AN: Thank you for the support, finally got to the end of this! I really enjoyed writing it. Thanks for all the reviews! Special thanks to shadowhaloedangel, who says this is part of the reason she loves Sephiroth and Vincent as a pairing.
Rufus looked over at the leader of the WRO, and Reeve smiled back. Reeve had been supportive of the young president, guiding him to help restore the world, and correct the mistakes that his father had made, becoming a paternal figure himself to the young man.
Cait Sith walked over, carrying a tray of drinks. He deposited it on the table, and, after he was petted by Reeve, left again. Rufus relaxed a little at the drink, taking a sip and smiling over the top of his glass at Reeve.
"Thank you Reeve." Reeve shrugged, smiling and toasting the other.
"To President Rufus." Rufus looked down, mildly embarrassed by the other. He took a deep breath to calm himself, and then replied.
"To the WRO." The two of them drunk, before the conversation became more serious.
"Please, I've told you, call me Reeve." Rufus smiled and nodded, continuing to talk.
"Reeve, how are the plans for the slum renovations going?"Reeve pulled some blueprints up onto the desk, spreading them out for the President to survey.
"Well... ensuring basic sanitation and necessary food and water supplies should be relatively simple, so phase one of the reconstruction will rapidly be completed. Ensuring the abandoned children are protected, phase two, is beginning to work, helped by the adoption of many of them by those on the plate. As for phase three, increasing the employment prospects and literacy levels...we still have some way to go."
Rufus nodded. He had come to agree with Cloud's view that those in the slums were not inferior by birth, but rather by environment. His company would greatly benefit if he was able to tap into their potential labour value. Reeve smiled at him.
"Will you be requiring any extra funding?" Reeve shook his head.
"What you have already provided is more than sufficient for now Rufus, thank you for your help."
Rufus smiled, and the meeting continued, based on questions of how Reeve was progressing, and trying to ensure that Rufus and Reeve's visions for a better future were coherent.
Zack smiled, grinning over the new cadets, the recently promoted Third at his side.
"Go and have fun, you all worked well today! Don't give up!" He waved and dismissed them, then turned to Cloud, smiling at him. "See, taking classes isn't too hard." It had gone well, though they had had to instruct many of the cadets on the basics. They had had little prior experience, but almost all the cadets were eager to learn.
Cloud smiled and rolled his eyes. It was better than he'd expected, and he was feeling a lot more confident than he had previously. The youngsters seemed to have realised that he was feeling a bit uncertain, so had been more patient than they normally would have been.
"I'm still a bit nervous about it..." Zack grinned.
"Yeh but you do good. It helps the kids to have people around their age there to work with them." He ruffled Cloud's hair, then, having checked no one was looking, kissed the shy blonde's cheek. Cloud's blush worsened.
"Zack! Rufus said to cut down on public displays of affection!" Zack opened his mouth, but Cloud continued, not letting Zack get a word in. "And yes, I know you're not molesting me in public any more, but our relationship is meant to be kept private."
Zack paused, then grinned and hugged Cloud.
"Yeh, I know Spike. And I haven't been molesting you in public, it doesn't mean I won't in future." He smirked after a few second's thought. "Guess what Cloud?"
Cloud blinked in confusion.
"What is it Zack?" He moved away slightly at the other's rather terrifying grin.
"It's the future now!" Cloud squeaked as Zack picked him up, throwing him over his shoulder and carrying him out of public and into their rooms. Cloud rolled his eyes a second time, but didn't really protest, petting Zack's shoulder.
One of the new cadets turned to his training partner having replaced his sword in the rack, a huge grin on his face.
"Raif, do you think our teachers' might be queer?" Raif shrugged.
"I've got no idea, but everyone's saying that the older one's going to be our new general." Raif's companion blinked, but accepted the information. Commander Fair was a bit on the strange side, but he did work hard, and he was kind. It could be worse.
Vincent sat in the shade of the house, waiting for Sephiroth's return. They were free now, living the life he had always dreamed about. They had their own house, with a huge garden. It was surrounded by high fences so that he would have shade from the sun, and the flowerbeds were just coming into bloom. Inside the house the rooms were small but practical. Both his and Sephiroth's rooms had a large double bed, and above them were huge skylights. Vincent found that reassuring, to watch the sky at night and remind himself he would never wake up faced with the wooden lid of a coffin again.
There was also a kitchen, living room, dining room, a room for guests, and now a third bedroom. Vincent tapped his metallic fingers on the floor to hide his concern. Whilst both he and Sephiroth were comfortable and happy in their new house, today a new member of the family would be arriving, and he was worried that they wouldn't fit in, or that they wouldn't like him.
It had been Sephiroth's idea. He'd been up in Midgar to talk to Reeve, and the idea of adoption had been raised. Initially Vincent was against the idea. He was a cursed man, and though he had been able to help Sephiroth, there was little chance of him ever managing to help the lives of anyone else. He had refused to meet with the girl, even offering to move out so that the two of them wouldn't be brought into close contact with each other. Then Sephiroth had shown him the picture, and his resolution had melted. Looking into her warm brown eyes, he had agreed that yes, there would be a place in their home, and in their hearts, for the little girl.
Now he was wondering if he had made the right choice. The ShinRa marked car was pulling up to their drive, and now they didn't have a chance to go back on it. Sephiroth parked and stepped out, a fragile smile on his face.
He walked around and opened the door, and a small, slightly scruffy girl of about seven climbed out. Vincent raised a hand and waved at her, and she waved back. Sephiroth smiled, ruffling the girl's short hair.
"Aine, welcome to your new home." The three of them could be a family, finally free from Hojo and the horrors of the labs.