Chapter Twenty-Two

Reno smiled. Despite the fact that he was, officially, tending a baby, things were nonetheless going his way. Yuffie Kisiragi was going to be a hard case, but he was making progress. He had planted the first seed of, if only there was something he could do to nurture it...

Yuffie wasn't the kind who would be swayed by talk, she would need some show of had be put it? Sympathy? But nothing too overt, of course. It had to be something she'd notice and appreciate, but nothing too obviously designed to make her appreciate him. Ahhh, decisions, decisions...

The tramping of feet from below roused Reno from his mental pursuit of the Kisiragi princess; and, scurrying out of sight, he watched as Cloud Strife entered the house. Frowning, he saw that the young SOLDIER carried a bundle, wrapped in brown paper.

"What," he wondered, "is that little shit doing? And why does he get to play errand boy while I'm stuck changing diapers?"

Driven by this question, he found himself creeping down the stairs and following the unaware young man toward Genesis' study. He watched him enter, and then crept toward the door. Pressing his ear against it, he listened.

"Sir," he heard Cloud greet his commanding officer. "I've acquired some of the items on your list."

"Ah, good!" he heard Genesis return. "Which ones?"

A crinkling of paper, no doubt denoting the unwrapping of the bundle, answered this question.

"Good work, Strife! I had a devil of a time finding these two volumes the first time around!"

"Just doing my duty, sir."

"Keep this work up, and I'll see that the VP hears just've been."

"Th-thank you sir!"

", go...and, remember, this is all strictly confidential. No one else needs to know."

"No sir."

Racing back up the stairs as Cloud's footsteps approached the door, Reno came to a halt when he'd reached the landing, and watched the young SOLDIER depart. He couldn't help but feel greatly annoyed, and even more greatly curious.

The idea that someone else got out of changing diapers, while he - Reno! - was stuck doing so irked him to no end - particularly when that someone was a young pup of a SOLDIER. But it was curiosity that was the overriding feeling at the moment. What, he wondered, was Genesis up to? What "volumes" was he talking about? His first thought had been some sort of parenting book...but then he'd made some mention of "the first time around" - and, though he was only marginally acquainted with the SOLDIER, everyone knew Genesis' aversion to kids. There'd be no chance that he'd ever, ever gotten hold of a set of parenting books except in a case like this one...and, as far as he was aware, this whole kidnapping scheme was unprecedented in Shinra's long, and rather sordid, history.

"Hmm..." he mused. "I'm just going to have to find out now..."