EPILOGUE: Ever Afters

"Mmm…" Yuffie grunted, burying her face into the mound of warm blankets at her side. "Stop moving," she mumbled irritably, throwing a possessive arm over the cause of the disturbance that had roused her from her sleep.

"Yu, it's late," Cid grumbled, though he kept his eyes closed. Truth be told, he wasn't in the mood to rise from bed either, though for entirely different reasons from his groggy wife. She had unwittingly thrown her leg across him along with the arm, and it was a much more effective distraction than the warm bed. Too damn distracting, he groaned, moving to push her off. "Yu, I gotta get to work today," he tried again.

"Muh moo mon," was her muffled reply. Fortunately, two years of living together had taught Cid the fine art of deciphering Yuffie's early morning speech patterns.

Cid sighed and rolled his eyes. Wonder when I got so fuckin' patient, he thought with annoyance. Still, he couldn't bring himself to just toss her out of the bed, so he tried again. "Yu, Shera's gonna be waitin'."

This finally managed to rouse Yuffie, but not enough to displace her arms. Instead, she just drew him tighter and glared at him. "No, she's not. I saw her at the bar again last night," she grumbled. "I bet she's not even going to come in today."

Cid smirked and Yuffie dropped her head back onto his shoulder. "She ain't a lazy git like you," he reminded her, and hissed when her fingers dug into his skin and pinched him in response. The teasing smile dropped and a small frown came over his face. "At the bar, huh? She… ain't still tryin' to find all her answers in a bottle, is she?" Even after two years of living with Yuffie, Cid still felt responsible for everything that happened to Shera. He had blamed himself when Shera started drinking. He also knew Yuffie was still slightly jealous of his concern for the other woman; it was the reason he had refused to interfere, despite his concern. Surprisingly, however, Yuffie was the one who had first come up with the idea for him to offer Shera a job maintaining the airship.

"Hey! It's makes perfect sense. Shera needs something to keep herself busy, and she's good at it," the little ninja had said. When he had protested, she only smiled and grew stern in her response. "You know I love you. So I think it's in my best interest if I get her to make sure that you always come back home safely. So just do it for me already!" He couldn't argue with that logic, and it had left him feeling relieved, if a bit uncomfortable at having Shera work with them in such close quarters on a regular basis.

"Relax," Yuffie said, pulling Cid into her embrace, and his train of thought dissolved into distracted ribbons of awareness as she wrapped herself around him. "She wasn't drinking this time. She was talking to the barkeep again. Maybe he finally asked her out," she said with a small grin.

"…him and Shera? He's showin' a fuckin' interest?" Cid said in disbelief, sitting up. Or trying to; Yuffie brought him down with an interesting and mildly painful twist of her legs.

"Jealous?" she laughed. "Well too bad, so am I, and I say you leave them alone. It's about time Shera got some, since she's not about to be getting ANYTHING from you."

Cid grumbled in annoyance; Yuffie was still able to read him like transparent water sometimes. Though, it was hard to remain irritated when she was twisting around him so distractingly. "How's a man supposed to relax under this kind of pressure?" he murmured to her, letting his hands drift slowly down her back.

"Pressure? What pressure?" Yuffie asked innocently as she tilted her hips slightly. A smile crossed her face when she felt him respond with a low groan.

"You know what you're fuckin' doin', woman," he answered, his eyes glinting. Then he leaned forward to give her a heady kiss. Yuffie responded eagerly; she had always worried in the back of her mind that Cid would eventually wake up and see her for what she was; gangly, small-chested and locked in a permanent competition for 'best body-double of a teenaged boy.' Two years hadn't done anything to cool Cid's desire, however; he seemed to delight in finding unorthodox ways to catch her off guard. In fact, she could count on her hand the number of times they had actually done anything in the bed; his argument usually following along the lines of "the bed's for fuckin' sleep, and I ain't interested in sleepin' right now." An argument which he seemed wholly in favour of forgetting as hungry lips and questing fingers tugged at her pyjamas.

A loud knock at the door caused Cid to wrench his lips off of Yuffie with a low growl. "Who the fuck—" he began, then groaned again as Yuffie began to laugh.

"Oh! Oh my! Cid? Yuffie? Are you guys in there? I'm sorry I'm so late!" Panic was evident in Shera's shout as she pounded on their back door loudly. "Please don't fire me!" she called again, sounding as if she was on the verge of tears. It was a big change from the Shera of two years ago; she allowed herself to express her emotions more freely, thanks to Yuffie's coaching. Much to the ninja's disappointment, however, Shera was still the same timid, submissive woman that she had been before.

"This is what you get for being such a hard ass at work," Yuffie said with a smirk, releasing Cid from her grip and extracting herself from the warm tangle of blankets.

"I thought you wanted me to stay in bed," Cid grumbled, reaching out to pinch Yuffie's butt and earning a slap on the offending hand in response.

"That poor woman actually thinks you're going to fire her!" Yuffie scolded. She donned her bathrobe quickly and shoved open the curtain and the window and leaned out. "Hey, Shera!" she yelled, giving the worried woman a small wave. "You can stop panicking, Cid hasn't even gotten his lazy butt out of bed yet!"

"Oh," Shera said, turning away from the door and giving Yuffie a flustered smile. She coughed nervously and smoothed out her hair. "I'm sorry to have woken you up like that, then…"

Yuffie's grin stretched out into a mischievous smirk. "Hey… isn't that you-know-who's shirt?" she asked in a sing-song voice. "Caught with your pants down this morning, aren't ya? Or was that him?" she teased, laughing as Shera turned beet red.

"That's-- that's—"

"Shera got luuuucky…" Yuffie sang loudly, planting her elbows on the windowsill with an evil grin.

"That's none of your business!" Shera wailed angrily, still blushing all the way to the roots of her hair. "Ohh— just tell Cid I'll be with the Highwind, those new parts came in yesterday!" she added with an exasperated sigh, turning around and stomping off towards the plains.

"Hee hee," Yuffie grinned as she tucked herself back inside of the bedroom and shut the window. She jumped when she felt Cid standing behind her, glaring outside at Shera's retreating form.

"She fuckin' slept with him already!" he yelled.

"About time," Yuffie replied with a grin.

"I'll fuckin' kill him if he hurts her," Cid replied, cracking his knuckles.

Yuffie elbowed him sharply in the gut and then smiled sweetly. "You! Stay out of her business, that's my job!" she reminded the blonde severely. "Besides, didn't you see that?" she added more gently, a smile touching the corner of her lips. "She finally yelled back at me today."

The fierce expression on Cid's face fell away slowly, though he still didn't look happy. "Yeah… I know. It's good for her and all that shit. Just don't ask me to start throwin' a fuckin' party about it."

"Of course, parties are my job too," Yuffie replied smartly, raising herself on her toes and planting a kiss on his nose. "Now go get changed before you get even later, slacker."

"Huh," Cid grunted, running a hand through her hair briefly. "Ain't goin' nowhere till I practice," he replied, bending down to give her a deep kiss. "Gotta work off some of that energy from all your goddamn teasin'," he grumbled.

Yuffie laughed and watched him pull on his pants, then snatch the Venus Gospel from the corner of their messy room. Housekeeping wasn't something that either of them were particularly fond of, though Yuffie had set down an iron-clad rule that no shoes were to be worn in the house. She had claimed it was because of Cid's propensity to prop his feet up on any available table-like surface in the household; more importantly, however, it made her feel as though she was keeping a little piece of Wutai alive in their home. That, and also with their shared fondness for sparring.

"No," Cid said as he saw Yuffie reaching to take down her Conformer from the wall.

"But Cid—" she whined, sulking when she saw him give her his no-nonsense glare.

"I said no babe," he repeated, slinging the lance over his shoulder and making his way out of the room. "I'm doin' it alone today."

"Spoilsport," Yuffie replied, sticking her tongue out. She furtively slipped a few of her smaller throwing knives into the sleeves of the voluminous bathrobe as she followed him to the living room. They broke apart there; Cid leaving for the backyard, while she made her way to the kitchen and prepared some coffee. By the time Yuffie was finished and had filled a mug with the steaming black liquid, Cid was already well underway. She shut the door behind her and settled on the stairs of the porch, watching him practice in the dusty circle of the yard.

Sweep, cut, stab. It was one of his more complicated spear katas; Yuffie smirked inwardly as she watched him dance. "I must've been more distracting than I thought," she murmured to herself with a smug sense of satisfaction. It faded away into a more dreamy satisfaction, watching him move. Two years of practice and a lack of cigarettes had paid off in more ways than she could count; Cid was faster than ever, moving with an ease that most men half his age never even achieved. She found herself staring appreciatively at his shirtless chest as his muscles flexed and strained, and carefully put the mug of coffee aside.

"Hey, sexy!" Yuffie called out, the only warning she gave him. Then she flicked her hand out towards him in a lazy wave.

KLANG-KLANG-KLANG! The deadly missiles flew away haphazardly, embedding themselves all over the yard.

Cid finished the spin of the lance and then planted it in the ground, glaring at Yuffie murderously. "I thought I told you no!" he bellowed. "What if one of those had hit you?"

"Oh shut up. I almost got you that time," Yuffie laughed, flipping her last remaining knife over her knuckles. "Besides, I'm not that slow yet!" she added with a small pout.

Cid dropped the lance and crossed over to her in two quick strides, gathering her in his arms and roughly knocking the throwing knife out of her fingers. "I ain't jokin' about this, Yuffie. No practice, no sparrin', and…" his eyes drifted to the porch and back. "No coffee, not till you're done squeezin' the little brat out."

"Humpf," Yuffie replied, though she let him wrap his arms around her. "I haven't even started bloating up like a balloon yet. And should you really be calling your own kid a little brat? Think of the trauma!"

"No jokin', Yu," Cid said, dropping his chin onto her head and rocking her gently. "This ain't a dream I'm gonna give up for anythin'. So no fightin' anymore… please," he added as an afterthought.

"I don't know if I can live with nine more months of torture like this," Yuffie grumbled into his chest. She let a small smile slip over her face, though; sometimes it felt nice to be protected, even by her overbearing husband. "The things I do for you, Cid Highwind."

"Torture, eh? Well if you're so damn restless, then I guess we better do somethin' about it," he replied, sweeping her up into his arms and stepping into the house with an intent grin.

"Cid!" Yuffie yelped in delight, beating her fists against his chest as he carried her back towards the bedroom. "Put me down! You forgot your lance! What about Shera? You're still wearing your boots!"

"Christ, will you just forget the fuckin' shoes already!" Cid yelled before silencing her with a passionate kiss. As he pulled away, she leaned back and smiled at him, full sunshine and air and cheer and life, and he shook his head in amazement.

No, it ain't like I planned at all, he thought to himself with satisfaction.

… they never did make it to the bedroom.