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I posted the first line of this in response to a tumblr meme (and then wound up altering it anyway). The idea itself grew out of discussions with Raaj about Cloud being female but thanks to Hojo and Zack's memories thinking he was male through-out Final Fantasy VII. This is the moment Tifa finds out:

Tifa stared at Cloud, trying to make sense of the doctor’s comments and the implications of what he said a second before. The others were gone, left to do something, anything. Now she wished she had not let them go, wished she knew where her PHS was. She needed to talk to someone.

"I'm sorry," she said, interrupting the doctor, still staring at Cloud's face. "Could you say that... again?"

"Hmmm?" He sounded distracted, not picking up on the confusion in her voice. "I was asking if she had any history of mental illness or substance abuse."

"How... what are you talking about?"

She heard him sigh. "I know this might seem invasive or insensitive, but we have no records for your friend. For Cloud. So, if we are to have any hope with the Mako poisoning I need to know everything I can."

"No-." She looked away from the slumped form in front of her, staring at the doctor crouched beside her. "Why... did you say she?"

He frowned. "Cloud is female."

"Cloud is not a girl," she said, saying the words with a force she did not feel. The doctor's eyes widened.

"Oh. Oh, I'm terribly sorry. I didn't-. Never mind. Did he have any history of mental illness or substance abuse?"

Tifa closed her eyes, counting to ten in her head. "Is there another doctor here?"

"Ah, um, no. 'Fraid it's just me," the doctor said with a sheepish grin. "Would you prefer to talk to the nurse?"

"No." Her voice was shaking. "Why did you change how you talked about him?"

"I thought that was what he preferred? I only assumed he was female because of our examination when he was brought in. I apologize for any offence."

"No," she said, rising on unsteady legs. She took a cautious step forward looking down at her friend. "How can you think he's female?"

The doctor coughed and rose to his feet. "Biologically, Cloud is female. How he wishes to be perceived in day to day life is another matter." He trailed off into silence. "Oh. Oh, I'm-. I'm sorry. You didn't know."

"No," she said still staring. "Cloud is a... girl?"

"Biologically, yes."


She saw him move closer out of the corner of his eye. "There are surgical procedures, but your friend has no trace of those or any scarring. Excepting some miraculous procedure I have never heard of, I would have to conclude that yes, he always has been female."

"Jenova," she muttered, the name unpleasant in her mouth.

"I'm sorry?"

"Nothing." She shook her head. "But even if... Why?" She trailed off into an uncomfortable silence. The doctor coughed.

"The questions can wait for now. I'm going to leave you alone - I'll check back in on you both later."

She did not reply, staring at the person she had known so long. He had always been short, shorter than all the boys. No. This was lunatic. It had to be an effect of Jenova's influence on him. It had to be what Sephiroth talked about, the Jenova cells altering the physical form based on memory. No. That was wrong too. That would mean this was not the Cloud she remembered, the one who had called her out to the water-tower.

The water-tower. The request had been a surprise. But was it only because it was Cloud asking her, or was there something else that had made her surprised? And Cloud's hair had once been so much longer. No. No, this was still ridiculous. SOLDIER did not accept female applicants; there was not one single female SOLDIER in the ranks. There were so many stories that claimed no sexism on the part of Shinra, that it was a simple matter of biology. Cloud could not be female. He would not have survived the process.

But what if it was never the whole truth? What if there was no problem beyond corporate policy? Cloud could-. No. She needed someone to talk to. Anyone. She wanted to laugh. Who could she talk to about this? The Cloud she remembered, the one she spent so much time in the company of could only be male. The person she most wanted to talk to, to open up, to be honest had to be male. But... So many things seemed to fit together if Cloud was female. The beauty and grace of his turn as Miss Cloud. Little thoughts and nuisnace inconsistencies that had never sat right. She had never doubted Cloud was a boy - why would she? But now she looked at him afresh, she wondered at the make-up of his face, his lithe physique, how good he looked in that dress. And now she was that much less certain.

Would that Aeris was here now. Had she known? Was that the reason behind her plan all that time ago in Wall Market? Or just convenient coincidence? Of all her friends, Aeris would be the best to talk to. Aeris the only one she could not ever speak to again. Beside the bed was Cloud's uniform, folded with his shoulder guard and bracers perched on top. Along with a single bandage. It meant nothing. Cloud could have any number of injuries she did not know about. Maybe he used it as padding for the shoulder guard, or a bracer, or-. Maybe he used it to bind his breasts.

Her head peered around. The doctor was nowhere in sight. It was still hard to take in, to accept that what she had once thought about Cloud was wrong. No, not wrong. He was still Cloud. She stood doubts screaming in her head. But she had to see. Had to see for herself if what the doctor had said about Cloud was true. She needed to see his body. She took a step forward, Cloud's head still lolling. She swallowed, wondering where best to look. She had wondered more than once about Cloud's body. Idle day-dreams at sixteen to individual moments through their time together over the last few months. Never did she think she would see his body like this.

The scent of Mako was stronger now she was beside him. She swallowed again. His chest. She would look at his chest. Lower would be too invasive, too prying. Trembling fingers reached out for the gown that covered Cloud. She would be quick. She just needed to check. She just had to know. Her fingers gripped the gown.

She stopped. Her hand twitched but she could not draw the gown aside. She let her grip loosen and her arm fall to her side. No. This was not her place to look. Did Cloud even know the truth? Her first impulse was that he must but the past had scrambled his memory. As long as her memories were accurate. As long as Sephiroth was telling the truth. If she looked now, would it changed how she treated Cloud? If she knew before he did, how would it shape how she dealt with him? She stepped back. How did she feel about him now?

She framed the thought in her mind. Cloud was a girl. Had she known that all those years ago, or how Cloud made himself appear to be male? What had gone through her mind when she asked for that promise from him? Had she gone to that meeting knowing it was the only time a girl had ever asked them to meet her there? Frustrating almost memories hung on the edge of recall. Stolen moments for which she now only possessed fragments. Did she still... No, she could not bring herself to even think that. Not now, not yet. Start simpler. Was she still attracted to Cloud? She looked at him with a critical eye. Cloud was not in a good state, much like when she met him in Midgar. But he was still the same person she had asked to rescue her if she needed it. The same person she had been so pleased to see. The same person she stopped walking away. Did Cloud's gender change how she felt?

No. No. She breathed, a laugh escaping with the breath. Nothing had changed. She still wanted to be with him. She still wanted him to be well, to talk to him, to get through all this with him. She wanted to do everything she had not been able to in the aftermath of the City of the Ancients, after they both lost a friend. Funny; they had known her for so brief a time but there had been a connection there unlike Tifa had felt with anyone else in the world.

She was going to stay. Not that she could even entertain the thought of leaving Cloud like this, but she was staying for him. She was staying for the same reasons she stayed before. She would be with Cloud until the end.

* * *

I want to continue this but am not entirely sure where to go next.
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