A/N - so, my first FF fic that I'm posting. Please note that this contains het and slash pairings, and mpreg. If you don't like this, please hit the back button. It's easier on everyone. Other than that, hope you enjoy the story! (I am also more than open to couple requests - there are two set in stone, but everyone else I can pair up on request if you'd like)
Please note that this is Crisis Core and FFVII compliant ONLY. Deepground is mentioned vaguely, and Advent Children does not happen at all. I call artistic license. ;) Think of this as an alternative AC
Tifa woke up with a start, staring around the bedroom the nice doctor had lent her while watching over Cloud. The house was quiet; she could only hear herself breathing. Tifa could have sworn she heard screaming – but that was impossible. The blond was catatonic, and there was no one else in the clinic. However, just to be on the safe side, she crept into the adjoining bedroom. Her friend lay on his back on the small bed, blank blue eyes staring at the ceiling. She frowned; normally he slept on his side, curled in on himself, reminding her of the child he had been before he left for Midgar.
He had never gained a lot of height, or bulk, which was rather strange for a SOLDIER. Something had happened; in the seven years since she'd seen him last, someone or something had done a lot of harm to him. She wanted to ask what had happened, but it was obvious that whatever happened was affecting his memory as well. The answers he had given were disjointed, and never really made much sense.
The last memory she had of him before he left for Midgar was of a stubborn and somewhat sullen boy, but his promise to join SOLDIER and protect her had stuck in her mind. When the Shinra General and the black haired First had come to Nibelheim, she had been too nervous to ask about Cloud – now she wished she had, to at least know that part of his history. Because she knew at least that part of his story was false – he hadn't been the Soldier that came to Nibelheim all those years ago, and she wanted to know why he thought that. So many mysteries, and she had no idea how to find out the truth behind any of them. He clearly had no idea he even was lying - Cloud wouldn't be dumb enough to try and knowingly lie when she knew the truth and could have easily called him on it. So she bit her tongue and waited; for what she wasn't sure.
She sighed, and pulled up the blankets that had fallen off at some point. Her own bed was calling for her. Once this was over; once Cloud was whole again, and Sephiroth was dead, and Meteor gone, she would tell him how she felt.
Cloud stabbed at the eggs Tifa had made; she was a good cook, but he had far too much on his mind. The brunette's similarly untouched breakfast showed that it wasn't just him.
It had seemed perfect. The girl he had wanted for years had declared her love for him. He had asked them all for their reasons for fighting, and he was hers. Even knowing his less than amazing history – the fact that he had never been SOLDIER; that he was nothing more than a failure – failed SOLDIER, failed science experiment – she still wanted him. That first night had been awkward, but first nights tended to be, so he was more than willing to overlook that. It wasn't bad but a part of him had expected something...more.
Then they went on to defeat Sephiroth. There had been a lot of satisfaction there; the world was saved, even if Midgar was in ruins; and the madman dead and gone. A part of him – the part that had Zack's fractured memories – was saddened at the depths that the once great man had fallen to, but it hadn't stopped him from doing what needed to be done.
The world had celebrated, and the newly proclaimed 'heroes' had celebrated as well. Even if no one except AVALANCHE, Rufus and the Turks knew where Meteor had come from, they were still happy to see it stopped. Then came the sobering realization that hundreds of thousands of people were without homes. Reeve had been the one to step forward and organize things; starting what he called the World Regenesis Organization. It hadn't surprised anyone that the man in charge of urban development for Shinra would step in. He was the best for the job, and with his leadership, the survivors of Meteor were forming a new city they had taken to calling Edge. 'Anonymous' donations had come in to fund the new organization, and while Cloud had expressed his worry about accepting money from a Shinra, Reeve had been much more practical, and accepted the donation without batting an eye.
Barrett had commandeered Cid and the Highwind in order to search out the new power source the WRO scientists were working on; with Shinra gone there were no more Mako reactors, and the sometime leader of AVALANCE was determined to find a better, more ecologically friendly alternative.
Yuffie had gone back to Wutai, grudgingly, to work with her father as a liaison between Wutai and the WRO. It involved a lot of travel as well, which suited her just fine, because it allowed plenty of opportunities to become sidetracked and search for Materia.
Nanaki had returned to Cosmo Canyon to learn more about his tribe, and his father, and Vincent had left with him, although from the last time anyone had seen Nanaki, the gunman had left to parts unknown. Cloud wasn't surprised; if he had to guess, the man was probably back in the coffin they had found him in, or in the cave they had found Lucrecia in.
Tifa had decided to rebuild Seventh Heaven. He had agreed to help her, and everyone was just cooing over what a cute couple they made. He supposed it seemed that way; childhood friends that found each other again in a time of crisis and fell in love.
Except – they weren't in love. He wasn't sure when he had realized it, but he knew it. Tifa had been the goal; the girl he had striven to be the best for because she was the most popular girl in Nibelheim. It was depressing to realize that, but he was starting to see her as a sister. An older sister, actually, but he respected the power of her fists too much to say 'older' in front of her. Mentally, however, it was true. He had lost five years of his life to torture and Mako poisoning; in his head he still sometimes felt like he was sixteen. It was only the memories and knowledge he had gotten stolen from Zack that allowed him to do what he had done while in AVALANCHE and chasing after Sephiroth.
He wasn't sure exactly what she felt for him, but he hoped that she felt similar. It was obvious she knew something was wrong; he just wasn't sure what she was thinking. Just because he didn't want a relationship with her, didn't mean he didn't care deeply for her. He didn't want to have to tell her that he wasn't in love with her if she was in love with him.
To make matters worse, he had been feeling sick the last few weeks. While he wasn't, and had never been a SOLDIER, he had enough Mako in him to put him at the same level as a First Class, and he remembered from what Zack had said that he hadn't really ever gotten ill once he started getting his Mako shots. Of course, Zack had said that when he was suffering from a particularly nasty cold, so Cloud hadn't been too happy with him at the time. He had recovered the memory of Zack trying to force feed him rather badly made chicken soup a few days ago, and while the memory had made him grin at the typical Zack actions, the knowledge had disturbed him.
He had given serious thought to what to do, but in the few short weeks that Reeve had been working on his new, eco friendly company, he had gotten an impressive amount done. Since Cloud wasn't about to go to a regular doctor, and he definitely didn't trust Shinra's doctors, that left the WRO. So he had decided finally to go see Reeve. While he wasn't a doctor, he did have access to them, and he wasn't quite as worried about ending up in the lab again with a WRO doctor. Anything in a while coat still had him reaching for his sword – which he supposed was a step up from running away screaming. He wasn't sure if Reeve had gotten around to hiring doctors yet, but if not, he had faith the executive would have another idea of who he could go to.
Yet another flaw in his and Tifa's 'happily ever after' – the chronic nightmares he suffered from as a result of Hojo's machinations. She tried to smile about it, pretend it didn't bother her, but the circles under her eyes were only getting worse. He had taken to sneaking out of the bedroom after she fell asleep. It had led to one of their worst fights, and while her wish to help wake him from the nightmares was sweet, the lack of sleep was making both of them short tempered.
They finished breakfast in the same silence that they did nearly everything in, and Cloud gathered the dishes up.
"You have deliveries today?"
Cloud nodded. "Yea, a few, and then I need to go see Reeve. I'll probably be back late."
The brunette sighed. "Alright. I'll save you something to eat when you get back then."
"Thanks Teef." Little things like that were what made him feel like she was more sisterly than anything else, and he hated the guilt that sort of consideration brought.
Tifa sighed as she heard the door close. "You're welcome Cloud."
The WRO headquarters were – currently – an abandoned office building that Reeve vaguely remembered belonged to a company that Shinra had bought out shortly before Meteor. It didn't look like much yet, but the new WRO President was quick to defend himself saying that homes were more important that making his office building look good. There'd be more than enough time for that once everyone had a place to live again.
He walked into the lobby, nodding at the girl Reeve had hired as a receptionist. She didn't look much over fifteen, but the executive knew that there were far too many orphans, and working as a receptionist was a far cry better than ending up in a place like the Honey Bee Inn – usually the only option for homeless kids aside from street gangs. There was a blush on her face, and he could feel her eyes on him as he passed. He had only passed through the door when he heard the girlish squeal. The thought that he'd have to deal with girls throwing themselves at him and acting like little idiots now was only starting to dawn on him. Cloud couldn't say he liked it.
Reeve's secretary was a bit older and much more professional. She smiled politely at him while asking him to wait for a minute while she rang for the President. He still caught her gaze on him a bit more than he would like, but at least she wasn't being obvious about her staring.
Thankfully he didn't have long to wait before she let him know that Reeve was now free. With a polite nod, he stepped into the office.
"Cloud! How have you been? I'm glad you're here – I actually wanted to call you to take out a small nest of monsters on the north side of the city. Nothing big, but you know how it is, they'll just attract more, bigger monsters if we leave them alone."
Cloud nodded; it was a far cry better than deliveries. "No problem Reeve, I'll take care of them tomorrow. I actually came here to ask if you've gotten around to hiring doctors."
The brunet stopped for a minute while shuffling paperwork, looking at Cloud with shock clear on his face. "Doctor? Is everyone okay?"
The blond shrugged. "It's probably nothing, but well, I've been feeling sick lately, and I know I shouldn't, not with the Mako."
"Hmm. Yes, from what I can remember that is highly irregular. I suppose that you want this to remain secret? Let me call in to the medical department. It was the first branch I started on – too much structural instability; we still have people trickling in from Midgar and Kalm that were injured by falling buildings."
Cloud nodded distractedly. He liked Reeve; really he did, but the man tended to ramble. Especially about architecture, and half the time he really had no idea what the older man was talking about.
"Alright, I'll call them up. What are the symptoms?"
"Nausaeu mostly, I would have thought it was motion sickness or food poisoning if it hadn't been so consistent, and I've been more tired than I should be lately. I assumed it was a stomach virus until I remembered I shouldn't be able to get stomach viruses."
"Hmm, yes, definitely not. Alright, give me one second to call them." The brunet wasted no time, grabbing the phone and dialing. Cloud guessed the situation must still be pretty bad if he had the number memorized. He decided he'd send over some of his cure and restore material when he got back home. "Hi, yes, this is Reeve Tuesti. I have a patient here, with the symptoms of a stomach virus. They need to remain anonymous, are you able to find out what's wrong without seeing them? Um, I suppose I can provide that. Yes, if you can have someone send it up, I'll have it back to you within the hour. Thank you."
Reeve looked slightly nervous when he hung up the phone and Cloud was instantly on guard. "They have said they'll be able to run some tests, but they need a blood sample."
Cloud cringed. He hated needles. Still, it would be Reeve, and he trusted the man. He wouldn't be strapped down, and he had his sword with him. "Fine."
The brunet breathed a relieved sigh, and nodded. "Alright. They'll be coming up with what I'll need to take the sample. They've also asked for a urine sample, but I assume that'll be okay with you?"
Nodding, Cloud sat down to wait. That was non-invasive; he could deal with that just fine. The more important thing was to find out what nasty surprises Hojo had managed to leave for him. "How long until they know what's wrong?"
Reeve shook his head. "I don't know. They'll be able to rule out the normal illnesses quickly enough, but with your...enhancements...it could take a while to pinpoint what the problem is. You're welcome to wait here as long as you'd like though."
Cloud sighed. "I'll go get my deliveries done and head back. You can let me know what's been ruled out then."
The messenger arrived a few minutes later, and Cloud made sure to stand out of the line of sight of the person at the door. He knew he wasn't human, but he didn't want any further attention on him if this whole 'stomach flu' ended up being something like Vincent's...parasites. The actual blood drawing wasn't that bad. Cloud had to remind himself that Reeve actually cared about not causing pain; he made sure to hit the vein, not just shove the needle in and dig it around until it hit something. He dutifully peed in a cup, and told Reeve he'd be back later. Ducking through the door he ignored the secretary's 'have a nice day' and the giggles of the receptionist as he fled towards the sanctuary of the open road.
Reeve gripped the papers and walked back into the room the blond was in. Given the young man's aversion to anything that resembled a lab, he was glad he had been able to perform the needed tests in his office. It had taken a few hours, but he had the answers the blond needed. The test he needed ended up being a fairly common one, although it wasn't anything he would have originally requested be done. Thankfully the nurses he had sent Cloud's blood work to were thorough, and he hadn't mentioned anything about what tests needed to be done or who it was for, just what the symptoms were. However, he had a feeling that the answers would just make things even worse. He made sure that Cloud was well away from his sword before looking at the blond.
"Well?" Even if it was an office, he looked ready to bolt. The fact that Reeve had to draw blood hadn't gone down well, and Cloud was still on edge, even after a few hours and several deliveries had passed Needles tended to get both his and Vincent's guards up, not that he could blame them. "Is there something wrong with the Mako in me? Or whatever else Hojo did? I'm not going to start degrading like the other Firsts am I?"
"No Cloud, you're not degrading. It is related to what Hojo did however, although I'm not sure on a few details." The older man paused, not knowing how to approach this subject. "It appears that, when Hojo failed to make a successful clone of Sephiroth, he tried a different route."
The blond raised an eyebrow. "So what, I'm going to turn into him or something?"
"Not...exactly. I can't know what that man was thinking, nor do I particularly want to, but it appeared he was trying to plan a new generation, combining the research from Project G with Project S. The original attempt failed; I'm assuming you were catatonic during that time. He wanted to use someone who already had J cells in their body, and then inject more once the subject was pregnant."
Cloud frowned. "So what does that have to do with what's happening to me?"
Reeve ran a hand through his hair. "You were the subject. Your body accepted the J cells, but your mind succumbed to the Mako. Hojo wasn't even able to use you as he did the other clones, which is a good thing, but he wasn't ready to give up on you yet. He implanted a fully functioning womb inside of you to attempt to create someone that, according to him, would surpass Sephiroth. It appears that, even though his first attempt, using artificial insemination, failed, the womb is still functioning."
"Reeve...are you saying I'm..." The blond seemed torn between curling up and running, and unable to say the word.
"Yes Cloud, I'm afraid so. I...know you might not be comfortable telling me this, but would you know who the father – the other father – is?"
"Other...I thought you said it was artificial insemination, that it was done in the lab?" The blond looked confused, and Reeve had to wonder what exactly small towns taught their kids. He supposed it wasn't entirely Cloud's fault; he had been stuck in a lab during the time he should have been running around with girls – or guys.
"Well, yes, the first time. But you've been out of the lab for well over a year now, and even before that Hojo had more or less abandoned the Nibelheim lab and his...work...there. This was done the old-fashioned way. Cloud, I'm your friend, I won't care, I promise."
It still didn't appear to be clicking to him. "Care about what?"
"That you're homosexual."
Cloud gaped for a minute, nothing coming out. "I'm...not though. I'm with Tifa."
Now Reeve was getting worried; naive he may be, country boy he may be, but there was no way he could have not known about being, to put it crudely, fucked. He looked at the papers that had come back from the medical staff, grateful he hadn't put Cloud's name on it anywhere. The nurses that had taken care of the tests must have simply assumed it was one of his female companions. He wouldn't be surprised if rumours about Tifa started up after this. Taking a more careful look, he noticed the blond would be about seven weeks along, assuming the pregnancy had progressed normally.
"Seven weeks ago – where were we?"
The blond frowned in thought. "Five weeks since Meteorfall, a week since..." His eyes widened, and he looked at Reeve in shock. The brunette sat down heavily in his chair.
"You were in Mideel. But...wasn't Tifa watching over you?"
Cloud ran his hands through his spikes. "She was, but she had to have slept at some point. It seemed so peaceful there...I can't see anyone there doing something like that." The young man looked like he was about to be sick, and Reeve couldn't blame him. To find out something like this had been done to his body, and then that he had apparently been raped while he was catatonic, was more than anyone should have to deal with. Add that to what he had already been through, and Reeve was surprised he was able to remain even remotely sane. "Could it have something to do with being in the Lifestream?"
Personally, Reeve didn't think something like that was possible, but he nodded anyway; anything to give his friend something to cling to. "I suppose, at this point, anything is possible. I don't think we can know anything yet without doing more tests – and I don't think that's something you'd be interested in doing."
Cloud shook his head. "No...no more tests. So long as it's human, how it got there doesn't matter at this point."
The amount of repressing the boy did was phenomenal. Reeve was fairly convinced that there would be a massive meltdown at some point in his future. Hopefully he would be very far away when that happened.
"Reeve...no one else finds out. Swear to me." Burning blue eyes turned to him, and Reeve reluctantly found himself nodding.
"You shouldn't be alone for this Cloud."
"I can't stand to have anyone else know about this." The sheer amount of pain in his voice twisted the older man's heart.
The brunette, sighed, but nodded. "Alright. But hold on to your PHS. If you need anything, let me know and I'll send Cait Sith to you."
Cloud frowned, but nodded. He wouldn't leave yet anyway – there was still time. There was also the matter of Tifa – while they wouldn't have worked out anyway, he know had to figure out a way to break it off in the next month or so. Or was it a few weeks? "Reeve...I need information. Or something. I have no idea how to do this."
Sure, he knew how pregnancy worked –but everything he had heard was from a male's perspective. He didn't know what he could expect – or if it would even be the same for him. Knowing Hojo, the man had 'tinkered' and he would have no idea what to expect. And that was holding to the assumption that it actually was a human child.
"That'll be easy enough to get, but Cloud, you really need to have a doctor you can go to. I'll retrieve Hojo's files, and try to find out as much as I can, but I have the distinct feeling you'll need help at the end of the pregnancy regardless of what you choose for now."
Cloud blanched. "How...how exactly is that going to happen Reeve?" The blond's voice was completely emotionless, and Reeve regretted the fact that he had to be the one to give this news to the boy.
Clearing his throat, he made a show of looking at the papers, not being able to look in the younger man's eyes anymore. "I take it there haven't been any...external differences you've noticed?"
"No. And I know Tifa or I would have noticed something like that."
Ask a stupid question Reeve... "Right. Of course. I imagine we'll have to do a caesarean section. Hojo would have planned for this to have happened completely inside the lab, and in order to have full control of the...project...that would make the most sense. But only finding his notes will tell us for sure. If it helps, the notes should be here soon; I had already requested anything relating to yourself or Vincent from Rufus."
Cloud didn't particularly look relieved at the news, and grimaced at the Shinra President's name. It had been a shock to find out that the man had actually survived the attack on Shinra tower, even if he wasn't in the best shape.
"Don't worry, I'll make sure no one actually looks at the notes; it will be for your eyes only."
"Thanks Reeve. I don't know how I'd get through this without your help."
The executive paused, frowning. "You know, Cloud, I don't think that it's as bad as you think. No one would think less of you."
Cloud gave a disbelieving laugh. "No, Reeve, I think they would. Except for Vincent, at least, because he knows what it's like. But everyone else...? I was a freak before I found out about this. Now? I'm a man who's pregnant. I don't think it gets much worse."
"Fine. I've already said no one else will find out. I think you're wrong, but it's your choice to make."
"Alright. I'm going to...go. I need to figure out some things."