Disclaimer: The characters you recognise are from BVE. The characters you don't are from the recesses of my dark and depraved mind. No money made. All hail the mouse!

With grateful thanks to Cmar (*waves*) for a certain amount of inspiration over the direction certain characters are taking. Also to Vanessa for the help and feedback. Finally to Gamine for being an absolutely wonderful human being and for beta'ing above and beyond the call of duty. *bows to all* Thank you, ladies.

Welcome to chapter two, page one of the Identiverse -- welcome to Far Future.

~*~


Ten Years

A lot can happen in ten years.

People grow, people change.

Families grow, for that matter.

I just can't believe I've been married ten years. It's weird. I swear, I never thought I'd get married -- never thought I'd meet someone who didn't drive me nuts, and yet, here I am, not only have I just celebrated my tenth anniversary, but I'm still as much in love with Jen as I was when I first met her.

Of course, it's not just us any more. Richard -- Rick as he's universally known -- was born just after our first Christmas together. Jen and I both wanted to name him after Eric -- but Eric wasn't having that. So Jen and I settled for Richard and shortening it to Rick. It's close enough. Alexandra -- Lexia, for short -- followed three years later. Dad thinks we named her for him -- and I guess that's partially true, but the real reason she bears that name is that she reminded both Jen and I of Alex when she was born.

And, of course, it's not just us who've celebrated ten years of being married. Eric and Kimberly got married the same day we did. Theirs hasn't been smooth sailing -- a guy like Eric wasn't really designed for living with people, not full time. That's not to say he doesn't love Kim. He loves her more than life itself -- just, every now and then he needs to take off. Just for a day. Just to get a perspective on things. I guess you don't go through twenty-eight years of never trusting the people around you and expecting them to leave you without picking up some hang-ups.

It doesn't help matters, though, that Alice is turning into a regular little spitfire. From smart-ass, sweet natured kid, she's blossoming into a serious case of jailbait. She's just turned sixteen; she's leggy, blonde and blue-eyed. I guess she must get the looks from her biological father. Temper, too. I've lost count of the number of times in the last year, where either Kim or Eric -- or on a couple of occasions, both of them -- have turned up on our doorstep looking for advice.

It's a mess. But at the same time, I know that Alice absolutely adores her mom, and especially adores Eric.

And then there's John, Eric and Kimberly's son. He's eleven months younger than Rick and the pair of them are completely inseparable. It was fun. Kimberly found out she was pregnant with John the day the East Mall was bombed. Small wonder she was so frantic that we find Eric when the hotel collapsed...

For all that, though, I don't think either Eric or Kimberly would swap a single day of the last ten years for anything. It might have been a challenge, but they're still together -- and happy.

Here's hoping the next ten years are a little easier on them...