Home Sweet Home
Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action. ~Mother Teresa
Yuna watched from beside the doorway Naomi and her boyfriend Baralai playing together in the living room. Whether or not the pair was aware of her presence, they didn't show it.
The five-year-old girl giggled, clumsily piling wooden blocks on top of each other, attempting to build a perfect pyramid, but because of the awkward placement caused it to crumble. Baralai laughed lightly, a kind sound which long became a part of this homely atmosphere.
"Nice try," he remarked, consoling the toddler's disappointment. To turn her frown upside down, Baralai gathered the wooden blocks into his grown hands and smiled. "But you have to be really careful and precise, like this…" While he demonstrated to Naomi the sacred art of block building, Yuna restrained the urge to laugh outright. 'Look at how seriously focused Baralai is. Not only him, but Naomi as well!' Once he neatly placed the last block on the pinnacle of the pyramid, Naomi gasped in amazement and vigorously clapped her teeny hands.
"Bravo! Bravo!" she chanted, a phrase learned from her eccentric godmother, Leblanc. Baralai grinned, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. Always the modest one, even in front of children.
"Now show me what you can spell."
The grin on Yuna's mouth widened at the amusing sight of Naomi completely demolishing Baralai's pyramid, giggling like she had done the funniest thing in the world with Gippal as her partner-in-crime.
"I… love… mommy…" Naomi mumbled slowly, rearranging the letter blocks to form the words. "…and… daddy…" Her smiled brightened on account of her impeccable spelling skills, and she looked up at Baralai expectantly, eager for praise. "I love Mommy and Daddy!!"
"Good job," he said sincerely, but frowned slightly in thought, "but, mommy is spelled with two Ms and daddy with two Ds." Indicating the number two with his fingers.
"Noooo," the child exclaimed, shaking her head vehemently, proceeding to curl one of Baralai's fingers down, "It spell with one." But Baralai regained freedom of his finger and Naomi pouted, her cheeks ruddy with defiance. The adult couldn't resist a chuckle at the adorable sight of Naomi's angry pout.
"And I say two."
Baralai smiled slyly. "One."
"Two-- Hey! You trick me!"
Naomi threw the wooden objects at him angrily, but Baralai succeeded in blocking each one; and then, laughter exploded freely from their mouths.
"More spelling," she interjected, and wasted no time forming a new sentence. "I… love… Mr… Bear." Naomi beamed. "I love Mr. Bear!!" The endearing, comical nickname of Baralai in result to his name being too difficult for the kid to pronounce.
The tan skinned male made no reply, but smiled with closed eyes, laying his chin on top of his folded arms, his stomach to the carpet, his legs swinging back and forth like a giddy girl. "You can't forget about auntie Rikku," Baralai remarked, next directing his gaze to where Yuna stood. He acknowledged her with a loving smile. Yuna leaned her head on the doorway and smiled gleefully, pink dusting her cheeks.
"Oh! Right." The brunette toddler soon began to sing her favorite nursery song from her favorite purple dinosaur. "I love you… You love me… we one big happy family…" Companionable silence fell briefly between the two, until Naomi finished her longer formation of words. "Mr. Bear! Mr. Bear! Look, look, look!" Curious, he read the message silently to himself, before his smile drooped with wistfulness. "'Me, Mommy, and Mr. Bear… family…"
"You like it?" she inquired excitedly, oblivious to his disquiet change in mood.
"…of course," Baralai said haltingly and painfully made eye contact with the child, "Of course, I do. I love it."
Feeling guilty for her deceased husband because of her migrating feelings and for Baralai because of his (not yet) reciprocated love, Yuna detached herself from the wall and approached them.
"Lunch is ready if you guys want to eat." When the girl made no motion to get up, Yuna knelt down to Naomi's eye level and cradled her little baby fingers in her hands, cooing, "Mommy made macaroni and cheese, your favorite."
Naomi literally grew hearts for eyes. "Yay!" She bolted out the living room and disappeared in the kitchen. Yuna stood straight and assisted Baralai on his feet. He smiled, albeit humbly, to express his thanks.
"Uh-oh. Dizzy…" he groaned, his body swaying until he collapsed right onto her. "Got up too fast."
"Liar," Yuna chided playfully, wounding her arms around his back to hold him up. Not like he needed any help to stand. He laughed without shame, proving her claim to be true. "Are you in the mood for some classic macaroni and cheese?"
"Kind of…" he mumbled distractedly, pulling away a bit to look at her, his arms comfortably enclosed around her waist. Yuna self-consciously realized he hadn't let her go, yet.
"Make up your mind," she remarked softly, coyly gazing into his eyes while her nervous fingers fiddled with the fabric of his shirt.
"Help me out," Baralai whispered, smiling boyishly, subconsciously pulling her closer. Heat exploded in her cheeks. A natural flirt, he was.
In order to recollect her frazzled nerves, Yuna reluctantly pulled away and gave a grateful smile. "Thank you for babysitting Naomi for me. I don't always have the time to watch after her." Always juggling work and family by herself, working more hours to support the two of them; at least, her boyfriend was gracious enough to help lighten the load. Yuna grudgingly became accustomed to his presence in her home, her family, and her life.
'Am I betraying Tidus?' Yuna had always asked herself this question, and yet… Her daughter had unknowingly answered one day: "Daddy is happy, when mommy is happy."
Tidus was a loyal husband, and a loving father in the short time he contributed in raising their daughter. Baralai was a good friend, and undeniably an attractive man. How their acquaintanceship evolved into an ongoing and slow romance, Yuna couldn't fathom, but she didn't complain otherwise. And Naomi seemed especially attached to him. Somehow, all the chips have fallen into place.
"It's okay. I don't mind." Baralai shrugged, smiling, scratching his ear absently, "Naomi and I love spending time together, so it's really no problem." Then, he instinctively checked his watch and frowned.
"Look, I have to go. In half an hour I start my shift at work." Yuna nodded and smiled languidly when he planted a kiss on her forehead, like what he had done for the past several months since they've started dating, her heart pounding with a mixture of guilt and contentment.
Three years. It had been three years since her husband's death. She really shouldn't cling on to the past forever. Yuna wasn't sure if she would be able to move on without another man in her life, refusing to believe she's becoming fickle; no, more like resilient.
Baralai didn't pull away as expected, instead gently pecked her cheek, his hand lifting her chin so she could look at him. Unwilling to stop his ministrations, she gulped delicately and flushed when he placed a kiss on her lips.
"See you tomorrow," he whispered tenderly, before he trudged his way to the front door.
"Ha… have a nice day at work," Yuna called out to him breathlessly, a particular line she has fondly used for the past several months. His face reddened with joy, his smile warm from bashfulness.
As they say, home is where the heart is.
(A/N): I'm quite in the mood to post a familial one-shot. :3 This story was something I wrote few months back, but was rather indecisive on what to post it as. But now I'm glad I put it to good use. This is dedicated to Razer Athane. Thanks for reviewing all three chapters of Kiss & Make Up, buddy. X3