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COI - Ficlet: Enrichment (FF7 AU, COIverse) - Convolutions of an Evil Mind
madamhydra
madamhydra
COI - Ficlet: Enrichment (FF7 AU, COIverse)
Okay, my COI-bunnies have been on total overdrive. -_- Here's another ficlet with a slightly darkish Zack, in response to soloyuymaxwell __perplexity__ asking about how Zack ended up as Sephiroth's second-in-command.

Well, here's my (partial) answer. ::runs away::

Title: Enrichment
Author: MadamHydra
Beta: none, very rough draft
Fandom: FF7 AU (COIverse)
Type: ficlet
Pairing/Characters: Zack, President Shinra
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: ~1600
Warnings: none
Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII and all related prequels and sequels belong to Square-Enix.

Summary: Zack gets an interesting offer from President Shinra.

-----------------

"I'd like to congratulate you on your promotion to First Lieutenant, Zack."

"Thank you, Mr. President."

Shinra leaned back in his massive chair and eyed the young man -- although technically still a teenager -- standing in front of his desk. Although attentive and respectful, the SOLDIER was calm, apparently unintimidated by an unexpected private meeting with the most powerful man in Midgar. Or on the Planet, for that matter.

The boy had guts. Good, good. He'd need it for his new assignment.

"Your performance has been impressive. I've been informed that you're one of the best candidates for SOLDIER that the evaluators have seen in the history of the program. And you're up for promotion to Second Class in record time."

"Thank you, sir," Zack said with a small grin.

The grin was nicely done -- appreciative, but not presuming. He was starting to like the Lieutenant more and more. Yes, Zack might be the right man for the job.

"Tell me. Do you like being in SOLDIER?"

"Yes, sir. I've always had a taste for adventure and excitement."

"So you like challenges, hm?"

"Yes, sir."

"Hungering after new and interesting challenges is all well and good, but persistence, loyalty, commitment, and dedication to a goal are equally important." He stared hard at Zack. "Do you think that you have those types of qualities in you?"

"I believe so, sir."

"I see. From your records, you've already worked directly with General Sephiroth a few times."

"That's right, sir."

"What do you think of him?"

"Sir...?"

"Just what I said. What do you think of Sephiroth?"

Zack paused to gather his thoughts. "He's an amazing commander, sir. Absolute hell-on-wheels in field, of course, but he's also a brilliant strategist and tactician. You don't see that combination often."

"I'm quite well aware of that. No, I was more interested in what you think of him as an individual."

For the first time, he saw surprise and consternation on Zack's face. The SOLDIER hesitated for a moment, then said, "Uh, permission to speak freely?"

"Certainly."

"Personally, he's demanding, meticulous, intimidating, and aloof. Like a lot of brilliant people, he doesn't make allowances for ordinary people."

"Did he frighten you?"

Zack didn't answer immediately, but Shinra didn't mind. He didn't want the sort of quick pat answer so many subordinates used to suck up to their superiors.

"I certainly have a very healthy respect his abilities, sir. But no, he doesn't scare me."

"Excellent! Just what I wanted to hear. Allow me to congratulate you on your new assignment as Sephiroth's personal aide."

"Sir!?" Zack blurted, his lightly glowing eyes wide with shock and surprise.

Shinra uttered a loud booming laugh. "I see you've already heard a few horror stories about that job, eh?"

"I've heard rumors, yes," Zack replied with a wry smile.

Shinra rose from his desk and began walking around his office.

"Tell me, Zack. Have you been to Midgar Zoo recently?"

"Once or twice in the last year, sir."

"Well, perhaps you haven't noticed. Most people don't. But at the zoo, the keepers do this thing they like to call 'environmental enrichment'. The basic principle is that if you improve an animal's quality of life by providing environmental stimuli, increasing physical activity, stimulating natural behaviors, etc., you can prevent or reduce problem behaviors."

Zack cocked his head and looked clearly interested.

Shinra smiled. Ah yes, he was a sharp one. Zack knew that this seemingly trivial information was leading to something important.

"I have an unique and extremely valuable specimen who is unfortunately starting to exhibit problem behaviors." He glanced over at Zack. "Yes, I'm talking about General Sephiroth."

Folding his hands behind his back, he continued, "Dr. Hojo is a brilliant scientist and he knows how to manipulate people. However, he's lousy at -handling- people, if you get my drift. And he's got an absolutely vile personality."

"I'm quite aware of that, sir," Zack said in a unnaturally neutral tone of voice.

"Sephiroth grew up under Hojo's care... no, better to say 'control'. As you can readily imagine, this sort of upbringing has had a rather detrimental effect on Sephiroth's personality. Although he performs superbly in a military capacity, he can be very difficult to deal with in other settings. And recently, his behavior has become increasingly problematic. A fighting machine, no matter how powerful, is of no value to me if it's impossible to handle. If things continue to escalate at their present rate, I may end up having to return him to Hojo. Frankly, I consider that to be an appalling waste of talent. Sephiroth is a valuable and productive asset to this company and I'd like to keep him that way."

Shinra pivoted suddenly to face Zack. "And that's where you come in."

"Excuse me, President, but I'm not entirely sure what you're getting at."

"I've heard from various sources that you have quite a talent for taming difficult, even vicious animals. Perhaps you haven't had an opportunity to discover it for yourself, but there are distinct similarities between Sephiroth and a purebred warbird -- they're both bred and hardwired for combat, not for sweetness of disposition."

After a brief pause, Zack said, "Forgive me for saying so, but General Sephiroth isn't exactly an ornery chocobo to be wrangled with a pat on the head and a few treats, sir."

Shinra waved his hand dismissively, "No, no. I don't expect you to keep Sephiroth in line. The general's perfectly aware who's in charge around here. All I want you do to is make him more... manageable. Oh, and teach him some social manners, if you can. I want to be able to present him at various PR and formal events. The last reception was an utter fiasco, as I am persistently reminded by my wife."

Zack uttered a vaguely sympathetic sound.

"Anyway, as far as I can tell from the surveillance reports, all Sephiroth ever seems to do is read military papers and practice combat skills. Now, I'm all in favor of focusing intensely on one's job, but not if it negatively affects performance."

"So you want me to... um, enrich his environment, so to speak?" Zack said cautiously.

"That's right. Sephiroth needs to loosen up a bit or he's going to be useless to me." Shinra frowned sternly. "But don't go overboard with it. The point of the whole exercise is to keep Sephiroth -productive-. Got it?"

"Absolutely, sir," Zack murmured, his back straightening.

"I don't care what you do, or what you use. Food, hobbies, shiny things, sex, whatever."

Zack blinked and said, "Ah... sex? You want me to play.... em, procurer?"

"Does the idea offend you?" Shinra gave the SOLDIER a sly, sidelong glance and saw Zack thinking about the question, instead of snapping out a quick placating answer.

"No, sir. I'm pretty good at doing whatever has to be done," Zack finally replied with a shrug.

"Pragmatic. I like that. You know, the Turks really lost out when you signed up with SOLDIER," Shinra said with a wry chuckle. "I don't care if you fuck Sephiroth yourself or find someone that interests him. I just want results."

"Let me understand your expectations, sir. You basically want me to keep General Sephiroth reasonably content, cooperative, and easier for people to deal with, but without dulling his edge. And you don't care how I do it," Zack stated, his voice calm and steady.

"That's basically it. You said you liked challenges, Zack, so I'm giving you one." Returning to his desk and seating himself, Shinra continued, "You respect his capabilities, but you're not afraid of them, which makes you better suited for coping with him than practically anyone else in Shinra. And you're a SOLDIER, which means you have a decent chance of keeping up with him. If you succeed, I assure you that you'll be amply compensated for your efforts."

Shinra leaned back in his chair and assessed Zack's reaction. The SOLDIER didn't appear outraged or offended, which was good. But it was equally pleasing to see that he wasn't overly eager, either. Instead, Zack merely looked... thoughtful.

"I'm not asking you to betray the general in any way, Zack. If this arrangement works out, everyone benefits, Sephiroth included. Well, everyone except for Hojo, but I think we can both live with that."

Shinra folded his hands on his stomach.

"So what will it be, Lieutenant Faelen? Yes, or no?"

For a moment, Zack said nothing, then slowly grinned, his white teeth gleaming.

"Sure. Why not?"


Cross-posted to soldiersmut and zackfans and ffvii_yaoi

Tags: , , , ,
Current Mood: creative creative

41 hisses or Hiss in my ear....
Comments
forgottenlover From: forgottenlover Date: March 15th, 2007 02:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
::giggles:: So like, the President gave Seph to Zack there ::amused:: no wonder he's all protective~!
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: March 15th, 2007 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ha! It turns out that Zack does have several high connections within Shinra -- his uncle is a general and he had the President's blessing with regard to 'handling' Sephiroth. ^_-
kittychan1986 From: kittychan1986 Date: March 15th, 2007 02:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
An interesting choice for reasoning behind Zack and Seph becoming friends. I can't wait to see the rocky start this gets off to, because in no way shape or form is Seph stupied. He'll know what's up. It's going to take Zack a lot of perseverance to get under Seph's shell, but I think Zack's got that in spades! So we'll see, I'd like to see what comes directly after this, very very much. It's sorta like a COI prequel! *Grins*
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: March 15th, 2007 04:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
An interesting choice for reasoning behind Zack and Seph becoming friends.

You really think that this is the reason for (or at least starts off) the friendship? ::innocent whistle::

I can't wait to see the rocky start this gets off to, because in no way shape or form is Seph stupied. He'll know what's up.

No, Sephiroth isn't stupid, of course, and yes, he suspects something's going on. However, what Sephiroth suspects and what's really going on Zack's head can be two very different things. COI-Zack can be rather unpredictable. ^_-

It's going to take Zack a lot of perseverance to get under Seph's shell, but I think Zack's got that in spades!

Perseverance? Maybe. Maybe not. It all depends. ::evil cackle::
__perplexity__ From: __perplexity__ Date: March 15th, 2007 03:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
! *happy~~~~~~~*

Wow, interesting. That sewed up a few patches (and, as always, opened some new ones ^-^). The notion of Zack moving towards Sephiroth as duty rather than anything else makes it VERY interesting (and quite contrary to my original thoughts). Fantastic, thanks for that!

(Although - and i hate to add - I think it was someone else that asked? I may be wrong, but I doubt I have the capability to ask something that thought-provoking and fic-triggering -.-"""")
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: March 15th, 2007 04:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
The notion of Zack moving towards Sephiroth as duty rather than anything else makes it VERY interesting (and quite contrary to my original thoughts).

Moving towards Sephiroth as duty? Zack, our two-legged wolf? >_>

X has already made up his mind to do a task, come hell or high water and damn the consequences. Suddenly someone shows up and offers to pay X handsomely for doing that exact same task. What should X do? ^_-

(Although - and i hate to add - I think it was someone else that asked? I may be wrong, but I doubt I have the capability to ask something that thought-provoking and fic-triggering -.-"""")

I don't think so. You asked about Zack become Sephiroth's SiC... I think. O_o
soloyuymaxwell From: soloyuymaxwell Date: March 15th, 2007 10:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ahem!

Umm... *Small wave* I asked about Zack becoming SiC.. T~T

See here?

Perplexity was just responding to it.

I'll go hide now... >.<

*Dies from nosebleed at the Guard Duty fic*
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: March 15th, 2007 10:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Eeep! Sorry! ::grovels abjectly and offers Fem!Zack plushie::

roughxdivide From: roughxdivide Date: March 15th, 2007 10:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, wow, wow. I am really, really liking your dark!Zack fics~ It's really interesting to see him written from a different angle, and in my mind it oddly fitting even though I never would have thought of it myself. He does seem to be with the Turks a lot in CC, and this would make that make total sense!

Do you have anymore FF7 fanfics other than these two dark!Zack ones I've read? I'd love to see more of your writing.
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: March 15th, 2007 10:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
You can find chapters of my FF7 mega-epic "Conflicts of Interest" (aka COI) at MadamHydra @ Fanfiction.net.

You can all the most recent COI writings in my LJ here by using the coi tag.
ffmasamune77 From: ffmasamune77 Date: March 15th, 2007 10:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
:huggles Zack and sneaks a wolf tail onto his belt

Dont you just love him? This made me get hooked on more then usual and thats bad haha. We can all see now how Zack is the way he is with Seph...(pokes Crisis Core and COI) So many things in his little mind.

I never would have thought Shinra would actually mention the option of sex ahhaa, how surprising. Then again Zack DID ask to speak freely. (throws chocobo wing)
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: March 15th, 2007 10:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dont you just love him? This made me get hooked on more then usual and thats bad haha. We can all see now how Zack is the way he is with Seph...(pokes Crisis Core and COI) So many things in his little mind.

He's such a cunning wolfie. ::petpet::

I never would have thought Shinra would actually mention the option of sex ahhaa, how surprising. Then again Zack DID ask to speak freely. (throws chocobo wing)

Well, for Shinra, nearly everything is a commodity to be traded and/or a tool to be used. Sex, money, that sort of stuff is all the same to Shinra -- means of controlling and/or motivating others. He's a cold-blooded bastard. ::huggles chibi-Rufus::
bangbangshinra From: bangbangshinra Date: March 16th, 2007 12:28 am (UTC) (Link)
O_O This was so good! It's the first time in a while I've actually read a fanfic the whole way - ie with no skimming ^^ I've never been much of a Zack fan - not that I dislike him I just don't fangirl him. I actually read it because I was interested that Pres.Shinra was in it - as he isn't common character for fanfics... but I really &heart; your Zack! It was definitely an interesting take on him. And great writing of Pres.Shinra too - you definitely wrote him as the greedy bastard he is XD
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: March 16th, 2007 05:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Glad you're enjoying the crazy COI-ride. ^_^
ladysephiroth From: ladysephiroth Date: March 16th, 2007 01:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Squee!

I was cleaning out my bookmarks, and I clicked on the CoI one to see if it was still active...and I find your LJ with more stuff!

/dances

I've now caught up and I can't wait to read more! I'm glad this isn't a dead fic, this has alwaysd been one of my faves.
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: March 16th, 2007 05:23 am (UTC) (Link)
For some unknown reasons, my COI-muses woke up in February (after hibernating for years) and have been pestering me non-stop since then.

Bloody slavedrivers. -_-
icedark_elf From: icedark_elf Date: March 16th, 2007 02:22 am (UTC) (Link)
*purrs*

Oh, I like this. Loooove darkish-Zack. *pets the NB Zack* And you keep stirring up my sociopathic Zack. Please, keep doing it. He's noisy anyway, and these are perfectly lovely.

*loves on Zack* He's a sneaky bastard, and he has to know how to play politics, or else, no matter how much Sephiroth put up with him, he wouldn't have ended up SiC. >.>

Be interesting is he actually is, or if that's just doomed to be totally fanon. Either way, he's slicker than most people give him credit for.
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: March 16th, 2007 05:29 am (UTC) (Link)
::paws:: Wanna see your sociopathic Zack!

Well, Zack always struck me as being a friendly guy who knows how to deal with people. All I had to do is push him a little to the dark side. COI-Zack can be manipulative as hell, but I forgive me because he does it not for his own sake or amusement, but to protect Seph. Awwww...

I don't care what Crisis Core comes up with -- Seph deserves to have someone like Zack by his side. ::sniff::
crack_fairy From: crack_fairy Date: March 16th, 2007 11:09 am (UTC) (Link)
oooh... i like this version of how zack came under seph's command...

and at one point while reading this, i had this mental image of a grinning zack holding a leash attached to seph. XDXD
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: March 16th, 2007 06:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
and at one point while reading this, i had this mental image of a grinning zack holding a leash attached to seph. XDXD

Hey! Have you been talking to my COI-muses behind my back? ::suspicious glare::

Ummm... forget I said that. >_> ::sidles away::
ardwynna_m From: ardwynna_m Date: March 17th, 2007 03:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Adding this to memories for sure, especially for that creepy factor of Seph being little more than property to Shinra, underneath all the promising potential of hot S&Z. =D
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: March 18th, 2007 11:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Glad you like it! Yes, Shinra is a bastard, but a calculating bastard. And this puts an interesting twist into the Seph-Zack dynamic, doesn't it? ^_-
(Deleted comment)
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: March 18th, 2007 11:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Welcome to the club! Just watch the roving COI-plotbunnies. They can bite. ^_^
(Deleted comment)
keji_eternal From: keji_eternal Date: April 4th, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I wish I had Zack's job... of course, I would have to have his same attitude and so forth... well.. I wish I was Zack.

I'm sure the president thought he was convincing Zack of playing friend to Sephy lol... the crossdresser! I remember the fat guy in the HoneyBee Inn... dressed as a king right?

Anyway, Zack didn't need any convincing. But I guess it was a plus having the pres. think that way.
41 hisses or Hiss in my ear....