Later at the Seventh Heaven, Cloud changed Reno out of the uncomfortable looking materia costume and into clothes that made him look like Red XIII aka Nanaki, who has come to visit after hearing the story of the Turk who turned into a bsby. "Here he is," Cloud placed Reno on the floor in front of Nanaki. "Keep an eye on him and the kids, okay?"
"No problem," Nanaki noticed Reno was dressed like a cub of his species, which Cloud probably thought was funny. Not that it bothered Nanaki. He could still easily tell this was in fact Reno. The scent was slightly different, but he still knew who he was.
"Puppy!" The small Turk hugged Nanaki.
"I'm not a puppy," Nanaki corrected, but Reno wasn't listening.
"My puppy!" It was hopeless to try to explain it so Nanaki let him be. Then Reno tried to climb on his back.
"I think he wants a ride," Marlene guessed.
Nanaki didn't see any harm in that, after all Reno was only a baby now, an innocent little human cub. "That sounds alright." So the children placed little Reno on Nanaki's back and for the rest of the day he was running in circles, for little Reno would start crying when ever he stopped. After that, Nanaki certainly got plenty of exercise and was very tired. The day couldn't have ended soon enough, yet at the same time Nanaki was happy. He wondered if having a cub would be this much work.
xoxox xox xoxox
The night was spent at Healin Lodge, which was big enough for everyone to fit. Rufus had requested that Reno stayed there and everyone else wanted to stay, which he agreed to. The sun had already set and Red XIII could be seen sleeping soundly on the carpet at Rufus' feet. He could have a room, but he liked the floor so no one argued with his choice of sleeping there. Rufus sat on the couch holding little Reno. He wasn't so bad as long as he didn't have to change his diapers, or feed him, or any of the hard stuff.
"It's my turn," Rude extended his arms to receive the baby, whom was not given to him as he expected.
Rufus protectively held on to Reno who was sitting on his lap wearing red pants and a white t-shirt with the word 'I' followed by a picture of a heart and 'Shinra Inc.' It was an 'I love Shinra' advertisement, but at least it was more comfortable than the costumes they usually made him wear. "I will say when my turn is over."
Rude wasn't happy with that, Reno was his partner. Sure at first he needed a break from babysitting, as did the other Turks, but it came to a point when the group had grown used to having little Reno around and they all wanted to spend time with him.
It wasn't until later when Reno had already fallen asleep that Rude finally got a turn to hold the baby, while Rufus went off to get some sleep. After a while, Rude placed his little partner on a crib, making sure he had enough baby toys and plushies to keep him company while he slept.
xoxox xox xoxox
In his room, Rufus was watching a recording. He recognized the scenery as belonging to an old Shinra laboratory that hasn't been used in years. The place was a mess, it was practically in ruins, waiting to fall apart any second, but for some unknown reason the camera system was still functional, recording everything that went on in the lab. He watched as Reno, who was still an adult at the time, and his partner Rude, came into view.
"We're not supposed to be here," Rude's voice was heard.
"Relax, nothing bad will happen," Reno sounded as carefree as usual. He approached an odd machine. The large metal casing of the machine was cracked, forming a gap that was at least four inches wide, allowing Reno to take a look inside.
Rufus could see what was inside the machine from the angle the camera was positioned, so he knew what was causing Reno to look so surprised. It was a failed project, but that didn't mean it couldn't be used for other purposes. Rufus had sent a team to investigate while his Turks were busy babysitting, so he was already informed of certain things he had no idea were taking place before. Then it happened, there was a strange explosion and when the smoke cleared up, Reno was a baby.
Rude rushed towards Reno. "Reno?" Reno then started crying until Rude got him to calm down by picking him up and singing an off key lullaby, during which Rufus hit the mute button.
By examining some older records, Rufus was able to come up with some theories as to what had happened, but he didn't want to jump to conclusions yet. He still wondered for how long things would remain the way they were. He had a feeling that the event that was to come could only be delayed so long. Either way they should best be prepared. He would tell them everything the next day.
xoxox xox xoxox
The hours slowly passed until around two thirty in the morning a soft cough was heard. Elena jumped out of bed wide awake and wondered if it was only her imagination. The sound was heard again and she rushed to Reno's room. At the door she found Tifa, Yuffie and Shera, who had also heard. The sound was rather quiet but somehow they all heard it clearly.
xoxox xox xoxox
In his guest room, Cid rolled over half asleep and almost unconsciously extended his arm. He only touched the empty bed. He turned around to face the opposite direction and also found nothing but empty space. He sleepily opened one eye then slowly sat up. As far as he could tell in the darkness, he was alone. He shrugged and lay down again. Maybe Shera got up to drink a glass of water or something.
Moments later his wife had still not returned and he was curious to know where she went. Cid got out of bed and stepped out to the hall. There was a light coming from one of the rooms. That was baby Reno's room. He stood at the door and took a look inside. The women were there and they appeared to be upset about something. They paced around the room, whispered to each other and were constantly showering Reno with attention. Making a mental note to watch his language or be murdered by their motherly instincts, Cid asked "what the, what is going on?" He almost slipped, almost.
"Reno's sick, he coughed," Shera was filled with concern and worry. She sounded as if the world as they knew it had come to an end.
"I'm sure it's nothing. Babies get colds just like everyone else. In fact, they even get them for no reason. He's a kid it's supposed to happen." Cid stopped, seeing Shera's disapproving look. Clearly she was very worried about Reno.
At that moment Rude had decided to leave his room to drink some water or milk before falling back asleep. He saw the lights in his little partner's room were on and went to investigate. He was informed of the terrible tragedy of Reno's sudden illness that had everyone so worried. Rude wondered if baby Reno being sick would be anything like when he caught a cold as a grown up. Reno would exaggerate his cold and claim that he was dying. He would complain and make Rude spoil him back to health.
It didn't take too long for the sounds of the worried conversation to become louder as they realized that no matter how quiet they were, Reno just wouldn't fall asleep again. The poor child had a strong fever. It was then that everyone else at the Healin Lodge woke up and was informed of the tragic situation.
xoxox xox xoxox
The sun started to shine its first rays of light upon the land and most of the group had gotten little sleep that night. As they stepped outside to take Reno to a doctor, the child began to glow, floating away as life stream came from the ground in front of Healin Lodge and appeared to reach for him. There was a bright light and everything ended as quickly as it had begun.
There were no signs of damage to Healin Lodge or even the spot on the ground where the life stream had come from. There was just a very confused fully grown Reno. "Where are the lab and the strange materia?" He looked at the ground and saw the materia glowing at his feet but as he reached for it, it sunk into the ground. He also noticed that his clothes were missing as his baby clothes were torn apart when he grew too big for them.
"Go inside and get dressed," Rufus ordered.
Reno snapped out of his surprise and rushed inside. A few minutes later he came out fully dressed to find everyone examining a spot on the ground. "Could someone tell me what happened? One second I was trying to pick up an odd materia and the next I was here."
Yuffie looked very upset. "This day can't get any worse! Our baby grew up and I couldn't even touch that rare materia. I'm going to miss Reno so much!"
"Me too," Elena agreed.
"But I'm over here," Reno tried to get their attention, but it was as if he was invisible.
"So what? We miss the baby not you," Elena pointed out.
Tseng nodded. "It's true that we will miss baby Reno, but this is the only Reno we have now."
"Yeah, but there will be another baby soon, since Elena's pregnant and all," Yuffie reminded.
Tseng could have died there and then, the baby wasn't his. But Elena immediately denied it. "I'm not pregnant!"
"You mean Tseng and you are not expecting a baby?" Yuffie was disappointed. After they had learned to divide the work among themselves and become a little more skilled in the ancient art of babysitting, it was nice to have a baby around.
Elena and Tseng's faces became red as they looked at each other, then at Yuffie and shook their heads. Although they didn't say it, the thought of having a child did sound pleasant. Not yet, they weren't ready for a little Turk yet, but maybe someday in the future.
"I know what's going on," Rufus surprised everyone. "I sent a team to conduct an investigation."
Cloud stepped forward looking as upset as the others. Rude, Elena and Tseng, who was currently hugging Elena to try to make her feel better, made no effort to stand between Cloud and Rufus. "Tell us everything you know."
"There are dark secrets of Shinra that not even I know," Rufus had a feeling this wouldn't be the last secret to pop out. "It was a failed experiment, Hojo was trying to clone Jenova. He wanted to make a living clone." It was hard to believe. One Jenova was enough trouble, two would be too much, especially if it was a living clone. "Jenova could not be cloned. All the clones were failures that were quickly destroyed. He tried to force the cloning process with mako energy, which didn't work either. The Jenova cells and the mako energy were left in the container of a modified reactor, thought to be a failed experiment. From the information I could recover, apparently the mako surrounded the Jenova cells creating some kind of materia. That is what Reno found."
"And it turned him into a baby, but why?" Tifa asked.
"The materia was being influenced by Sephiroth. It was to make him return, to make him be reborn. Reno is already alive in this world so instead it had a different effect on him, turning him into a baby. He absorbed the effect that was meant for Sephiroth, thus preventing him from returning." Finally all the information Rufus had gathered fit like peaces to a puzzle.
To further emphasize Rufus's point Reno's eyes glowed at that very moment. "So I stopped Sephiroth without even knowing it and turned into a mako freak." Reno caught an annoyed look from Cloud and paused. "Not that there's anything wrong with being a mako freak. What was that about a baby?"
"You don't remember? Do you at least remember the explosion at the old Shinra lab?" Rufus asked.
"Yeah, I remember that, but what happened afterwards?" Reno was confused.
"You were turned into a baby," Rude explained.
"We've all been taking turns helping baby-sit," Tseng added.
"I was a baby?" Reno was understandably shocked. "I don't remember any of that. Well I'm glad that's over."
Tifa tapped her foot impatiently and placed her hands on her waist. "Is that all? 'I'm glad that's over.' You have no idea how much we'll miss the baby!"
"You sound as if the baby wasn't me, as if he's gone forever. I'm right here," Reno insisted.
"He felt like a different person to us. He was our little baby," Elena argued.
"Yeah and we all changed your diaper so be thankful," Yuffie pouted.
Reno's expression clearly indicated that was too much information. "I didn't need to know."
There was a strange glow on the ground. It was the same light that came when Reno turned back to normal. Life stream came from the ground and began to take shape until a little Sephiroth appeared before them. The light disappeared and it all went back to normal, save for the fact that there was a baby Sephiroth there.
Cloud stared at the scene before him. "I will never be a memory." The words replayed over and over in his head. Sephiroth certainly meant what he said, for there he was, right in front of him, except he was much smaller now. "Sephiroth!" Cloud readied his sword but this Sephiroth was too small, too innocent, too cute, he couldn't attack the child, he was just a baby. He stopped and Vincent approached.
"Let me see," Vincent picked up the little Sephiroth. "This time he might not turn out to be so bad." All the babysitting experience would certainly come in handy for everyone.
The Turks agreed to help. Shera and Cid agreed as well. "Cloud?" Tifa looked at him, she wanted to help take care of the baby too, but didn't want to leave cloud out if he wasn't comfortable with this.
Cloud approached Vincent who was holding the little Sephiroth. His guess was that even if in the end Sephiroth absorbed the materia from his connection to the planet's life stream, the materia's energy had been drained during the time Reno spent as a baby, so it wasn't powerful enough to bring him back as an adult.
For a second Cloud thought he saw the translucent images of Aerith and Zack in the distance, nodding their approval. It appeared that everyone accepted the little Sephiroth and Cloud sensed no evil from the child. Perhaps Sephiroth's plan backfiring thanks to Reno's interference was the best thing that could have happened. "I'm willing to help too. I've had too many near death experiences with Reno to be afraid of babies anymore."
"Near death experiences?" Reno inquired.
"You tried to drown me while I was giving you a bath," Cloud realized it sounded kind of odd to say it now that Reno was grown up.
"Maybe it's time Reno learned what it's like to baby-sit," Tseng determined this would be good training for the Turk.
"Just don't take him to a chocobo petting zoo dressed as a chocobo," Rude warned.
Reno blinked, "that is a story I have to hear." Vincent gave him the little Sephiroth. "Babies aren't too hard to take care of, right little guy?" The silver haired child looked at him curiously before grabbing the stray red hairs that fell in front of Reno's face. "Stop yo!" Luckily he didn't pull them out. "I didn't do things like this did I?"
"You did worse, but don't worry, you'll have time to get the full experience," Cloud grinned.
"Yes, carrying you on my back all day was quite exhausting," Nanaki commented.
"Puppy!" Sephiroth let go of Reno's hair and pointed at Nakaki.
"Me and my big mouth, I should have stayed quiet." Nanaki had a feeling he would end up giving Sephiroth rides quite often.
It had been the end of a great adventure and the beginning of another one as they shared stories of Reno's time as a baby and prepared themselves for Sephiroth's babyhood.
xoxox xox xoxox
A week later at the Seventh Heaven... The silver haired baby sat contently on the blonde's lap making little baby noises, giggling and sucking his thumb. Sephiroth was giggling? Now there was something Cloud would never imagine was possible. He smiled, he didn't mean to, most certainly not, but his expression changed on its own.
Cloud was in fact so lost in the fatherly feeling that he didn't notice Yuffie walk into the Seventh Heaven, kneel so that she was at the baby's eye level and proceed to coo and squeal and make baby talk. When he did notice the ninja's presence, Cloud blinked and stared and realized that it was no wonder Yuffie found it so easy to steal materia from him if he was always that distracted.
"It's my turn!" Yuffie extended her arms towards the small child, waiting for Cloud to give him to her." He carefully handed her the baby and she cradled him in her arms. "You're so cute! Yes, you're cute! You're cute like a new born materia! Yes you are!" "Surprisingly, he's better behaved than Reno." Tifa joined the conversation, once again Cloud failed to notice the approaching presence. He had been a bit stressed about Sephiroth, worrying that he'll suddenly grow to adult size and go crazy. Tifa kept telling him to relax the entire time while he kept jumping and drawing his sword over the smallest noise. Maybe her advice finally sunk in a little too deep.
"I heard that..." Cloud mentally kicked himself for letting himself relax too much. Relaxing once in a while was fine, but he was so out of it he didn't even notice when people arrived. Now Reno and Rude came in without his knowledge. Then again maybe it wasn't because he was relaxed, rather the sleepless nights taking their toll and draining away his once acute senses.
"Where's Vincent?" Cloud asked. He had volunteered to take care of Sephiroth; after all he did know his mother. Then Reeve gave him a job, which wasn't so bad because Sephiroth ate like a bottomless pit and Vincent needed money for food and toys, but of course, a job meant needing a babysitter.
"I have no idea. I saw him at work but Reeve asked him to stay for a few more minutes. My guess is those minutes turned into hours. They tell you it'll just be a few minutes and you can go, but it takes forever." Yuffie tickled little Sephiroth as she spoke.
Sometimes when Vincent was finally allowed to leave work, he was too tired to take care of little Sephiroth. Tifa, who loved kids, was all too happy to take care of him. True that she held a grudge against Sephiroth, but this was a completely different Sephiroth. She saw them as two different people, one of them an innocent and adorable little baby.
It evolved into a conversation about overtime. Reno, of course, always left even if no one told him he could go. In fact, he left even if he was told not to. He wasn't a fool and in his honest opinion, only a fool sacrificed himself for the job.
While everyone talked, Yuffie snuck away with little Sephiroth and retuned with him dressed as a materia. "Look everyone! Isn't he cute?" The room was filled with "aw" and "cute!"
"You're an evil ninja picking on defenseless little babies." Reno gave the little materia boy an understanding look. "I know how this feels, my memories of being a baby started to return after a few days... but only some of them." Reno was thankful that only a few of his memories returned because he really didn't want to remember certain things like Cloud giving him a bath and Vincent changing his diaper. "Poor little guy, you can't even move in there." The costume was basically a ball were Sephiroth could only stick out his head, hands and feet.
"But he looks cute, besides you never complained... much." Yuffie reminded him. Reno's days as a baby had really been something, chaotic yet cute.
"That's because I was a cheerful baby, but Sephiroth isn't as much of a cheerful baby as me." Reno should know, that little silver hair bundle of noise was a total crybaby unless he received constant attention, opposite of what you would expect from Sephiroth. Since everyone had to baby-sit Reno during his baby days, they got back at him by making him baby-sit Sephiroth. He remembered it all too clearly.
Sephiroth cried, rather loudly, indicating that he needed his babysitter's presence right away. "What, yo?" Reno peeked over the baby's crib that had been placed in his apartment, without his permission, by the power of Rude's spare key. They had decided to give Reno a long turn to take care of the baby, since everyone else needed to recover from taking care Reno when he was a baby. It shouldn't be a problem since it would seem that Reno was very hyper and energetic as a grown up too.
Baby Sephiroth only smiled looking at Reno, who had at last arrived. "Goo! Daa! Baa! Goo!"
"Same to you!" Reno went on his way, back to his nice soft bed but once again he heard sobbing, followed by screams of agony and rushed to see what was wrong.
"Goo! Baa! Hee, hee!" Reno blinked at the incomprehensible gibberish.
"Sorry, kid I forgot how to speak baby. If nothing's wrong go to sleep, okay?" Reno waited for some form of sign that the baby had somehow understood what he was saying.
"E-o, hee, hee."
"Ee nnnn ooo, uba aba-ab."
Reno turned to leave in favor of finding and using some ear plugs.
"E e nnnnn o-oo Eno! Eno!"
Reno paused, Eno? "I get it; it's my name... sort of. Well good for you that you said a real word, or close to it. We'll celebrate tomorrow, now go to sleep."
"Eno! Eno! Eno! Eno!"
"Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! Sleep!"
"Eno! Wah! Wah! Waaaaahhh!!!" Sephiroth started to cry, he didn't want to sleep; he wanted to play.
xoxox xox xoxox
-knock- -knock- The door to Rude's apartment, right next to Reno's, was opened a sleepy bald Turk. "Rude, you have to help me! I keep telling him to go to sleep but he keeps calling me!"
"He says 'Hello Rude'... I think I'm getting this baby talk thing after all..." For a moment Reno smiled at his own accomplishment, before he once again remembered his predicament. "Rude! Help!"
"You're the only one with enough energy to keep up with a baby," Rude observed. Reno was whining, but he was whining energetically.
"Your point is?" Sure Reno was still yet to experience the state of extreme exhaustion that everyone else had experienced with him, but that didn't mean he didn't need help.
"Stay with him until he falls asleep. You could try telling him a story or something."
Reno mussed Rude's words as an imaginary light bulb lit up above his head. "Right, gotcha, I can do that... But if he needs a diaper change I'll come right back!" Before Rude could refuse, Reno returned to his own apartment along with baby Sephiroth.
xoxox xox xoxox
"Alright kid I'll tell you a story like Rude said. Pay attention." Reno started while trying to think of a story.
"Eno!" Little Sephiroth cheered.
"Yes, yes, Eno is, I mean Reno is going to tell you a story." After hearing Sephiroth say 'Eno' so much Reno wouldn't be surprised if he accidentally started to call himself Eno. It would be a disaster if people mistook it for Emo, then Cloud would whine that he stole his title, which he had no intentions of doing.
"Go? Okay, I'll start you little impatient chibi. Once upon a time there was a... a Turk, not quite as cool as me. His name was... um... Vincent! Yeah, the same name as the vampire dude." It was something that Reno had been saying for a while. He knew Vincent wasn't a vampire, but that didn't mean he couldn't get a laugh out of it. "An evil mad scientist put him to sleep in a coffin, of all places. Then some guy came and got him out but Vincent was really disappointed because he wanted to be woken up by his true love's kiss, because all those fairy tales have that. The one who woke him up, Cloud, he kept pestering Vincent to get up like a mother on a school day, so he had no choice. Vincent went on a journey with Cloud were he met, Cait Sith who was riding on a big moogle. Together they joined the Sith, beat up all the Jedi and lived happily ever after, the end."
Baby Sephiroth did not look satisfied. It was as if he knew that wasn't a real fairytale. "O! Moo!"
"No? Moo? What? Repeat it slowly, I'm still not fluent in baby talk."
"O! Oo! Ooo! Moo!" Little Sephiroth repeated.
Reno gave it some thought. "No? You don't think my story is true? Well too bad kid, that's all I have. As for moo... Moo is over there." Reno walked over to the baby crib and picked up a cow plushie. Rufus had given Sephiroth that plushie. Why? No one knew. It was logical in a way. Since babies like milk so much, maybe they like cows. Or maybe Rufus liked cows for some secret random reason. "Here you go."
"Moo-moo! Hee, hee! Moo!"
Reno wondered what Sephiroth could possibly want now, because he sounded like he was requesting something. "Oh right! The plushie is Moo-moo, so just moo must mean more. You're happy to have your Moo-moo and want another story?"
Baby Sephiroth seemed to nod his little head.
"Oh yeah, it's official I'm a total genius! Let's go out and celebrate that I can understand you!"
"More fun with uncle Reno, yes, yes!"
xoxox xox xoxox
Tifa yawned as she cleaned the bar. It was a slow night, which wasn't so bad since she barely had any energy left. She was still recovering from babysitting Reno and wondered if her sleeping pattern would ever go back to normal. She had grown used to waking up in the middle of the night and now she woke up even if there was no screaming baby to tend to. She absent mindedly picked up the baby that had been placed on the counter, cleaned the counter and set him down again. "What would you like, sir?"
"I would really like it if this kid would go to sleep, but since he's not tired, I'll wait for him to sleep while I'm having the usual." Reno was amused by the fact that Tifa didn't appear to recognize him. He was a regular customer, how could she forget? She must really be tired.
Tifa snapped awake as she recognized the redhead, Reno of the Turks, Sephiroth's current babysitter. Furthermore, that was little Sephiroth sitting on the counter. "Ifa! Ifa!"
"Reno! You can't go to random bars with a baby!" Tifa scolded him.
"But this isn't a random bar," Reno pointed out.
"Of course not, the Seventh Heaven is the best!" Tifa had to take the moment to spread the positive publicity. "But that's not the point. You're supposed to be at home with he baby. Home as in where you live, not where you spend most of your free time."
"He won't fall asleep so I thought we could pull out an all nighter together. You know, a guy's night out so to speak."
Tifa shook her head and picked up little Sephiroth, holding him protectively. "You know nothing about taking care of children."
"It's not like I was going to let him order a drink. It's just milk for the little guy, till he's old enough. Beside, I never said I knew how to baby-sit, I'm just guessing," Reno was a genius indeed, he had tricked Tifa into taking care of little Sephiroth. Of course when she realized she had been tricked, a true nightmare broke loose as she forced Reno to sit down and listen to her speech. Poor Reno was scarred for life and he thought Elena was talkative; Tifa's lectures were truly deadly.
End of Flashback
"My point is, Reno continued, "that is uncomfortable," he referred to the baby materia costume.
"No it's not! Yuffie insisted. "You don't even know how to baby-sit right. You got Tifa to do all the work last time, she told me!"
-sob- -sob- "Waaaaaahhh!" Sephiroth started crying.
"I told you so!" Reno felt victorious because he was right but it was short lived, as Sephiroth's screams erased any possible satisfaction that could come from saying I told you so.
"Okay, okay, I get it, how about the Red XIII cub costume instead?" Yuffie suggested.
"That could work, but I think we should save that one for when Nanaki comes to visit." Tifa concluded it was useful that they kept baby Reno's wardrobe, which now served as hand me downs for Sephiroth. At least they didn't have to run from store to store in a panicked shopping spree since they had plenty of supplies left from Reno's time as a baby.
"He's getting away!" Rude spoke, a rare event, catching everyone's attention. The group watched in horror as Sephiroth rolled away in his materia costume.
"So much for being less trouble than Reno, but at least he didn't try to drown me" Cloud gave pursuit, along with everyone else.
As they chased the little rolling materia baby, Elena and Tseng who were on their way to see the baby, caught him. "What are you doing to the baby?" Elena held him protectively as everyone pointed accusing fingers at each other.
"Hey!" Tifa pouted when she realized that cloud was pointing at her.
"Sorry!" Cloud was caught in the middle of the finger pointing confusion.
"Poor Sephiroth, being rolled around like a ball." Elena cradled the baby, while everyone made excuses and finally pushed Yuffie forward.
"I didn't mean for this to happen, Reno didn't roll away when I dressed him up as a materia!" Yuffie tried to explain.
"We'll take care of him from now on!" Elena announced.
So far Tseng had been nodding quietly, but after hearing Elena's words he stopped. "Don't forget we need to get up early for the next mission. We can't afford not getting any sleep taking care of the baby. It should alright when we come back, we could take care of him then, for a few days" He stopped as he noticed that everyone was staring at him. He analyzed his words and tried to figure out what this was about, then it hit him like a ton of bricks. Tseng cleared his throat and resumed his silence, both demanding and begging with his eyes that the topic would not be brought up again.
"It's not like everyone hasn't already figured out you two moved in together, yo." Reno received deadly glares from both Tseng and Elena for that one. Reno did the one smart thing he had left to do and pretended that he didn't say anything, both demanding and begging with his eyes that everyone would just drop the subject.
xoxox xox xoxox
The group returned to the Seventh Heaven in relative silence, save for the quiet baby sounds of discomfort and occasional sobbing that little Sephiroth expressed. They got him dressed up as a moogle as soon as they returned. It was a lot easier to move like that, even with that little bouncy ball on the end of a wire on his head but that was a good thing because he was entertained by trying to reach the little ball and play with it.
However, as things stood they still didn't have a babysitter for little Sephiroth. They thought about giving Reno another chance to really complete the mission this time, but when the red haired Turk started rambling about how he would be totally prepared with lots of candy this time around, because children love candy, they knew it was best not to allow Reno to baby-sit. Baby Sephiroth was very energetic as he was, he certainly didn't need Reno feeding him candy and making him even more hyper with all the extra sugar.
Denzel and Marlene played with the baby for a while and soon Nanaki arrived, which made them wish they had dressed Sephiroth as a cub after all, because it was just too cute to see him riding on Nanaki like that. He was still adorable as a moogle, so they decided he could stay that way.
Even Cid came by, as did Reeve and Vincent, but the three appeared to be very exhausted, because of WRO work in the case of the last two. Cid collapsed into a bar stool, receiving several puzzled looks. "Mood swings," that was enough for everyone to understand. Shera, sweet, calm, patient Shera, the woman was a complete fury when her mood swings started.
Cid missed Shera when she was nice and patient and didn't talk back to him. Now he had red handprints on his cheeks, a pair of bumps on his head and squished toes, to prove that if he dared to talk back to her, she would not hesitate to slap him, throw random items and or step on his feet. It was all only to come crying, rather loudly, in a fit of guilt soon after, seeking consolation and forgiveness from her beloved captain. Oh the joys of the approaching fatherhood.
Cid wasn't sure if he would make it out alive. As much as he knew that taking care of a baby was hard work, from his experiences caring for baby Reno and later baby Sephiroth, he wished the baby would just hurry up and be born already so that Shera went back to normal.
They couldn't very well give Sephiroth to Rufus to take care of. He would accept, but only to make the baby into an advertisement. He was convinced that he could fix his image if he played his cards right and adopting a child without actually having to adopt one, was the perfect strategy for a nice image. He was already marketing the heroes with little plushies, actions figures and what not, the Edge mall, which was more like the Shinra mall, was full of them.
He even had plushies and toys that were Turk themed. If he couldn't make profit out of mako, he had to make profit out of something, because the WRO certainly took a large budget to stay up and running. Rufus couldn't exactly shut them down, because he had a debt to repay same would say, most importantly because everyone would be out to bite his head off if he did.
Who would baby-sit Sephiroth while those who were too tired recovered? Reno still volunteered, claiming that he wanted to show the world, or at least his friends, he could do it. Of course that was at the risk of an even more hyper Sephiroth, so it was out of the question. They all wanted to help, but exhaustion had settled in and it would take more than a few days to cure the extreme fatigue, especially since they were busy people and couldn't really afford to sleep in all day.
"We could send him to Gun," Elena suggested, happily remembering that event in which, as she so eloquently put it, 'Gun got pwned', her dear sister would forever fear babies after Reno ripped her hair out. Reno had no regrets, laughed when that memory returned to him.
"Let's not torture her anymore." Tifa had heard about the incident. Elena still had her sister's hair framed with the phase that best described the situation engraved. 'Gun got pwned' was thought to be abstract art by some of those who had visited Healin Lodge and not had the pleasure to hear the full story.
All those present who had enough energy left to move formed a circle leaving Reno out. The red head ran around the circle of people, jumping occasionally as if they were hiding something in the middle. "We've decided," Tseng announced after a few minutes of quiet murmurs that only those who were included in the circle could hear.
"You have to take care of little Sephiroth and if you feed him too much sugar Tifa will lecture you, then I will lecture you too." Elena explained. Tifa gave a nod of agreement.
"I won't feed him too much sugar!" Reno tried to deny it, but they all knew he would. If candy kept the child quiet and entertained, then candy he shall get. They all knew this would bring very hyper consequences, but what's life without a few risks and besides, after giving it some thought, they realized that if they could handle Reno's hyperness as a baby, they were ready to handle a hyper Sephiroth, or at least they would try. In addition, they wanted to see how long it would take for Reno to use up his seemingly endless supply of energy and a hyper Sephiroth appeared to be their only option to make that happen.
xoxox xox xoxox
Days later, Reno stood in the middle of the Seventh Heaven absolutely mortified as he realized that baby Sephiroth had somehow crawl away while he was distracted and open a drawer filled with things meant for Reno's eyes and Reno's eyes only. The silver haired child had taken an item from that drawer, he managed to keep it hidden until his babysitter brought him back to the Seventh Heaven and he was now waving it around like a flag for the entire bar to see.
Laughter erupted all over and Reno concluded that neither Cloud, Tifa, Cid, Vincent, Reeve, Tseng, Elena, Rude, and definitely not Yuffie, would ever let him forget this event. The picture was well preserved despite the years. It depicted a small Reno, still a toddler, after getting into mischief and painting a pair of red lines on his face for the first time.
xoxox xox xoxox
The days continued to pass... Tifa massaged her temples and shook her head. "A sneeze..." she couldn't believe what she had been told, but with all the craziness that happened, she did not deem it as impossible. "You're telling me that Cloud turned into a baby because Reno sneezed on him?"
"Yes," Tifa didn't know how it could be possible and she certainly did not understand how Rude could say it so calmly with a straight face while Reno had an 'oops' expression, eyes covered by his goggles. "You must remember when Reno turned into a baby it was by the effect of mako," Rude explained.
"Then when I changed back to normal the radioactive energy left me and sunk into the planet, then Sephiroth came back as a baby and I was left as a mako freak," Reno continued.
"Goo!" Baby Cloud protested. It could have been a mere coincidence or that he didn't like Reno calling those with mako 'freaks' even if he included himself.
"But for a sneeze to cause this," Tifa held the two babies in her arms, keeping them separated. If she let go, baby Sephiroth and baby Cloud would start to fight. It was somewhat cute and amusing, but Tifa would rather preserve the peace.
"I have a cold," Reno sounded as if that alone would clear up everything.
Elena decided to explain the situation, since Reno wasn't being clear enough and Rude didn't like giving speeches. "The way Reno received mako was unusual. It causes his immunity system to behave strangely when he is sick, for example with a cold. Basically he sneezes mako, but the test results indicate that it will stop once the cold is cured. The amount of mako in the sneezes isn't enough to affect most people. Cloud is an exception, because the mako he has reacted to the traces of mako Reno sneezed on him."
"Oh..." Tifa looked at the two babies in her arms. Cloud was quite content cuddled against her, while Sephiroth glared at Cloud. "Will Cloud be back to normal?"
"Yes, the effects will not last more than a few days," Tseng replied.
"Well, that's done," Reno announced. "Now that we told Tifa everything instead of being real Turks and getting rid of the evidence like I said we should, let's just get on with our lives? So Tifa, did you get more of that drink I like?" Tifa gave Reno a deadly glare. "No? How about something else then?"
"In case you haven't noticed, I have my hands full," Baby Sephiroth had begun to get restless and was trying to break free of Tifa's grip to attack baby Cloud. "You weren't really going to get rid of Cloud, were you?"
"That's the Turks way," Reno did not admit, nor deny anything.
"He suggested it but then changed his mind and said we should keep him and raise him to be the Turks' mascot, I think he got attached." Elena revealed.
"Elena..." Reno started.
"You talk too much!" In Reno's opinion Cloud would have made a pretty good mascot.
"If you want my opinion, this wouldn't have happened if you just covered your mouth when you sneeze." Elena's statement received mutual agreement from everyone else, save for Reno.
"But it was an accident," Reno knew this was an argument he would lose.
"According to the tests, there is also a chance that Cloud might change back with another small dose of mako." Tseng explained.
"Meaning Reno has to sneeze on him again? It feels cruel on Cloud, he's so small and adorable, but I really do need help talking care of Sephiroth," Tifa debated on what to do.
"Wah!" Sephiroth screamed for attention. From his point of view, the blond baby was an evil creature that made his daddy, the grown up Cloud, disappear and was now stealing his mommy's attention too.
"I guess we have no choice." Tifa gave Reno the baby Cloud and tried to calm Sephiroth.
Cloud wanted to go back to Tifa, and made a sad face. "Don't start crying, just wait until I sneeze on you and you can go back to delivering things all day."
Little Cloud grabbed Reno's goggles and took them off.
"Hey give that back!" Everyone stared at Reno. "Now do you see why I said mako freak? My eyes glow all the time when I have a cold." He recovered the goggles, hoped for a sneeze to come and then for his cold to go away, or just for the cold to go away.
Cloud laughed and stuck his little fingers on Reno's nose.
"Ow! Why do kids hate my nose? Or maybe they like it too much." Everyone laughed at this, but at least it caused Reno to sneeze. However, Cloud was still a baby, "maybe it takes more than one sneeze?"
"Or maybe it doesn't work," Tifa sighed "I can't take care of both of them. If they got along it would be fine, but Sephiroth doesn't like this Cloud. At least he gets along with Cloud in his true age."
"We can take care of Sephiroth," Elena offered. "I mean, I'm going to have a baby anyway so I might as well."
"You're having a baby?" Tifa was surprised.
Elena blushed and Tseng hugged her. So it was settled Tseng and Elena would baby-sit Sephiroth, so that Tifa could take care of baby Cloud for a few days until he was back to normal, which thankfully did happen after a few days.
When Cloud was finally a grown up again, Sephiroth returned to the Seventh Heaven and Cloud once against used up all the energy had had recovered during his short vacation as a baby. Will the baby chaos ever end? The world may never know...
Disclaimer, I don't own Final Fantasy VII.