Author: Auditory Eden

Rating: K+


Notes: Mainly Denzel and Marlene, with some amusing Cloti, and mentioned Yuffentine. Just a day in the life of Marlene and Denzel.

Dress Up

Marlene Wallace, aged ten, was bored.

Really. Really. Bored.

Tifa wouldn't let her mix drinks for the customers, even though she made the best dirty martini this side of Edge; Barret was away on a construction project and didn't call until just before bedtime; Cloud was off emo-ing himself into a stupor; and Denzel was doing homework. Marlene had already finished hers, and was now sitting at the kitchen table, kicking the legs of her chair.

She sighed. Aunty Yuffie was always fun, but she and Uncle Vinnie had gotten married and were on their "honey moon", whatever that meant, other than that they weren't there to amuse her.

Marlene slumped forward onto the table. "Denzel," she whined. He looked up from his page of multiplication problems.

"What, Marlene?" She turned on her best puppy-face pout, full blast (a skill she had learned from Yuffie). He examined her expression carefully, aware that he was now treading in deep water. He recalled one thing that Cloud and Vincent took great pains to impress upon him: When they start making a puppy face, run for your life...

She cocked her head to the side. "Let's play dress up!"

Denzel turned back to his homework. "Marlene, I have to do my homework, or Tifa's gonna kill me..." He stared at the page. "Damn it! I hate math!"

Hopping down from her stool, Marlene scooted around the table, climbing onto the stool next to Denzel. She balanced precariously on her knees while looking over his shoulder at the problem. Sighing in resignation, she pointed, "Denzel, four times eight is thirty-two. And four times twelve is thirty-six."

"Thanks." He hastily scribbled in the correct answers, then packed up his homework and slid off his stool.

"Can we play dress up now?"



Marlene pulled a white dress out of the dress up box. "Hey, Denzel?" she called. "Yeah?" his voice was muffled from under the shirt he was pulling on over his head.

"Do you remember Yuffie and Vinnie's wedding?"

His head popped out of the collar of his button-down shirt. "Of course I do. It was awful..."

Twirling, Marlene held out the dress. "You be Vinnie, and I'll be Yuffie!"

Denzel, quite wisely, began backing away. "Oh, no. No, no, no!"

Once more, she pouted full blast, this time looking like he was driving her to tears. "Why not? Don't you like me...?"

A look of panic crossed his face, and he stammered, "O-of course I like you, Marlene! W-what're you-"

She furrowed her brow and glared at him. "Tifa says that people who like each other get married! That's why Yuffie and Vincent did; It's like being best friends forever!"

"But weddings are so boring!" Denzel protested loudly. Neither noticed that Cloud and Tifa were standing right outside the door, out of sight.

"But the wedding's not the point, Yuffie says. She says that the wedding is just to make you appreciate being married more," she stated, with the confidence of one not to be thwarted. Then both her face and manner turned, and she said, "Or don't you want to marry me?", sounding, once again, close to tears.

Cloud was grimacing behind the doorframe as Tifa laughed silently. Poor Denzel, he thought, Marlene's got him wrapped around her little finger...

"No! Of course I do! I just don't like weddings!"

"But you hafta have a wedding to be married!"

"Weddings are boring!"

"Aunty Shera says weddings are beautiful!"

"Cloud said that if there hadn't been an open bar at Yuffie's wedding, he would have shot himself through the forehead with Vincent's gun!"

Tifa shot Cloud a death glare. He twitched.

"Besides," continued Denzel, "You need to have someone there to marry you! Like a priest guy!"

"We could get Cloud to marry us, " retorted Marlene.

He shook his head. "Cloud wouldn't do it."

"Red XIII?"


"Aren't you both forgetting something?" Tifa added, walking into the room.

Both children chorused, "What?"

She winked. "Who's gonna give Marlene away?" they stared at her blankly. "You know, at the beginning, when the brides father gives her to the groom? It's very important, symbolically."

"Well that depends...What does it mean?" asked Marlene.

"It means..." Tifa paused for effect, and Cloud rolled his eyes, "that the bride's father is saying that the groom has to protect the bride in his place for ever and ever, and that he has to make her happy."

"So...the one who gives me away should be the one who protects me?"

"Yes, that's right," affirmed Tifa.

Denzel and Marlene exchanged a glance. "Cloud!" they shouted in unison. He cringed and started to sidle out of the room.

"Get back in here!" The glare that Tifa sent him was more than enough to root him to the spot.

"And as for who marries you, well, for Yuffie and Vincent it was Nanaki, but he's not in town..." Her face split in a grin. "How about Cid?" They nodded.

"I'll go get him," Cloud proclaimed, and hurried out of the room.

"Okay, Denzel. Here's your coat, it goes over the shirt. Now, can you go stand in the hallway?"

He looked at his substitute mother as if she had grown another ear. "Why?"

"Because," Tifa said, "the groom can't see the bride in her dress until the wedding!" She shooed him out and closed the door.

She turned to Marlene, and helped her out of the princess dress she'd been wearing before, then pulled the white dress on over Marlene's head, buttoning it up the back. She quickly swapped out her pink hair ribbon for a white one, kissed her on both cheeks, and said, "You ready to get married?"

"Yup-yup!" Marlene nodded enthusiastically. Tifa chuckled, then said, "When Cid asks you if you take Denzel for your husband, you have to say 'I do', not yes or mm-hmm...okay?"

"Okay, Tifa!" Tifa smiled at the heartwarming grin on Marlene's face.

"Oh, Get over here!" She opened her arms, and Marlene rushed up and hugged her. Tifa could feel tears welling in her eyes. Her little girl, getting marr—well, not quite yet. This was just a game of dress-up, after all.

"Too ##$() young, them two are! $(*& Marry `em! ($*&#!!!" Cid's voice carried down the hallway, and the more quiet sound of Cloud reasoning with him could be heard.

Tifa broke their embrace, and took Marlene by the hand. "Okay, now you have to come wait in the um...closet. So Denzel can walk in without seeing you." Marlene scuttled away to the toy room closet, opened the door twirled, and snapped the doors shut on herself. Tifa smiled, then hurried to pick up the clothes they'd left on the floor. She stowed them in the trunk with the other dress up clothes, then set it on one end. Just as she was placing a vase of flowers on it (to act as altar), Cloud and Cid walked into the room.

Cloud crossed the room and whispered, "Denzel's working himself into a tizzy. We should probably mosey." She rolled her eyes at him, then turned to Cid.

"Don't see what the )$*(&$Q#$ point of this is," he told her.

She shrugged. "It's just playacting. You know the speech, right?"

"Yeah. Had to marry one of Shera's cousins a while back."

Cloud piped up. "Don't they need rings or something, since you're getting so into the details?"

"Hmm.." Tifa lunged for a packet of pipe cleaners, withdrew two yellow ones, and wound them into rings. She held onto one, and handed the other to Cloud. She sighed. "Well, guess it's time."

"You sound as though it's for real," Cloud said disparagingly. "Go get Denzel. Give him the pep talk or something."

With a laugh, Tifa strode to the door, then stepped outside. Denzel stood against the wall, chewing contemplatively on his thumb, brows drawn in a deep frown.

"Hey, you ready to be a married man?" Tifa laughed.

Denzel stared at her, blinking in a long, slow manner that she was sure he learned from Vincent. "I...guess..." he said, haltingly.

Tifa ruffled his hair, sighing wistfully. "Okay, when Cid gets to the part where he asks if you take Marlene as your wife, blah blah, you say..."

"I do!" he answered promptly. "I remember that from Vincent's wedding."

"Right." She smiled at him, imagining her two little cuties getting married for real. "Denny," Tifa said,"you know that legally speaking....and well, realistically, this isn't going to real or binding, right?"

He nodded slowly.

"And you know that you don't have to kiss Marlene at the end, right?

He nodded again.

"And you know that this doesn't mean you'll have to marry her for real when you grow up, right?"

"Yeah, I know! Although if we do get married...Promise you wont laugh?"

Tifa grinned widely. "Pinky promise." she proffered the digit, and he grasped it with his own. They shook twice, then he said, "Um...I'd be really happy if I married Marlene..." He twisted his hands around, starting at them. "But, y'know, she fell asleep five minutes into Vinnie and Yuffie's wedding...and she doesn't really know what, y'know, marriage is...and I do and it's not really that stuff about being best friends. She just got that from Yuffie..." Tifa laughed.

"Okay, Denzel. I get it. You're saying you like Marlene."

He jumped backwards, waving his hands, eyes wide and mouth a perfect "O", a blush spilling onto his cheeks. "NO! I mean, well, y'know...I don't want..but I...!" His head fell, and he began wringing his hands again.

"I'm sorry, Denny. C'mon, it's time." She took his hand and guided the still blushing boy up to the fake altar, where Cid stood glowering. Cloud was telling him something very quietly, but stopped when Denzel and Tifa drew near.

"You get the idea," he finished, more loudly.

"Yeah, yeah, I get the #$&$ idea," he grumbled. Tifa cleared her throat and added, "No swearing, either."

Denzel was twitching now, his face scrunched up with something like nerves. "Can we just...just get on with it!" he whined suddenly.

"Yeah," said Cloud. "I have a delivery." Tifa waved him off.

"Well, then, go get Marlene," she reprimanded. He slumped, shuffling off to the closet. Opening the door, he let out Marlene, who skipped out, brushed off her dress, and took his hand with a smile.

They walked up to the altar, standing between Denzel and Tifa. Marlene looked past Cloud to smile at Denzel, her eyes glowing from excitement. He grinned back weakly, swallowing. Tifa bit her lip to old back a giggle as Cid began the ceremony.

"Friends, we're gathered here today in the sights of Shiva, Ifrit, Bahamut, and all them other gods, to witness of this, erm, boy, to this girl. They know the point of this, and so do all of us. Does anyone have any reason they shouldn't get married? No? Good."

Now he turned to Cloud. "You givin' this girl away?"

Cloud shrugged. "Yeah.". He gave Marlene's hand to Denzel, who was turning an interesting pasty color. She squeezed his hand, and he returned the gesture with slightly trembling fingers.

"We're skipping this next bit, right?" Cid shot at Cloud, who nodded. "Alright then. Straight to the vows. Marlene, do you take Denzel, in sickness and health, for better or worse, etc, etc, to be your somethin'-or-other husband?"

Marlene practically glowed as she said, "I do!"

Cid turned now to Denzel, his face turning red from the effort of not swearing. "And do you, Denzel, take Marlene, in sickness and health, for better or worse, etc, etc, to be your go—I mean,"

"I-I do," he stammered.

Tifa waved forward Cloud, to hand Denzel his ring. He stared at her, then said, "Oh, right!", and gave Denzel the pipe-cleaner ring. Denzel, remembering this bit from Yuffie's wedding, took it and said to Marlene, "W-with this ring, I t-thee wed," and slipped it on her ring finger. Marlene took her ring from Tifa, and copied him. "With this ring, I thee wed!" she announced, slipping the flimsy thing onto his finger. Cid took a deep, calming breath, and said, "I now pronounce you, um, boy and wife...? You may now—"

Cloud was making slashing movements over his throat, cutting off the final words of the ceremony. Denzel did not notice this, and leaned in to press a tiny kiss on Marlene's cheek.

Tifa whipped out her camera, taking three remarkably identical pictures all in a row. Then she dropped the camera and squealed, a high-pitch noise that caused Denzel to cover his ears. Then Marlene piped up, "Hey Tifa, when are you and Cloud gonna get married?" Tifa blushed bright red, and Cloud went very pale and gulped.

"Um, sweetie, it's not really...I-I mean, um—"

"She means Cloud's too much of a #&&$# chocobo to propose to her!" Cid laughed, his voice booming. Marlene glared at Cloud. She grabbed a fresh pipe cleaner, bent it around her finger into a ring just like hers and Denzel's, and shoved it in Cloud's face. "Ask her now, you meanie chocobo!" Cloud accepted the ring, smoothed out the wire, and, blushing fit to die, got down on one knee in front of Tifa. "I, um, uh, Tifa, would you, uhm, maybe....marry me...please?" His voice got so quiet that Tifa holding back torrents of laughter, asked, half-jokingly, "I'm sorry, what was that last bit?"

He ground his teeth slightly. "I asked...Would. You. Please. Marry. Me." he forced each word out separately, so as not to let his volume slip. "Well, duh, of course," she told him. "I was getting fed up with all your dilly-dallying."

She tried to take the ring from Cloud, but he held it back, slipping something out of his back pocket. A little black velvet box. Her eyes widened. In all her shock, she didn't move while Cloud slid the real ring onto her finger.

Denzel paused, watching the scene play out. Then his eyes widened and he said, "Crap, does this mean there's gonna be another wedding?"

The room exploded with laughter.


Parting Comments: Oh my God, it's finally done! I've been writing this for about....five months now. There may be a sequel type thing, either of Tifa and Cloud's wedding or Denzel and Marlene's. Their real one. Actually, I think I'll do Denzel and Marlene's as the sequel proper, but have Cloud and Tifa's as a separate but related one. I figured I should finish some stuff for FFVII, since I've been working on my Spirited Away stuff a lot (and still don't have a chapter out. I am determined to get #three out!).

Hugs and Kisses