Two Letters and a Number
Yes, I am still alive. I apologize but I was wrapped up in real life and shanghaied by other bunnies. Can't remember if I posted the other parts here but there are links back to them if I didn't.
Title: Two Letters and A Number Author: ladynero Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. Fandoms: SG1/FF7 (see the reason behind the name now?) Warning: None really. Some strong language. Slash relationships.
Cloud really didn’t want to be here, not in this office that was so close to the lab that stole five years of his life, and it was only the fact that Daniel wasn’t leaving kept him standing there, despite his casual stance next to the door. Elena was on her PHS talking to Rufus while Daniel was poking around the various journals that crowded the bookshelves that lined the walls. The faint scent of mako lingered in the air, a scent he figured permeated the very rock that enclosed the lab at the far end of the office, and in his mind, he could see Sephiroth once more pouring over the journals, desperately searching for answers to questions that Jenova and Hojo had sparked in him.
“Um, Elena, who is Specimen C?”
The words swirled through Cloud’s head before settling around his heart like an icy fist, and he stared at Daniel who was holding an open journal in one hand and a piece of paper in the other. “Why do you want to know that?”
Daniel held up the piece of paper. “I was wondering why Rufus Shinra was willing to let his twin be experimented on.”
“I don’t have a brother,” stated Cloud. Despite his messed up memories, he knew that for a fact. He never had any siblings when he lived in Nibelheim, just his mother, and if Rufus had a twin, then the world would have known about it. “And if Shinra had any siblings, then the world would have known.”
“Not if it was kept secret for some reason,” replied Daniel, turning the journal around for Cloud to read even as he placed the paper, a birth certificate, on the opposite page of the incriminating notation.
As Cloud took the journal to read the words there, he felt his world turn on its head again. If he was to believe what was written, then he was indeed Rufus Shinra’s twin, but the question was, did he *want* to believe what the evidence said? After all, how many times had Shinra or Hojo twisted the truth to suit themselves and to let others believe what they wanted them to believe?
He turned to glare at Elena who was staring at the journal in Cloud’s hands as if expecting it to suddenly transform into a Kalm Fang. “Tell your bastard of a boss that if this is a joke, I’m not laughing,” he growled, his hand tightening on the book. “And while you’re talking with him, tell him also that I want *all* the files about Specimen C. Non-negotiable.”
Elena listened to the voice on the other end of her PHS before turning and holding it out to Cloud. “He wants to talk to you.”
Cloud carefully took the PHS, not wanting to crush the delicate piece of circuitry and plastic before Rufus had explained everything. “What?”
“I assure you, Cloud, that what you found is no joke as you well know,” began Rufus, his voice almost bored, and Cloud could just see him sitting behind his desk, examining his nails while he talked.
“I never had a brother,” interrupted Cloud, the plastic squeaking slightly in his hand, reminding him not to grip the PHS too tightly. “I would have remembered a brother while I was growing up here with my parents. And I’m sure the rest of Nibelheim would have mentioned something about a brother as well.”
There was a sigh from Rufus. “Cloud, don’t pretend to not know what I am talking about just because Dr. Jackson is there. Father informed me numerous times that you were waiting in the wings to take over my company should I grow lax. And I will be keeping all of Hojo’s records.”
Something in Cloud’s mind snapped, and a growl echoed through the room. “You wanna play hard ball, you bastard, we’ll play!” he growled, dropping the journal on the floor with the PHS before storming to the far end of the office, drawing his swords again as he went. Dimly, he heard footsteps behind him but didn’t look to see who was following him. It didn’t matter who it was, fury burning through his veins, demanding he strike out at something and destroy the cause of his anger.
The stone walls opened into the laboratory where he had remained a prisoner and an experiment, mako tubes encircling the floor where a surgical table lay, dust coating the surface in a thick blanket. Without pausing, Cloud drove both swords into the table up to their hilts before turning on the tubes. He didn’t want his swords for this, not right now, not when his hands would be more satisfying.
Reaching the first mako tube, Cloud rammed his fist through the door, SOLDIER-proof glass shattering like ice, before grabbing the inside of the door and ripping it off its hinges. Blood trickled from the cuts in his leather gloves where razor sharp glass shards had sliced the gloves and his hands, but he paid the injuries no mind as he turned to heave the door into the mako tubes across the lab, the crunch of metal and the shattering of glass music to his ears. The shrieking of tearing metal was even more satisfying when Cloud pulled the tank out of its fastening and slammed it to the stone floor, and the tank crumpled under the force, like a child stepping on an aluminum can.
Baring his teeth in the parody of a grin, Cloud turned and moved to the next tank, ignoring the crumpled metal left in his wake. The low sound of someone talking was a distant murmur as he methodically destroyed every single object in the room, leaving torn metal and cracked stone behind him. All the frustration, fury, and pain that had built up by coming back to this place, he released it all in the destruction of his surroundings.
Finally, only two tubes were left, situated directly across from each other, and he turned to find Daniel standing in the doorway, his blue eyes huge behind his glasses. Cloud gestured for him to come over, the fury having abated enough that he no longer felt like ripping someone’s head from their shoulders, and Daniel carefully approached, stepping around the crumpled debris in his way.
“Let me show you my home for almost five years,” remarked Cloud, fingers digging into the metal before pulling the door away to let it fall to the stone floor with a loud clang. Inside, it looked just like any other tank except for the scratches in the metal surface. Scratches he had put there with his own nails, day after day of trying to escape the mako and the lab, desperately hoping he could get to Zack trapped in the tank across from him so they could escape this nightmarish place together.
Daniel leaned in as Cloud turned to walk across the room to the other tube and grabbed his main sword as he passed the metal table, the blade coming out with a screech. Stopping in front of the tube, he raised his hand to rest on the glass where scratches were dug into the inside, much like the ones in ‘his’ tube. There had been tines when Zack had ripped his nails off trying to get out, usually when Cloud was being taken out for some experiment, and Cloud could vaguely remember the green mako becoming faintly tinted with red before he was hauled off.
“For almost five years, we were in sight of each other, helpless to watch as the other was removed for experiments, unable to fight back, unable to escape.” Cloud’s hand tightened on his sword before he swung. There was a cracking sound before the top half of the tube slid off, sliced cleanly through, and absently Cloud noticed that the stone wall behind the tube had also been cut, the gash visible on the dark stone.
Cloud returned to the table and pulled out his second sword before bringing both of them down on the metal surface. A loud ka-chunk sound echoed through the suddenly quiet room as the table was sliced into thirds, and Cloud calmly sheathed the swords on his back again, apparently calm once more. He stalked towards Elena who was gripping her gun in one hand and her PHS in the other as if she couldn’t decide which one to use, and he plucked the PHS from her numb fingers, feeling the anger and fear of this place humming just below his skin. “I have been reasonable and considerate to you up to this point, but you forget that while I might not have carried the rank, I *am* a SOLDIER First Class. Now those records are mine by right of Doctor-Patient confidentiality, and if I do not get them or find out that you have made copies, I might loose my temper in other ways. And that wouldn’t look too good to the Tau’ri, now would it?”
“I do not appreciate being blackmailed...” began Rufus only for Cloud to cut him off again.
“And I don’t like being played for a fool, Shinra,” he replied, his voice hard. “There is absolutely *no* reason for you to hang on to those records, unless you prefer to read that sort of thing before bed. I expect to get a call from Tifa that those files have been delivered to her before I return to Edge. You have that long.”
He held the phone out to Elena who took it with a hand that only trembled slightly, and he glanced over his shoulder to find Daniel was examining the mako tube, fingers splayed to match up with the marks Cloud’s fingers had left there. “I’m leaving. I’ll wait fifteen minutes before leaving Nibelheim with or without you.”
With that final announcement, Cloud vanished up the stairs to the mansion and the freedom that lay beyond the doors.