Old Ghosts – Epilogue. "The Silver Kitten".
Author: The Magic Rat
Pairing: Cid/Vincent, Rufus/Tseng, Cloud/Reno, Tifa/Barret.
Word Count: 4065
Website – Ex Libris: http://www.winter-wood.net/ex-libris/index.html
Live Journal: http://delaese.livejournal.com/profile
Honeybee Inn FF Community: http://honeybee-inn.livejournal.com/profile
Part I, II, III, IV, & V (on LJ): http://delaese.livejournal.com/570118.html
Part I, II, III, IV, & V (on DA): http://magicrat.deviantart.com/gallery/?offset=24#/d4ekqbe
Disclaimer: All Final Fantasy Seven characters, places and situations are the property of Square Soft/Square Enix and are used without permission and without intent of plagiarism or profit. Copyright for all stories and original characters is with the author, and may not be published, copied, distributed or archived without the author's prior written consent.
Summary: Some time in the life of the Silver Kitten.
Author's notes: A fluffy little cheer-up fic for anyone who wants it.
When Rufus handed the bundle of winged joy to Vincent, Rufus had assured the new mother that baby Sephiroth would have no memories of Hojo, Zack, his friends, or the past.
For one of the few times in his life – Rufus was dead wrong.
Sephiroth didn't remember everything. In fact he remembered very little. But he did remember, and more memories came every day. He was six months old before he had his first truly cohesive memory, which was "Crap – I left my Masamune in the mako."
Of course he couldn't do anything about that at his current age. All he could do was wait and grow.
Most of the faces around him he did not know. The man who called himself "Daddy" was unfamiliar, but "Mommy" was not. "Mommy" was in fact his father, and Sephiroth had vague memories of him locked within a tank, dead and yet not, trying to wake from a nightmare. Rufus also was familiar to him, but his favourite person was Cloud. He knew Cloud. He remembered watching him tag along after the First Classes, wanting to be like them, idolizing them. He remembered Cloud being friends with… someone. Someone important….
"I don't understand this," said Cid, watching as Cloud picked up the happily squealing baby. "How come you get squeaks and I get vomit?"
"Some people inspire joy," said Cloud, hoisting the baby. "Others, vomit."
Cid walked over to the pair, watching as the infant smiled toothlessly and patted Cloud's face.
"This may sound odd, but I'd swear he knows you."
Cloud looked at Cid. "Rufus said he wouldn't remember."
"Maybe Rufus was wrong."
Cloud turned to look into the green eyes with their cat's pupil. "Do you know me?"
Sephiroth made a series of noises, none of which sounded like words.
"What did he say?" asked Cid.
"He said; 'how do I get out of this chicken outfit?'"
"Hilarious. C'mon, let's show him to Mom."
"How is Vincent?" asked Cloud as they walked the baby up the stairs to the room where Vincent lay.
"Fragile," said Cid. "But getting stronger. He'll be up and lurking in dark corners in no time."
"I heard that," said Vincent as the pair walked into the room. "Where's my baby?"
Cloud handed Sephiroth to Vincent, who drew him close.
"Is it just me, or is this kid heavy?" asked Vincent.
"He's heavy," said Cloud. "He'll get heavier."
"Well that happens with babies," said Cid, seating himself on the bed.
"No," said Cloud, "his genetic engineering means his bones and muscles are more dense than those of ordinary babies. By the time he's done growing he'll be over 600 pounds."
"Terrific," said Cid. "Why didn't Rufus mention that?"
"He probably assumed you knew. Little baby Seph is going to need a lot of training to teach him his own strength, or he's gonna be running over kids at the playground."
"You hear that?" said Cid, turning his attention to the baby. "No going "Nibelheim' at the playground."
"Cid…" warned Vincent.
"And no setting the playground on fire."
The wings and fangs came out, and Cid showed he had brains enough to get out of fang-range.
"Idiot," growled Vincent quietly as Cid scrambled to safety.
"He loves you," said Cloud.
"And I love him but I don't want him upsetting the baby with past shit. That's what it is - PAST shit. And if he thinks I won't back him into a corner and tear his face off then he hasn't been paying attention!"
Cid poked his head into the room. "Tear my face off?!"
Vincent hissed. Cid hid. Sephiroth giggled. Cloud just smiled and looked at Vincent.
"You should be a little nicer. After all you did take him from me and break my heart."
"Would you like him back?"
"HEY!" said Cid. "And after all I did for you! What happened to the shy little gorgon I knew and loved?"
"It's okay, Cid," said Tifa from the hallway. "One day you'll be a mother. Then you'll understand."
"I DO NOT NEED THIS ABUSE! I'M GOING OUT!"
"Get formula, we're low!" said Vincent.
"I ain't doing shit until I get some appreciation!"
"Cid…" said Vincent.
Cid poked his head into the room. "What?"
"No. You'll hurt me."
"Cid…" said Vincent gently.
Cid entered the bedroom and walked over to the bed. "What?" he asked warily.
"I'll show you all the appreciation you like after the baby's in bed."
"Suck in the fangs and wings and say that."
Vincent did. Cid leaned forward and kissed him, then looked at the baby.
"You're short and stinky and I don't like you cutting into my time with my husband."
Sephiroth squeaked unhappily, and Cid immediately picked him up, cuddling him in concern.
"Oh come on, you know I didn't mean…" Cid froze, staring at the baby.
"What is it?" asked Vincent nervously.
Cid handed the baby off to Cloud. "And here I thought he was sorry for being mean to me. He just needs a new diaper. I get no damned respect."
Cid kissed Vincent and left to get formula. Cloud took Sephiroth to get him changed. Sephiroth wasn't fond of having his feet hauled into the air and someone wiping his bottom. The whole damned thing was bloody undignified and hardly worthy of a general. Which led to his second cohesive thought; he was going to have to find a way to alert his caregivers that he had to go before it wound up in his pants. And now into the bath. That was all right; if nothing else it was a great chance to get Cloud wet and play with his rubber ducky. Now out of the tub and into a clean diaper and a new outfit. Wait a minute. What was he being dressed in? Let's see… little black coat, little black pants, little black booties… oh bloody hilarious, Strife, well done. Cloud fitted little silver shoulder-guards to the coat and picked him up.
"There you go. Now if you had more hair, you'd be perfect."
"Strife you're an idiot," declared Sephiroth. However what came out was "AB BABBA GA THHHP!"
"Awww…. You're so cute. Let's go back to Mommy, okay?"
Sephiroth was carried back to Vincent, who accepted him and cuddled him close.
"Oh how CUTE!" gushed Tifa. "Cloud where did you find that?"
"Rufus had it made," said Cloud.
Tifa laughed. "He'll probably have one made for Zack, too."
Zack. Why was that name so important? The moment he heard it, he knew it. Zack…
Sephiroth began looking around, suddenly painfully aware of someone's absence, making small distressed noises. He had the attention of everyone in the room.
"Ohh… what's the matter, little guy?" Tifa asked.
Vincent was studying his baby with quiet intensity, having noticed something the others did not; that the whine came just after the mentioning of the name.
"He recognized the name," said Vincent.
"How could he?" asked Tifa. "He's barely old enough to sit up."
"I don't think Rufus is right that Sephiroth doesn't remember," said Vincent. "It could explain why he's happy to see Cloud. He remembers him."
Cloud looked at the baby, gazing into the green eyes. "Do you know me?"
"Of course he knows you, he's seen you every day of his little life," said Tifa. "Who would Sephiroth know from his past? Someone he would remember fondly!"
Vincent turned his baby around so he could read the small child's reactions. "Sephy… do you remember Miss Miko?"
Oh hell yeah, he remembered her; four feet eight inches tall, eighty-nine pounds, and fully capable of reducing a grown warrior to tears. She regularly sent the First Classes scampering like kittens with her mop as she kept the labs clean. He bounced and squealed to show he remembered.
"Now is that proof that he remembered, or is it a coincidence?" asked Cloud, seating himself on the bed.
"Well let's see," said Tifa. "Sephy, where's Cloud?"
Sephiroth pointed, nearly jabbing Cloud in the eye. Cloud gently deflected the little hand as Tifa asked her next question.
Sephiroth dutifully indicated Vincent.
"He does know!" said Tifa.
"Which means Cid and I will have to have a very serious talk about what we discuss in front of him," said Vincent. "I think he's been through enough."
"How are you and Cid getting along?" asked Tifa.
"He needs a hobby or I'm going to smother him with a pillow," said Vincent.
"He is rather high-energy, isn't he?" said Tifa.
"Yes. And now that I don't need him as much, he's going crazy," said Vincent. "And taking me along for the ride. Rufus is going to cut him loose in the old Nibelheim reactor and see if it can be converted to use the tonnes of oily waste-mako left from when they were condensing the liquid mako and making monsters. Once Cid has something to do with himself he'll stop acting like a bad puppy. And if that doesn't work I'm going to buy him a rawhide bone and teach him to herd sheep. Rufus and I can manage. We're both a bit of a mess still but we get along."
"Now the big question," said Tifa. "When's Tseng due?"
"Right now," said Vincent. "That's where he and Rufus are; having babies."
"That will be me in seven months," said Tifa. "Hope my choice wasn't a mistake."
"He was very high-energy," said Cloud. "High-energy, single-minded, and very intelligent. If I was you I'd get him enrolled in something or he'll make you crazy."
"Rufus said the same thing," said Tifa. "Maybe I should use Vincent's suggestion; buy him a rawhide and teach him to herd sheep."
"We did that once," said Cloud. "We accidentally knocked down a fence on training manoeuvers and let some sheep out. Well we didn't want to get into trouble so Zack rounded them up and I fixed the fence."
Zack? Were they talking about Zack?
The door opened, then closed, and they heard footsteps coming up the stairs. They waited to see if it was anyone they knew or just another ghost. It was Reno.
"I'm an uncle," he said.
"What did he have?" asked Cloud.
"Two boys, and I'd like to know what he was up to the night he got pregnant because I'm sure it's nothing he'd want his mother to find out about, yo."
"What do you mean?" asked Tifa as Reno walked over to Cloud and kissed him.
"Well…" said Reno, dumping himself into Cloud's lap, "the first one came out with red hair and white skin. Of course we all looked at Rufus, but both Rufus and Tseng swear that Rufus is not the daddy. Then number two comes out – black hair, looks nothing like number one. If you ask me there's more than one daddy involved in this little adventure."
"That doesn't sound like Tseng," said Vincent.
"No," said Tifa. "He's so reserved and quiet."
Reno shrugged. "Surprised me too, yo. I've heard of fraternal twins not looking alike, but if you ask me the same man did not sire both those kids. That means Mr. Director has a wild side the likes of which has gone unsuspected by the rest of us."
"That or his hormones were over-riding his brain," said Cloud. "How did he react to having his whole physiology rearranged?"
"I don't know," said Reno. "The main reason they picked him for the experiment was because he was the least likely to get pregnant. He was not supposed to get in the family way, he was just supposed to let the doctors monitor him for significant reactions."
"I'd call going out and getting pregnant by two different men a significant reaction," said Cloud.
"They're going to do a DNA test and see if they can figure out what dogs were in the Director's manger," said Reno.
Sephiroth's little six-month-old brain meanwhile was grinding along slowly with one thought; Zack. Was Zack coming back to him? He wasn't sure exactly what was so exciting about that, but he did seem to vaguely recall some rather intense emotions associated with his presence. He missed him. He wanted him back.
The door opened, then closed. They heard the sound of someone walking into the kitchen and unpacking groceries. After a few minutes, Cid appeared in the doorway.
"I got some stuff for the next few…" He stopped talking as his eyes came to rest on Sephiroth. "Okay that's not fair; if I had put that outfit on him I'd be on the couch for a week."
"No you would not," said Vincent. "But I'm glad you're home; I really need a nap."
Sephiroth was scooped up and held close by Cid as Vincent got settled in the bed. Then Vincent was left to sleep while Sephiroth was carried downstairs to the sunroom which was now his nursery. Yeah this was more like it; he could creep around on his play-matts and chase his ball. He was somewhat aware of Cloud and Reno and Cid sitting in there with him, but 'play' was foremost on his mind.
"So," said Cloud, "things going okay, Cid?"
"Yeah, why wouldn't they be? I just need a job now that Vincent is getting better or I'm going to make him insane. You two looking for work? That mako reactor is going to crawling with monsters."
"Yeah I could use the work," said Cloud.
"So he can buy me a house and marry me," said Reno. "Because I am not moving into his old falling-down church."
"I like that old falling-down church," said Cloud.
"We could move into my place," said Reno.
"Where do you live?" asked Cid.
"I have an apartment in Shinra Manor," said Reno.
Cid looked at Cloud. "Why don't you move in with him?"
"Are you kidding? Shinra Manor? The first disagreement we have, every damned Turk in the house will want my guts for garters!"
"Oh they almost never do that," said Reno dismissively. "And I don't have to pay rent or buy food while I live there! And I get the same pay!"
"What's the catch?" asked Cid.
"Well if you live in the mansion you're considered 'on call' in case anything happens in addition to your regular duties."
"Hold your ground, Reno," said Cid, watching Sephiroth chase his ball. "He's so damned cute."
"He is," said Reno, nuzzling up to Cloud. "And in the mansion we have free daycare…"
"We don't have kids," said Cloud, looking confused.
Reno nipped him. "We could…"
Before Cloud had a chance to say anything, the front door opened. As usual they waited to see if it was a person or a ghost. It turned out to be Rufus, carrying a baby in a carrier. Behind him was Elena with another carrier.
"So I see you have successfully bred some Turks," said Cid.
Rufus and Elena set the babies in their carriers down on the floor. Cid, Cloud and Reno gazed at them.
"So who's the daddy?" asked Reno.
"No idea," said Rufus. "They don't look like Tseng and they don't look like each other, and Tseng says the only man he had sex with was a retired former Turk called Rainy."
"So Rainy must be the father," said Cloud.
"One slight problem," said Reno. "Due to battle-related injuries, Rainy can't father children. And we can't ask him if there's a chance he could because he died of heart failure five months ago."
"We're checking the DNA to make certain anyway," said Rufus. "But neither of these children looks like him, either. So who are they?"
Cid looked down as Sephiroth briefly forgot his ball to creep close and peer into the basket at the red-haired baby.
"Do you know who they are?" asked Cid.
Sephiroth stared at the baby, and smiled. It was sad none of the adults present understood what transpired between the two little ones.
"Genesis I have good news and bad news. The good news is for the next two years of your life you will be waited on in a manner of which you have only dreamed. The bad news is that 'Loveless' does not come as a pop-up book."
"Huh," said Rufus, reaching into the basket to pick up the red-haired baby. "Wonder what made him start crying? Probably realizing he's going to be living with us. Poor little bean."
"Ah he'll get over it," said Cid. "Hey did I tell you Sephy said 'da-da' the other day? Sephy! Show Rufus how you said 'da-da'."
"Shit!" declared seven-month-old baby Sephiroth with brilliant clarity.
"I'm a dead man," said Cid, as Reno, Cloud and Rufus laughed.
The months passed in a sort of blurr. Sephiroth didn't really have much more on his mind than growing bigger. There was some vague talk of needing a larger house, but then Rufus and Tseng moved out, claiming the manor built by Rufus' father as their own to raise their children. It meant Rufus was near the only real friends he had. It also meant Cloud and Reno would be near as well, the pair moving in so Reno could watch over his employer, and Cloud would be closer to the reactor.
Sephiroth heard some talk between his parents about one more baby, but they decided to wait a little while, at least until Sephiroth was passed the 'terrible twos'. Sephiroth had no idea what that was, but it sounded like fun.
The mystery regarding who sired Tseng's babies was solved. Sephiroth wasn't entirely clear what happened, but it seemed to involve "someone at the lab thinking he's funny" and "law suits" and "firing him out of a cannon."
"So what it boils down to," said Cid, bouncing Seph on his knee, "is someone thought it would be hysterical to see Rufus' head Turk pregnant."
It was evening, and rather late for Sephiroth's tastes. He was fourteen months old now, and toddling as well as eating solid foods. Currently he was helping himself to the braised carrots on Cid's plate. Cid didn't mind; he didn't like carrots.
"Why does he eat the food off your plate and not his own?" asked Vincent.
"It's more fun this way," said Cid. He grinned at Vincent. "How do you like being a house-husband?"
Vincent smiled, raising his tea with a trembling hand. "It's an improvement over being a corpse in a box. I think it confuses out neighbours though. How is work going at the reactor?"
"Great! Once we get the propeller on, and the pontoons attached, I'm sure it'll fly."
Vincent smiled. He almost giggled. "I thought Rufus paid you to make it run on reused mako."
"He did? No wonder he looked confused when I said it wasn't aerodynamic. "
Vincent did giggle this time. Cid leaned close to nuzzle him. Sephiroth complained loudly as he felt himself being squished. Cid sighed and rose to his feet, hoisting the baby.
"Okay, carrot-grabber, time for bed."
"Sorry, this is not a democracy. Bath and bed."
Sephiroth wiggled and squirmed. "IS TOO MOCK-QWACY!"
"Awww…." said Cid. "Your first sentence! And you're way ahead of schedule!"
The green eyes blazed. Sephiroth roared in anger, and… out popped little flappy fluff-covered chicken wings. Cid began laughing so hard Vincent had to grab the baby before Cid accidentally dropped him. Vincent cuddled the little flapping bundle close.
"Come on, bath time," said Vincent softly as Cid snorted and giggled and tried to get himself under control. By the time the bath was over, Sephiroth was no longer in a mood to complain. He was tucked into his crib with his little fishy night-light on, the curtains drawn, and a few coals glowing in the hearth, just enough to keep the chill away. He would sleep bundled up in his safe little bed while his parents discussed whether to adopt or to use Tseng's device to give him a sibling…
Morning came. Unlike most babies his age, Sephiroth rarely set up a cacophony to alert his parents that he was awake. Most mornings he sat up in his crib, fluffy white hair askew, and tried to think of his past, and Zack. He knew Zack was here now, but he had not seen him yet. What would that be like? How would he feel? Why was this person so important to him? He remembered caring a great deal about him, but at his current age he truly did not understand why Zack was so important. Other things seemed much more valuable; his mommy, for instance. Surely no one would be more important than his mommy. Well… daddy actually but semantics were a bit beyond his little fourteen month old brain. Vincent was Mommy and Cid was Daddy and that was all that mattered.
He rose unsteadily to his little feet as the bedroom door opened, and he smiled at Cid, who was always the one to get him up. Vincent was still recovering from his illness, and holding Sephiroth was only safe when Vincent was lying in bed or had been awake long enough for his body to stop trembling; in the early morning there was still too much of a chance he could drop the baby. Cid had no such concern.
"Hey little bug! Look at you, I see the fuzzy bunny ears are shaping up. Gonna need a haircut soon."
Sephiroth held out his arms to let Cid pick him up, and was hoisted high to be carried to the kitchen. He was set in his chair, then Cid sat in his own seat to feed Sephiroth his favourite breakfast; scrambled eggs. After that, he had a bath to wash away what parts of his breakfast did not make it into his mouth. When he was brought back to his nursery, he was happy to see Angeal and Genesis already there, even if Genesis was wearing a bucket on his head and Angeal had pulled all of the toys out of the toy chest so he could hide in it. Honestly these people had no sense of restraint.
Sephiroth took his clothes off and rubbed pudding into his hair. There. Much better. Or maybe not. He sputtered and waved his arms as Dark came over to lick the pudding out of his hair. By the time the great cat was done, Sephiroth looked like he'd been attacked by Beethoven's hairdresser. Then the door opened and Tifa came in, carrying something in a basket. She sat down with it, and Sephiroth crept close to see what was in it while Genesis started a fight with Angeal by walloping him with a stuffed puppy.
No restraint. Honestly.
He peered into the basket at the tiny baby there. Yeah it was Zack all right; no mistaking that hair at any age. Well it answered the age-old question of whether or not he was born with that mop – clearly he had been. He looked like Hojo had spliced him with a dandelion.
"Nice hair," said Zack, squinting at Sephiroth's Hair by Dark.
"Takes one to know one," said Sephiroth. "I have good news and bad news, Zack. The good news is we're four all together again."
"And the bad?"
"Strife left your sword blade down in the sand outside Midgar."
Tifa leaned into the basket to pick up the baby. "Oh goodness, Zack, what made you start crying that way?"