(Kit Thespian walks in)

Kit Thespian: Ah, so good to be able to relax and write a nice, decent fanfic. Good thing I came back too; the natives are getting restless…

(Reno runs onstage, carrying a white cloth in his hand)

Reno: Ha, ha! You can't catch me!

Kit Thespian (facepalm): Reno, I know you did not swipe someone's underwear.

(Sephiroth runs onstage)

Sephiroth: Reno, when I catch you I'm going to stick your taser where the sun doesn't shine!

Kit Thespian: Wow, Seph, I didn't know you were a "briefs" guy.

Sephiroth: SHADDUP!

Disclaimer: Kit Thespian does not own Final Fantasy VII or the characters therein. And she is not making any money off of this.

Chapter Thirty-Eight – There's Just One Little Thing…

In Nibelheim...

Yuffie changed her saunter to a brisk walk as she took in the fresh air on the way to town. She just needed to get up and about, that was all. For some reason she just couldn't get as much energy as she used to. She supposed that was due to having so much more responsibility. Red and Reeve had decided to come with her to town. Red could carry a bag of groceries with his mouth. Reeve had been called upon to fix someone's hot water heater for a tidy fee. Yuffie remembered the first time she had seen Reeve in his work clothes. It was a sharp contrast to the business suit he had worn with Shinra. He was just a regular guy with a toolbox.

Yuffie thought Reeve would have considered fixing a hot water heater rather mundane for someone with his talents, until she learned that the heater was Shinra issue, and Reeve had originally designed the model in the first place. It was rather ironic, but it also meant Reeve knew the machine like a painter knew his work of art.

Reeve was in a good mood, "I feel like singing a 'go-to-work' song. Do you realize how lucky we guys are? We're free."

Red smirked, "I can appreciate it."

Yuffie remembered what Rude had said about a new government forming in Junon. That was far away on the other continent, but still she hoped that another big government would not come to take the place of Shinra. The people were prospering very well without a nosy bureaucracy breathing down their necks. Nibelheim had become a nice little private country for all of them.

She missed the others in Kalm so much, though, especially Tifa, Barrett, and little Marlene. She wanted to write them a letter but hadn't the least notion of what she would say, except that everything was all right.

After Reeve waved goodbye and disappeared behind one of the houses, Yuffie turned to make her way to the general store.

"Yuffie," Red spoke, "We need to talk."

Yuffie turned a concerned expression to her wolf-like buddy. He had used that special tone of voice that he only used when about to call someone out on something. She had no idea what he would have to call her out on.

She cautiously said, "Okay…"

"Let's walk…" Red slowly made his way back to the path. Yuffie went to his side, one of her hands stuffed in her pocket and the other holding onto her satchel (it was really too big and plain to call a purse). Red took a look around and saw no one else was listening, he said, "I've noticed a few things. I don't know if you've noticed them, or if anyone else has noticed them. But I've noticed them."

"What things?"

"Well…I've noticed you have been very tired lately."

"I've been really busy. You needn't be concerned about that, Red."

"I know…but I've also noticed that (and don't take this the wrong way) you have been fiddling with your jeans a lot recently to stretch them out. It's almost as if, um…they're tighter?"

Yuffie had noticed her pants and shorts were getting tighter, but that was no big deal. They had all been a little loose on her to begin with, now they were starting to fit just right. She just wasn't used to that feeling. If it were anyone else but Red, she might have been offended. But she knew Red didn't mean any harm by it. Even so, she couldn't say she liked it.

She shrugged, "So I'm gaining a little weight. It happens. If you think it's a problem, what do you want me to do?"

"Yuffie, I'm not saying you're getting fat or anything. There's one more thing I've noticed, and please bear with me because this is going to be a little personal."

Yuffie thought, "Like the weight thing wasn't personal enough?"

"In the past, whenever I've been around you or Tifa or…or even Aeris, I would be able to sense whenever any of you were going through, er…your um…"

Yuffie sighed, "Spit it out, Red."

"Your periods." Red was clearly embarrassed by mentioning it, "Your menstrual periods. I could tell when…you get it. Anyway, since we have come here, I've noticed that you haven't had one. In fact…when I arrived at Cloud's house in Kalm, when I got around Tifa, she smelled different than before. It was a good scent, but different. Given my knowledge that Tifa is pregnant, it made sense. Her hormones had changed. But lately…I've noticed the same kind of scent around you. I've noticed it…for several weeks, actually."

Yuffie didn't answer; she didn't even move. Her jaw was slack. She realized what Red was trying to tell her. It was something she never would have thought of herself. No, the very thought was ridiculous. Red XIII was patient, waiting for Yuffie to speak. They stood in silence for a good sixty seconds, it seemed.

Then Yuffie finally said, "I'm…I'm not pregnant!"

Red shook his head, "Yuffie, I hate to have to be the one to break it to you (this is really something someone needs to know for themselves) but you are. I just didn't want you to get too carried away with work without knowing."

"But-but-but…No! I can't be!"

Red sighed, "I don't have to explain this to you, do I? I would think you'd know by now how it works…"

Yuffie clenched her fists by her sides, her face flushing, "I know how it works!"

"Then you should know that it's entirely possible given that you and Sephiroth are married and you've been…"

"You're not making this any better, Red! I didn't mean…I mean, I know how it…Omigosh, it's true, isn't it?" A lump formed in her throat and she had to blink away tears, "It's true!"

Red moved to her side and nudged her with his nose, "Yuffie, don't react this way. This is a good thing. I would give the fire of my tail to have what you have: a family."

"It's just…It's just…" Yuffie's voice was deteriorating into sobs, "I wouldn't know the first thing to do with a baby. Sephiroth really wouldn't and…oh, man, what is he going to say about this? We haven't planned this; we've never even spoken about it. I…I…"

And then she fainted.

Red XIII had tried to maneuver his back underneath her to cushion the blow, but she still crumpled to the ground in a heap. He stared at her still form for a moment. What was he going to do? He couldn't drag her back to the mansion without hurting her. At least she had landed in soft grass. There was something to be said for that.

Many "should haves" ran through Red's mind at that moment. He should have talked to Yuffie about this in the safety and comfort of the mansion, with her sitting down. Yuffie and Sephiroth should have thought of the possibility of having a child before now. This should not have come as such a surprise. Except…well, it was fairly sudden. He'd heard enough stories in his life. Some couples never had children and some had many, regardless of consciously trying or not. Given his own calculations and knowledge of human biology, Yuffie would have had to have conceived on her and Sephiroth's first night or within that week.

It was best not to dwell on all that. The fact remained that he had a pregnant, unconscious ninja on the ground beside him.

"Yuffie!" Red heard Reeve running up behind him, "Yuffie, omigosh! Red, what happened?"

The very idea of informing Reeve of the true reason behind Yuffie's condition sent up so many red flags in Red's mind that he simply answered, "She fainted."

Reeve rolled his eyes, "No fooling! Good thing that water heater didn't have a lot of problems with it." He knelt down and proceeded to scoop Yuffie up after putting her satchel on his shoulder. Slight as his frame was, Reeve didn't struggle to lift Yuffie's petite form off the ground. He said, "I guess the grocery shopping will have to wait."

"I think the two of us can manage it as soon as we get her home."

"You sure? I'm not much of a whiz with picking out fresh fruit."

"Yes, I'm sure. Yuffie needs to relax."

"Why? What's wrong with her?"

"Nothing's wrong with her. We'll talk about it later."

"Why can't we talk about it now?"

Red resorted to letting a small growl escape his throat. Reeve said, "All right, all right! Mr. Sensitive…I just hope you don't mind explaining to her husband why she collapsed the middle of the road."

Red didn't consider himself to be terribly afraid of Sephiroth, but his tail quivered a little at the thought of explaining the matter. Yuffie would wake up before Sephiroth came home, he was sure. They began their trek back to the mansion.

Red spoke, "She'll explain it."

Reeve's next statement made Red realize that he had just made a mistake, "So, there is something to explain? I thought you said nothing was wrong with her."

"Nothing is wrong with her."

"Then why did she faint?"

"She overexerted herself."

"By a walk to town?" Reeve's incredulous voice reached high pitch, "We're talking about Yuffie, who completed her Wutainese ninja training at sixteen, who fought in the crater alongside AVALANCHE…"

"We don't talk about that time anymore, Reeve. It's a sensitive subject."

"Whatever! You're telling me a little trip to the grocery store is enough to do her in these days?"

"You are not helping anything by losing your temper. Now pay attention or you'll drop her."

"I won't drop her. But you are not being frank with me."

"No, I'm not. And you'll have to be satisfied with that for the time being."

Reeve huffed but did not press Red for any more information. He had likely decided to bide his time and wait for Yuffie to give him the explanation he wanted. As for Red, the next thing that popped into his head is they were going to have a time kid-proofing that mansion. The thought proved overwhelming and he shook it off.

In the Nibel Mountains…

"We're getting pretty close to that Mako reactor," Jarrett the coal miner casually said.

Sephiroth's breath caught when he heard that. The faint Mako smell in the air gave away their close proximity to the old reactor, but to actually hear the name mentioned made Sephiroth's pulse rise.

Unfortunately, Erik noticed Sephiroth's nearly infinitesimal gasp. It was not surprising, given that since Sephiroth had saved his life that morning, Erik had decided to take it upon himself to watch "Tam" as closely as he could to make sure he was all right. Erik said, "Is something wrong, Tam?"

He replied, "I…don't have good memories of Mako reactors."

Given the horrified looks on the miners' faces when he said this, Sephiroth could only imagine the stories they had been told of the infusion of Mako in a SOLDIER's making. They no doubt thought that Sephiroth's "Mako treatments" were the reason for his misgivings, not knowing that he was born with his eyes glowing because the Jenova cells. Mako had little to do with his problems. But if that was a convincing story for them, so be it.

Ronsee said, "Shinra went in there and cleaned up the monsters after Nibelheim burned. It should be safe to go in there."

"Relatively safe," Jarrett sternly pointed out, "Mako reactors, even those that aren't operational anymore, should not be trifled with. Besides, there's talk that this one is haunted to boot. I've never seen a ghost or anything like, but with the things that I heard went on in that reactor, it's no good to take chances."

Erik fidgeted a little, "I…I've always wondered what the inside of a Mako reactor looks like. Even a haunted one."

Sephiroth said, "It's a lot of big pipes, switches, levers, and wheels. Nothing special."

"Oh, you shouldn't have said that," Ronsee chuckled, "Plumbing's one of Erik's hobbies. He's quite a whiz."

Sephiroth looked Erik straight in the eyes and said, "Don't you dare think of going in there by yourself. It's dangerous."

Erik crossed his arms, "What do you think I am, an idiot?"

"Do you really want us to answer that?" Ronsee retorted.

The miners burst out laughing and the subject was thankfully dropped.

In Cosmo Canyon…

Lucrecia turned the letter over in her hands. It was addressed to Yuffie. The return address read it was from Barret Wallace. Lucrecia smiled a little. She had liked Barret. He hadn't been too fond of her son, but he was a good father to his adopted daughter Marlene. And he had been kind enough to Lucrecia herself. He only rose in her estimation by apparently being the first member of AVALANCHE living in Kalm to reach out to Yuffie.

Vincent was returning to Nibelheim in a day or two. He could deliver the letter. When Vincent, Hojo, and Rosem walked into the house, she was about to announce the letter when Hojo quickly approached her and said, "Are you all right, Lucrecia?"

She was surprised enough to blink for a couple of moments before carefully answering, "Yes, why? What's wrong?"

"The door to the GI cave has been acting up again."

"One of the villagers was cornered by a Stinger," Vincent said, "Luckily the Death Penalty and I were nearby."

Lucrecia said, "Stinger?"

"A very big, very nasty insect. It's the first time someone in Cosmo Canyon has been attacked by a GI monster in a long time."

Rosem said, "Cosmo Canyon is supposed to be a haven of peace and prosperity. It's almost like something wants to ruin it all."

"What are you going to do?" asked Lucrecia. The GI cave hung like a evil tapestry over an otherwise perfectly safe little town. Lucrecia wondered why AVALANCHE didn't just kill all the monsters when they first traveled through here. But apparently there simply wasn't enough time or resources.

Vincent said, "I'm going to call Reeve and Red. Red needs to know what's going on in his hometown and hopefully Reeve can help to fix the lock. This needs to stop before it gets any worse."

"What is that?" Hojo gestured towards the letter in Lucrecia's hand.

With all the excitement, Lucrecia had pushed aside thoughts of the note until now. She said, "It's a letter from Barret to Yuffie."

A silence descended on the room. Hojo's eyes narrowed a bit while Vincent raised an eyebrow. Only Rosem was cheerful, "Oh, that's nice. Reeve and Red can take it back when they go back to Nibelheim. Or you can take it, Vincent."

Vincent said, "I'm not leaving until this GI situation is resolved…I think Reeve or Red would be a better choice."

"Why don't we just ask Yuffie and Sephiroth to come here too?" Lucrecia suggested, smiling.

Vincent answered, "Sephiroth is obliged to stay in Nibelheim until the end of the week. It's a deal he has with the villagers."

"Then they can all come at the end of the week. Or maybe Red and Reeve can come ahead and then Sephiroth and Yuffie could follow. I'd like to visit with them." Lucrecia was making her desire to see her son and daughter-in-law obvious but she didn't care.

"We'll see," Hojo said.

Lucrecia smiled. She knew how a "we'll see" could easily be twisted into a "yes."