This chapter is dedicated to our 1100th reviewer:
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WARNING: This is about male pregnancy (possibly) and male/male relationships. We are letting you know now what the relationships WILL contain. So, if you are AGAINST such pairings, please find something else more to your liking, you have been WARNED.
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Special thanks to: SorayaEllis, SasoriTactic, Magicnixi, TobiIsMyGoodBoy, Magister Ludi, zackFairsGirl, UltimateNinjaOfDoom, Xyros, Kage 5243, Anya-A (totally love your avatar! AN), ILIKETHEWORDPIE, Alucard's Dracula, Kage Mori, oztan, makoslits, KittyWillCutYou, YunnieBoo, Yumi-nachan, Crimson Blade Kos-mos, Lazy Lamia, Baby-Ayatane , ladysubaru83, NukeMyWaffle, Norm120, Mizu Hoseki, Mizu Hoseki, Utena-Puchiko-nyu, and to those who have read and didn't review thanks for reading thus far. We hope you enjoyed it.
Vocabulary: Fag (n)—Slang: cigarette.
Notes: I know it has been quite some time since our last posting. Unfortunately, Mitts had some problems with her email and we could no longer communicate with each other. But we are back and on track with this update! Hope everyone is doing well.
Chapter 44: Information III (Let me tell you a story)
No one knew of the incident involving Tseng at the Northern Crater, and the Turk was grateful for that. This way he didn't have to explain anything as he was now being questioned like a common prisoner by the former Shin-Ra General.
Sephiroth sneered despite the situation. He still held an air of authority as usual and nothing was going to change that, but he needed information from the man laying so deathly pale in the bed, even if his poor condition made Sephiroth wonder about what had happened to the Investigation Bureau Director.
"If this is a bad time for me to talk with you, Tseng…"
"No, just ask what you want and then leave. I don't like you, Sephiroth, and I'd rather not suffer your presence again anytime soon, so let's just get this over with, thank you very much," Tseng cut in.
"Don't be an ass, Tseng. I need your help. And I would think that being attacked by a bunch of hood rats, you would want to cooperate," Sephiroth bit back, not letting up on his verbal assault. "Anyone would think that you'd want to assist me, especially after you lost your child to those assholes."
His eyes widened in surprise. "How did you…?"
"Did you forget about my heightened olfactory sense? You smelt just like Cloud when he was pregnant. You and he shared a particular scent while carrying a child, one that is completely different to your own unique natural scents, which in your case is a mixture of cinnamon, ink, and gunpowder," Sephiroth said, adding forcefully, "So tell me, Tseng, how long do you think it will be before Hojo figures out that you're a breeder? And then how long do you think it will be before he tracks down the child you gave birth to two years prior?"
"You bastard! Don't you dare! I will not let you, or anyone else, hurt my son. Get out! Get the fuck out!" Tseng hollered, anger and fear propelling his body forwards into a sitting position, his face contorted with rage.
"Then tell me what Hojo is working on," Sephiroth urged, knowing he had pressed the right buttons to evoke a reaction from the weakened man.
"Zack saw Hojo's concealed chamber filled with test tubes, and marked cylinders that contain my husband's fertilized eggs.
"There is no guessing what that monster did to the embryos, and if any of them survived the explosion you best believe that Hojo engineered them to be exactly like me in some way." By now, Sephiroth was up close to Tseng's face, making himself even more threatening to the injured Turk.
Tseng delayed a bit before speaking, heaving a deep sigh, knowing the silver haired man was right. But there was only so much he was going to say. He was still loyal to his lover. "I honestly don't know what Hojo was working on. The majority of his data research was destroyed in the explosion. And the bits and pieces that were found at the Shin-Ra mansion in Nibelheim only made reference to Omega, and something called the G-substance."
G-substance? Sephiroth canted his head, and furrowed his eyebrows. He had heard that word before but… from where?
"I'm not sure if this has any bearing but, Dr. Lucrecia Crescent's lab was recently unsealed on the other side of the mansion. She had notes pertaining to a being called, Chaos, which coincidently cross referenced with Omega. Whatever Hojo is after, you can bet it's that… Omega. And whatever that is, it's obviously dangerous," Tseng finished, lying back against his pillows, clearly exhausted.
"Thank you." Sephiroth did not press for any more information, instead he let the Turk rest and left the medical lab, pondering his next move carefully because apparently, Vincent was somehow involved with this mess they'd unexpectedly found themselves in.
Knocking on the captain's cabin door, Sephiroth was pretty sure that he would find his father inside. There were questions he needed answers to, and Vincent was the only one who could give them.
Naturally, the door opened with the surly pilot behind it, and Sephiroth took a moment to stare at Cid's tired appearance. The man looked as if he'd just stepped out of bed which, judging by the wild state of his hair and the faint scent of sex about him, he probably had. In the background, Sephiroth heard the shower running, giving him confirmation of his earlier assessment about Cid's and Vincent's relationship.
He briefly closed his eyes to the damaging conceptual thought that ran unbidden around his mind. That brief mental image of his father and Cid together was going to be enough to keep him awake for many future nights, and Sephiroth winced as he felt the beginnings of a headache. The intimate nature of the two men's relationship, one his sire, the other was someone he considered a friend, a relationship that he didn't particularly need or want to know about.
"Well, General, what do you want? I know you didn't come all the way down here to visit with me and exchange pleasantries, so spit it out," Cid barked, opening the door wider to admit Sephiroth.
Like with so many of the doors on the airship, Sephiroth had to duck down to enter. Did Cid design the ship for only short people, and did Vincent have this problem as well, Sephiroth pondered as he entered the cabin. "I need to speak with my father," he said as he stood back up to his full height, leather crinkling with the movement.
"He's in the shower, but you already knew that I'm sure because your hearing's just as good as Vince's, if not better. Give him about five minutes and he'll be out," Cid replied, walking over to a table and picking up a lighter and a cigarette.
"How's Cloud and the baby?" he asked, turning back around to face his visitor.
"They're fine. Cloud is with his mother. By the way, thank you for picking her up," Sephiroth said.
"No need to thank me, it's the least I could do for the kid," Cid answered, placing the unlit fag in his mouth.
An awkward silence descended upon them briefly, until Sephiroth's low baritone filled the stillness. "I know it's probably not any of my business…"
"And you're probably fuckin' right," Cid answered, abruptly cutting off the General, exhaling a plume of cancerous smoke into the cabin.
Narrowing his eyes, Sephiroth didn't appreciate the pilot's rudeness. And he was about to let Cid know that, when the adjoining door to the bedroom opened, and a towel clad Vincent strolled into the room.
"Sephiroth, what brings you here?" Vincent was actually quite happy at seeing his son, and it was noticeable in the tone of his greeting. Most times he would have to be the one to seek out the other man's company, but not today… which meant something of grave importance must have arisen, and that took some of the joy away from the dark haired man, who now waited impatiently to hear what it was.
"Hello, Vincent. I came because I need to ask you about mother's research."
Cid saw how Vincent visibly tensed, and knew right away that something wasn't right. Usually, Vincent would get a furlong look on his face whenever Lucrecia was mentioned, but this time he actually looked shaken. Cid would definitely talk with his lover about this reaction later.
"I know nothing other than the fact it played a major role in creating Chaos," Vincent said evenly, trying to hide his unrest by scrubbing himself dry and donning his clothing.
Cid turned to leave. He couldn't stay in the room with the other two men. The air was saturated with tension. "I'll let you both discuss whatever it is that needs discussing. I gotta get to the helm." And with that, the pilot was out the door.
Looking at one another, father and son were at an impasse. After some minutes of not speaking, Sephiroth caved. He needed to know, he had to know. "Vincent…"
"'Soul wrought of terra corrupt, quelling impurity, purging the stream to beckon forth an ultimate Fate. Behold, mighty Chaos, Omega's squire to the lofty Heavens'," Vincent recited powerfully before Sephiroth could ask anything of him.
"Your mother told that to me a long time ago, long before you were even conceived. I never really gave the passage much thought," he admitted, as he sat down upon the edge of the bed.
Sephiroth sat across from his father, sitting quietly, listening, and quickly processing the information he was being given.
"Legend has it that, during a time of need, two entities would emerge; Chaos and Omega, to purge the planet of all life—to start anew." Vincent paused, thinking upon the words to himself and then, looking into interested emerald cat-like eyes, he continued. "Lucrecia and my father discovered what this myth meant. And it's no coinendence that I just so happen to house within my body, the harbinger of death."
If Sephiroth was unsettled, or even surprised by this revelation, he didn't show any indication of it. Instead he asked, "And Omega, what part does it play? Hojo is after it, and I can't imagine something as uncontrollable and untamable as Omega helping him with anything."
Sighing, Vincent ran his hand through his still damp hair. "Omega, like Chaos, thrives on darkness, pain, and suffering. With the world in the state that it's in now, Omega's appreance is only a matter of time."
Now fully understanding the gravity of the situtation, Sephiroth stood and started heading for the door, but he was stopped by more words from his father.
"Forget about going to the Shin-Ra company. You completely destroyed it," Vincent stated, knowing only too well where his son would head to.
"I'm going to look for Hojo," Sephiroth answered. "My family is not safe with him hiding somewhere and plotting to kidnap Cloud and our child."
"Then go, but you won't find him," Vincent replied. "It will be a complete waste of your time."
"Why do you say that? Do you know where he is?" Sephiroth asked, turning to fully look at the other man, his eyes impleading silently.
oOo Flashback oOo
Having ascended the many flights of steps of the building, Vincent paused briefly to contact Yuffie. Something was 'off' with the whole situation. "Yuffie, I want you to check the mako canon."
"I just checked it," Yuffie answered, but she turned the scanning device back on and was startled to discover another blip. "Hold on! Hold on! That's impossible!"
"Just as I thought," Vincent replied. "You go and meet up with Zack and the others. I have some unfinished business to attend to." He terminated the transmission, and raced up the remaining stairwell, only to come to an abrupt halt at what he saw when he reached the top.
All that was left of Professor Hojo's lab were remnants of the mainframe computer—no walls remained of the once fully functioning torture chamber. Broken glass laid everywhere, and exposed wires sparked all around the flooring, popping and sizzling at various intervals. Vincent stayed stationary as he surveyed the openness of what was left of the lab, lifting his head as thunder erupted in the black sky, and blinking as rain began to fall in light droplets upon his face.
Quick flashes of lightning bolts struck around the complex, and one hit the last standing tower, causing it to break off and smash against the smoldering debris below. Thunder began to explode constantly, accompanied with more and more flashes of lightning. Fires sprang up, engulfing different parts of the ruined building, and helicopter search lights roamed the area, searching for any signs of life, but there was none to be found.
Ignoring all the devastation going on around him, Vincent's crimson orbs narrowed in concentration. There, in the far corner where the data terminal was located, he thought he could see the body of Hojo, slumped over the flashing screen and keyboard. Another crack of thunder resounded loudly, and Vincent nearly swore as he squinted his eyes against the now heavy pouring rain to confirm what saw, but the framework quaked beneath his feet, and a loud rumble underfoot became almost deafening. The building was starting to collapse in on itself.
It was Yuffie calling out to him as she whizzed by on an air scooter. Acting swiftly, Vincent ran to her, jumping over the edge of the platform to leap onto the fast moving vehicle as yet another fiery explosion ignited behind them, the blast causing the air scooter to swerve and veer wildly for a dangerous few seconds.
"Ohh…" Yuffie groaned, desperately attempting to hold onto the contents of her stomach.
Vincent looked back over his shoulder, but he was unable to see anything because of all the dust and smoke and rain. So he looked forward again, and held on tight as he steered the vehicle to take them both to safety.
What the former Turk didn't realize was that, even as the building collapsed, one of the monitors was beeping in glowing words: DEFRAGMENTATION ACTIVATE.
oOo End Flashback oOo
Entering the medical lab, Cloud wasn't quite sure if he wanted to be in there. He grew ever more anxious and nervous with each step forward, because he hadn't had pleasant experiences with being in labs or hospitals in the past and he wanted to keep his visits to such places short, to non-existent.
Yet, he had no choice… Professor Gast wanted him here for his last exam, or whatever it was that the good scientist and doctor wanted to do.
Cloud spied the older man at his workstation, scribbling furiously on some notes and then looking through the lens of a nearby microscope for a few seconds before turning back to his notes. Smiling, Cloud cleared his throat to garner the professor's attention.
"Oh, Cloud, I'm glad that you showed up," Gast greeted with a smile in return.
"Well, I didn't think that I had the option of not coming," Cloud replied, looking tentatively around the lab.
"Go and have a seat. This will only take several minutes of your time, and then you can get back to your baby."
"Okay, Professor G," Cloud said, a little relieved to hear he would be out of this place soon. He watched as Gast turned from his work and walked over to a low cabinet, where he withdrew a plastic bag with something inside.
Cloud saw the contents; it was a small covered container with an orange lid, and a moist sanitary wipe packet. What was that for? he wondered.
"Now then, take this and go into the restroom. I need a urine sample if you please," Gast instructed as he turned around and approached Cloud, holding out the bag as he neared the boy.
"A what?" Why in the world would the professor want that? Cloud pondered.
"I need to conduct a pregnancy test, Cloud," Gast answered. "The last one we did right after Sephiroth brought you in to me was negative, and I want to be doubly sure that you have haven't conceived in these last few weeks."
"And if I have, then what?" Cloud asked, scared of what the test might yield. He didn't know what he would do if he was pregnant again. His daughter was barely eight months old, and he didn't think that he could handle having another infant underfoot so soon.
"Well, if you are, my boy, we will monitor your pregnancy carefully," Gast replied, knowing that, if Cloud was indeed expecting, then he would do everything in his power in order for Cloud to deliver a strong healthy baby. "Make sure you clean off any excess liquid with the wipe when you are done," he advised, handing the items over.
Mortified beyond anything that he had endured, Cloud took the specimen jar and slowly made his way into the single toilet area. Several minutes later, he emerged with the half-filled container and handed it over to Gast, who cautiously twisted off the lid.
Grabbing another canister, Gast retrieved a dipping stick and plunked it into the clear, warm, yellow liquid, watching as the colors on the stick varied until it finally stopped changing.
It was like Cloud was on pins and needles. He shuffled nervously from foot to foot, worried because he couldn't read the expression on the professor's face. "What's the end result?" he asked anxiously.
"It's red. It's negative," Gast announced proudly, holding the stick up for Cloud to see. "Now, with that out of the way, I want to go ahead and prescribe a birth control method that I'm sure would work for you. We will, of course, change the dosage if you become too sick. But I must warn you, you must be consistent or else you will become pregnant," he warned.
"Unfortunately, I cannot re-prescribe your testosterone meds due to you having already giving birth. That drug would do your body more harm than good, especially is you and Sephiroth are planning on having more children later," Gast explained as simple as he could.
For the next half hour, Cloud patiently sat with Gast as he explained how to use the new medication.
Fiddling with his engagement ring, Tseng couldn't help but wonder how much longer that he was going to have to stay in ICU. His physical trauma had already been dealt with, and there were no visible lingering bruises or scars, which Tseng was grateful for; however, he knew that mentally it was going to take a much longer time to get over his loss.
Oh, dear Gaia? What do I tell Rufus? He's going to be… A sob escaped, and before he could hide his tears the door to the room opened to admit an unexpected visitor.
Sniffling somewhat, Tseng sat higher in his bed and greeted the newcomer. "Hello, Cloud. What brings you here? I thought for sure when the door opened that it would be with Sephiroth coming back to grill me some more about Hojo."
"He's talking with Vincent about something," Cloud revealed, taking a seat next to the Turk. "I just came by to see how you were doing. Elena just woke-up a little while ago. She asked for you and Reeve, and for someone named Tsume. Who's that? Is he her son?
"I'm… I'm sorry. That was very rude of me, I shouldn't be asking personal questions," Cloud said quickly, feeling embarrassed for allowing his mouth to talk unchecked. Getting up to leave to save face, he was motioned to sit back down with a wave of Tseng's bandaged hand.
"No, it's alright. I don't mind you knowing that Tsume is my son. Mine... and Rufus'," Tseng finally admitted out loud.
Cloud's overly bright eyes widened more than what they should have when he heard that information. "Then—then you're like me?" he whispered in awe.
Thinking this entire time that something was wrong with him—that he was alone as the only male to get pregnant and birth a child—that Tseng was right here all along. If he had some inkling, Cloud wouldn't have suffered in silence with being pregnant and having no one else to relate too.
"Yes, Cloud, I'm like you. And I'm sorry that you had to go through all that hell from Hojo during your pregnancy. You didn't have the resources that I did to keep it a secret, plus you are young and naïve still in the ways of the world," Tseng said gently, laying back against his pillows and closing his eyes while he talked.
"Our unique ability of child bearing is merely whispered on the wind. When I was about your age, maybe a little younger, I left home. I had discovered that I was a breeder, and my concerned mother made sure that I understood everything there was to know about male carriers before I began my journey. My village is maybe one of the last places on earth which produce a high ratio of carriers; two out of five males born to be exact.
"That has been a well-kept secret for many years. My father didn't know of course, about my ability. Something of this magnitude was not to be shared, not even with my sire. Being of a high status, naturally it was my expected duty to marry and have heirs, but I knew that I didn't want to be trapped in my village, fettered down to a female who I was not in love with nor attracted to. So I gave up everything, including my title and my family, in order to find the one person that would complete me in life."
Cloud gave a sympathetic sigh, but did not interrupt, and he waited patiently while the injured man lay there quietly for a moment, as if in sleep.
Opening his eyes, Tseng blinked several times, as if to flutter away the visions of the past. He didn't know why he was telling all of his ancient history to Cloud. Maybe it was because of what they had in common, or perhaps because he needed to talk to someone other than Rufus and Elena. Whatever the reason was, Tseng didn't really know, but it was nice getting this burden off his chest and he felt a little lighter for it. He decided to tell Cloud more of his story.
"After securing a job within the Shin-Ra company, I worked my way up through the ranks under the leadership and guidance of Grimoire Valentine. I'm guessing that, shortly after, Grimoire discovered something that he shouldn't have, regarding his son's death, because my period with him ended when I found him dead in his office." Tseng ignored the small gasp from Cloud, continuing with his narration.
"I was personally chosen by President Shin-Ra to be Rufus' bodyguard. I was fifteen when I first met Rufus, and he was just a child of ten, but I knew the moment I laid eyes on him that we were meant to be together—that he was the one. By the time I was twenty-five, Rufus and I had begun a consensual relationship, which wasn't a real relationship at all with all the secrecy surrounding it.
"At any rate, we continued on for several more years, during which time I watched Sephiroth grow into the man that he is today, and Zack too. And then three years ago, I completely disregarded my meds while I was on a mission, and when I returned home… well, let's just say that Rufus and I had created something precious."
The two men smiled in understanding at each other, each thinking of their own priceless treasure, their children.
Cloud opened his mouth to ask how Rufus had taken the news of becoming a parent, but it was as if Tseng read his mind and, after taking a small sip of water from a beaker by his bedside, the dark haired man started to talk once more, his soft voice waylaying Cloud's unspoken question.
"I had never told Rufus that I was a breeder, and he had never expressed any feeling on wanting children, so not knowing how he would react to my pregnancy, I thought that I had no other recourse but to go into hiding. Elena and I gave Rufus our leave of absence, and we left without a trace. We traveled a bit, staying in towns that were out of the way of anywhere. I went home once, for a brief respite—just to see how my family was doing.
"My parents actually thought that Elena was my bride at first, but I told them the truth. They of course asked many, many questions regarding the unborn baby's welfare, insinuating that perhaps I should marry Elena anyway to provide a stable home for the child, and I was just grateful that my young sister, Yuffie, was not there to witness my interrogation. She had been away on a hunting trip, and I was gone again by the time she came back."
Pausing again, Tseng thought he saw recognition in Cloud's eyes at his sibling's name. But Cloud still did not talk, content to just sit and listen as the other man unburdened himself. Tears build up behind Tseng's eyes as his mind recalled what happened next, and he was grateful when Cloud silently slipped his small hand into his, accepting the hold and appreciative of the comfort and courage it gave him. Taking a deep breath, the Turk picked-up where he last left off.
"Honestly, I hadn't given marriage to a woman a second thought. I loved Rufus."
For just a moment, Tseng fiddled with his engagement ring, lost in his own thoughts of nights spent in passionate embraces with his lover. "But, I felt there was no returning to him, so when Elena and I left Wutai, we headed north," he continued, his voice getting lower, softer.
"We had a run-in with some Hunters there. At first I thought that Rufus had hired them to track us down, but in the end it turned out that they only wanted me. Somehow, they had found out about me being able to conceive. Elena and I didn't run from the fight, and I ended up injuring the commander of the squad. I don't know if I killed her or not, but they ceased pursuing us and we got away.
"We eventually ended up at a place called, Round Island, where seven months later, I gave birth to Tsume. I wished that Rufus was there to witness the miracle, and that is something I will always regret—denying him the choice of being present for the birth of his son."
Tseng's tears were now streaming down his face, and he clutched at the tissue Cloud passed to him, pressing it to his weeping eyes. He was coming to the close of his story. There wasn't much left to tell, so taking in some fortifying gulps of air, he continued once more, the now wet tissue balled up in his fist.
"I stayed at Round Island to raise Tsume. I wanted him away from the fighting and the killing. I wanted him to have a peaceful infanthood. After he turned two, Elena and I came back, and I kept Tsume hidden, with either Elena or Rude watching him while I returned to work. Naturally, Rufus and I started our relationship again, with no questions asked, and I was quite thankful that Rufus didn't inquire as to where I went or what had happened.
"I think that Rufus thought I was cheating on him with Elena during that time away, but she is like my little sister. Nothing more." Tseng gave a small sad laugh, then he signed deeply. "I found out in January that I was pregnant, and in February, for Valentine's, Rufus proposed.
"Once again, I didn't have the courage to tell him about my condition but eventually, after the threat of Hojo coming to treat me for being sick in my office, I admitted to Rufus that I was expecting our second baby. He was actually thrilled, and pleased that he would be a part of this child's life from the very start. But then… then… he sent Elena, Reno and I on that accursed mission to the Northern Crater, and… and..." Tseng stopped talking and began sobbing instead, covering his face with his hands and the useless damp tissue.
"Tseng, it's okay. You don't have to tell me anything more," Cloud consoled, saddened by all he had heard. Standing up, he instinctively reached out to pacify the Turk, his slim arms going around Tseng's shoulders, and he held him for several minutes, his blond head placed gently against the dark head, whispering soothing words of comfort while the man cried and mourned for his loss.
"Well, this is where I am now in life," Tseng sniffed, his tears slowly ebbing. "Those bastards attacked us and tortured us, and because of them I lost my baby. Cloud, I lost my precious child and I feel so… empty," he confided woefully. But in finally admitting it, Tseng was ready to heal.
As soon as Cloud felt Tseng calm a little, he retook his seat and dared to broach a question he'd been dying to know the answer to. "Tseng, I just want to ask you one thing…" Cloud paused and licked at his lips, a little nervous about how the man would react to yet another personal question. Then taking a deep breath, he just went for it. "How is it that you're Yuffie's brother? I mean… I always thought that she was an only child."
"No, Yuffie has me as a sibling. She just doesn't remember me because I left home when she was an infant, barely days old," Tseng answered truthfully.
"But that means that… that you're…" Cloud wasn't quite sure how to form his words, and so he left the rest of his sentence unfinished. But Tseng knew what he meant.
"Yes, Cloud, you're correct in your thinking. I'm the heir apparent—the Prince of Wutai."
oOo TBC oOo
A/N: Well looks like Tseng had a lot to say. How was that? I know it's a bit different from the normal story line but I wanted Tseng to tell his side of the story.
ArchNemesis & Mitts
oOoOo Teaser for Chapter 45 oOoOo
Racing through the streets of Midgar, Cloud knew that he had to stop the youth—the one who had Jenova's head. Then overhead, Cloud saw the glittering haul of the Shera.
"Cloud, I brought you Materia!" Yuffie exclaimed excitedly.
"Yo, Cid! Park this turkey!" Barrett shouted to the pilot, a comment to which Cid didn't take too kindly.
"Shud'up! If you want off, then jump—get off my back."
Tifa hid a smile behind her hand as she watched Vincent step next to his lover, like a silent sentry letting Barrett know that his comment was not appreciated.
Sephiroth joined them on the bridge, watching the fight below, realizing that this was something that his husband was going to have to do all on his own. Zack, and a heavily pregnant Aerith, had followed close behind their friend with worry clearly on their faces.
"Sephiroth did you know about them?" Vincent asked his son.