Sora and Roxas Strife were the sweethearts of the elementary school where they attended third grade. Being 8 years old was great when you were a set of twins who were smart and cute. They were the darlings and were often chosen to represent the school in statewide functions. They were very photogenic and their mom allowed them to model as long as it didn't interfere with their education. They wanted to be doctors and even though they were only 8 their parents Cloud and Tifa Strife were adamant about nothing interfering with their goals. Their mother said no to lots of things: sports- other than swimming, sweets- except on holidays, soda & junk food, going to sleepovers, bicycles, roller skates, amusement park rides, and a million other things that made childhood fun.
At school they were the picture of excellence and at home they adhered to a schedule that included chores, homework, practice- piano and violin, and bedtime routine. Tuesdays and Thursdays they had a two-hour window for 'free play'. Cloud was always happy to see his boys get a break and secretly wished that Tifa wasn't quite so strict. He would sneak the boys cookies sometimes after bedtime and they always kept it secret. Tifa had quit her job with the state social services department when the twins started second grade. The years before had been a little more relaxed for everyone. When she wasn't working she could be quite the tyrant. The stress was beginning to take a toll on their marriage but they never fought in front of the children.
When they were born, Tifa went through terrible post-partum depression and her doctor insisted that going back to work as soon as possible would help her with her guilt for not wanting to deal with her newborns. In the meantime Cloud was handling the twins alone. She had even started sleeping in another room so that their cries didn't disturb her rest. Her doctor assured Cloud also that this would pass. Some of it passed, some didn't. When the twins were a year old she had missed their party and the fallout from that led the Strifes to marriage counseling. The counselor vilified Cloud by saying he was insensitive to her condition.
When the boys were 4 she found out she was pregnant again and had an abortion without consulting her husband. That was the last straw for Cloud who saw that as the ultimate betrayal. They still had separate bedrooms so even cheating he could forgive. But he would never forgive her for that. She refused to leave and there was no way he was going to leave his boys in the care of such a monster. They decided that coexisting under the same roof would be necessary for the good of the children. Cloud personally thought if she had so many issues with his boys she should fuck off...and he told her just that.
"I don't get it Tifa! You haven't wanted to be a mother since day one. Why now are you refusing to go and have the life you feel like we've deprived you of for the last 4 years?!"
"Do you realize what that would say about me as a social worker? If I walked out on my own kids! I'm not going anywhere!"
And that was that. Outwardly they were the ideal family. Cloud was retired from the military and owned his own business. Their friends had begun to notice the distance between them and hesitated to invite them to couples functions. Tifa was apprehensive about telling anyone about their problems, even her sister Yuna but she eventually needed someone to confide in.
"He is such an asshole. He defies me at every turn with the boys and it pisses me off so bad I could just kill him!"
"Sweetie, have you considered divorce?" Yuna asked with genuine concern.
"He refuses to leave...and I mean I can't leave the boys... What would people say, Yuna?"
Yuna flinched but said nothing. She was there to support her sister.
Cloud wasn't close to any of their couples friends, not like he was with his old military buddies. He talked to Vincent frequently via text and the occasional video chat where they would talk and have a drink. It was as close as they got to hanging out since Cloud lived in Nibelheim and Vincent lived in Midgar. After the rebuilding, Tifa insisted on moving back to Nibelheim to start their family.
"I could choke the life right out if her I swear to fuckin God Vince. Nothing pisses me off more than for her to come through the door and start on the boys. They're 4 for Christ's sake! Why the fuck does she keep them on such a schedule?"
"Cloud, I donno what to tell you besides don't kill her...but if you do you know I got your back man. When Yuffie gets on my nerves, I just tell her what's on my mind...as calmly as I can. Of course when she goes to cursing in Wutainese the shit hits the fan."
Cloud laughed. Vincent could always get him to laugh. Once he had been wounded in battle and Vincent came to visit him in the hospital and before he was chased out by the nurses, Cloud had to be rushed back into surgery because he had laughed so hard he had ripped some stitches. Good times.
They managed to not kill one another for three more years. Cloud would pick the boys up from school and take them to do things like get ice cream, pizza, the zoo…fun stuff. They never told Tifa but they wouldn't lie if she had bothered to ask but she never did. As soon as he came through the door the boys they were sent to bathe and she would hiss insults and accusations at Cloud. He didn't care anymore. He was going to have fun with his boys whether or not she wanted to be involved.
When the boys were 7 Tifa decided to take time off from work. Cloud had learned to work around her schedule and now there was no schedule except the drills she put the kids through at home. They made it a year.
"I can't take it anymore Tifa. I want a divorce. I've already filed. I also filed for custody of the boys so if you wanna fight me on that, knock yourself out. I'm done watching you rob Sora and Roxas of their childhood and the only thing I regret is not doing this years ago."
"You bastard! You can't raise those kids by yourself!" Tifa fumed.
"Sure I can baby, I've had 8 years of practice." Cloud retorted and dodged a flying coffee cup.
Later that night he called Vincent. "I told her. She was pissed."
"I figured that, but how do you feel?" Vincent smirked into the webcam.
"Fuckin awesome!" Cloud grinned. "I can't wait to tell the boys we're leaving. They're gonna be psyched and I know they're gonna love having another set of twins to play with."
"Yeah I'm excited to tell Vani and Ven. They'll love 'em. So how soon do you think you'll be moving?" Vincent smiled.
"Well I've filed all the paperwork already and I can commute for the court dates. I still have the big apartment so I guess I'll see what the boys think. They may wanna finish the school year here. If that's the case we can rent a place here for a few months and then move."
"Sounds like a plan...hey, can I tell Yuffie?" Vincent asked not wanting to make things any tougher.
"Yeah tell her man, she's family." Cloud said as he waited.
Yuffie had walked by and Vincent stopped her and told her in a quiet tone. Cloud assumed the boys were nearby. Suddenly Yuffie squealed "Woooo! It's about time..." Then she started to sing in her native language and dance. Cloud saw her grab their boys and drag them into the dance as well. That's how a mom should act with her kids, Cloud thought.
He checked on his boys before going to bed. It was Friday night and he was going to talk with them as soon as possible. He hoped they took it well. Neither of them was particularly close to Tifa so he didn't have that hurdle. She never bonded with them as babies and was more like an overbearing nanny…not even that since he took care of all their needs. He went to his bedroom and grabbed his pillow and blanket and went back to lie on the floor between their beds. When he woke up Saturday morning both boys were in the floor with him and Tifa had left a note saying she gone to stay with her sister until he got a place.
Sora and Roxas sat eating breakfast while Cloud finished dishes. They were holding hands while they ate like they did at home when Tifa wasn't there. She didn't like their hand holding and snuggling; she said it was unnatural. Cloud thought it was sweet. He sat down across from them and spoke softly. "Guys, I need to talk to you about me and Mom." They boys looked at him with big eyes waiting.
"Mom and I are getting a divorce."
Immediately Sora started to cry and Roxas turned to comfort his twin and shot Cloud a desperate look.
"I don't want you to leave Daddy!" Sora wailed.
Cloud rushed around the table to hug his sons. "I'm not going anywhere guys. It's gonna be ok Sor. You guys are gonna live with me, ok?"
Sora peeped from Roxas' arms and whispered, "Promise?"
Cloud said, "I'm doing everything I can to make sure that you guys stay with me." Roxas petted Sora as Cloud hugged them both close. "Mom has gone to stay with Aunt Yuna for a while...and I told her that I wanted you guys to live with me."
"What she say?" Roxas asked.
"She didn't say much, and nothing you guys need to worry about ok? Now, I have some more news and I hope you guys think its good news."
Sora sat up and asked, "Are we getting a new Mom?"
"No Sora" Cloud chuckled.
"Are we getting a new Dad?" Roxas asked.
"N-no, why would you ask that?" Cloud sputtered.
"Cause we heard Mom tell Aunt Yuna you were bein an asshole cause you needed a man." Roxas answered bluntly.
Cloud slapped his hand to his forehead. "Jeeezus..."
"An she also said that you shoulda stayed in the army so you coulda had all the dick you wanted." Sora added.
"Unbelievable... Ok guys first off, don't say asshole and dick. Those words are curses and you two know it. Second, your mom shouldn't have said those things...especially in front of you guys."
Roxas released Sora and turned to Cloud. "Me and Sora hid and listened. We thought she was gonna make you leave...we were gonna sneak and go with you. We already made sure we could fit in your big duffel."
Cloud was shocked and hurt that his boys had been dealing with this because of Tifa's mouth. She knew that he was bi-sexual but she also knew that he was totally committed to their family.
"Ok guys here's my plan..." They propped their elbows on the table and looked at him the way troopers looked at their CO Cloud thought and smiled. "I have an apartment in Midgar that I lived in a long time ago. It's big enough for the three of us to each have our own room, or you two can share if you want."
Their eyes were huge and expressions hopeful. "Can we have the same bed like we used to Daddy?" Sora asked.
"I guess if you want." Cloud agreed.
"Can we quit piano and violin?" Roxas asked.
"If you want, I mean you've been doing the lessons for a few years now. We'll be moving so we'll need to find different instructors and then we'll decide if you want to continue."
They smiled and then as the smiles faded Roxas asked, "What if Mom finds out..."
"We'll make sure she finds out...I'll tell her myself. There's no reason for you boys to be afraid of her finding out about anything. We'll be living in our own place. She has no say in what we do at our place! I'm the boss!"
The boys were laughing at Cloud as he stood to make his speech. He loved making them laugh. "You'll be king of the castle right Dad?" Sora asked giggling.
"If I were the king of the forrreeeessst..." Cloud sang and the kids squealed.
Moving day had finally arrived and the truck was loaded. Cloud had made all the necessary arrangements to run his business from Midgar and done all the transfer paperwork at the boys' school. He watched Sora and Roxas hold hands and whisper to each other. They were both smiling and looked excited. "Time to go guys!"
The twins cane running and crawled into the backseat of the truck and buckled up. "Ready Daddy!"
"Wow that was fast. Ok then, I got you guys something for our first road trip." Cloud gave them each a handheld game with a zippered bag of various games. They looked at him as they slowly and reverently took the games and said "Thank you" They had never been allowed anything but educational pc games and never ever had a gaming console.
The ride was long but filled with stops at fun places to eat and they even did some sight-seeing. Cloud was happier than he had been in years and the boys seemed to be too. He told them about his friend Vincent, his wife Yuffie and their twin boys Ventus and Vanitas. "They're a year older than you guys, but I'm sure you'll get along great. You'll all be going to the same school."
"What do their uniforms look like?" Roxas asked.
"They don't wear uniforms Roxy. There's a dress code, but there are no uniforms."
Roxas and Sora looked at each other, minds blown. "Can I wear my X-Men shirt to school?!" Sora blurted.
"Yes!" Cloud laughed.
When they arrived in Midgar the boys watched the tall buildings and were amazed that this big city was their new home. They drove into the parking garage for the building they would be living in and they squeaked. "It's dark!"
They loved the elevator and asked a million questions about the city and did Cloud like the big buildings and why did Cloud move to Nibelheim and why didn't Mom like the city. On his floor the doors opened to a hallway with one door that had vases and flowers on either side of it. Cloud sneered, "Looks like walking into a funeral parlor…yuck. Those flowers have to go…right guys?"
They nodded and proceeded to sneer at the flowers. Cloud laughed and unlocked the door. Everything was still covered in white sheets of cloth and the boys looked up at Cloud as if to ask permission. He nodded and they bolted to begin exploring their new home. He listened to their squeals and chatter as he began to uncover his past.
The sofa that he should have gotten rid of long ago still looked inviting and the smell of the leather puffed out when he dropped the sheeting to the floor. He closed his eyes as he remembered the friends who had once sat there years ago. He remembered when he had sat there as a guest when this apartment belonged to someone else…someone long dead.
Moving about uncovering the rest of his furniture something caught his eye. He hadn't been in this apartment for almost ten years so it was possible that he didn't remember every piece of furniture. He tried to remember if Tifa had bought something for that corner, a tree maybe… He approached it and reached out. Right before he touched it, the sheeting fell to the floor in a heap. He stared dumbfounded then slowly picked it up to drag it to the pile with the others. He looked back at the corner and shook his head.
Roxas and Sora ran into the room and stopped as if they had seen a ghost. The color drained from their faces and Cloud was about to panic just from looking at them. "What's wrong guys?"
"What's that Daddy?" Roxas asked pointing over the fireplace. Cloud turned to look but didn't need to. "That's a sword that belonged to a famous general, years ago. It was given to me by Rufus ShinRa himself."
Sora hissed and wrinkled his nose. "Did it kill a bunch of people?"
"I bet it was General Sephiroth's sword." Roxas said with a look of awe.
"Was not! I bet General Sephiroth was buried with his sword!" Sora countered.
"Nu-uh. I read that Masamune was immortal. That means the soul of the sword can never die."
"Really?" Sora looked at his brother as if he was reading from a holy scroll. Cloud had been forgotten momentarily while they discussed the infamous sword. Listening to them, Cloud was speechless. He felt for the edge of the sofa in case he collapsed.
"Yep and you know that ShinRa would give Masamune to someone important. And Daddy is very important! Ain't that right daddy?" Roxas said as he turned to Cloud who was still standing with his mouth open.
"Come here guys." He sat on the sofa and patted his knees. The boys came and perched waiting for their story.
"A long time ago General Sephiroth was my Commanding Officer and was also my good friend. He did some things that he shouldn't have and well…I was the person who had to stop him."
"Is that when he burned Nibelheim Daddy?" Roxas asked. What the fuck had this kid been doing, studying. Ugh Cloud thought.
"So you killed him Daddy?" asked Sora.
"Is that why Mr. ShinRa gave you Masamune?" Roxas questioned.
"Well… I like to think he gave it to me because Sephiroth was my friend and would have wanted me to have it."
"Him…" Roxas said quietly.
"What baby?" Cloud looked at his face.
"Masamune is a him not an it." Roxas said flatly.
Cloud could feel the hairs on the back of neck standing up as chills ran down his arms. Focused on Roxas, he didn't notice Sora staring at the corner of the room where the mystery sheet had been hanging earlier when Cloud was alone and he was smiling.
"That's right Roxas, that's what Sephiroth used to say. Did you read that somewhere too?" Cloud asked beginning to re think living here with his kids.
Roxas looked at Cloud grinning, "Nope. I just thought it."
"Cool, ok guys let's see which rooms you want!"
Sora looked away from the corner to Cloud and took Roxas' hand as they scrambled toward the other rooms. Cloud followed, fighting the urge to look over his shoulder. The boys chose separate rooms but said they would probably sleep together and just switch from room to room…if that was ok. Cloud agreed that it was fine and they began to discuss decorating.
When they had unpacked their things and ordered take out for dinner, Cloud left them to play while he went into his old bedroom…Sephiroth's old bedroom. He remembered how Tifa had hated this room and insisted that he buy a new bed. He had done as she asked and slept just as well. Taking linens out and making the bed, he thought of Sora and Roxas and how much he loved them. He hoped that neither of them aspired to follow in his footsteps with a military career.
Siting on the freshly made bed, he texted Vincent.
Cloud: We're here and settled.
Vincent: great! Can't wait for the kids to meet
Cloud: me too- they're taking this really well
Vincent: they're with you-they'll be fine
Cloud: tmrw then?
Vincent: sure- see you then