Hojo attends Sephiroth's baby shower and muses on research grants, dead wives and cake.
Warnings: Creepy Hojo, slightly AU
Timeline: Just after Sephiroth's birth and Lucrecia's death
Summary: Hojo attends Sephiroth's baby shower and muses on research grants, dead wives and cake.
Hojo didn’t remember ever consenting to a baby shower. But apparently Lucrecia had made the arrangements. The meeting room of a community center had been rented, invitations had been sent out and catering had been planned. She’d scheduled it for two weeks after the birth of her child which, in Hojo’s estimation, was quite optimistic even if she had survived.
He’d first heard of the shower from a friend of Lucrecia’s who had called a few days after Sephiroth’s birth and his mother’s subsequent death. At first he’d been angry that she would have planned such a thing without telling him. Then again he wouldn’t have allowed her to host the event anyway. It was proof that Lucrecia had begun seeing the embryo inside her as her baby rather than the experiment it was.
Instinct told him to cancel her shindig. He could claim that he was too grieved to attend. It had aided him well in the past…no one questioned his need to be alone in the lab with his newborn son. Beyond that, he could convince people to change the baby or to stay up with him all night out of sympathy for his situation.
Hojo was becoming better at pretending he cared for Sephiroth as a child rather than as the crowning glory of months of scientific slaving. At long last he determined that he should go ahead with the baby shower. The guest list was extensive and included many of the higher-ups; perfect for discovering who would be the most apt to fund his next research project. People who normally would not have attended now wanted to do so in order to pay their respects to Lucrecia Crescent. Hojo had claimed the funeral was a private affair but in fact there had never been one at all.
The party itself was dreadful. Blue balloons and streamers covered every spare inch of the room. A cake proudly announced that it was a boy and blue-frosted cookies echoed the declaration. The punch was pink though, but still halfway decent.
Behind the table where all the presents were stacked, someone had draped a chair in white fabric and placed flowers on it. Others had added their contributions of bracelets or more flowers or even mementos from the shower. Hojo made certain that at least a few people saw him looking at the chair and looking something close to saddened.
“It’s so terrible that this happened,” The woman currently latched onto Hojo’s arm for a better view of the baby told him. She had been one of Lucrecia’s staff members, used as a beast of burden and for filing. Mentally Hojo called her ‘Stumpsy’ for the fact her legs were the length of her torso. He was pretty sure her name was actually Wanda.
“She was so young and had such a career ahead of her!” Wanda continued, saying pretty much the exact same thing everyone else was saying. Yes, Lucrecia had been rather young to meet her demise. Hojo didn’t think she’d had such a promising career, especially after finding out that she’d purchased fluffy socks for their experiment. Soon, he mused, she probably would have arranged for sunhats for their test tubes.
Hojo must have made some noise of agreement. Wanda was on the tip of her toes, attempting to get a look at Lucrecia’s spawn. He looked down as well and noticed the small pink face of the infant was getting pinker…and he was grunting. He looked around, hoping a lab tech would choose that moment to stumble by.
“And to die in such a place…with medical technology all around her but unable to save her! It’s such a tragedy!” Wanda couldn’t take a hint, apparently.
Hojo considered the technology she’d died near. Probably they could have saved her if they’d caught the hemorrhage sooner. And probably he should have made sure the placenta didn’t prematurely rip off the uterine wall and then really he should have attempted to staunch the blood flow.
But by the time he’d finished taking Sephiroth’s measurements Lucrecia had been lying in a puddle of her own blood, heart already faltering and eyes glassily staring at the product of her last bout of research.
Instead of mentioning any of this to Wanda he simply said “Such things happen.”
She looked momentarily shocked and he mentally gave himself a slap on the wrist. He needed to be the grieving widower now. “I mean…we did everything we could but…” And he shrugged helplessly, glancing over to the offering-laden chair then back down to the child in his arms. “At least Sephiroth lived,” He offered, hoping that would make up for things.
Apparently it did since Wanda patted his shoulder sympathetically. “He’s her legacy. Do you mind if I hold him?”
It was perfect timing since Hojo was pretty sure Sephiroth had just messed himself. He handed the infant immediately over to the woman, ignoring her most recent barb. Lucrecia’s legacy? Why wouldn’t Sephiroth be his legacy? He was the one who came up with the idea in the first place! Lucrecia had just been a vessel…a living, breathing laboratory to hatch his next grand experiment.
Unfortunately the laboratory had to grow a conscience at the last minute. She had no longer been able to see the glory of what they were doing. She had become selfish and actually contemplated being a mother first rather than a scientist.
“Excuse me,” Hojo told Wanda. “I…need a moment.” He stumbled toward the bathroom and once he was certain she was no longer looking, veered and headed toward the cake.
Two pieces later he decided it was passable. He wouldn’t have chosen yellow cake but then he assumed Lucrecia had ordered it. And cake was cake, no matter how you looked at it.
“Professor Hojo?” He turned to find the current head of funding standing awkwardly behind him. Doctor Scott was…well Hojo wasn’t exactly sure what to make of the man. He’d been a quick replacement after his predecessor had been found embezzling funds into sleazy bar girls.
He swallowed the bite of cake in his mouth and nodded. “Doctor Scott. How nice of you to come.”
Doctor Scott hesitated a bit. “I was very sorry to hear of your wife’s death. Her research looked so promising…I just wish she would be able to complete it.”
“Me too,” Hojo agreed. As Doctor Scott made a move to leave, however, he stepped in front of the man. “I was working on a lot of it with her,” He said quickly. “It would be my dream to continue it…for her. For…our son.” He paused dramatically, placing a hand over his heart, fingers pressed against the white of his lab coat.
“How much would you be…?” Doctor Scott began then shook his head. “I’m sorry, what am I thinking? Trying to speak to you about finances at a time like this! If you can find the time just have a form sent to me and I’ll sign off on it.”
Hojo dropped his head to hide the grin suddenly on his face. Taking it as a sign of gratitude and sorrow, Doctor Scott took his leave, allowing Hojo to eat a bite of celebratory cake before going to see if Wanda had changed Sephiroth yet.
Ten minutes later, presents were opened. It was tedious, waiting while everyone cooed over tiny clothes and pretending to shed a tear whenever he opened something for Lucrecia, and Hojo still wasn’t sure if the back massager, scented bath beads, tea candles and neck pillow made up for all he was having to endure.
He graciously allowed others to hold Sephiroth. The less time the infant spent in his care the less likely Hojo was to be covered in anything that came out of one of the baby’s orifices.
Hojo was thanking the last of the guests and waiting for the last of the presents to be boxed up when another of Lucrecia’s techs approached him. He remembered this one was named Rachel and she was good deal more attractive than Stumpsy. She delicately brushed a finger along Sephiroth’s cheek then offered a smile to Hojo, brown eyes full of tears.
“If you ever need anything,” She told him. “Give me a call. Day or night and I’ll be right over.”
With that she slid a slip of paper with her phone number on it into his pocket, dropped a kiss on Sephiroth’s face and went to help clean the remains of the punch.
Hojo was beginning to think that maybe being a single father could work for him. Maybe he wouldn’t have to stage Sephiroth’s death just yet.
“Wrap that cake up,” He snapped to the nearest person. “I want to take it with me.” Fending off the strange look he quickly included “For the memories. I’m making a scrapbook.”
Sephiroth squeaked. Hojo bundled him up a bit more and smiled.