Too Young To Be A Widow...

By Elizabeth

President Shinra stood at the huge window on the back wall of his office with his hands clasped behind his back. On his desk was the report on the Nibleheim incident. The report, though only printed and given to the President mere hours before, was dog-eared and worn and had obviously been read dozens of times. Standing at his window, silent and alone, he mentally cursed the ill fortune that brought Sephiroth into contact with the information that had driven him mad. If he had only foreseen that such a thing might occur! But it was too late for regrets now. He had more pressing concerns to deal with.

Nearly all of the executives of Shinra Inc. were scattered around the spacious office. Some wandered around admiring the lavish decorations, but most were standing around uncomfortably. The Turks stood in one corner, talking amongst themselves in low voices. Every one of the room's occupants glanced at the door frequently, their expressions ranging from impatience to curiosity to fear.

"Sir? The young lady is here," called the President's lovely young secretary from the door.

"Very good, Alexia. Show her in," said the President without turning. Though his voice was as authoritative as ever, inwardly he winced and cringed from the thought of what was about to happen. Sephiroth had destroyed Nibleheim and disappeared two weeks ago. This morning, a young woman had called his secretary, asking about her husband. She claimed that he had been on the mission to Nibleheim and she wanted to know where he was immediately. Alexia had come in nervously, asking the President what she should tell the young lady. He had taken the call in his office, much to the relief of his poor secretary, who'd been dealing with the woman's hysterics all morning.

He had taken the call and had a very brief, but very strange conversation with the girl on the other end. He didn't wait to hear her explain who her husband was and how worried she was, he simply went ahead with a planned speech, telling her that there had been a horrible accident on Mt. Nibel. The bridge had broken, and the soldiers on it had all fallen to their deaths. Shinra Inc. was terribly sorry for her loss, and she would be receiving financial compensation for her loss in a few days.

After a short silence the girl cried furiously that there was no way that Sephiroth could have been killed so easily. She knew he was lying to her, and if he didn't tell her the truth she would march down to the Shinra building herself and make them give her some answers. She then hung up on the President of Shinra Incorporated without so much as a "goodbye."

Needless to say, he had been quite surprised. He told Alexia to call the young lady back and ask her to come and see him the next day at his office. He then called an emergency board meeting to discuss what had just happened. The Turks informed him that there was no possible way that Sephiroth had a wife. Not one of them had observed him with any woman, ever. Then who was this girl?, the President had asked. No one had answered.

Alexia came back into his office, a woman following her. Alexia was very good at dealing with the public, and it showed in how she dealt with the girl-she was polite and gentle, almost friendly. She showed the girl to a chair placed in front of the President's desk, asked if she would need anything else, and left silently. All eyes in the room turned to the girl.

She was very young. She didn't look a day over nineteen. Her long black hair flowed freely down her slender back like a cloak, falling almost to her knees. She was very obviously pregnant. She sat hunched in the chair, luminous green eyes flicking around the room nervously. With each new person she saw her anxiety seemed to increase until she was actually shaking. She looked so pathetically frightened for her husband's safety that he almost regretted what he had to tell her. Almost.

"Come on in, don't be shy," he exhorted her in a hearty voice full of cheer. That voice, which some had compared to the jolly voice of Santa Clause, did little to lessen the blatant discomfort in the girl's bearing. She continued to look around the room constantly, as if expecting attack from every quarter. She met the eyes of her onlookers defiantly. As the President was preparing to launch into his prepared speech explaining the whereabouts of her husband, she spoke.

"Where is he?" she demanded in a strident voice. The strength in her voice didn't seem to fit how fragile she appeared on the outside. "I know you people lie. All big companies do. I don't plan to run to the papers to reveal the truth, I don't plan to assist AVALANCHE, I just want to know where he is!" Her voice broke on the last word, and she trembled on the verge of tears. The President used the show of weakness to attack.

"Now, now, young lady," he said in his most soothing tone. "We know how upset you are. I don't believe I've gotten your name, Mrs...?"

"Melody. My name is Melody." She stared at him with hard eyes, desperately searching for some hint of what she wanted to know.

"Mrs. Melody. We are all very curious as to how Sephiroth could have had a wife without any of us knowing. I mean, he was our top SOLDIER, we did keep tabs on him."

"I-I'm very shy, and I don't get out much. We've been married for six months, I've been pregnant for eight. I'm not supposed to be up and moving right now, I'm too close to my due date. Please, Mr. President, just tell me where my husband is. Please."

President Shinra leaned back in his padded chair, convinced now that she was telling the absolute truth. He was very skilled in detecting lies. The girl was who she said she was, or at least, she believed that she was. He went on with his previously planned speech in the most caring voice he could muster.

"Melody, I regret that I have to tell you this, but we've received some very bad news from the survivors of the Nibleheim mission. Your husband was grievously injured in a fight with the monster he was sent to kill. He died a few hours after fighting it. We at Shinra Inc. are very sorry for your loss, myself especially. If there is anything we can do..." But she wasn't listening. She was staring at him in total shocked disbelief. She looked around the room desperately, hoping to find that this was all some weird prank, or maybe a dream. But reality shortly settled in, the weight of it almost more than the small girl could bear. As was expected by all, she burst into tears and buried her face in her hands. He wrenching sobs echoed in the large office.

"My dear, I deeply apologize again. This must be so hard for you to bear, especially in your delicate state," the President said over her sobs. "I know that it doesn't seem that way now, but you will get better, and life will go on. For now, though, if you'll go with my secretary, she'll get everything taken care of for you. You needn't worry about money or a place to live. As Sephiroth's widow, you will be taken care of."

"How the hell can you know!" she screamed through her tears. She allowed Alexia to guide her out of the room, but continued to yell over her shoulder at the President. "You have no idea what a wonderful man he was, you only cared how well he could fight or lead troops! Oh God, I'm a nineteen year old widow. How could this have happened? I begged him not to go..." He wails floated into the office behind her, magnified by the total silence of all of its occupants.

The silence was broken by Rufus. "How on earth could anyone have loved that cold bastard?" Several people nodded in silent agreement.

"God, she's so young to be a widow," said Reeve sadly, shaking his head. "I wonder how she'll do raising a child by herself?"

"That's doesn't matter right now, Reeve. We have to worry about keeping this whole Nibelheim disaster under wraps. I'm trusting you to take care of it, Reeve."

"Yes, sir," Reeve answered. He left without another word.

"Hojo, I want you to keep a close eye on that girl, Melody. I want that child as soon as its born. The mother is of no concern, only the child. Understood?" The eerie scientist nodded and shuffled out.

"Mr. President, if I may ask," said Tseng, "What will happen to the girl? What if she goes to the media about her child's disappearance? She could raise some very bad press."

"Then I trust that the Turks will take care of her in a timely fashion. Before that, Tseng, send at least one of your Turks to investigate how in the hell Sephiroth could have had a wife without us knowing. Now, all of you, go back to your business." He turned back to his window, looking out over the city of Midgar.

When everyone had left, he picked up the report. With a sigh, he threw it in the trash, once more cursing fate for creating this mess.

"Yes," he mumbled to no one in particular, "the girl is too young to be a widow..."

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