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The Secrets of Esper
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June 2007
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Closed Log

Who: Lucrecia and Sephiroth
When: Early afernoon
Where: ShinRa main building
What: Just a little talk
Warning: none
Status: Finished

It started out as a perfectly ordinary day, up to the point when in the early afternoon, Lucrecia decided to fetch some coffee. The machine on the 10th floor made a surprisingly good cappuccino, so with a little change, the woman headed there.

Turning round the corner, she caught sight of something - Guardians, could it be? Silver hair? Lucrecia's heart began to race as she hurried after the figure she had seen.

Sephiroth went out of the office, having left there the stack of paperwork he had done for the day, that requested all their necessary equipment. Bureaucracy. He walked slowly, the coat fluttering around his ankles, head high, nodding to the few passing officers, who saluted and the troopers standing guard, who tensed up immediately upon spotting him.

"Sephiroth!" Lucrecia called out to the beautiful young warrior, cautiously not using his nickname... that wouldn't do much good to his reputation, right? Even though she didn't like some of the rumors spreading about the General. Like those which said he was engineered in a lab.

Oh, no. Sephiroth was human with a mother and a father... The woman sighed. It's been so long they talked. So long Sephiroth had last smiled at her... Too long.

The voice that stopped him was unexpected, even if he had come with a small, flickering hope of seeing the owner of it. The general turned slowly to look at the woman, whose face looked much younger than her real age was. To look into the green eyes so much like his own.

"Mother." he greeted her.

"Good day, Sephiroth," Lucrecia smiled honestly. "It's a nice surprise to see you here. Military business I suppose? It takes up much of your time. I haven't seen you in quite a while..." There was no accusation in her voice, just a bit of longing, and hope.

"Perhaps you have a few minutes for a coffee? I'd like to... talk about something important. If not right now, it's fine, we can meet any time you're not busy."

"Good to see you, mother. And to answer your question, no," the man declined, all too aware of the looks they were given, "I do not have any more obligations at the moment." he heard the emotion in her voice, heard the hesitation and could not bring himself to decline, "Perhaps the upper floor cafeteria?" it was after all a much more discreet and less frequented place then the common one.

"That's good, they make quite nice coffee." Lucrecia nodded and lightly touched her son's upper arm. He was a beautiful example of a SOLDIER. A few years ago, he was so small, sitting in her lap and now, he was in control of the army. Time flies indeed.

"Come then. I'm glad we met. I might need your help, Sephiroth, as a SOLDIER. I hope you can help me."

One sliver eyebrow rose lightly at the cryptic comment, but he refrained from saying anything about it just yet. The touch was, perhaps not completely unwelcome, but unexpected and it was something he was not accustomed to, causing his muscles to tense slightly at the contact.

It was amazing how small she seemed now, that he led his mother to the elevator that would get them to the cafeteria.

"What would you require of me, mother?" he asked quietly.

"I suppose it's quite a standard procedure," she replied. "You know that I have a degree in general medicine as well... Recently, I feel drawn to the native lore, their ways of healing, the herbs they use... It could be a valuable addition to our knowledge, after all, there are many poisonous creatures out there in the jungle and Shinra was always known for its antidotes, among others. I'd like to go out and meet the natives, talk to them, examine their methods... That's what I need help in. Leaving the city, finding an aircraft if the company doesn't let me use theirs, and I'll need a few soldiers as well. Even if they get me guards, I'd like to make sure that they won't, for example, shoot at anything which moves. I'm sure you know your men, or make sure they're fit for the job. But of course, only if it's not much of a trouble. I know you're busy."

The soft ring announced their elevator arriving. Sephiroth slid his card in and all the buttons lit up. He pushed on, that would take then to the cafeteria. "I am not sure if now is the best time. We receive reports on commotion near the rail tracks. The natives are not overtly fond of us. Are you certain they would cooperate? And not attack on sight?" something about the mere thought of his mother being attacked disturbed him.

"I follow the news, Sephiroth, that disturbance around the railways are because of monsters..." Lucrecia playfully nudged her son, "and besides, you SOLDIERS should be long over it. And no, not right now... It's the rainy season after all, it would be hard to travel. As for your worries, I'm touched that you care for me, but I don't want to run into trouble either. There are a few tribes not too far from the cities, who aren't hostile toward us. I'd like to begin there."

"I see." he nodded, "Perhaps there will be a way to aid this, but I am afraid you would still have to go though the official channels. Only there won't be the danger of your motion being lost. And I am certain president Rufus would approve. Then I will pick your guards." another soft ring announced they were there.

Indeed the few people inside were all busy with their own business, not even looking up to see the newcomers. Sephiroth led his mother to a table in the corner, where he could observe most of the place.

"It's alright, that would be more than enough," Lucrecia nodded. "I don't think I'll encounter any difficulties, but in case I do, I won't be afraid to ask favors from any of my contacts. It would mean much to me. I hope to take over this project completely, or almost completely. If we want to become true residents of Esper, we need to learn its ways."

"I understand." Sephiroth nodded, " Who is in charge of the project now?" he asked out of pure curiosity, something that rarely only got a hold on the general.

"Actually, nobody." Lucrecia made an elegant gesture with her hand. "I won't say I'm the first one who thought about it, but this particular research never even started. The scientists work hard to get to know the local flora and fauna, but I suppose, the hostility of the natives prevented them from trying to get to get a hold on the primitive healing knowledge. Also, good translators are hard to find. So if it starts, I'll be the leader of it, I guess. I might not be the most experienced doctor in the company, but my previous successes and my contacts-" she stopped for a heartbeat and frowned a little, "would hopefully ensure me that position."

The moment of hesitation brought about a raising of an elegant brow. He had not much contact with his mother in the recent years, so the general did not know much about her life now with the exception of what he read or saw. "Do you think father would hinder your research?" A waitress appeared, wearing a polite smile and asking if they would drink something. The general looked at his mother, waiting, if she would ask for anything.

"Yes please, a cappuccino with extra whipped cream and some vanilla biscuits," Lucrecia nodded. She liked sweet things but she never really worried for her weight - her garden, some time in the gym or a good walk and of course, the mako in her system enough for a Turk took care of it.

"A cup of coffee, black. Please." he looked at the waitress, who kept her smile and nodded, scribbling on a small piece of paper. Then she vanished to place the order. He turned back to his mother, wondering if she would try deflecting answering the question he had asked.

The woman sighed and shook her head. "No, it's not what I had in mind. Honestly, your father wouldn't even _care_. It's more like his name alone. He is the genius scientist of Shinra and I'm his wife. He was my mentor... I have this feeling, sometimes they give me undeserved credit only because I have connections to Alexander Hojo. I hate that. I was taught to work hard for my own achievements."

Sephiroth nodded. He had seen how Hojo is treated by his department. Really, it was much akin to how most of the military treated him. Like a god of some sort. "I see." was all he said, never being a man of many words.

Their coffee was brought and the young girl vanished immediately under the watchful gaze of the general. There was no sign of interest in his eyes, merely observation of a retreating intruder.

The pretty scientist leaned her chin into her hand and watched her son. In the pale, noble features, she could detect the traces of his father and herself as well. His hair, his eyes, they were all based upon his parents' looks but with a generous amount of ethereal beauty added - the grace of the Cetras. Sephiroth was very close to a pure blooded Cetra, probably as close as somebody could ever get.

"Tell me, darling," she said softly. "How do you spend your days? Do you have friends? Perhaps a girl you have eyes on? I barely see you, I barely know anything about you." Again, no accusation.

The questions put him more on guard again, invading into a territory solely his own. "I have many duties, mother, as the leader of the Soldiers 1st Class. It takes most of my time. There are few people, who could simply befriend a general and most of them are as busy as I am." there was no bitterness in his voice, merely a statement. There was Zack, a friend, if he even had one, but...

"I see." Lucrecia lowered his head and poked the whipped cream with the spoon. Great. Either his own child was refusing to tell any personal detail, or he actually was really, completely a social wreck. One option was worse than another. "I just hope you're happy."

Sephiroth blinked once at the statement. Was he happy? He had never considered his own happiness a part of the equation that was his life. He added sugar to the coffee and stirred it slowly. "I am content, mother." and he was, most of the time. It was not really a lie, if not the whole truth.

She reached out and slowly curled her fingers around Sephiroth's hand. "I want you to be happy," she whispered. "That's what every mother wants for her boys, even if I wasn't the best mother ever, far from it." Her mako-bright eyes shone moistly. "I'd like you to find your happiness we stole from you." Her voice broke.

The general went completely still, his eyes meeting those of his mother, a mirror image in color, if not in shine intensity. He rarely reminisced what his childhood had been like, for the pleasant memories were outweighed by far with those less than welcome. He slowly withdrew his hand, remaining silent. There was nothing to say, not for him, not then. Words were futile in this case.

Lucrecia swallowed hard, hesitantly pulling her own hand back. The refusal tore at her heart. To gain some strength, she took a sip from her creamy coffee, and wiped her eyes. "I'm sorry... I didn't mean to become too emotional. I just... recently, I dream with you and Shaun and it makes me a little... edgy. I'm sorry."

Shaun. That was a name he had not heard in years. His brother, who vanished one day without a trace and without a warning, was another person, who most probably fell victim to his father's whim and genius. Just like himself. Or his mother. Sephiroth looked at the tears and fell at loss. He had no idea what to do, what to say to her, to the woman, who was his mother, who had become practically a stranger over the long years he served in the military. In the end he shook his head slowly, sliver hair falling over his eyes. "Mother..." his voice became softer, the usual silk over steel quality of it becoming more velvety, softer and perhaps less cold. "Please, don't." he looked at her, tentatively reaching out to mirror the gesture she made with him, covering her delicate hand in his own, gloved one.

Lucrecia sniffed and smiled. Maybe there was hope after all. "I'm alright, Sephiroth. I'm alright. I just... realized that we could spend a little more time together. " Anything was better than nothing. "If you're up to it. I have so much to tell you, but not like this..." she glanced around. "In private. Anywhere, if you don't want to meet your father, though he's usually at work anyway... Just please, have a little time for me as well. I don't want to completely vanish from your life. I love you, Sephiroth. You'll be always my son, as you always were."

Sephiroth nodded. Anything, he would have probably agreed to anything at the moment, just to make his mother stop crying. "I will, mother." he kept his eyes at her, unsure of both of their reactions. "Would you like to go now?"

"We can drink our coffee but after that, yes. You probably have something to do, and I don't want to hold you back. After all, you're a General." Lucrecia smiled. "You have to know that I'm very proud of you."

The man looked at her simply, at once thankful and confused at such simple words. He had been in Soldier for so long, had been a high ranking officer for so long he barely remembered not being here. And she said she was proud of him, of his accomplishments. Until then the title meant little except for more obligations and less time for himself. And now...now him being a general suddenly got a second meaning and Sephiroth was not sure if he liked this new development. "Thanks you." he said and used his cup of coffee as an excuse not to say anything more. His mother made him feel like he had not felt in long, very long years with anyone, perhaps with the exception of Hojo. Inadequate.

Lucrecia, for once, didn't notice the other's slight distress. She was happy that her son didn't push her away. Hopefully, they can make a new beginning, and this time, walk along the same road together, like they should.