The routine he'd settled into slowly reasserted itself in his life, mostly in the form of Strifes barging into his office with food for him and for Cessnei.
Tseng and Reno got a lunch from Cloud, one of them wide-eyed at the sight of another child above the Plate.
"'M Reno. Who're you, yo?" The tiny tiger stripes of red tilted up as Reno smiled, a gap where his first front tooth had been.
"Cloud! Mr. Val-en-tine's my other Papa like Seph's my brother."
"Wait, wait, you mean Sharpshooter's your old man?!"
"No, my Papa's away on adventure. I gotta write him letters but he always writes back. Sharpshooter's my other Papa cause he's Seph's first." Cloud explained with all the logic of an adorable seven-year-old.
He sighed softly at the letters bit, knowing that Anika wrote them in the dead of night, painstakingly recreating her husband's pen strokes for her son. Vincent had taken the writing of them away from her a few times, knowing it hurt her to pretend more nights that most that Fenris Strife was alive.
"Huh. Don't know my old man and wouldn't wanna even if I did. My Mama says he wasn't nice anyways."
"Maybe Sharpshooter could be your Papa? Not your old man but... Better? Only if you ask though. Mama asked for Seph so maybe it works like that?" Cloud drew it out on his paper pad, Anika's figure holding a paper and a pan.
Vincent swallowed his tea before he sprayed it laughing.
"Is that your Mama's pan?" Reno pointed to the warped pan.
"Yeah. Used to be her favorite but she said it got an ouchie. It's retired now." Cloud told Reno with a shrug.
Reno trailed Vincent for a few days as his choice before apparently working up the courage to talk about what Cloud had told him.
After he'd finished, he twisted the strap of the taser Tseng had given him.
"Do you want me as that?" Vincent asked, kneeling to be at Reno's level. "Could you see me as someone you could trust?"
"No." Vincent hummed at Reno's simple response. "You're... You're not mad?"
"If given a choice between myself and Veld, who would you pick to rescue?" Vincent posed.
"Veld, yo." Reno's eyes lit up and he murmured, "oh."
"Would you like my help in asking him if he'd like a son?"
"... Can I?"
"Of course, Reno. You know better than I do who fits you best."
Veld's expression was stupefied as Vincent motioned Reno out of the room briefly.
"Adoption? Where did he get the idea?" Verdot drew his prosthetic down his face, the other currently occupied by a cup of Reno's coffee.
"He got it from Cloud." came the wry response.
"Ah. He approached you first?"
"It took him a few days. Reno's a smart boy, just understandably wary with the way the Slums are down there. What little trust he has in me is due to Cloud's outstanding faith." Vincent took a sip of his own mug, the chai scent making him smile against the rim.
"The littlest Strife certainly does instill a source of confidence." Verdot sighed as he looked at the red mug. "I'll have to talk with him and his Mother but... I suppose I could do with a son."
Vincent opened the door and motioned Reno back inside, much to the child's surprise. "In, please."
The door clicked shut and it was Verdot talking, not his and Reno's superior.
"Firstly, Reno, do not take advice from someone your age. However, seeing as the one dispensing it was a Strife, you're fine; they have rather sound logic when it comes to life matters. Secondly, I'll need to talk with your Mother first but your idea has merit. One guardian above the Plate, one below it. So, I suppose the question is... Would you like to be my son?"
Reno made a face and looked to Vincent. He made a 'go on' motion and Reno inhaled before, "Do I have to eat my vegetables?"
Blues widened at that, Reno's tiny brows furrowing as he thought over the reply. "Can I have dessert if I finish them?"
The wry smile that played at Verdot's lip said, perhaps, that he'd done this before. Vincent would have to ask later. "Not always, but I suppose so."
"Guess you're not so bad as an old man after all."
"Brat." The way the smile widened said more than either of them were willing to at the moment.
Chaos grumbled, Did you not say that you would return to the Canyon? after Reno had gotten into a routine with Veld.
The Firewolves, yes. Vincent sighed even as he attended to the President's snarled wrath with Lady Himura finding the secondary clause that had been snuck in. Nevermind the fact that the President insists that I stay on duty for another week with him.
"Turk, what is so fascinating that you cannot pay attention?" President ShinRa barked.
Vincent let his body do the talking, Cerberus spun and pointed at the hapless executive next to him. "The Honorable Lady Himura is adept at spotting underhanded deals. Her son runs the Wutainese underground, her daughter the legitimate side. Perhaps it is best to be honest with the Lady instead of listening to this one try to sneak his own personal deals, sir."
"Sharpshooter, put it away." the Vice President snorted. "However, he is correct, Father. Lady Himura is well versed in Eastern law and knife-edged subtly is not a ShinRa specialty."
Glacial eyes watched as he tucked Cerberus away, reverting to his stock-still stance. "Everyone out but the Vice and my guard. Yes, Scarlet, that includes you." When the click of the door signaled everyone's exit, Rufus ShinRa Sr. pinned him with a long look after the room was secured with Silence, Libra and a short Scan for listening devices. "How did you know that?"
"The Honorable Lady Himura and I may or may not be related, sir."
"... Might be related." The Vice drawled out with a raised blond brow.
"Himura cut through the bullshit, sir. It's an art most have forgotten."
The laughter of two ShinRas, as cold as a Blizzara and somehow more cruel for it, made Vincent's left eye twitch. The demons rattled around under his skin, the tips of his gauntlet sharpening into actual claws as the ShinRas continued.
"You've told Veld," came the comment.
"Veld has known for some time, sir. I conveyed the information upon my return to ShinRa service."
"Subtle we may not be, son, but we've hired others to do it for us. Carry on, Sharpshooter."
"... May I make a request?" President ShinRa shrugged and then left the room with Tseng. ShinRa Jr. motioned that he present his case. "I need some time for things that are relevant to ShinRa interest as well as my own. My business will take me to Cosmo Canyon; is there anything you'd like for me to convey to your 'friends'?"
"How very... clever of you; tell them that the Skeeskee is particularly weak in the belly. You're dismissed, Sharpshooter, but do get back to Veld or myself in regards to your time off." Rufus Jr. paused. "This wouldn't have to do with that golden-eyed friend of yours?"
"It does, sir." Vincent replied honestly.
"I wish you the best then."