Title: Heritage and Legacies
Rating: Teen for some disturbing imagery.
Characters: Reeve Tuesti, Cait Sith
Status: 2443 words.
Notes: Written for Synecdochic during my 2011 Fic or Treat Meme on my Dreamwidth journal. Original prompt: Reeve: heritage. In the Ultimania, Reeve is revealed to have controlled Cait Sith using his special ability, "Inspire," in which he is able to bring inorganic things to life; his "child," the cat-shaped robot Cait Sith, can be controlled from a great distance. I utilized this ability for this story.
Summary: Reeve contemplates his own life as he creates Cait Sith.
[[ … One-Shot … ]]
The reactor was warm under his fingertips. Humming. Pulsing with the same rhythm that he could feel everywhere in Midgar. It was the same rhythm he felt in his own chest, the rhythm that he'd been following and hearing since he was a child, since he first made it into a reactor, held on his father's shoulders, his chin propped up on the top of his father's head. He fancied that it was the same pulse that beat within his father's chest. Maybe his mother's too.
He drew a shallow breath, breathing in the metal, the tang in the air from the mako that he could almost feel surging through the reactor. It smelled of tangerines, of sharp citrus and sweet fruit. (He imagined that mako smelled of life itself, and sometimes, he wondered if perhaps the elders of Cosmo Canyon, while not exactly right, were onto something.) It was a scent that could easily be lost under the tar and the metal and the everything else in Midgar, but it was one that Reeve couldn't help but pick out. He missed it when he was elsewhere, when he was anywhere but Midgar. No where else could he smell it so clearly, even in the controlled climate of the tower. No where else in the world, and he would know.
This, the humming and the pulse and the singing reactor that powered his city— not his city, but the city he was holding, the city he maintained and kept up for probably the one person in the world who saw it the way he did— was what he inherited, his birthright and legacy all in one. He had wondered, a long time ago, if his father had any idea when he fled Wutai, when he approached Shinra and agreed to work on the development on the new generation of reactors, what his life would be like. That he would live in a cramped house in Kalm with a shrieking mother and a demure wife and a son who would take his place far too early.
He slid his hand down until his fingers dropped away, and he stepped back with a low sigh, a faint sound in the motion. The new intake levels had stabilized, in spite of what the Science Department consultants had said, in spite of what Reeve's own teams had insisted. He smiled slightly, pushing his hands into his pockets as he tilted his head back to look up the massive pipe that led to the primary refinement core. He knew what the reactor could handle, knew exactly— down to the milliliter— how much mako had to run through her to keep her functioning. He would need to start reworking the machinery again before he could reduce the intake further.
When he made it back to the office, he stopped only long enough to grab his briefcase, to grab the digital pad that he kept meaning to start taking with him in an effort to stay more connected when he was in the reactors. He smiled and offered his congratulations to the teams who had worked to implement the new intake reduction, but he didn't stay for the champagne that was opened. He had other things to do; other obligations to fill.
He threw the briefcase and the pad in the backseat of his car— bright blue, not a color he would have a chosen because it wasn't Turk blue, wasn't Midgar blue, but it was his father's car, not his own, was a classic Wutaian model that wasn't made any longer; if pressed, Reeve would have admitted that he did rather like the white pinstripe down the sides— before he hit the overpass that would take him back to Eight.
Reeve didn't really remember his father. He had the vaguest memories of the car, deep laughter, and a thick Wutaian accent, but what he remembered most was the instruction, the murmured explanations in a hybrid of standard and Wutaian when his father couldn't find the right word, the larger hand pressing his own against the metal of the primary pump in Junon, asking Reeve if he could feel the pulse, feel the rhythm that the planet lived and died by. The rhythm that it spun by on its axis, the rhythm that gave them the power to make their lives better, to save the men who worked the coal shafts from the diseases and sicknesses that they inevitably developed. Reeve had felt it long before his father pressed his hand to the metal.
(He'd felt it his entire life.)
He left everything in the car when he reached his apartment building, headed up to his unit and without hesitation, pulled a lasagna from the fridge to throw in the oven. He'd put it together the night before, and he sets the oven before he heads back to take his shower. It would be easier to pick something up, but his mother enjoyed it when he brought her something he'd made, when she saw the Corel stone cookware that she'd given him to use the day he'd found his apartment.
After his shower— and he lingered under the water, lingered and let it blast the grime off of his skin— he pulled on a pair of jeans and a floral print shirt. He had just enough time to pull some bags of groceries and fabric, just enough time to run the down to the car before he had to pull his lasagna from the oven. He flipped off the oven and covered the meal before he took that downstairs too, settling it carefully on a towel he kept on the passenger seat just for that purpose.
The trip to Five was made with a good deal more care than what Reeve normally drove with. It always was because there was, inevitably, something hot in the passenger seat. His mother was glad to see him, checked his shirt with a critical eye and made the comment that she would need to take in the next one that she made for him. He only smiled, brought in her groceries and the lasagna and fed them both.
Dinner was quiet.
For all his careful following of what was deemed socially acceptable— he visited her once every other week, brought her groceries, fixed things that needed fixing, and made certain that she was comfortable— he didn't know how to interact with his mother. He didn't know how to talk to her, or even what she was really like as a person.
(He didn't blame her for allowing Veld to take him to the Shinra household after his father's death. How could he? Had she protested, the Turks would have simply taken him anyway, would have possibly hurt her and Reeve's grandmother, who had still been alive then. He didn't blame her, and it wasn't anger making their time together uncomfortable; he simply didn't know her. His upbringing in the Shinra household had left him with very simple and clearly cut understandings of affection. He did his duty to her, was a socially acceptable 'good son' and that was what earned him her affection.)
He stayed with her until dark, and they spent the time outside, replanting some of her flowers and potting others. He didn't have her knack with greenery— that wasn't the gift he'd gotten from her— but he did well enough under her supervision. The moment he finally made it home, he scrubbed his hands and arms all over again, and he stripped off the shirt. He didn't bother to find a replacement before he headed to the one room in his apartment that he kept locked.
It was quiet in the room, everything still. He lowered himself to sit on the bench in the middle of the room, picking up the toy cat that he'd labored over the past several months. His fingers traced the sides of that furry face, stroking the whiskers slowly. He could almost see the way those eyes would blink, the way the little chest would rise and fall with each breath. He could even hear the pulse the electronics inside the toy would have, same rhythm as the plate, as Reeve's own heartbeat. He focused on the sound, on making it something more than just a noise that he was imagining.
His fingers squeezed the chest of the toy, and he dropped it on the bench, sucking in a breath as he glanced back toward the door. Shut and locked, the same way it always was when he sat on the bench, and he looked back to the black and white toy cat, his fingers twitching before he let himself pick it back up.
He had not gotten his mother's gift with greenery, had not gotten that overwhelming urge to plant and tend a garden in every moment of his spare time. No, his inheritance from her had taken a much different form, and he had spent most of his life keeping it as tightly controlled as he possibly could.
(When he was twelve, he'd found a small doll— a tiny ballerina who had probably come out of a jewelry box— that had belonged to the President's wife. He'd smuggled it into his room and spent his nights staring at the tiny dancer's face, entranced with the amount of detail that had been put into her. He'd woken one night to her fighting under his hand, struggling to get out of his loose grip, and it had terrified him beyond all reason. He'd dropped her off the bed— he could still hear the sound she made when she'd hit the ground— and when he'd scooped her up, when he'd realized what she meant, he'd known there was only one course of action. He couldn't let her be discovered and he had no way to keep her hidden. She hadn't made much noise when he'd placed his thumb over her face, and almost as quickly as she had started, she had stopped moving. Reeve had buried her in the backyard the next day.)
Controlling his mother's gift to him had not really worked. It bled through when he spent too long with inanimate objects, manifested as temperamental reactors and unreasonable tech that would only begin behaving again after Reeve soothed it, talked to it and assured it that he was there, that he hadn't forgotten it.
(Every time he spoke to a reactor, he thought of his dancer, of her face when he'd finally pulled his thumb back, when the tears had cleared enough for him to see her again. Still beautiful, but he'd destroyed her, snuffed out her life after he'd given it to her.)
And sitting there, stroking that cat— Cait Sith, he'd been calling it, and there was even already a small crown that he'd found sitting on the edge of the worktable— he wasn't sure that he could do it again. That he could do it on purpose. He had no idea if he even had the right to try.
Except that he wanted this. He wanted this more than anything else, wanted to feel that toy cat moving, wanted to see it look up at him and wanted to give it something that it could be proud of, could take with it. His fingers slid over the whiskers again, and he drew a breath. He was shaking, his breath uneven, but he didn't have to think to do this. It was what his body wanted to do, what he did almost instinctively every time he got the opportunity— every time he walked in a reactor, every time he got behind the wheel of his father's car. He didn't close his eyes.
Instead, he locked them with the blank, glassy ones in the cat's face, and he focused on the way the air eased in and out of his lungs. He could still smell tangerines, still smell mako, and somehow, that was comforting. It was as though his reactors were supporting this, as though they were willing it for him almost as much as he was.
(He needed this. Needed something— someone— to be his, to be unique for him and not borrowed, not inherited, or given to him. Cait Sith would be born of everything that had gone into shaping Reeve, into making him the man he was, and yet he would be someone new. Someone for Reeve to leave things to.)
He wasn't certain how long he sat there, how long he narrowed his eyes and focused on Cait, on trying to will the cat to show him something. But the toy body grew warmer in his hand, and on its first breath, Reeve gasped. He didn't drop Cait though, didn't squeeze him or react. He simply cradled the body in his hands, stroked his thumb over the side of that face. The eyes flickered, rolled, and finally they blinked, and Reeve was staring at... well, Cait wasn't a toy anymore.
Cait didn't move yet though, didn't do anything but blink and look back up at Reeve, and Reeve drew a deeper breath, trying to steady himself, trying to remind himself that this was real. That chest was rising and falling with a regular rhythm, was matching the pulse that Reeve could feel in his own hands, could hear surging through Midgar. His lips pressed together.
(For a moment, all he could think of was his mother the day Veld came for him, the way she had pulled him to the side and made him swear never to tell anyone within Shinra about the way he could feel the world, the way he felt the surge of mako in the reactors. She made him swear, and he had kept his promise, no matter how hard it was, no matter how much every time Tseng or Veld spoke to him, he wanted to simply blurt it out, tell them that he was... something.)
He shifted his hold on Cait Sith, and after just a heartbeat, he raised a single finger to his lips. Cait tilted his head slightly, and without looking at his own hands, he did the same thing. A single finger pressed against his lips. It was almost comical to see the cat doing it.
But there was nothing funny about the simple fact that they could never tell anyone how Cait was made, could never explain that he was alive.
Some aspects of Reeve's heritage, no matter how much he disliked them, had to be passed on.