When Sephiroth began throwing up, it was only Cloud who worried at first. Zack and Sephiroth were both confident in their abilities as SOLDIERs to throw anything off, and Aeris was confident in her own abilities as a healer – just as soon as the two macho idiots admitted she was needed. But in all likelihood, it was something that would pass quickly.
When the third morning in a row came with Sephiroth scrambling out of bed and racing for the bathroom, the other two began to get concerned.
“I wish he’d let me take a look,” Aeris fussed. “I’m sure whatever it is, I can do something.”
“Hunh. You know, SOLDIERs generally get over things pretty quick,” Zack admitted with a frown. “Well, except for colds. I don’t know why they can’t come up with a genetic modification to beat that. Still, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Seph sick before without a trip to the labs first.”
Cloud’s eyes widened. “Do you think it’s something leftover from what Hojo did?” It had never sat well with him that none of them remembered everything the scientist had done to them, and Hojo’s own files were not to be trusted. He knew the others thought he worried too much, but he’d lost them all once, and had no intention of repeating the experience.
“It’s probably just some bug,” Zack said firmly. “But when he gets back, I’ll sit on him – unless he looks like he’s going to vomit on me or something – and Aeris will check to make sure he’s fine.”
So when Sephiroth finally emerged from the bathroom, looking paler than usual and checking his hair to make sure it had escaped any debris, it was to find all three of his lovers waiting for him with stern looks on their faces.
“Aeris is going to take a look at you, because you’re sick,” Cloud announced.
“I’m not sick,” Sephiroth objected. “Just – a little under the weather. Probably something I ate. Zack cooked the other night, after all.”
“Hey!” Zack objected. “There’s nothing wrong with my cooking. And none of us have been feeling sick. Stop being such a baby, and let Aeris check you out. It’s probably a virus or something.”
Sephiroth snorted. “The last virus I had was Jenova. I don’t get other viruses.”
“What, you’ve never had the ‘flu?” Zack asked, astonished. It was one thing to remember Sephiroth as being generally healthy, but some experiences were surely universal.
“No, I’ve never had the ‘flu.”
“What about measles?”
“Mumps?” Cloud asked. “Because I’ve heard that can be bad for, uh, things, if you get those as an adult.”
“Things? What things?”
Zack looked horrified when Cloud waved his hand in the direction of his lap. “You know, things.”
“Aeris, I need you to talk to my mother, and ask her if I ever had mumps as a child.”
Aeris sighed. “I keep telling you, you can talk to her yourself; you do have that ability. You just don’t want to explain to her why you never wrote when you were both alive. And contracting mumps as an adult doesn’t make you impotent.”
“It just makes you sterile.”
“That’s not good!”
Aeris rolled her eyes, and turned to Sephiroth. “What about choco pox?”
He gave her a doubtful look. “You’re making that up.”
“No, but I definitely want a look at you now, and if you don’t cooperate, Cloud will make eyes at you until you do.”
Green cat’s eyes darted to meet wide, worried blue. His shoulders slumped, and he sighed. “Alright, then. But it’s probably nothing.” He sat on the bed, looking thoroughly miserable.
Aeris did all the things they remembered from doctor’s visits: checked his eyes and ears, made him open his mouth to check his throat. She checked his neck for signs of glandular swelling. But mostly the examination consisted of running her hands over his body, a slight green glow haloing them as they slowly moved downwards. When she got to his stomach, she paused.
“That’s strange,” she murmured.
Sephiroth looked slightly smug. “I told you it was just something I ate.”
An odd expression crossed Aeris’ face. “Well, some say that’s how it happens.”
“It was not my cooking,” Zack said huffily.
But Aeris was still examining Sephiroth’s stomach, a frown on her face. “That can’t be right.”
Cloud leaned close. “What can’t be? Something’s wrong, isn’t it?”
“No, no, I think Seph’s right.” She smiled, but it wasn’t terribly believable. “It’s nothing to worry about. I just have to go check something.” And she rushed outside.
Sephiroth stared at the door. “Okay, now I’m worried.”
Cloud crossed to the window. “She’s standing in the garden,” he reported. “She looks like she’s… arguing?”
They all came to watch. It wasn’t like Aeris couldn’t talk to the Planet anywhere, but her garden was where she went when she was troubled and needed to feel closer to it. Suddenly her shoulders slumped, and she looked small and uncertain, which was nothing like the Aeris they were used to. It was true that she was physically smaller and more fragile than them, but the sheer force of her personality was more than enough to make up for that. This was… wrong.
Finally, she nodded, drew herself up, and headed for the house.
Sephiroth quickly returned to the bed, lying back against the pillows, a look of unconcern on his face. Cloud perched on one side of the bed, and Zack sprawled across the end. Despite their attempts at casualness, the second Aeris walked back through the door, she found herself the focus of three sets of mako-enhanced eyes.
“Uh, I’m back,” she smiled, but it didn’t quite hide the sad look in her eyes. “Seph? I just need to check. Again. Do you mind?”
“Go right ahead,” Sephiroth said quietly.
She knelt on the bed beside him, and reached for his stomach once again. When she drew back, it was with a somewhat wistful smile. “Well. I can tell you what’s wrong with you, but I’m afraid it’s going to take awhile for you to feel better.”
Sephiroth frowned. “It is?”
“Yes. It’s a good thing you’re all sitting down, really. Sephiroth, you’re pregnant.”
There was a moment’s silence.
Zack laughed. “Oh, that’s a good one, babe. But despite the long hair and everything, last time I looked, Sephiroth wasn’t a girl.”
Cloud frowned. “I don’t think it’s funny. I was worried.”
Sephiroth just stared at her.
“I’m not joking. Sephiroth really is pregnant. It’s a girl.” She twisted her fingers in her skirt. “You know how I’m the last of the Cetra, right? The Planet wanted to fix that. But there’s something… wrong with me. And I can’t get pregnant.” She laughed, a distinctly unhappy sound. “Or rather, I can’t stay pregnant; I thought I was a few times, but then…” She shrugged.
Zack wrapped his arms around her. “There’s nothing wrong with you, babe. You’re perfect just the way you are.” Cloud reached out to rest a hand on her thighs in a show of support. Sephiroth continued to just watch, and wait for an explanation.
“So, when the Planet bought us back, it did something about that. About making sure I could still have kids. It changed things, a little. And now, Sephiroth is pregnant.”
“I’m going to have a baby.” The words were flat, expressionless, as Sephiroth looked down at his own stomach. “Well, I suppose it’s no stranger than some of the other things that have been done to me.”
“To Zack, as well,” Aeris pointed out. “And Cloud’s been dipping in the Lifestream often enough I wouldn’t rule it out, either.”
“I’m pretty sure I’m not pregnant!” Zack asserted hastily.
Cloud looked a little intrigued. “I could have a baby?”
“Possibly. And no, Zack, you’re not pregnant. Yet.” Aeris wasn’t surprised by his reaction; it would take him a little time to get used to the possibility, especially as babies were something he considered the province of girls. She was rather glad that Zack wasn’t going to be their first experience of this. He’d be impossible to live with.
It was Sephiroth she was worried about. As she watched, one hand crept to his stomach.
“A baby,” he murmured, and she could see a little bit of wonder on his face. Family was such a delicate issue with Sephiroth; perhaps this would help. “Our baby.”
He reached for her, stilling the restless fidgeting of her hands, one hand still resting possessively, protectively, on his stomach. “This is better than anything that happened in the labs,” he offered a reassurance. “A baby is good news. Right?” He looked at the others for confirmation.
“Real good news,” Zack said emphatically, even though he still looked a bit confused by it all.
“I know. It’s just… I always thought I’d be the one who got to carry the babies. It’s such an important… a special experience.” Aeris smiled, a little apologetic at not being able to be as happy as she should be.
Sephiroth decided hand holding was no longer enough. He tugged her closer, pulling her down beside him in a hug. Zack immediately climbed in behind her, while Cloud settled in to bracket Sephiroth on the other side. “From what you said, you’re still the mother, correct? You said the Planet wanted you to have children. And you have told me more than once that we are a family regardless of genetic contributions anyway.”
She smiled, wholeheartedly this time, and snuggled closer. Sephiroth was still the most hesitant of them when it came to reaching out emotionally, but he was by far and away the sweetest of them when he did. And he gave good hugs.
They lay together for some time, simply enjoying the feel of warmth and comfort and reassurance.
And, typically, it was Zack who interrupted the peace. “Hey, wait a minute. This doesn’t make sense.”
Cloud snorted. “After everything we’ve seen, you’re fussing over a guy getting pregnant? I mean, the whole one-wing thing didn’t make sense. If anybody managed to fly with those, it should have been in circles or something.”
“I never had any problems with direction,” Sephiroth said mildly.
“You know that ShinRa taught Sex Ed to all the new recruits. And I paid attention in that class.”
There were several muffled laughs at this.
“I’m quite sure you did, Zackary.”
“I’m just saying! They showed us diagrams and stuff, and told us how the sperm need to fertilise an egg, and no, the diagrams were all these boring-looking line drawings, that wasn’t why I was paying attention. Anyway, I can see how Seph would have sperm, or even how Seph would get sperm inside him, but where did the egg came from? Or if Sephiroth’s now producing eggs, I’m still pretty sure I haven’t seen Aeris with any sperm. Er, of her own.”
Aeris’ shoulders were shaking with laughter, a move that made the bed jiggle a bit, too. “Once it gets to that point, it’s all mine,” she said with a comical leer.
Cloud had propped himself up on one elbow halfway through Zack’s confusing explanation, and was staring at him with fascination. “You’re actually blushing,” he said, his voice wondering. “I didn’t think you could do that.”
“As strange as it sounds, Zack might actually have a point,” Sephiroth admitted. “How did I get an egg inside of me?”
This time it was Aeris who blushed, a deep red colour that made her green eyes sparkle wickedly. “Well, you were half-right earlier, although Zack wasn’t responsible.”
Sephiroth blinked. “What do you mean?”
She giggled. “It was something you ate.”