"No! I'll never learn to ride a bike! I'll learn to fly instead!" six-year-old Keter yelled as he threw down his bike helmet and ran into the house, leaving a bemused Aeris, Tifa and Marlene sitting on the front porch with three-year-old Remi.
"Seph…!" Aeris said warningly.
"Don't 'Seph' me!" Sephiroth sulked, "I'm not equipped to deal with these things,"
"I should have taught him instead," Aeris sighed, "Papa told me about the first time you learned to ride a bike,"
"Dare I ask…?" Tifa said with slight trepidation.
"Aeris!" Sephiroth protested.
"Don't 'Aeris' me!" Aeris said smugly before turning to Tifa, "He hit a tree, fell off the side of the road, rolled into a ditch, smacked his head on another tree, and had a concussion for a week. And of course, it was only a week because he's Sephiroth,"
"Didn't you have a helmet?" Tifa asked Sephiroth.
"No he didn't!" Aeris answered quickly before Sephiroth could open his mouth, "That was the fun part. He decided he was going to surprise my parents and learn all by himself. And he did…he just didn't know how to turn, or slow down, or stop. Fortunately, he was at least smart enough to enlist Eleanor as a witness,"
Marlene's ears perked up at the mention of her mother. "She saved Sephiroth?"
"Yep. According to my father, there was a knock at the door, and there was your mother, only twelve years old, lugging nine-year-old Seph, completely out-cold. You see, she did bring a helmet, but it was bright orange and yellow,"
"Aeris…!" Sephiroth growled.
"And this is what your mom told me when I was six years old," Aeris said to Marlene, ignoring her husband, "He said she'd put that on him over his dead body. Over his dead body! Well…that day, she nearly did,"
"Why didn't my papa ever tell me that?" Marlene asked.
"Because at the time, he thought all girls had cooties and stayed away from her and every other girl,"
Marlene laughed and stood up. "I'll go find Keter and talk to him,"
"Thanks, Marlene," Aeris said as the girl went inside.
"I swear, you seem to have an obsession with emasculating me with embarrassing stories like that in front of either Tifa, Yuffie, or Elmyra. No doubt you'll do that with Remi when she's able to sit still long enough to listen,"
"I'm not 'emasculating' you," Aeris retorted, "And I will tell these stories to all of our children, so they don't become like you when doing something new for the first time,"
"I turned out just fine," Sephiroth argued.
"Yes, but our children aren't as physically resilient as you are," Aeris reminded him, "Your little trails of destruction might be cute and amusing, but they could be downright tragic if they happened to anyone else,"
Sephiroth glared. "Having a concussion is not 'cute and amusing',"
"Having you risk your life not to be caught wearing an ugly bike helmet isvery amusing," Aeris giggled.
"I don't know, Aeris," Tifa said, "I think I might have risked crashing instead of wearing some gaudy helmet myself,"
"Thank you, Tifa," Sephiroth said pointedly, "For some reason, my dear sweet wife likes to point out that at times, I'm not exactly the most graceful man as many would have me believe. I have a problem with royally botching up anything I do for the first time. Be it cooking, riding a bike, the first time I used materia…anything, really,"
"She only does it because she finds your sulking attractive," Tifa teased him.
"Traitor!" Aeris accused her friend, "Now he'll purposely refuse to sulk!"
"What can I say?" Tifa shrugged, "Men who sulk are cute. Cloud's positively adorable when he's all pouty. It means I get to cheer him up,"
She smiled mischievously.
"Kids are present…" Aeris said pointedly.
"That's what euphemisms are for," Tifa reminded Aeris.
"What's you-fum-is?" Remi asked.
"A game grown-ups like to play, but is very boring for children," Sephiroth explained tersely.
"Daddy's mad," Remi said timidly as she hid behind the bench.
"No, I'm not mad," Sephiroth said, his voice slightly softer.
"Hey- at least she doesn't go on about your ex's like they do in sitcoms," Tifa tried to reassure him.
"Oh no…" Sephiroth groaned and put his head in his hands.
"That's because he's only told me about some girl who lived in Sector 8," Aeris told her, "That's all he'll say about her,"
"There was a woman from Sector 8 who worked at a book café," Tifa recalled, "She mentioned Sephiroth once when she and Jessie were having a conversation when we went there one time,"
"How do you women remember these things!" Sephiroth exclaimed.
"Well, she only stood out because she…kinda looked a bit like Aeris," Tifa explained.
"Oh?" Aeris turned to look at Sephiroth, "You never did mention that part about your first girlfriend. Tifa, can you tell me anything else?"
"I…don't want to get involved…?" Tifa was getting nervous.
"You have smart friends, my dear," Sephiroth said to Aeris.
"There wasn't really anything remarkable about her, honestly!" Tifa said, trying to diffuse the uncomfortable tension between her friends, "She looked like Aeris, she worked at a book café, she lived in Sector 8, she and Jessie knew each other because she and Jessie's sister went to the same physical therapist,"
"She was in physical therapy?" Aeris looked at Sephiroth in shock, and then turned around and went inside.
"Dammit, woman, the limp was already there when I met her!" Sephiroth snarled as he followed Aeris into the house, leaving a confused Remi sitting on the front steps.
"My name is not 'woman'!" Aeris snapped from inside.
A baby could be heard crying inside.
"Now look what you did! I just got him to sleep!"
"What I did? You were the one who had to tell that stupid story…!"
A minute later, Keter and Marlene came running out.
"Mom says Remi and I can eat dinner at your house," Keter said nervously.
Tifa stood up, looking completely bewildered.
"I have the weirdest friends…" she muttered, "Alright, let's go…"