, don't I. I should have...done something. Said something. Made them listen to me, somehow. Stayed, at least. Shouted the truth...
One did not survive the Shin-Ra power structure, nor thrive in it, by drawing undue attention. However much he wanted to shout down the Official Press Release, the logical, rational part of his mind that had gotten him this far was very clear on the point that joining the buried bodies below would serve no one, save no one. Face it, Reeve, you're a coward. Whether or not you're justified is beside the point. He got to his feet, brushing mud from his trenchcoat with an absent hand. /You deserve to be rebuilt/.
Above him, the clouds that had made the night so black began to part. The moon shone down, showed him the extent of the wreckage, painted in shadows and silver light. He froze, held by a completely superstitious belief that if he moved, the moon would vanish. He wouldn't be able to come back here again...
There was movement down there. Reeve blinked, rubbed tired eyes, and tried to focus. He'd spent too much time staring at a computer screen; his eyes no longer wanted to focus at a distance.
Down below, people were carefully picking apart the rubble. Reeve bent down on his knees, gripping a bent girder for support and balance, trying to see. They were picking apart the rubble. At night, when they were less likely to be seen. Digging people out...making cairns of the rubble for the dead.
Reeve watched, absorbed, taking it in. Midgar was quite the cutthroat town - in general even suicides got stepped around in the street, no one did anything about fights but get out of the way...it had a well-deserved reputation for ruthless callousness. Cut deep enough and you find there's a beating heart after all? The people, on their own, against good Midgaran self-interest (because the area was, of course, cordoned off as hazardous) were risking their lives and health and freedom...to rebuild.
I'll find a way to help you. I will.
Reeve didn't move until clouds obscured the moon again, and the area fell into pitch darkness. When it did, he got to his feet in a dazed sort of way, and picked his path back to the train station. He'd have to go home and change clothes, get some sleep, get the mud off his coat...he wasn't exactly anyone's idea of an angel of mercy, but he could quietly set resources aside. He'd find a way to help them. On the down low, or from on high, but /somehow/.
My city/. The Shinra just /owned the place. It was Reeve's job to run it. And if he couldn't do that properly 'officially'...
He'd never been all that good at subversion. On the other hand, there were only so many chunks of the city that one could lose/, and he didn't want ...no, that wasn't right. It just wasn't /in him, any more, to stand by...he raised his eyes and saw the Shinra Tower, dominating the skyline. ...Okay, that's a big and not very intelligent enemy to have. Logic and conviction waged an internal war that ended, if they can clear rubble and bury the dead in the shadow of that tower, then I can damn well do some paperwork on their behalf. Goddamnit, Reeve, grow a spine.
Little steps. He could grow a spine one vertebrae at a time, maybe. He looked away from the tower, headed back to the station.
One vertebrae at a time.