He wasn’t sure if he should be thankful that his birthday had passed him by with relative ease and comfort, just as he liked it to be. There had been no large celebration, no mass pranks to loosen him up, no real excitement to the passing of the event. He simply stepped from being twenty-three to twenty-four in silence, and he admitted not feeling and different from the one day to the one that he was currently in. The only thing that was sort of a big deal was that he had once never thought that he would make it to see close to the quarter century. It didn’t seem like such a big deal now.
Seated on the back steps to the 7th Heaven, Cloud blew on the filter of Fenrir’s engine, coughing when dust blew out everywhere. He wrinkled his nose and shook out the filter a little before deciding that it needed to be changed, especially considering it was looking more black than white at this point. He tossed the item in the trash as he walked back inside, padding his way to where he kept some of his mechanical supplies and digging around for a new filter. He was certain that he had one.
He paused in his search when a distinct weight pushed up against his calf, looking down to find an orange ball of fluff circling him much as a shark might. He thought that the dust-bag had a certain look in those wide cat-eyes, and he narrowed his eyes in the form of a silence warning that Reno should move right along and leave him to his filter-changing. His command didn’t seem to reach the beast in time as Reno suddenly leapt up his leg and clung to the back of his thigh, tail swishing back and forth as the orange beast started a painful ascent up the length of his body.
Cloud sighed long-sufferingly as little needle claws dug into his lower back and soon enough, midback. He shook his head and went back to retrieving his engine filter, ignoring the little flares of pain until there was a weight settled on his shoulder and a cat nibbling on his ear while purring. “No, I don’t like you,” he asserted harshly, but the purring to his ear tickled a little and he gave in. “Fine, I kind of like you.”
Pulling out of the closet, he turned the box in his hands around to open it, moving to seat himself on the couch in hopes that Reno would simply leave him be. As he settled in on the couch, Reno did move but into his lap instead of off of him, plunking down there and purring loudly. He decided that ignoring the dust-bag was best policy and simply worked the box open and grab the new filter that was inside, looking on the side of the box to make sure that it would fit Fenrir.
Reno didn’t want to move, so Cloud read the instructions on the box. Reno seemed to be falling asleep, so Cloud read the materials that went into making a filter. Reno was asleep, and Cloud had run out of things to read on the box, so tossed it aside and stared down at the sleeping mass of hair.
“I thought we came to an understanding on that night we drank together. No bothering me. No climbing me. No sleeping on me. You have done all three, dust-bag.” No response from the cat. “Don’t you ignore me… you know I’ve caught you sleeping on my chest and my face. Snorting your hair throughout the entire night is not pleasant, and if Tifa didn’t love you, I would chuck you into a running fan.” He tried to glare at the cat, but he couldn’t even muster that. He poked Reno in the side, which prompted more purring. “Hey, are you even listening to me?”
Cloud quickly gave up nagging at the orange feline and simply sat back on the couch, waiting for the cat to get up and move off of him. While it had occurred to him that he could simply pick Reno up and move the beast, the look that he was given could break the hearts of children and lawyers alike. He more often than not simply waited the animal out, which had ended up with him sitting around for hours on end thinking about nothing at all. Still, being bored was better than Reno’s pitiful look of rejection.
Eventually, he even dropped a hand down and started to gently stroke the cat’s orange fur, leaning his head back against the couch cushions. What to think about until Reno moved along? He could think about Fenrir, but he did that a lot anyway and thus didn’t need to think about the machine anymore. He could think about Jenova, but he’d rather not draw attention to that subject for the moment as it made him want to pick up his sword and run off to hunt her and the three remaining members of the family down. He could think about Tifa, but then… she might come running after sensing her name running through his head and he wasn’t sure if the children were home.
He sighed heavily as that thought took hold in his mind, more than aware that the last two days had been spent without that sort of intimacy between them. They had been pleasant to each other and had even cuddled up and spent time together, but he thought an odd awkward wall was between them. He didn’t like it, and he was certain that Tifa was more sensitive to it than he was, but he couldn’t think on how to break that down without reducing himself to a liar for her sake. If he lied, he would make them both even more miserable in the long run anyway.
So, Tifa thought she was pregnant?
That thought seemed to float through his mind so casually, but the weight that it brought upon his shoulders was difficult to bear. Perhaps the more difficult aspect of her excited news was how disappointed and crushed she had been when he couldn’t find it within himself to believe her of the news. There had to have been a mistake, that much he was certain of. They had elegantly sidestepped the topic ever since the announcement, which he was thankful for. He was not ready for another earful like she had given him.
While he had almost wanted to question ‘is it mine’ from her, he was certain without a doubt that she had been faithful to him. The only way that she would have climbed into bed with another man was if it was his long-lost twin brother, which he didn’t have. Even then, she might have figured it out and killed the imposter before coming back to him happy as could be and molesting him at random if not perfectly timed intervals. No, any child that she thought was in her belly would be his and his alone.
Of course, she also claimed to have proof from the doctor that had saved his life, but he could put his faith in science about as much as he could by thinking Jenova wasn’t going to kill him in his sleep. Even with this ultrasound test she was convinced of taking him on, he was all too doubtful. He expected that she would come home disappointed with the falseness of the situation and cry on him a little to get over the tragedy of it all. And it would be one for she believed so strongly in it. He hated to see her upset.
He still thought it was a wonder that she had been curious enough to go and get checked out in the first place. He admitted to knowing only enough of the female workings to know that a week a month was anti-world week, and if that week was late for more than a day or two, women started to suspect things. He had never had problems with Tifa being a complete emotion wreck for that time of the month, and he hardly noticed the red-tide’s coming until he walked into the bathroom to find feminine products on the counter in which he promptly turned and convinced himself that it had never happened.
Natural, they called it, but there was nothing natural about that sort of process. Any line of products that were involved in the collection of blood had to be inhumane somewhere in the world… and went with the same principle that any product meant to be inserted into the body to plug said bleeding made even him squirm. It just wasn’t natural.
Cloud looked down to find Reno shifting about on his lap, and he made gentle shooing motions with his hands, but he received a head-butt from the dust-bag instead of leaving motions. He tried to fend the beast off with his engine filter as Reno climbed his chest and head-butted his chin, making him inhale a little orange hair. “Oh, you disgusting creature… clean yourself!” He received another head-butt and more purring for an answer before he found himself staring down at Reno’s face as the cat settled on his chest. “You realize you are not cute.”
His words fell on deaf ears it would seem, so he went back to thinking again. Reno would eventually give up and leave him alone, probably only to attack him again at a later time. He swore the beast liked to read over his shoulder or something.
So, he had to wonder how he was going to convince Tifa to let this issue drop. She had what she thought was proof, but he really had nothing but his word. They were both equally insistent as the other, meaning that any chance of actually convincing her was nil to none no matter if he pulled down God and He confirmed his story. It might just result in him and God with black eyes.
He had no proof of his claim that it was impossible, which bothered him. He had tried to avoid thinking about it, since he was more of the opinion that he had convinced himself and everything else of the impossibility. He would have thought that Tifa would respect that fact, but she seemed opposite in his determination of his inability to sire children. He hated to think about what would happen if he were wrong too.
And what if he was wrong? What if Tifa did carry child? It sent a shiver down his spine and back up again, a sudden thrill shooting through him, which he quickly dampened down back under control. He forced himself to think logically about this. If Tifa did in fact carry his child, he knew he would wig out completely and utterly. There was no doubt in his mind that any composure that he had ever developed and set into place would crumble down, and he was suddenly become a horribly over-excited person if that was at all possible. He was certain he would bounce on couches and bed and randomly tackle Tifa over. In short, he would make a complete and utter fool of himself.
A part of him really wanted that. He wanted to blossom with the knowledge that inside his lover was a life that he had created. He had spent the last few years of his life trying to piece together the lives of others and bring back some happiness that was lost, especially with the orphans. Sometimes he felt like a father to them, but more often than not, he would feel like a mentor and friend. There was a small difference, he sensed. Should a child of his making come into the world, he would be lost in his own fool-hearted adoration of the little being to even lift his head long enough to view the world again.
It was something he wanted, he grudgingly admitted. As painful as Tifa’s words had been, she had done a good number to beat him in the head verbally. Maybe he was just too set in his misery that he was too scared to let it go and believe what she was saying to him. He was just too convinced of his failings, perhaps.
He had never made SOLDIER, and he had never made himself into a hero like Sephiroth had been. He had not been there to save the people of Nibelheim when they had needed him the most. He had never had the strength of mind and body to push Aeris aside to save her life, a lack of action that had haunted him for two years but had passed now. He had done a lot of things in his life but never something that he really wanted. All those real wants had slipped between his fingers and been part of his failings.
Perhaps he was just assuming that because he had lived his life wanting to start a family of his own that he and unwittingly convinced himself that it couldn’t happen. He tried to trace back when he really started to feel like he would never be able to be a father as he was certain that it had been a fairly recent event. It took him a moment or two to trace backwards, having remembered that conversation with Tifa on the couch when the family subject had actually been admitted. He had believed then it was possible.
Cloud lifted his head from laying back against the cushions slowly, his eyebrows knitting together. “Zahna…” he murmured. She had admitted to him late in their relationship an inability to get pregnant, and the news had hit him very hard. He frowned a little as he remembered that, how devastated he had been and disheartened to the point where he thought his final dream had been lost. He had spent days mentally moping over his loss and then…
…in his anguish, he had mentally twisted the implication that he was infertile as well.
He shot from his seat, an engine filter flying one way and an orange cat yowling and flying the other. He blinked and immediately went after the cat who had landed down somewhere, gasping when a ball of fur came flying back at him and tackled him to the ground. Well, it looked like he had been tackled as the rug under his feet shoved forward, and he slipped backwards to land hard on his back. He lay there stunned a moment until he felt a rough tongue licking his face.
“…ah, no, Tifa will get jealous,” he replied, trying to shove the beast away, only to have the elusive creature slip under his arm and continued to lick his face. “Do you have a death-wish, dust-bag?” He blinked when Reno suddenly stopped and simply lay over his throat, and he could feel the purring against his windpipe. It reverberated down his spine and up into his brain, nearly making him forget what it was he had been thinking about.
Cloud was going to be a father.
“…impossible,” he murmured as Reno licked his ear, trying to chew on his earring. He reached a hand up to push the cat away, but instead, he pet the cat’s back and buried his face into Reno’s soft fur. “I’m going to be… a father,” he whispered into the hair before he promptly lost his composure into orange hair.